Sir Archibald MacIndoe (1900 - 1960). Was an eminent plastic surgeon hailing from a long line of doctors. He honed and perfected his amazing skill with the scalpel, on the broken and burned bodies of men injured in aerial combat. Sir Archibald emerged as a phenomenon during the Battle of Britain in 1940 and which provided him with his greatest challenges. The vast majority of his patients were the young dashing pilots of the Royal Air Force who sustained their burns during 'dogfights' in the skies over the South Coast of England and in some cases over the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead where they would eventually find themselves under the great man's care
MacIndoe himself was raised in New Zealand, when his grandfather James MacIndoe, also a surgeon had emigrated to Dunedin from Edinburgh , Scotland in 1859. The early influence on the young Archibald, was his mother and later in the operating theatre people were mesmerised by his artistry with scalpel and stitching and he credits his mother for this. He attended Otago High School where he excelled in rugby and tennis.
At school he had a sweetheart, Adonia Aitken and after graduating from medical school at 23 they married. At this time the famous American surgeon William Mayo was in New Zealand offering scholarships to study at the great Mayo Clinic in Rochester USA. MacIndoe was devastated that he did not get selected. However, Mayo was sufficiently impressed with the young doctor, that he created another scholarship particularly for him. The unfortunate stipulation was that he had to be unmarried. Although he had grave doubts about leaving his young wife behind Adonia insisted he go. Later Mayo discovered that MacIndoe was married and insisted he send for his wife immediately.
He had some disappointment in 1931 when at the University of London Post Graduate Medical School, he did not receive a professorship he felt he was due. He contacted a New Zealand cousin Sir Harold Delf Gilles, who had made a great name for himself as a plastic surgeon, and Sir Harold turned out to be the major influence on the young Archibald's life and career. He began to be his cousin's bag-carrier when the plastic surgeon took clinics and closely observed his techniques. Time, patience, planning and technique were impressed upon him by his mentor, how to do flap grafts, and how pieces of rib could be used to replace shattered jaws. Shaving away layers of dead skin needed great skill and practice and eventually Archie could peel a grape with a scalpel.
When he was allowed his first operation, on an Indian civil servant who had been mauled by a tiger, he did such an excellent job that he was the talk of the London clubs to which surgeons went to unwind after a day in the theatre. By 1939 MacIndoe was well on his way to establishing his reputation. His private practice was sufficient to allow him to drive around London in a Rolls Royce and enjoy the company of the rich and famous. He had two very dedicated assistants in Jill Mullins, his theatre assistant, whom he often admitted was his second pair of hands, and John Hunter the anaesthetist, a roly-poly ebullient character whose 'touch with the gas' was legendary.
As war approached, preparations were made for the treatment of casualties. East Grinstead was chosen to be one of the four plastic surgery centres in Britain. MacIndoe assembled his team. Post operative care, he insisted, was more important in plastic work than any other surgery. Above all the nurse must be able to empathize with the patient. In serious deformity, the mind is just as crippled as the body. Casualties began to arrive and the team went to work on them. One had been badly burned on the hands, legs and face when he returned to his crashed Blenheim bomber to look for his colleague. Another had his training plane sliced in half and lost both his legs, whilst a third had been shot down over the channel by a Messerschmidt and badly burned. He was picked up after several hours in the sea by Margate lifeboat. MacIndoe thought that the salt water had lessened his injuries, and developed a technique of bathing burn victims in a saline bath before operating.
The camaraderie of the ward was a brilliant stroke of psychology by the surgeon, the radio was playing all the time and there was no differentiation between the ranks because ward three was just not big enough. Horseplay and rowdyism was part of the healing process. The people of East Grinstead also played a very important part. MacIndoe told them bluntly, 'these men are human beings and must not be treated or even looked upon as abnormal, talk to them, after all there is nothing the matter with them that a little kindness and understanding would not cure' There were many citizens of the area who gave huge support to MacIndoe and his patients. Among them was Mr. Gordon Clemittson, a local newspaper editor, and Mrs Catheline Dewar, of the whisky family, who gave her home and hospitality to the men waiting for operations. Bill Gardiner, the courteous manager of the Whitehall Restaurant, did more for the morale of the patients than a whole faculty of psychiatrists. His bar rarely opened or closed without MacIndoes boys being present. Over 600 servicemen from 16 different nationalities passed through Queen Victoria's ward 3, during the course of the war. They had their own club called the 'Guinea Pig Club' which did much to lift morale both for those in the ward and when they left. MacIndoe remained the president until his death.
