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Thread: 'The People's Spitfire Pilot' Engaging with history, or ghastly PC tokenism ?

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  1. #1
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    'The People's Spitfire Pilot' Engaging with history, or ghastly PC tokenism ?

    ''To mark the occasion (RAF centenary) , the RAF Museum will open a landmark RAF Centenary Exhibition in 2018 – and the organisation wants your input on exactly what should go in. In the poll below, you can help to decide which of the many heroic Spitfire Mk V pilots the exhibition will highlight.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/think...pitfire-pilot/


    The Spitfire was an efficient killing machine, with the supremely important task of repelling an invading army/airforce by shooting them out of the sky. but in voting for the Peoples Pilot '' instead of judging on how many enemy aircraft were destroyed by each pilot, the museum wants you to base your selection on which individual story captivates you the most. ''

    For example, included in the list is Flight Sergeant Collins Joseph from Trinidad, who is not credited with any victories '' but endured hardship and racism in order to do what was right. Prejudice did not weary him. He chose to fight and die for his convictions''. Or Wing Commander Ian Gleed. ''Privately, Gleed was gay, but at a time when same-sex relationships were a criminal offence he had to be discreet about his sexuality or risk court martial ''.

    I am certain that the RAF museum wish to honour them and their sacrifices, and the others on the short-list but this muddled survey, seemingly driven by PC tokenism and and a will to make history somehow 'inclusive', seems a clunky way to do it. The modern mania for getting people to vote for everything and nothing, be it singing, dancing or baking is a specious exercise, and will prove no more than the local fete voting on 'Which dog has the waggiest tale ? '.

    You might have thought that the fate of a free western civilisation hanging on the efforts of a few exhausted fighter pilots was a story compelling enough, without the need to concoct a way of making it a bit more engaging.

    Keep it simple. Just honour them all.
    Last edited by Propstrike; 14th September 2017 at 00:07.

  2. #2
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    As I was reading the above, I too thought 'clunky'. No need to mention anyone's race or sexuality: all were heroes and should be honoured.

    Sadly these days you can't retell history without there being an 'angle' - and you've only got three days to do it in!

  3. #3
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    It's the premise that we are voting for one story to be told over all others which I find odd. Who am I to decide whose story is more deserving of recognition.

  4. #4
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    Everyone had a unique story to tell.

    Unless someone was, for example, rich, well connected and a natural born pilot to whom everything came easy, I would think everyone had issues to overcome.
    It could have been any number of things: air or homesickness, dyslexia, or perhaps just a bad home life.
    If nothing else, all were fighting for their lives and preventing their country from being invaded. No pressure there.

    I'm not sure we, 75 years after the fact, are in any position to rank them.

    It's a pity that people are asked to judge them, with the added element of recognizing/acknowledging current pc topics (not that I'm minimizing those).
    By all means tell compelling stories but remember to look beyond current hot topic subjects.

    It's history, not Panorama.

    I'll get my helmet and wait for incoming rounds...
    Last edited by J Boyle; 14th September 2017 at 07:07.
    There are two sides to every story. The truth is usually somewhere between the two.

  5. #5
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    I suppose it fits with today's obsession with ranking and finding the "best of". Just look at the weekly TV output.

    Utterly irrelevant in this case and in fact quite tasteless.

  6. #6
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    As a poster over on Pprune said 'Perhaps a vote for a new RAF Museum curator would be more use'...
    mmitch.

  7. #7
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    I like to think in those days we applied racism in a more even handed manner, they were all "bl00dy foreigners" unless born in England, and that included the jocks the taffs and the paddys; it will probably be an ATA pilot, with previously unknown lesbian tendencies, and an African parentage recently discovered through my ancestory . bolok .......
    Why be your own worse critic, that's what the forum is for.

