Spirit of England - English Heroes

English Heroes
E N G L I S H   H E R O E S  &  H E R O I N E S
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014

Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson

Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson, 1st Duke of Bronté, KB (29 September 1758–21 October 1805) was a British flag officerfamous for his service in the Royal Navy, particularly during the Napoleonic Wars.
He was noted for his inspirational leadership and superb grasp of strategy and unconventional tactics, which resulted in a number of decisive naval victories.
He was wounded several times in combat, losing one arm and the sight in one eye.
Of his several victories, the best known and notable was the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, at the end of which he was shot and killed.
Nelson was born into a moderately prosperous Norfolk family and joined the navy through the influence of his uncle, Maurice Suckling.
He rose rapidly through the ranks and served with leading naval commanders of the period before obtaining his own command in 1778.
He developed a reputation in the service through his personal valour and firm grasp of tactics but suffered periods of illness and unemployment after the end of the American War of Independence.
The outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars allowed Nelson to return to service, where he was particularly active in the Mediterranean.
He fought in several minor engagements off Toulon and was important in the capture of Corsica and subsequent diplomatic duties with the Italian states.
In 1797, he distinguished himself while in command of HMS Captain at the Battle of Cape St Vincent.
Shortly after the battle, Nelson took part in the Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, where his attack was defeated and he was badly wounded, losing his right arm, and was forced to return to England to recuperate.
The following year, he won a decisive victory over the French at the Battle of the Nile and remained in the Mediterranean to support the Kingdom of Naples against a French invasion. In 1801, he was dispatched to the Baltic and won another victory, this time over the Danes at the Battle of Copenhagen.
He subsequently commanded the blockade of the French and Spanish fleets at Toulon and, after their escape, chased them to the West Indies and back but failed to bring them to battle. After a brief return to England, he took over the Cádiz blockade in 1805.
On 21 October 1805, the Franco-Spanish fleet came out of port, and Nelson's fleet engaged them at the Battle of Trafalgar.
The battle was Britain's greatest naval victory, but during the action Nelson was fatally wounded by a French sniper.
His body was brought back to England where he was accorded a state funeral.
Nelson's death at Trafalgar secured his position as one of Britain's most heroic figures; numerous monuments, including Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square, London, have been created in his memory and his legacy remains highly influential.

Battle of Trafalgar
HMS Victory
Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson


Arthur Wellesely - Duke of Wellington

Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, KG, GCB, GCH, PC, FRS (c. 29 April/1 May 1769 – 14 September 1852), was anAnglo-Irish soldier and statesman, and one of the leading military and political figures of the 19th century.
He is often referred to as the "Duke of Wellington", even after his death, when there have been subsequent Dukes of Wellington.
Born in Ireland, he was commissioned an ensign in the British Army in 1787.
Serving in Ireland as aide-de-camp to two successive Lords Lieutenant of Ireland he was also elected as a Member of Parliament in the Irish House of Commons.
A colonel by 1796, Wellesley saw action in the Netherlands and later in India, where he fought in the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War at the Battle of Seringapatam.
He was appointed governor ofSeringapatam and Mysore in 1799.
Wellesley rose to prominence as a general during the Peninsular campaign of the Napoleonic Wars, and was promoted to the rank of field marshalafter leading the allied forces to victory against the French at the Battle of Vitoria in 1813.
Following Napoleon's exile in 1814, he served as the ambassador to France and was granted a dukedom.
During the Hundred Days in 1815, he commanded the allied army which, with a Prussian army under Blücher, defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo.
Wellesley's battle record is exemplary, ultimately participating in some 60 battles throughout his military career.
He was twice prime minister under the Tory party and oversaw the passage of the Catholic Relief Act 1829.
He was prime minister from 1828–30 and served briefly in 1834.
He was unable to prevent the passage of the Reform Act of 1832 and continued as one of the leading figures in theHouse of Lords until his retirement.
He remained Commander-in-Chief of the British Army until his death.