After the war, MacIndoe was knighted in 1947. His marriage to Adonia broke up, but instead of marrying Jill, his faithful theatre assistant as many and certainly she expected, he married a vivacious and intelligent thrice divorced woman Constance Belchem. He bought an estate on the slopes of Kilimanjaro. He had a cataract operation and tried one theatre procedure afterwards but gave up in disgust when he could not focus properly.
In April of 1960 he attended the Saints and Sinners Dinner in London, and on April 13th, the morning after Sir Archibald Hector MacIndoe was found dead by his maid in his bed at his London flat in Albion Gate, Bayswater.
In 1916 Rye Harbour received a new lifeboat, the Mary Stanford, it was a boat whose name was going to bring great shock and sadness to the whole country 12 years later. Early in the morning of November 15th, 1928, the Sussex Coast was buffeted by one of the worst gales in living memory. Before dawn, news came that the S S Alice out of Riga, Lithuania, with a cargo of bricks was taking in water and drifting about 3 miles south of Dungeness. The 17 man lifeboat crew were summoned to the station. Rye was a close-knit community and in common with many of the lifeboat stations there was a strong family tradition of service . Walter Igglesden was at first refused permission to go by his father but managed to persuade him to agree. Younger members of families persuaded older members not to go and took their places.
For Lewis Pope aged 21, it was his first real emergency, as he had only been to sea in the lifeboat on training exercises. He was thrilled to be on the same boat as two elder brothers Charles 28 and Robert 23. Another family also had three members on the boat, the Coxswain was Herbert Head 47, and his two sons James 19, and the youngest crew member John just 17.. There was a third family with three crew members, the Bowman, Henry Cutting 39, his two brothers, Robert 28 and Albert 26.
The usual number of 60 launchers who helped get the boat away, was drastically reduced on this occasion, because the wind was howling so much that many failed to hear the exploding charge in the sky over the River Rother. The tide was at its lowest and the boat had to be dragged 1000 metres to the water. Twice they tried to launch the boat and twice it was flung back on the shore. Eventually they set sail an began rowing into high rough seas. It was about 6.45a.m.
The lifeboat had only just left the shore when the coastguard along the coast received the news that the Alice's crew had been taken off by a passing German steamer. If only the message had been relayed to Rye earlier the tragedy that followed could have been avoided . Because the message received by the coastguard station about the crew of the stricken vessel being saved was not in itself life-saving, it was not transmitted as an emergency and took 38 minutes to reach Rye harbour and cost 17 lives. Despite men racing into the water with loud-hailers to stop the boat, their frantic calls were blown away in the gale. Even when three Verey Lights were sent up - the recognized recall sign - it was all to no avail. The lifeboat searched for four hours for a boat which had already sunk. Eventually about mid morning she put about to return to harbour.
Often when out in really heavy seas, the Rye lifeboat would make for Folkstone or else lie offshore until the weather abated but on this occasion the coxswain decided to run for harbour. Just off the harbour entrance the Mary Stanford was engulfed by a giant wave and capsized.
The tragedy was witnessed by a young lad from Camber who had been collecting driftwood on the beach. He raced home and told his parents. At first they did not believe him because they thought, like everyone else, the boat was self righting. However the boys father informed the coastguard. At noon the boat was spotted, bottom up floating towards the shore. The bodies of two of the crew were found entangled beneath the boat. One of the was still warm and attempts to revive him lasted three hours before hope was given up. One by one other battered and bruised bodies were washed ashore.
One eye witness told of the heart-rending sight of the local vicar kneeling on the beach in pouring rain, surrounded by the women of the village praying with them. An inquest was held on Friday November 16th. Coroner Dr. Harratt, heard evidence from Major Hacking, a Member of Rye Harbour Committee, who criticized kapok life jackets, claiming they were perished and quickly became waterlogged. The seaworthiness of the Mary Stanford was considered, but it was categorically stated that the boat and her crew were efficient. The coroner, in recording a verdict of 'Death by Accidental Drowning' suggested that Major Hacking's concerns about the life belts should be forwarded to the proper authorities.
On Tuesday November 20th there was a mass funeral with the exception of Bowman Henry Cutting and the youngest crew member John Head whose bodies had not been recovered. At the funeral the Rye Town Band played 'Abide with Me' as the cortege made its way from the Fisherman's Institute, where the coffins had been laid prior to burial.