  8. #8
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    What ever happened between just good guys and bad guys..?
    "If the C.O. ask's you to be Tail End Charlie...just shoot him!!!....A Piece of Cake.
    http://spitfirea58-27.blogspot.com.au/

  9. #9
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    What a pointless and insidious exercise.
    Martin

  10. #10
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    This is sickeningly distasteful. What on earth has happened to the RAFM? Those who fought were 'the people's' because that is who they were risking their lives for. It wasn't a TV talent show. The people behind it have to know, but they don't read this forum. I suggesst we all write to them? I will start.
    Last edited by Beermat; 14th September 2017 at 20:46.

  11. #11
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    This really is complete round objects, isn't it.

    For a list of 'unsung' pilots, they've selected quite a lot of well-known ones (Bader, Beurling, Malan, Gleed) for the masses to choose from, haven't they!

    And as for Gleed's orientation ... WHO CARES! What difference did that make to his ability to fly and shoot down enemy a/c???

    Ghastly PC tokenism indeed. No wonder the RAFM seems to be going down the pan.

  12. #12
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    Well I've vo... No, hang on, that's simply crass and embarrassing. I think everything's been said.
    RAFM, please don't do this.

  13. #13
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    RAFM seem to be reading the comments being left on the article - doubt they will take any notice...
    Under my gruff exterior lies an even gruffer interior...

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  14. #14
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    Those involved in thinking up and supporting this disrespectful and totally unsuitable approach should have the courage to resign.

  15. #15
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    Why not Bill Vale? Oh hang on, he wasn't exactly pc was he, and he spoke his mind, and he was one of the highest scoring aces. And he told the truth about Bader.
    That's probably why he's been airbrushed out......
    I won't forget Bill Vale, neither should others.
    So carry on digging your own grave RAFM Hendon, be all pc and so right on, useless, a waste of a good museum.

  16. #16
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    Dissenter in the ranks here. Lighten up. All they are asking is for people to vote for one pilot to highlight, not saying that they will be hanging their laundry from the parade square flagpole. Whether the RAFM want to be yet another 'virtue signaller' by ticking a checklist of PC (as per the NT recently who actually did that specifically*) is an aside, this is putting a reminder to non-enthusiasts out there of the people, who flew in the defence of our various freedoms to engage and hopefully contribute. Taking 'Widge' Gleed specifically, his sexuality is being bandied about here far more loudly than on the link above! And guess what? We all knew about it, didn't we! It's a matter of history. Meanwhile, he was admired and regarded by his contemporaries as a top chap, as I'm sure were many of the other pilots listed.

    I might be biased about this bunfight however as I was heartily pleased to see Jean de Selys' name up there. He deserves recognition and remembrance from a wider audience - and as an aristocrat (note that he was a Baron) he's hardly chosen for 'left wing credentials'. Anyway, I voted. And if the RAFM want any of the details from my archive on him they only need get in touch...

    *nb the NT's 'virtue signalling' might have ruffled the feathers of those Daily Mail readers in Hyacinth Close as regards to Robert Wyndham Ketton-Cremer (personally I can only sympathise with the family who were so angered by it all and their disregard for said family's feeling really does **** me off, as does virtue signalling because I feel it's generally false and done for point-scoring) but there has 'apparently' (ooh yes, inside information - via my girlfriend. Quote me as the bloke down the pub who's girlfriend's brother's neighbours cat etc) been a huge amount of positive comments and support from the general public, visitor numbers at Felbrigg are up, membership sales are up, the exhibition told of it and gave further thought and education to people (I was nearby and visited with my kids, lovely place) but didn't dwell on (celebrate?) his sexuality so as to override the rest of the exhibition.

    By the way, in terms of historic aviation, there is a V shaped wood at Felbrigg that Robert planted in memory of his brother:

    https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/c...homas-wyndham/

    F/O Richard Thomas Wyndham Ketton-Cremer. 75788 RAFVR Pilot, Blenheims. Born 11th August 1909. Killed during the Battle of Crete on May 31st 1941 whilst serving on 30 Squadron. Commemorated on the Alamein Memorial, Egypt. Column 241
    Some of my best friends are imaginary

  17. #17
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    Oh well that's ok then. Redressed the balance.