Battle of Waterloo
Arthur Wellesely - Duke of Wellington


Charles Darwin

Charles Robert Darwin FRS (12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882) was an English naturalist.
He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestry, and proposed the scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection.
He published his theory with compelling evidence for evolution in his 1859 book 'On the Origin of Species', overcoming scientific rejection of earlier concepts of transmutation of species.
By the 1870s the scientific community and much of the general public accepted evolution as a fact. However, many favoured competing explanations and it was not until the emergence of the modern evolutionary synthesis from the 1930s to the 1950s that a broad consensus developed that natural selection was the basic mechanism of evolution.
In modified form, Darwin's scientific discovery is the unifying theory of the life sciences, explaining the diversity of life.
Darwin's early interest in nature led him to neglect his medical education at the University of Edinburgh; instead, he helped to investigatemarine invertebrates.
Studies at the University of Cambridge encouraged his passion for natural science.
His five-year voyage onHMS Beagle established him as an eminent geologist whose observations and theories supported Charles Lyell's uniformitarian ideas, and publication of his journal of the voyage made him famous as a popular author.
Puzzled by the geographical distribution of wildlife and fossils he collected on the voyage, Darwin began detailed investigations and in 1838 conceived his theory of natural selection. Although he discussed his ideas with several naturalists, he needed time for extensive research and his geological work had priority.
He was writing up his theory in 1858 when Alfred Russel Wallace sent him an essay which described the same idea, prompting immediate joint publication of both of their theories.
Darwin's work established evolutionary descent with modification as the dominant scientific explanation of diversification in nature.
In 1871, he examined human evolution and sexual selection in 'The Descent of Man', and 'Selection in Relation to Sex', followed by 'The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals'. His research on plants was published in a series of books, and in his final book, he examined earthworms and their effect on soil.
In recognition of Darwin's pre-eminence as a scientist, he was honoured by a major ceremonial funeral in Westminster Abbey, where he was buried close to John Herschel and Isaac Newton.
Darwin has been described as one of the most influential figures in human history.

The Descent of Man


Mary Somerville

Mary Fairfax Somerville (26 December 1780 – 28 November 1872) was a Scottish science writer and polymath, at a time when women's participation in science was discouraged.
She studied mathematics and astronomy, and was the second woman scientist to receive recognition in the United Kingdom after Caroline Herschel.


David Livingstone

David Livingstone (19 March 1813 – 1 May 1873) was a Scottish Congregationalist pioneer medical missionary with the London Missionary Society and explorer in Africa.
His meeting with H. M. Stanley gave rise to the popular quotation, "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?".
Perhaps one of the most popular national heroes of the late 19th century in Victorian Britain, Livingstone had a mythic status, which operated on a number of interconnected levels: that of Protestant missionary martyr, that of working-class "rags to riches" inspirational story, that of scientific investigator and explorer, that of imperial reformer, anti-slavery crusader, and advocate of commercial empire.
His fame as an explorer helped drive forward the obsession with discovering the sources of the River Nile that formed the culmination of the classic period of European geographical discovery and colonial penetration of the African continent.
At the same time his missionary travels, "disappearance" and death in Africa, and subsequent glorification as posthumous national hero in 1874 led to the founding of several major central African Christian missionary initiatives carried forward in the era of the European "Scramble for Africa".

Victoria Falls


Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale OM, RRC (12 May 1820 – 13 August 1910) was a celebrated Englishnurse, writer and statistician.
An Anglican, Nightingale believed that God had called her to be a nurse.
She came to prominence for her pioneering work in nursing during the Crimean War, where she tended to wounded soldiers.
She was dubbed "The Lady with the Lamp" after her habit of making rounds at night.
Nightingale laid the foundation of professional nursing with the establishment, in 1860, of her nursing school at St Thomas' Hospital in London, the first secular nursing school in the world, now part of King's College London. The Nightingale Pledge taken by new nurses was named in her honour, and the annual International Nurses Day is celebrated around the world on her birthday.


Lord Curzon

George Nathaniel Curzon, 1st Marquess Curzon of Kedleston, KG, GCSI, GCIE, PC (11 January 1859 – 20 March 1925), known as The Lord Curzon of Kedleston between 1898 and 1911 and as The Earl Curzon of Kedleston between 1911 and 1921, was a British Conservativestatesman who was Viceroy of India and Foreign Secretary.
The Curzon Line, now the eastern boundary of Poland, is named after him.

Lord Curzon
Durbar 1903 - India


Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence, CB, DSO (16 August 1888[5] – 19 May 1935), known professionally as T. E. Lawrence, was a British Army officer renowned especially for his liaison role during the Arab Revolt against Ottoman Turkish rule of 1916–18.
The extraordinary breadth and variety of his activities and associations, and his ability to describe them vividly in writing, earned him international fame as Lawrence of Arabia, a title which was used for the 1962 film based on his First World War activities.
Lawrence was born illegitimately in Tremadog, Wales in August 1888 to Sir Thomas Chapman and Sarah Junner, a governess, who was herself illegitimate.
Chapman left his wife to live with Sarah Junner, and they called themselves Mr and Mrs Lawrence.
In the summer of 1896 the Lawrences moved to Oxford, where from 1907 to 1910 young Lawrence studied history at Jesus College, graduating with First Class Honours.
He became a practising archaeologist in the Middle East, working with David George Hogarth and Leonard Woolley on various excavations.
In January 1914, following the outbreak of the First World War, Lawrence was co-opted by the British military to undertake a military survey of the Negev Desert while doing archaeological research.
Lawrence's public image was due in part to American journalist Lowell Thomas' sensationalised reportage of the revolt as well as to Lawrence's autobiographical account 'Seven Pillars of Wisdom' (1922).

