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Victor Beamish

Old 9th Feb 2024, 08:03
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Victor Beamish

If you do a Google seach on Victor Beamish DSO & Bar, DFC, AFC, a fair amount of stuff comes up... although less than I would have thought.

But do a search on YouTube, and essentially nothing significant comes up.

YouTube is full of videos of all sorts of legendary WWII characters. I wonder why Beamish has been overlooked?
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Old 9th Feb 2024, 10:44
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Originally Posted by AnotherFSO
If you do a Google seach on Victor Beamish DSO & Bar, DFC, AFC, a fair amount of stuff comes up... although less than I would have thought.

But do a search on YouTube, and essentially nothing significant comes up.

YouTube is full of videos of all sorts of legendary WWII characters. I wonder why Beamish has been overlooked?
I've been fascinated by the RAF in WW2 ever since I saw my great uncles picture in RAF uniform in my great grandparents living room.
That's a long time ago now and I'm still coming across people who were of significance in the wartime RAF, but had little recognition out of it.
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Old 9th Feb 2024, 11:34
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Wings Aflame by Doug Stokes is a biography of Victor Beamish and well worth reading. The other accounts I have read in which he gets mentioned all portray a very highly regarded leader.
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Old 9th Feb 2024, 11:43
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Originally Posted by treadigraph
Wings Aflame by Doug Stokes is a biography of Victor Beamish and well worth reading. The other accounts I have read in which he gets mentioned all portray a very highly regarded leader.
I concur; it's a great book. He comes across as strict but fair man.
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Old 9th Feb 2024, 21:59
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Victor Beamish was the station commander at Kenley when he failed to return from a mission over France in 1942.
Hence RAF Kenley still has a Victor Beamish Ave to commemorate the outstanding leadership he always showed.
Unfortunately RAF Kenley is not quite the station it was in 1942 but still has 615 VGS and of course was a sector station in the B o B, with the Kenley wing being very active when fighter command started on offensive sweeps.
Beamish had already had an 'interesting' sweep in poor weather (they could not keep him on the ground) before he was lost, when he came across the Channel dash of the German Battleships amazing escape from Brest whilst on one of his poor weather Spitfire sweeps of which he was so fond of.
I think the words leadership and example are his legacy that Kenley still remembers.
When Pobjoy wandered into RAF Kenley in 1959 (to join the ATC) I well remember the main entrance road from the guard room to the display Spitfire marked with a varnished wooden sign with gold script to commemorate VB and 65 years later his name lives on, as does Kenley itself, a real survivor. Cue Treads to show my Kenley B o B picture !!!
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Old 10th Feb 2024, 04:21
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Here ya go, Pobjoy!



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Old 11th Feb 2024, 22:52
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The current VB Ave is the road that leads to the Portcullis Club (Behind the remains of the Officers Mess, which is 1/3 of the way down the picture on the LH side).
Unfortunately Kenley has suffered far more since the war than it did on the 18th Aug raid, such is the level of our inability to preserve a classic 11 group airfield which was so important to the free world in 1940. Worth a visit though and there is an Aero Jumble there in June. As an Air Cadet Pobjoy had his first ever flight at Kenley in 1960 in a Kirby Cadet MK3 Glider, and after a great time instructing with the then 615 Gliding school had the pleasure of returning later with the Tiger Club to attend a couple of air shows there. Once out on the current airfield you are in a place that is the same as 1940, apart from a dreadful fence on the peri track (another crass move from the nerds in charge).
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Old 12th Feb 2024, 11:12
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Fly For Your Life, the biography of Robert Stanford Tuck, mentions Beamish. Even by the standards of the day, he sounded like a character!
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Old 12th Feb 2024, 11:36
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Kenley is a great place to visit particularly on a summer's day; I was up there on a nice sunny Sunday afternoon two weeks ago, no gliding for some reason. 615 fly on Saturday and Sunday and I assume bank holidays; Surrey Hills fly on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, - on Monday and Friday you can wander inside the recently installed safety fence (erected to keep the less intelligent members of society from being beheaded by steel cables) and down the runways. Many of the revetments remain and the wall of the firing range is still present hidden in the trees on the southern boundary. Should the MoD give up the airfield it has to return to City of London Commons for public use.

