Remembrance of the Somme


It is 30 years since the S&G witnessed this remarkable documentary about the Somme. Presented by Rumpole himself, the brilliant Leo McKern, it does what documentaries seldom do these days: presents the facts and lets the emotion of the situation speak for itself. On this day of remembrance it is well worth an hour of your time.

The story of the Newfoundlanders at Beaumont Hamel is, for me, the stand-out tale. Two years after first watching this documentary, my father and I travelled the length of the Western Front by car. In the old trenches at Beaumont Hamel I felt something underfoot and lifted it out of the grass. It was a .303 bullet case, trodden on many decades earlier and filled with wet earth. Today it remains in pride of place in the S&G’s memento case – pictured above.

At 7:28am tomorrow, the UK will hold a national two minute silence to mark the moment the first wave of soldiers went over the top in the Battle of the Somme.

It will follow the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery firing guns from Parliament Square for 100 seconds and a reading in Westminster Abbey. Whistles will be blown to mark the end of the two minute silence after the 7:30am chimes of Big Ben.

A National Commemorative Service will also take place at Manchester Cathedral and will be followed by a people’s procession through Manchester to Heaton Park. Hopefully these events will be worthy of a commemoration of such magnitude.

Across all the affected countries – Germany, France, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, Bermuda, Africa, China – commemorations will also no doubt be held. Long should we all remember.

Airfix delights little boys of all ages

It’s not every day that Airfix releases an all-new Avro Lancaster. In fact it’s about once every 20 years on average. To mark the 70th anniversary of Operation CHASTISE and the ingenious ‘bouncing bomb’ created by Barnes Wallis that was delivered by the brave young men led by Wing Commander Guy Gibson, an all-new model kit in 1/72 scale has been produced and it goes on sale this weekend:

New box, new model... a happy day for big kids

New box, new model… a happy day for big kids

Today model kits, like Scalextric cars and pretty well everything else these days, are made using 3D CAD design, making for the most crisp, detailed and accurate miniatures around. Well, they do if they’re done properly. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, so here’s one that has been done in advance of the model’s launch:

Pre-production model put together by one of the members at

Pre-production model put together by one of the members at

It looks like the only way you’ll get a better Dam-Buster Lanc is to be Peter Jackson!Curiously neither of the versions included in the decal set is the celebrated AJ-G flown by Gibson himself. Presumably they think that enough people will have those decals left over from older kits. Instead you get AJ-T, a reserve aircraft flown by Ft Lt Joseph Charles McCarthy DFC RCAF, and AJ-E flown by Flight Lieutenant Robert Norman George Barlow DFC RAAF.

And if the kit isn’t enough to satisfy your commemorative urges then there’s a new print available by the same chap who did the box art. Yes, the ‘painting’ is also done on computers these days…

New Dam-Buster print by Finest Hour designer, Adam Tooby

New Dam-Buster print by Finest Hour designer, Adam Tooby

The kit carries a retail price of £29.99 but discounts are often available from specialist retailers. The print is available from Finest Hour Art (click to visit) at £24.99 for A3 and £29.99 for A2.

Sites we like #5 – The Cahier Archive

You have to be pretty special if you have ‘F’ and ‘1’ in close proximity in the URL of your website and don’t feel Bernie Ecclestone’s finger on your collar. The legacy of Bernard Cahier and continued good work of his son Paul-Henri in capturing the world of Formula One falls into exactly that category.

Graham Hill and Brice McLaren, Monaco 1960 (Copyright of The Cahier Archive)

Graham Hill and Brice McLaren, Monaco 1960 (Copyright of The Cahier Archive)

If you head over to The Cahier Archive you will find an unbroken line of passion for the best bits of racing, from the cheery bonhommie between the drivers of the 1950s to the blemish-free bottoms of modern grid girls and evertything in between. The Cahiers are Formula One royalty, meaning that they are at home behind the scenes and people tend to relax and enjoy themselves when they are around or accept their presence in the tense moments before or during a race.

All except for Kimi-Matias Räikkönen, of course, who saw fit to send Paul-Henri ‘a-over-t’ on the grid at Silverstone a few years back… a bit of a black, there, by The Kimster. Nevertheless, if it’s atmosphere you want to adorn your walls then you’ll find that the Cahiers have caught more of it and preserved it ready for any occasion… it’s always a pleasure to stop by P-H’s site.

Peter Collins and Mike Hawthorn leaving after practice, 1958 German GP (Copyright The Cahier Archive)

Peter Collins and Mike Hawthorn leaving after practice, 1958 German GP (Copyright The Cahier Archive)

An artist at the controls in King Kong

Yes, it’s that man again… Peter Jackson, creator of Meet the Feebles and other more hobbity fayre, once again putting the sort of aircraft that fit right in at the Scarf and Goggles back on the silver screen.

In this case it’s the original Curtiss Helldiver – sister type to the aircraft which took a starring role in the original King Kong movie of 1933. When Jackson remade the movie which started him off on the road to tinseltown, he wanted the most authentic flying scene he could create, and without any surviving Curtiss biplanes of the right vintage he built a pair of new ones… just like his squadron of full-size Lancaster bombers being readied for The Dam-Busters.

Obviously most of the flying was done with CGI which gave him the chance to muck about a little. Hence the ‘pilot’ of the star aircraft is none other than aviation artist extraordinaire, Jim Dietz. Jim was able to counsel Jackson on the correct colour scheme for these beauties, and was rewarded with the best seat in the house for Kong’s vertiginous last stand – that of pilot in the leading aircraft. So enjoy one of Jackson’s little in-jokes anew:

“For Jim it was a childhood dream. He got to wear all the gear and fire blanks from a machine gun. He was like a little boy getting to play pilot,” said his wife, Patti.

To see more of Jim’s stunning artwork, go to his website – here!

Graham Turner: Master at Work

Graham Turner is one of the best artists working today, bar none. He brings the trademark rivet-perfect detail to his subjects and passion for the stories behind each picture that have long typified the work of his father, Michael. But there is a freshness and vibrancy there that rejuvenates even the best-known subjects and renders them anew – like this recent offering: Master at Work.

Stirling Moss and the Vanwall remain one of the most-painted combinations in motor sport history. When new work like this appears, you have to believe that this will be the case for many years to come.

Graham Turner's portrait of Stirling Moss in the 1958 Dutch GP

Graham Turner’s portrait of Stirling Moss in the 1958 Dutch GP

To see all of Michael and Graham Turner’s work, visit