Aqaba - Arabia


Field Marshal Kitchener

Field Marshal Horatio Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener KG, KP, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCMG, GCIE, ADC, PC (24 June 1850 – 5 June 1916), was an Irish-born British Field Marshal and proconsul who won fame for his imperial campaigns and later played a central role in the early part of the First World War.
Kitchener won fame in 1898 for winning the Battle of Omdurman and securing control of the Sudan, after which he was given the title "Lord Kitchener of Khartoum"; as Chief of Staff (1900–02) in the Second Boer War he played a key role in Lord Roberts' conquest of the Boer Republics, then succeeded Roberts as commander-in-chief – by which time Boer forces had taken to guerrilla fighting and British forces imprisoned Boer civilians in concentration camps.
His term as Commander-in-Chief (1902–09) of the Army in India saw him quarrel with another eminent proconsul, the Viceroy Lord Curzon, (see above) who eventually resigned.
Kitchener then returned to Egypt as Sirdar, British Agent and Consul-General (de facto administrator).
In 1914, at the start of the First World War, Lord Kitchener became Secretary of State for War, a Cabinet Minister. 
He organised the largest volunteer army that Britain, and indeed the Empire, had seen and a significant expansion of materials production to fight Germany on the Western Front.
He died in 1916 near the Orkney Islands when the warship taking him to negotiations in Russia was sunk by a German mine.

Charge of the Twenty First Lancers
Battle of Omdurman


Amy Johnson

Amy Johnson CBE, (1 July 1903 – 5 January 1941) was a pioneering English aviator.
Flying solo or with her husband, Jim Mollison, Johnson set numerous long-distance records during the 1930s. Johnson flew in the Second World War as a part of the Air Transport Auxiliary where she died during a ferry flight.

Amy Johnson


Winston Churchill

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, KG, OM, CH, TD, PC, DL, FRS, Hon. RA (30 November 1874 – 24 January 1965) was a British politician andstatesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War.
He is widely regarded as one of the great wartime leaders and served as Prime Minister twice (1940–45 and 1951–55).
A noted statesman and orator, Churchill was also an officer in the British Army, a historian, a writer, and an artist.
To date, he is the only British prime minister to have received the Nobel Prize in Literature, and he was the first person to be made an honorary citizen of the United States.
Churchill was born into the aristocratic family of the Dukes of Marlborough.
His father, Lord Randolph Churchill, was a charismatic politician who served as Chancellor of the Exchequer; his mother, Jenny Jerome, an American socialite.
As a young army officer, he saw action in British India, the Sudan and the Second Boer War.
He gained fame as a war correspondent and through books he wrote about his campaigns.
At the forefront of politics for fifty years, he held many political and cabinet positions.
Before the First World War, he served as President of the Board of Trade, Home Secretary and First Lord of the Admiralty as part of the Asquith Liberal government.
During the war, he continued as First Lord of the Admiralty until the disastrous Gallipoli Campaign, which he had sponsored, caused his departure from government.
He then served briefly on the Western Front, commanding the 6th Battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers. He returned to government as Minister of Munitions,Secretary of State for War, and Secretary of State for Air.
After the War, Churchill served as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Conservative (Baldwin) government of 1924–29, controversially returning the pound sterling in 1925 to the gold standard at its pre-War parity, a move widely seen as creating deflationary pressure on the UK economy. Also controversial were Churchill's opposition to increased home rule for India, and his resistance to the 1936 abdication of Edward VIII.
Out of office and politically "in the wilderness" during the 1930s, Churchill took the lead in warning about the danger from Hitler and in campaigning for rearmament.
On the outbreak of the Second World War, he was again appointed First Lord of the Admiralty. Following the resignation of Neville Chamberlain on 10 May 1940, Churchill became Prime Minister.
His steadfast refusal to consider defeat, surrender or a compromise peace helped inspire British resistance, especially during the difficult early days of the War when Britain stood alone in its active opposition to Hitler.
Churchill was particularly noted for his speeches and radio broadcasts, which helped inspire the British people. He led Britain as Prime Minister until victory had been secured over Nazi Germany.
After the Conservative Party lost the 1945 election, he became Leader of the Opposition. In 1951, he again became Prime Minister, before retiring in 1955.
Upon his death, The Queen granted him the honour of a state funeral, which saw one of the largest assemblies of world statesmen ever.
Churchill is widely regarded as among the most influential men in British history.