As the flags were removed from each coffin the simple inscription "Died Gallantly" could be seen alongside each name. Their grave now stands as a memorial to the men. There is a statue of a lifeboat above it with the inscription "We Have Done That Which Was Our Duty To Do"
Two and a half centuries ago bare -knuckle fighting for money, winner takes all was very popular in Sussex. Although eventually declared illegal, it continued to be arranged and attracted many fans, including the great and the good, members of the government, bishops and judges as well as labourers and farm workers who flocked to watch a fight especially when a Sussexman was in the ring. Tom Sayers is generally regarded as the greatest ever exponent of bare-knuckle fighting. His courage in taking on bigger and heavier opponents was never in doubt. But what makes him a hero was the way he never gave up. Fights continued until one or other of the boxers called a halt. Such courage made a great sporting hero of him and his conduct in and out of the ring was exemplary.
Tom was born in the Pimlico district of Brighton in 1826. His father nicknamed 'Old Tan' was a cobbler but his name was more due to his dark complexion which was inherited by his son. His mother, Mary Pickard was a serving maid from Storrington. Tom could neither read nor write and worked as a 'Jack in the Water' on Brighton beach by the time he was six years old. A healthy and physically demanding task which obviously built up the youngsters body. His job entailed pushing pleasure boats into deeper water, and to beach and clean them when not being used.
At age thirteen he joined his elder brother Jack, working on the Brighton to Lewes railway as a labourer. He soon learned how to look after himself in a rough tough world. Due to the influences absorbed by him during his period as a Jack in the Water, his vocabulary and manner of speech were such he appeared to his companions to speak "posh" and was miserable, as this period was the unhappiest of his life. After coming to the rescue of the foreman's daughter on a building site, Tom was challenged to a fight. The biggest of the navvies involved appointed himself champion and challenged Tom to fight him for 5 shillings. Tom accepted at once and a ring was erected. The foreman was to act as referee. Tom was 5' 8" and weighed 9 stones. His opponent was 6' 2" and weighed half as much again. Tom dodged around the ring tiring his opponent then flattened him with a left and a right.
At this point Tom left Sussex and went to work in London for Jack Atcherley, a horse slaughterer, who had been a well known prize-fighter and thought Tom had the potential of a champion. In 1847 Tom met Sarah Powell, was attracted by her and keen to marry, but she was already married and separated and her husband had emigrated. As there was no children the couple decided to live together and bought the tenancy of a pub, The Laurel Tree in Camden Town. They had two children Sarah and Tom. In 1849, Jack Atcherley finally persuaded Tom to try his fortune in the prize-fight ring.
His first professional fight was against Abe Couch, a Paddington dustman and a rough tough prize fighter. The paying spectators watched a master at work even though he was a novice. Tom demolished his opponent 6 inches taller and 3 stones heavier in 12 minutes. At this point he got his nickname "The Little Wonder"
In 1853 Sarah received news that her husband living abroad had died. Tom and Sarah married quietly. Unfortunately Sarah was a social climber and extravagant with Tom's money, becoming very friendly with one Alfred Aldredge who was a customer at the pub. In June 1853 Sayers challenged Nat Langham to fight him for £100 and the Championship of the Middleweights. Nat accepted the fight and it took place on 18th October 1853 at Lakenheath in Suffolk. Regrettably Tom's training was badly disrupted for over a month due to influenza. Then an attack of boils laid him low. The fight should have been postponed. The champion, Langham preceded to jab away at Tom's eyes which closed and he could only grope around the ring. At the end of round 61 Tom's seconds held him back and 'threw in the sponge'.
Sayers recovered and issued a second challenge to the champion but Langham had decided to retire and therefore Sayers got the champions belt and the title by default, but Langham went down in history as the only man ever to defeat Tom Sayers. Unfortunately, Sayers reputation was so feared that no challengers would come forward and his income dried up. On top of this his marriage had virtually come to an end, although for the sake of their children Tom and Mary continued to live as man and wife.
Sayers now decided to fight for the Heavyweight Championship of England. He had already beaten men considerably heavier than himself, but even so it caused a sensation when he challenged William Perry, known as the'Tipton Slasher' for £200 and the heavyweight title. Perry 38 years old weighed 14 stones and stood 6'1" and had been a professional prizefighter since he was 16 years old and in superb physical shape. Sayers was 31 and over 2 stones lighter. The heavier man could not hit the lighter and faster challenger and began to tire. Sayers blows began to tell. After an hour and 42 minutes fighting Perry was so badly cut that his seconds 'threw in the sponge''. Sayers was now the first middleweight to hold the Heavyweight Championship title.