  18. #18
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    happy to help

    Meanwhile I can't get worked up about the bloody name of a dog either.
    Some of my best friends are imaginary

  19. #19
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    I was going to say It's the Royal Air Force museum, not an adventure playground or 'Airforce expeience' but a place of contemplation, study and remembrance, but the more I thought about it, it isn't, it's an aviation themed tourist attraction with all the pressures and competing demands to be 'this, that and the other' to it's public and at the whim of its political and 'professional' masters. I'm not happy about it, but that's the way it is. Money and politics
    Królewska Moc Powietrza nie jest lot cyrku.....

  20. #20
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    Guardian doing itself no favours there. Fair point as an aside, but as an article it reads like being cornered by a tedious PC undergraduate.

    Go on John, set it up there for you!

    I sent my complaint to the generic enquiries email last week. No acknowlegement yet.
    Last edited by Beermat; 18th September 2017 at 12:35.

  21. #21
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    So Dunkirk doesn't have the correct demographic. The writer of that Guardian article seems OK (by omission) that the film also featured a Yak dressed as a Spitfire.

    So some omissions and concessions for the sake of sanity are OK but not others? All of which goes to show that some people will find something to whinge about on any subject.

    Meanwhile I still think the RAFM is losing the plot. I too was pleased to see Baron Jean de Selys Longchamps on that list. Having been intrigued by his exploits and visited his grave I feel that I also have a 'personal' link. But he is no more worthy than anyone else and there must be thousands more with far less interesting stories who should be remembered just as much. And he's famous for being a Typhoon jockey surely? So why 'The People's Spitfire Pilot' exactly? Best way to dumb it down?

    I guess "The People's Rigger" or "The People's Storeman" doesn't have quite the same ring, but as Milton so aptly observed, "They also serve who only stand and wait".

  22. #22
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    Beermat,

    The rag that shall be nameless trashes itself without any help from me.

  23. #23
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    Update, a week or so old but still of interest, courtesy of Scottie66 on prune.org:

    ...'this letter was posted in the DT from Sqn Ldr Kornicki's son...

    Journey to remember

    SIR – My father, Franciszek Kornicki, was surprised by the support for him in the RAF Museum poll to choose a representative – not the “greatest” – Spitfire pilot (report, September 22).

    But he was gravely embarrassed that you should credit him with 17 kills while serving in 303 Sqn during the Battle of Britain, and describe him as the top-scoring Battle of Britain pilot. You appear to have confused him with the Czech pilot in 303 Sqn, Sgt František, who did achieve this distinction before being killed.

    My father is not in fact credited with any victories, then or later. He served as a Pilot Officer in 303 Sqn briefly towards the end of the Battle of Britain period, converting on to Hurricanes, but he has always rigorously rebutted any suggestion that he thus qualified as a Battle of Britain pilot – well aware of the distinction of those who endured that conflict and achieved so much.

    Fighting in Poland, escaping through Romania, fighting in France, and escaping again to continue the struggle in Britain is the story of so many in the Polish Air Force.

    My father’s role in that was commonplace; but as the only surviving Polish Squadron Commander, his importance now is as a witness and a representative of that remarkable wartime journey. That is distinction enough.

    Richard Kornicki
    Chairman, Polish Air Force Memorial Committee

    Oops'

  24. #24
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    Without passing comment on the actual idea behind the poll itself, having reread the RAFM initial post announcing the poll, and the results, nowhere does it say anything about victories, or him flying in the BoB. Do you know which article these claims were made in as it doesn't seem to be the RAFM in anything I can see.

    FB

  25. #25
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    http://www.pprune.org/military-aviat...e-pilot-4.html

    Post 68 for initial reference, Fournier Boy, and then subsequent posts.

  26. #26
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    I'm really sorry guys and gals, I must be really thick here. The pprune post indicates a telegraph article as the point of error - but checking the telegraph article it seems to be pretty much the same as the original RAFM press release which has the correct information.

    As yet I can't find anywhere the source that caused the son to write in the first instance. I can't see that it's come from anything the RAFM has put out though so can only imagine it's a bit of (standard) poor newspaper journalism.

    FB

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