Young Winston


Louis Lord Mountbatten of Burma
seated on the Viceregal Throne in the Durbar Hall - New Delhi

Admiral of the Fleet Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas George Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, KG, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCIE, GCVO, DSO, PC, FRS (né Prince Louis of Battenberg; 25 June 1900 – 27 August 1979), was a British statesman and naval officer, and an uncle of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (the husband of Elizabeth II).
Lord Mountbatten was born as His Serene Highness Prince Louis of Battenberg, although his German styles and titles were dropped in 1917.
He was the youngest child and the second son of Prince Louis of Battenberg and his wife Princess Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine.
His maternal grandparents were Ludwig IV, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine and Princess Alice of the United Kingdom, who was a daughter of Queen Victoria and Albert, Prince Consort. His paternal grandparents were Prince Alexander of Hesse and Princess Julia of Battenberg. His siblings were Princess Alice of Greece and Denmark (mother of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh), Queen Louise of Sweden, and George Mountbatten, 2nd Marquess of Milford Haven.
He was the last Viceroy of India (1947) and the first Governor-General of the independent Union of India (1947–48), from which the modern Republic of India would emerge in 1950.
From 1954 until 1959 he was the First Sea Lord, a position that had been held by his father, Prince Louis of Battenberg, some forty years earlier.
In 1979 Mountbatten was assassinated by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), who planted a bomb in his fishing boat, the Shadow V, at Mullaghmore, County Sligo in the Republic of Ireland.
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
Coat of Arms of Admiral of the Fleet Louis Mountbatten of Burma, KG, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCIE, GCVO, DSO, PC, FRS 


Barnes Wallace

Sir Barnes Neville Wallis, CBE[1] FRS, RDI, FRAeS (26 September 1887 – 30 October 1979), was an English scientist, engineer and inventor.
He is best known for inventing the bouncing bomb used by the RAF in Operation Chastise (the "Dambusters" raid) to attack the dams of the Ruhr Valley during World War II.
The raid was the subject of the 1954 film 'The Dam Busters', in which Wallis was played by Michael Redgrave.
Among his other inventions were the geodesic airframe and the earthquake bomb.

Dambusters Raid - Lancaster Bombers
Barnes Wallace

Guy Gibson

Wing Commander Guy Penrose Gibson VC, DSO & Bar, DFC & Bar, RAF (12 August 1918 – 19 September 1944), was the first CO of the Royal Air Force's 617 Squadron, which he led in the "Dam Busters" raid (Operation Chastise) in 1943, resulting in the destruction of two large dams in the Ruhr area.
He was awarded the Victoria Cross and died later in the war.

Dambusters Raid - Lancaster Bombers
Guy Gibson


Reginald Joseph Mitchell CBE, FRAeS

Reginald Joseph Mitchell CBE, FRAeS, (20 May 1895 - 11 June 1937) was an aeronautical engineer, best known for his design of the Supermarine Spitfire.
R.J. Mitchell was born at 115 Congleton Road, Butt Lane, Kidsgrove, Staffordshire, England. After leaving Hanley High School at the age of 16 he gained an apprenticeship at Kerr Stuart & Co. of Fenton, a locomotive engineering works.
At the end of his apprenticeship he worked in the drawing office at Kerr Stuart and studied engineering and mathematics at night school.
On 20 February 1932, Mitchell submitted his monoplane Type 224 design.
It first flew on 19 February 1934, but was eventually rejected by the RAF because of its unsatisfactory performance.
While the 224 was being built, Mitchell was authorised by Supermarine in 1933 to proceed with new design, the Type 300, an all-metal monoplane that would become the Supermarine Spitfire. This was originally a private venture by Supermarine, but the RAF quickly became interested and the Air Ministry financed a prototype.
Many of the technical advances in the Spitfire had been made by others: the thin elliptical wings were designed by his Canadian aerodynamicist, Beverley Shenstone, and shared some similarities with the Heinkel He 70 Blitz; the under-wing radiators had been pioneered at the RAE, while monocoque construction had been first developed in the United States. 
Mitchell's genius was bringing it all together with his experience of high speed flight and the Type 224.
The first prototype Spitfire, serial K5054, flew for the first time on 5 March 1936 at Eastleigh, Hampshire.
In later tests, it reached 349 mph, consequently, before the prototype had completed its official trials, the RAF ordered 310 production Spitfires.
In 1918, Mitchell married Florence Dayson.
They had a son, Gordon. While working on the Spitfire at Woolston and Eastleigh, Mitchell and family lived in Portswood, Southampton, at 2 Russell Place.
Mitchell died on 11 June 1937 at age 42.
His ashes were interred at South Stoneham Cemetery, Hampshire four days later