Originally Posted by Jump Complete
Fly For Your Life, the biography of Robert Stanford Tuck, mentions Beamish. Even by the standards of the day, he sounded like a character!
One of my favourite books - first read it when I was about 7!
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Old 12th Feb 2024, 12:10
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Originally Posted by treadigraph
One of my favourite books - first read it when I was about 7!
I read it when I was about 11 or 12, an old paperback on my parentís bookshelf, re-read it many times. Recently bought a copy online from a vintage book seller.
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Old 12th Feb 2024, 13:10
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I had the paperback (published by Pan I think), I've now got the original unabridged version.
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Old 14th Feb 2024, 23:41
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VB Loss

Whilst waiting for the VB book I checked the casualty records for the 28th March 42. VB was on a fighter only sweep and tangled with FW190's (he was in a Spit VB).
In fact the records for that period make sobering reading as our looses were truly a staggering amount. The Spit VB was up against the new FW 190 and took a terrible toll of aircrew. As an example on Circus ops alone on the 28th April, 20 aircraft were lost out of a total of 24 for the day, and there are several repeats of those sort of numbers.
One does wonder why it took so long for FC to realise the scale of this, as the Squadrons themselves were fully aware of the situation and the fact they could loose 1/3-1/2 a squadron in a couple of days. Even when the MK 9 came along and although the loss numbers fell, the tactics in place still made it quite clear it was a very questionable 'offensive' policy. When Pobjoy was an Kenley Air Cadet operating a winch or retrieving gliders with our MK1 swb land rovers we were constantly around the peritrack and blast bays where these 'Wings' were deployed and had no knowledge at the time that so many of our home based machines had failed to return from 'offensive' missions as we thought that the BoB had been our 'active' period !!!. Kenley is quite a small airfield and would have looked very busy with over 40 machines parked around the peri track.
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Old 15th Feb 2024, 09:59
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FC were in a bind - they really hadn't had serious day time raids to deal with since 1940 and so you had a lot of day fighters sitting out there. When the Battle of the Atlantic was at its height, Rommel was chasing the 8th Army up and down the N African coast , the Russians were dying in hundreds of thousands and the Far East was a complete disaster the pressure to "DO SOMETHING" was immense

So if the Luftwaffe wouldn't come to us we'd go to the Luftwaffe - unfortunately we didn't have quite the right kit. But looking back better to find that out in 1942 than in 43/44.................
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Old 15th Feb 2024, 22:57
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Questionable Targets

Originally Posted by Asturias56
FC were in a bind - they really hadn't had serious day time raids to deal with since 1940 and so you had a lot of day fighters sitting out there. When the Battle of the Atlantic was at its height, Rommel was chasing the 8th Army up and down the N African coast , the Russians were dying in hundreds of thousands and the Far East was a complete disaster the pressure to "DO SOMETHING" was immense

So if the Luftwaffe wouldn't come to us we'd go to the Luftwaffe - unfortunately we didn't have quite the right kit. But looking back better to find that out in 1942 than in 43/44.................
Yes I know we were trying to be 'offensive', but it seems that actually bombing their airfields would have been more appropriate and also reduced their capability.
Myself I think it was more of a case of trying to 'justify' the big wing theory and not changing tactics when it was quite obvious our looses were greater than theirs.
Several post war books have confirmed this with opinions from some of the senior pilots of the day.

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Old 16th Feb 2024, 15:33
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Originally Posted by treadigraph
Kenley is a great place to visit particularly on a summer's day; I was up there on a nice sunny Sunday afternoon two weeks ago, no gliding for some reason. 615 fly on Saturday and Sunday and I assume bank holidays; Surrey Hills fly on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, - on Monday and Friday you can wander inside the recently installed safety fence (erected to keep the less intelligent members of society from being beheaded by steel cables) and down the runways. Many of the revetments remain and the wall of the firing range is still present hidden in the trees on the southern boundary. Should the MoD give up the airfield it has to return to City of London Commons for public use.



One of my favourite books - first read it when I was about 7!
Dr Helen Doe, daughter of Bob Doe has just written a biography of Tuck which examines the truth behind that biography and evidence behind some of the myths. I'm in the middle of reading it.
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Old 16th Feb 2024, 16:56
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Thanks Auster Fan, that sounds like a book I need to get. FFYL is excellent and well written but I'm aware there are some inaccuracies and probably a bit of gloss!

Incidentally, in FFYL, there is mention of Paddy Finucane vaulting a balustrade into a basement area - I always fancied it was the "pit" around Croydon Town Hall and fairly recently saw mention elsewhere that indeed it was! Walk past it several times a week and often think of him...
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Old 17th Feb 2024, 13:44
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What is FFYL? My abreviation tool makes that into FFyL and does not know what it means.
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Old 17th Feb 2024, 13:47
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Fly for your life.....book..?..#8
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Old 17th Feb 2024, 15:51
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Sycamore is correct - sorry, was being a bit lazy!
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Old 18th Feb 2024, 09:14
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Sycamore, don't be, I had a senior moment, it was explained on the 12th of Februari. Beyond my short-time eh, what again?
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