The fighter from Benicia in California, John Heenan, was ready and willing to travel to England. The "Benicia Boy" had fought and beaten all comers on the West Coast of America and was generally acknowledged as the American champ. The fight went ahead at Farnborough on April 16th 1860. An estimated 12000 watched the fight At 7.29a.m. time was called. In round 6 Tom was caught with the full weight of Heenan's left on his right arm. The blow broke the arm and from then on the Sussex man could only fight with his left. In round 36 the police tried to storm the ring to stop the fight but were held back by the crowd.
Sayers should have been set fair for a happy retirement but it was not to be. He had been losing weight and was suffering from an unquenchable thirst. All his life he had been abstemious but now began to drink large amounts of beer. He became slow and lethargic . Eventually a doctor diagnosed diabetes. One evening he went out with his bull mastiff 'Lion' to a club owned by an old friend in the Haymarket. He had too much to drink and left without his coat, driving his horse and cart home to Camden Town in a biting winters wind. He contracted pneumonia and tuberculosis and one lung collapsed. He died on November 7th 1865 with his father, son and daughter at his bedside.
The affair of the Piltdown Man was one of the worlds greatest hoaxes and also one of the century's most puzzling whodunits. In or around 1913 near the Sussex village of Piltdown, someone secreted in the ground, specially doctored apparently human remains. On discovery they were hailed by the entire scientific community as representing the 'missing link' between ape and man.
Forty years later in 1953, the bones were re-examined and treated with modern dating methods and found to be a hoax. Who perpetrated such a hoax and why? Time has pointed the finger at a number of people but no final conclusion has been reached.
In 1908, in a shallow gravel pit outside Barkham Manor, near Piltdown, was found some unusual remains by a workman. He kept them to show to Charles Dawson, a lawyer who managed the estate and himself an amateur archeologist. Dawson lived at Castle Lodge in Lewes and thought that the find was an exceptionally thick human skull. Dawson repeatedly visited the original site - Piltdown 1 and later to further sites Piltdown 2 and 3. over the coming 3 to 4 years, further remains were discovered of a human nature together with the fossil of a hippopotamus tooth. in 1912, Dawson took all his finds to the British Museum of Natural History, now the Natural History Museum and showed them to Doctor Smith Woodward, Keeper of Geology. Sensing that Dawson may have been onto something important, Woodward accompanied him to the gravel pit in May 1912.
Further finds were revealed by Dawson and he continued to work throughout that summer. These comprised 8 pieces of human cranium a jawbone and some 9 to 10 fragments of mammalian teeth and bone. In December 1912 Dawson and Woodward addressed a meeting of the Geological Society of London outlining their discoveries and Piltdown Man was christened "Eoanthropus Dawsoni" - Dawsons Dawn Man. This, and to many British anthropologists, was at last the 'missing link', a being that was neither ape nor man but a development in between. In these times before carbon dating and other modern methods, scientists at the British Museum dated Piltdown Man older than the Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons found in Europe. This could mean only one thing - the first man must have been a British native! The remains were thought to come from Pliocene deposits that is roughly two million years old.
Many distinguished academicians issued dozens of papers giving varying views on how Piltdown Man fitted with our evolutionary history. But in the United States of America there were some voices which expressed concern. William Gregory, a paleontologist in 1914 at the Museum of Natural History in New York, noted that the bones "are not all that old at all" and even represent a deliberate hoax.
The controversy raged for the next four decades. Most scientists and the general public accepted the Piltdown Man as fact. Then in 1953 a paleontologist at the British Museum and two distinguished anatomists at Oxford re-examined the bones and found unequivocal indications that they were a forgery. The lower jaw came from a young female orangutan and the teeth had been filed flat to appear more human. There were a number of other indications. It appeared the bones had been soaked in a solution of potassium dichromate which not only hardened the remains but produced a patina giving the appearance of great age. The skull may have been boiled in iron sulphate solution. The hoaxer had done his work well. But who was the hoaxer and why did he do it?
After 2000 hours of investigation, John Winslow, an American anthropologist, placed the blame at the door of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle the eminent Scottish doctor and author of Sherlock Holmes. But why had nobody else previously tracked the guilt to Doyle's door? Winslow stated that the fact that Doyle had not been implicated in the hoax previously was testament to the skill with which he perpetrated it and also to be on his trail is, in a sense, to be on the trail of the worlds greatest fictional deceptive himself - Sherlock Holmes. Various other theories have been advanced as to who perpetrated the hoax, including a number naming Dawson as the guilty man. But facts do not bear this out as Dawson had only a meagre knowledge of anatomy and could never have fooled the distinguished anatomists who had accepted Piltdown Man.