Supermarine Spitfire
Barrie A F Clark

Air Chief Marshal Hugh Caswall Tremenheere Dowding

Hugh Dowding - (24 April 1882 – 15 February 1970) was a British officer in the Royal Air Force. He was the commander of RAF Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain, and is generally credited with playing a crucial role in Britain's defence, and hence, the defeat of Hitler's plan to invade Britain.
Hugh Dowding was born in the southern Scottish town of Moffat in 1882 and received his early education at St. Ninian's Boys' Preparatory School in Moffat which his father, Arthur Dowding, had been instrumental in founding.[1] Hugh Dowding was of Cornish ancestry being the grandson of Lieutenant General Charles William Tremenheere. After moving to England, Dowding was educated at Winchester College and the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich. He later served abroad in the Royal Garrison Artillery.
Dowding joined the recently created Royal Air Force and gained experience in departments of training, supply, development, and research.
On 19 August 1924, Air Commodore Dowding was made Chief Staff Officer for RAF Iraq Command.
In 1929, he was promoted to Air Vice Marshal and the following year joined the Air Council.
Tragedy struck in the inter-war period when Clarice, his wife of two years, died after a short illness. Left alone to bring up his son, Derek, Hugh Dowding withdrew from socialising and threw himself into his work.
In 1933 Dowding was promoted to Air Marshal and was knighted.
Due to retire in June 1939, Dowding was asked to stay on and thus he fought the Battle of Britain under the shadow of retirement.
Through the summer of 1940 in the Battle of Britain, Dowding's Fighter Command resisted the attacks of the Luftwaffe.
Beyond the critical importance of the overall system of integrated air defence which he had developed for Fighter Command, his major contribution was to marshal resources behind the scenes (including replacement aircraft and air crew) and to maintain a significant fighter reserve, while leaving his subordinate commanders' hands largely free to run the battle in detail.
Dowding became a vegetarian, based on his beliefs as a theosophist and spiritualist.
Lord Dowding died at his home in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, on 15 February 1970 aged 87. He was cremated. At a memorial service at Westminster Abbey, his ashes were laid to rest below the Battle of Britain Memorial Window in the Abbey's Royal Air Force chapel.

Peter Miller

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
Badge of the Royal Airforce


Douglas Bader

Group Captain Sir Douglas Robert Steuart Bader CBE, DSO & Bar, DFC & Bar, FRAeS, DL (21 February 1910 – 5 September 1982) was a Royal Air Force (RAF) fighter ace during the Second World War.
He was credited with 20 aerial victories, four shared victories, six probables, one shared probable and 11 enemy aircraft damaged.
Bader joined the RAF in 1928, and was commissioned in 1930.
In December 1931, while attempting some aerobatics, he crashed and lost both his legs. Having been on the brink of death, he recovered, retook flight training, passed his check flights and then requested reactivation as a pilot.
Although there were no regulations applicable to his situation, he was retired on medical grounds.
After the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, however, Bader returned to the RAF and was accepted as a pilot.
He scored his first victories over Dunkirk during the Battle of France in 1940.
He then took part in the Battle of Britain and became a friend and supporter ofAir Vice-Marshal Trafford Leigh-Mallory and his "Big Wing" experiments.
In August 1941, Bader was forced to bail out over German-occupied France and was captured. Soon afterward, he met and befriendedAdolf Galland, a prominent German fighter ace.
The circumstances surrounding how Bader was shot down in 1941 are controversial.
Recent research strongly suggests he was a victim of friendly fire.
Despite his disability, Bader made a number of escape attempts and was eventually sent to the POW camp at Colditz Castle.
He remained there until the camp was liberated by the First United States Army in April 1945.
Bader left the RAF permanently in February 1946 and later worked in the oil industry.
During the 1950s, a book and a film, 'Reach for the Sky', chronicled his life and RAF career to the end of the Second World War. Bader campaigned for the disabled – for which he wasknighted in 1976 – and continued to fly until ill health forced him to stop in 1979.
He died three years later, on 5 September 1982, from a sudden heart attack.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014


Frank Whittle

Air Commodore Sir Frank Whittle, OM, KBE, CB, FRS, Hon FRAeS (1 June 1907 – 9 August 1996) was a British Royal Air Force (RAF) engineer officer.
He is credited with independently inventing the turbojet engine (some years earlier than Germany's Dr. Hans von Ohain) and is hailed by some as the father of jet propulsion.
From an early age Whittle demonstrated an aptitude for engineering and an interest in flying. Determined to be a pilot, he overcame his physical limitations to be accepted into the RAF, where his abilities earned him a place on the officer training course at Cranwell.
He excelled in his studies and became an accomplished pilot.
While writing his thesis there he formulated the fundamental concepts that led to the creation of the turbojet engine, taking out a patent on his design in 1930.
His performance on an officers' engineering course earned him a place on a further course at the University of Cambridge where he graduated with a First.
Without Air Ministry support, he and two retired RAF servicemen formed Power Jets Ltd to build his engine with assistance from the firm of British Thomson-Houston.
Despite limited funding, a prototype was created, which first ran in 1937.
Official interest was forthcoming following this success, with contracts being placed to develop further engines, but the continuing stress seriously affected Whittle's health, eventually resulting in a nervous breakdown in 1940.
In 1944 when Power Jets was nationalised he again suffered a nervous breakdown, and resigned from the board in 1946.
In 1948 Whittle retired from the RAF and received a knighthood.
He joined BOAC as a technical advisor before working as an engineering specialist in one of Shell Oil's subsidiaries followed by a position with Bristol Aero Engines.
After emigrating to the U.S. in 1976 he accepted the position of NAVAIR Research Professor at the United States Naval Academy from 1977–1979. In August 1996, Whittle died of lung cancer at his home in Columbia, Maryland.

The first true British jet powered aircraft was the rather officially named E28/39 (sometimes known as the Gloster Whittle). It was a single engined plane designed by George Carter for the Gloster Aircraft Company in 1939, solely to test Whittle’s the new engine.


Alan Turing

Alan Mathison Turing, OBE, FRS (23 June 1912 – 7 June 1954), was an English mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst and computer scientist.
He was highly influential in the development of computer science, providing a formalisation of the concepts of "algorithm" and "computation" with the Turing machine, which played a significant role in the creation of the modern computer.
Turing is widely considered to be the father of computer science and artificial intelligence.
During the Second World War, Turing worked for the Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, Britain's codebreaking centre.
For a time he was head of Hut 8, the section responsible for German naval cryptanalysis.
He devised a number of techniques for breaking German ciphers, including the method of the bombe, an electromechanical machine that could find settings for the Enigma machine.
After the war he worked at the National Physical Laboratory, where he created one of the first designs for a stored-program computer, the ACE.
Towards the end of his life Turing became interested in mathematical biology.
He wrote a paper on the chemical basis of morphogenesis, and he predicted oscillating chemical reactions such as the Belousov–Zhabotinsky reaction, which were first observed in the 1960s.
Turing's homosexuality resulted in a criminal prosecution in 1952, when homosexual acts were still illegal in the United Kingdom.
He accepted treatment with female hormones (chemical castration) as an alternative to prison. He died in 1954, just over two weeks before his 42nd birthday, from cyanide poisoning after eating a poisoned apple.
An inquest determined it was suicide.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
'Alan Turing and the Apple' (2011)
Peter Crawford

On 10 September 2009, following an Internet campaign, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown made an official public apology on behalf of the British government for the way in which Turing was treated after the war.

Colossus Computer - Bletchley Park


Donald Campbell

Donald Malcolm Campbell, CBE (23 March 1921 – 4 January 1967) was a British speed record breaker who broke eight world speed records in the 1950s and 1960s.
He remains the only person to set both world land and water speed records in the same year (1964).

Donald Campbell

Neville Duke

Squadron Leader Neville Frederick Duke DSO, OBE, DFC & Two Bars, AFC, FRAeS, Czech War Cross (11 January 1922 – 7 April 2007) was a British Second World War fighter pilot.
He was the top Allied flying ace in the Mediterranean Theatre, having shot down at least 27 enemy aircraft, and was acknowledged as one of the world's foremost test pilots after the war.
In 1953, he became holder of the world air speed record when he flew a Hawker Hunter F Mk3 at 727.63 mph over Littlehampton in the UK.
He became a well-known celebrity in the Coronation year of Queen Elizabeth II, alongside footballer Stanley Matthews, actor Dirk Bogarde and mountaineer Edmund Hillary.