Why then was the hoax so successful? In Richard Harter's paper he gives several reasons including the fact that the team finding the specimens i.e Dawson and Woodward had excellent credentials and also blames incompetence on the part of the British palentological community, the relatively primitive analytical tools available at the time. the skill of the forgery and "the hoax led a charmed life". Woodward has also been named as both the perpetrator and the victim. It was suggested that someone wanted to make Woodward look foolish after the hoax was exposed.
One of the more recent candidates is Martin Hinton, a curator of Zoology at the Natural history Museum at the time of the hoax. Years later Hinton's trunk was discovered under the roof of the Museum and the contents included a number of bones stained and carved in the same way as the Piltdown Man fossils and other artefacts. When analysed they were found to be enriched in iron and magnesium in the same proportions as in Piltdown Man. Richard Harter however, points out that the case against Hinton is full of flaws. Who then really was the hoaxer? The simple truth is that we do not know . No theory stands out that cannot be faulted. So despite the periodic and enthusiastic claims, the truth is that we will probably never know for sure. All the suspects are long dead and no one yet has managed to obtain information from beyond the grave.
Constance Lane simply could not understand it. One of her closest friends had apparently disappeared from the face of the earth. Miss Lane, a resident of the Onslow Court Hotel, South Kensington had missed her friend Olive Henrietta Helen Olivia Robarts Durand-Deacon at dinner on the night of Friday, February 18th 1949. What concerned Miss Lane was that Olivia was a creature of strict habit and not like her to be absent without an explanation. When she did not appear at breakfast the following morning Miss Lane's concern deepened. Sometime between 9 and 10 a.m another guest Mr. Haigh enquired from Miss Lane as to the reason for the none appearance of her companion and she had to confess to being worried.
John George Haigh had also been a guest at the hotel for some time. He was an entrepreneur and Constance Lane knew that Olivia had expressed an interest in a business venture he was planning to produce false fingernails. He had said he thought he had found a way of making the false nails and had invited Mrs. Durand-Deacon to his factory to see his work. When Constance Lane first questioned Mr. Haigh about this he stated he was supposed to have taken Miss Durand-Deacon the previous day to his factory but she wanted to do some shopping first and agreed to meet him outside the store in central London. Haigh had got there at 2.35p.m. and waited till 3.00p.m. and when she did not come he carried on alone.
By Sunday February 20th Mrs. Durand-Deacon still had not appeared ,John Haigh again approached Miss Lane to ask for news. As she was now very anxious she told Haigh she would have to report the disappearance to the police. Haigh appeared concerned about that and two hours later he reappeared and said he would go with her to the police.
By Sunday February 20th Mrs. Durand-Deacon still had not appeared ,John Haigh again approached Miss Lane to ask for news. As she was now very anxious she told Haigh she would have to report the disappearance to the police. Haigh appeared concerned about that and two hours later he reappeared and said he would go with her to the police.
Acting on a hunch, the police checked out Haigh's police record. It transpired that he had quite a record. At 25 he had received a 15 month sentence for selling stolen cars, and at 27 got four years for fraud. He also had been jailed for looting bombed out houses in the second world war. It was enough for Shelley-Symes to dig a little deeper into Haigh's affairs. Further enquiries at the Hotel indicated that he had financial problems and had recently been unable to pay his hotel bill.
The police now turned their attention to Haigh's workshop in Leopold Road, Crawley which, in fact, was owned by a Mr. Edward Jones, a friend of Haigh and for whom Haigh did occasional work and was allowed to borrow the keys and use the workshop in exchange. Jones confirmed that Haigh had visited him on 15th February and asked for a loan of £50. Jones had lent this to him on the understanding that it would be repaid by the weekend.. On February 17th Haigh was back in Crawley and asked for the keys for the workshop on the 18th as he was bringing someone down from London to see his idea for producing false finger nails. On the morning of the 18th Haigh arrived in Crawley early The two men went to Leopold Street and loaded some material onto Jones's vehicle and the keys were given to Haigh. Later the same day, Jones again saw Haigh who told him the prospective business partner had not turned up and paid Jones £36 of the £50 he owed. Detective Sergeant Heslin of the police was curious to know from where Haigh had obtained the £36 to repay Jones and decided to search the workshop in Crawley.