Frederick John Perry (18 May 1909 – 2 February 1995) was a championship-winning English tennis and table tennis player who won 10 Majors including eight Grand Slams and two Pro Slams.
Perry won three consecutive Wimbledon Championships between 1934 and 1936 and was World No. 1 four years in a row.
Perry also became the last British player to win the men's Wimbledon championship in 1936.
Perry was the first player to win all four Grand Slam singles titles (though not all in the same year) and completed this "Career Grand Slam" at the age of 26.
Although Perry began his tennis career aged 18, he was also a Table Tennis World Champion in 1929.
In 1933, Perry helped lead the Great Britain team to victory over France in the Davis Cup; the team's first success since 1912, followed by wins over the United States in 1934, 1935, and a fourth consecutive title with victory over Australia in 1936.
Perry was acclaimed across the tennis world, but was not universally admired in his homeland, and was widely ostracised by the tennis establishment for turning professional after completing a hat-trick of Wimbledon singles triumphs.
Despite his unprecedented contribution to British tennis, Perry was not accorded full recognition by tennis authorities until his twilight years.
In 1984, a statue of Perry was unveiled at Wimbledon, and in the same year Perry became the only tennis player listed in a survey of 2,000 Britons to find the ‘Best of the Best’ British sportsmen of the 20th century.


Sir Stanley Matthews, CBE (1 February 1915 – 23 February 2000) was an English footballer. Often regarded as one of the greatest players of the English game, he is the only player to have been knighted while still playing, as well as being the first winner of both the European Footballer of the Year and the Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year awards. Matthews' nicknames included 'The Wizard of the Dribble' and 'The Magician'.
A near-vegetarian teetotaller, he kept fit enough to play at the top level until he was 50 years old. He was also the oldest player ever to play in England's top football division and the oldest player ever to represent the country.
He played his final competitive game in 1985, at the age of 70.
Matthews was also an inaugural inductee to the English Football Hall of Fame in 2002 to honour his contribution to the English game.
He spent nineteen years with Stoke City, playing for the Potters from 1932 to 1947, and again from 1961 to 1965.
He helped Stoke to the Second Division title in 1932–33 and 1962–63.
In between his two spells at Stoke he spent fourteen years with Blackpool; where he became an FA Cup winner in 1953 (known as the Matthews Final), after he was on the losing side in the 1948 and 1951 finals.
Between 1937 and 1957 he won 54 caps for England, playing in the FIFA World Cup in 1950 and 1954, and winning nineBritish Home Championship titles.
Following an unsuccessful stint as Port Vale's general manager between 1965 and 1968, he travelled around the world, coaching enthusiastic amateurs.
Matthews died on 23 February 2000, aged 85, after falling ill while on holiday in Tenerife.


Sir Stirling Craufurd Moss, OBE FIE (Fellow of the Institute of Engineers) (born 17 September 1929 in London) is a former racing driver from England.
His success in a variety of categories placed him among the world's elite—he is often called "the greatest driver never to win the World Championship".



Sebastian Newbold Coe, Baron Coe, KBE (born 29 September 1956), often known as Seb Coe,[1] is an English former athlete and politician.
As a middle distance runner, Coe won four Olympic medals, including the 1500 metres gold medal at the Olympic Games in 1980 and 1984, and set eight outdoor and three indoor world records in middle distance track events (and also participated in a world record relay).
His rivalries with fellow Britons Steve Ovett and Steve Cram dominated middle-distance racing for much of the 1980s.
Following his retirement from athletics he served as a Member of Parliament for the Conservative Party from 1992–97, and became a life peer in 2000.
He was the head of the London bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympics, and, after the International Olympic Committee awarded the games to London, became the chairman of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games.
In 2007, he was also elected a vice-president of theInternational Association of Athletics Federations.
On 25 August 2011, he was re-elected for another four year term.



Thomas Robert "Tom" Daley (born 21 May 1994) is an English diver who specialises in the 10 metre platform event and was the 2009 FINA World Champion in the individual event at the age of 15.
He started diving at the age of seven and is a member of Plymouth Diving Club.
He has made an impact in national and international competitions from age 9.
He represented Great Britain at the 2008 Summer Olympics where he was Britain's youngest competitor, the youngest competitor of any nationality outside the sport of swimming, and the youngest to participate in a final.
In the first post-Rome 2009 World Championships edition of the FINA World Diving Rankings for the ten-metre platform, Daley reached a new career best ranking of number one.
He won two gold medals for England at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, in the 10 metre synchro diving (with Max Brick) and the 10 m Individual Platform competition.

click here for more information about Tom Daley

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014

Stephen Hawking

Stephen William Hawking, CH, CBE, FRS, FRSA (born 8 January 1942)[1] is an English theoretical physicist and cosmologist, whose scientific books and public appearances have made him an academic celebrity.
He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a lifetime member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and in 2009 was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States.
Hawking was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge for 30 years, taking up the post in 1979 and retiring on 1 October 2009.
He is now Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at the University of Cambridge.
He is also a Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge and a Distinguished Research Chair at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario.
He is known for his contributions to the fields of cosmology and quantum gravity, especially in the context of black holes.
He has also achieved success with works of popular science in which he discusses his own theories and cosmology in general; these include the runaway best seller 'A Brief History of Time', which stayed on the British Sunday Times best-sellers list for a record-breaking 237 weeks.
Hawking's key scientific works to date have included providing, with Roger Penrose, theorems regarding gravitational singularities in the framework of general relativity, and the theoretical prediction that black holes should emit radiation, which is today known as Hawking radiation (or sometimes as Bekenstein–Hawking radiation).
Hawking has a motor neurone disease that is related to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a condition that has progressed over the years and has left him almost completely paralysed.



'The Passing of the Unknown Warrior - 11 November 1920'

'The Burial of the Unknown Warrior, Westminster Abbey, 1920'

The British tomb of The Unknown Warrior holds an unidentified British soldier killed on a European battlefield during the First World War.
He was buried in Westminster Abbey, London on 11 November 1920.
The idea of a 'Tomb of the Unknown Warrior' was first conceived in 1916 by the Reverend David Railton, who, while serving as an army chaplain on the Western Front, had seen a grave marked by a rough cross, which bore the pencil-written legend 'An Unknown British Soldier'.
He wrote to the Dean of Westminster in 1920 proposing that an unidentified British soldier from the battlefields in France be buried with due ceremony in Westminster Abbey 'amongst the kings' to represent the many hundreds of thousands of Empire dead.
The idea was strongly supported by the Dean, and the then Prime Minister David Lloyd George.
Arrangements were placed in the hands of Lord Curzon of Kedleston, who prepared in committee the service and location.
Suitable remains were exhumed from various battlefields and brought to the chapel at Saint-Pol-sur-Ternoise near Arras, France on the night of 7 November 1920.
The bodies were received by the Reverend George Kendall OBE.
Brigadier L.J. Wyatt and Lieutenant Colonel E.A.S. Gell of the Directorate of Graves Registration and Enquiries went into the chapel alone.
The remains were then placed in six plain coffins each covered by Union Flags: the two officers did not know from which battlefield any individual soldier had come.
Brigadier Wyatt with closed eyes rested his hand on one of the coffins. 
The coffin of the 'unknown warrior' then stayed at the chapel overnight, and on the afternoon of 8 November, it was transferred under guard, and escorted by Kendall, to the medieval castle within the ancient citadel at Boulogne.
For the occasion, the castle library was transformed into a 'chapelle ardente': a company from the French 8th Infantry Regiment, recently awarded the Légion d'Honneur en masse, stood vigil overnight.
The following morning, two undertakers entered the castle library and placed the coffin into a casket of the oak timbers of trees from Hampton Court Palace.
The casket was banded with iron, and a medieval crusader's sword chosen by the King personally, from the Royal Collection, was affixed to the top, and surmounted by an iron shield bearing the inscription 'A British Warrior who fell in the Great War 1914–1918 for King and Country'.
At 10.30 am, all the church bells of Boulogne tolled; the massed trumpets of the French cavalry and the bugles of the French infantry played the French 'Last Post'.
Then, the mile-long procession made its way down to the harbour.
At the quayside, Marshal Foch saluted the casket before it was carried up the gangway of the destroyer, 'HMS Verdun', and piped aboard with an admiral's call.
The 'Verdun' slipped anchor just before noon and was joined by an escort of six battleships.
As the flotilla carrying the casket closed on Dover Castle it received a 19-gun Field Marshal's salute. 
It was landed at Dover Marine Railway Station at the Western Docks on 10 November.
The body of the 'Unknown Warrior' was carried to London's Victoria Station, where it arrived at platform 8 at 8.32 pm that evening and remained overnight.
On the morning of 11 November 1920, the casket was placed onto a gun carriage of the Royal Horse Artillery and drawn by six horses through immense and silent crowds.
As the cortege set off, a further Field Marshal's salute was fired in Hyde Park.
The route followed was Hyde Park Corner, The Mall, and to Whitehall where the Cenotaph, a 'symbolic empty tomb', designed by Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens, was unveiled by King-Emperor George V. 
The cortège was then followed by the King, the Royal Family and ministers of state to Westminster Abbey, where the casket was borne into the West Nave of the Abbey.
The coffin was then interred in the far western end of the Nave, only a few feet from the entrance, in soil brought from each of the main battlefields, and covered with a silk pall.
Servicemen from the armed forces stood guard as tens of thousands of mourners filed silently past.
The grave was then capped with a black marble stone (the only tombstone in the Abbey on which it is forbidden to walk) featuring this inscription, composed by Herbert Edward Ryle, Dean of Westminster, engraved with brass from melted down wartime ammunition:

'They buried him among the kings because he
Had done good toward God and toward
His house'
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014

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