There were a number of interesting items in the room. Three large carboys containing acid in the centre of the room. On a bench a rubber apron and a pair of gauntlet gloves and an army respirator. On another bench in the far corner of the room was a locked square leather hatbox . A number of papers were together with the hatbox were taken away. One of these papers was a receipt for a fur coat from a dry cleaners in Reigate. When officers following up this enquiry spoke to Miss Marriot at the cleaners she said the coat had been brought in by a well-dressed gentleman. It turned out to be a Persian lamb coat of the type Mrs. Durand-Deacon had been wearing when she disappeared.
On February 28th 1949, Detective Inspector Shelley-Symes and Detective Inspector Albert Webb called at the Onslow Court Hotel and took Haigh into custody at Chelsea Police Station for further questioning about the disappearance of Mrs Durand-Deacon. At first he stuck to his original story but he was confronted by the evidence of the fur coat. After some time in custody Haigh during a period alone with Inspector Webb asked "Tell me frankly, what are the chances of anyone being released from Broadmoor"? Webb, taken a back replied "I cannot discuss that sort of thing with you"!
Haigh fell silent for a time then said "Well, if I tell you the truth you will not believe me. It sounds to fantastic for belief. Mrs Durand-Deacon no longer exists, she has disappeared completely and no trace of her can ever be found again. I destroyed her with acid. You will find the sludge that remains at Leopold Street. Every trace has gone. How can you prove murder if there is no body"?
Despite the fact that they had a full written confession the police needed much more if they were going to prove that a murder had been committed. With that in mind, on March 1st Dr. Keith Simpson, the pathologist visited the alleged murder scene. One of the first things Simpson noticed was on the whitewashed walls was a group of what seemed to be blood spatters. Outside 475 pounds of dirt and top soil was loaded into wooden boxes and removed to Scotland Yard. The hatbox was opened and found to contain a revolver which had recently been fired. Sifting the soil revealed the handle of a red plastic bag which fitted a similar bag found behind bricks in the yard and similar to one Mrs Durand-Deacon had on the day she vanished. Also was found a set of dentures which on checking with the dental surgeon used by Mrs. Durand -Deacon was confirmed as hers. Continuing his search Dr. Simpson found 28 pounds of a highly greasy substance which he identified as a form of animal fat, three gallstones and 18 fragments of human bone.
The police now turned their attention to other missing persons with whom Haigh claimed to have been involved. The police visited the back room premises at 79 Gloucester Road, South Kensington and dug a large hole. Samples of soil and part of the drainage system were removed. The press now had knowledge of the possibility of multiple murder. One newspaper, The Daily Mirror, published articles naming missing people and giving details of of Haigh's alleged practices stating plainly he was a "Vampire". This was prejudicial to Haigh's case and the proprietors of the newspaper were fined £10,000 and the editor jailed for three months.
Haigh's trial itself opened on Monday July 18th and lasted just two days. Although charged with only one murder, Haigh in fact confessed to nine. In addition to Olivia Durand-Deacon, his final victim, Haigh also claimed to have killed three members of the McSwann family, Archibald and Rosalie Henderson, a woman he met in Hammersmith, a young man he met the same year,and a woman named Mary whom he killed at Crawley after he met her at Eastbourne.
Haigh had once worked as a repair man for William Donald McSwann who operated a number of amusement arcades in London. In the summer of 1944 Haigh, by chance met McSwann who mentioned he was concerned about being called up for the army and what would happen to the business. Haigh said he may be able to help out in the business and invited McSwann to a store he had at 79 Gloucester Road where he was working on a new pinball machine. On arrival Haigh coshed the young man over the head. Once he was sure the man was dead Haigh made an incision in the man's chest and took a glass of blood from the body and drank it. He then placed the body in a 40 gallon tank of acid. Once the reaction was complete he poured the remaining sludge down a manhole in the basement.
Haigh now forged letters ostensibly from the missing McSwann, stating he had gone into hiding to avoid call-up and sent them to McSwanns' parents. Less than a year later. in July 1945, both parents, William McSwann and his wife Amy, had been lured separately to Gloucester Road by Haigh, bludgeoned to death and their bodies dissolved in acid. Haigh then used forgery skills to obtain the title to the property owned by the McSwanns. He sold furniture realising some £4000.
Dr. Archibald Henderson was a successful man, a man of property and position. He and his attractive wife Rose lived in a large house in Fulham. This house had been converted into flats and Dr. Henderson now wished to sell them. One of the prospective buyers was John George Haigh. Although the sale did not materialise, the Hendersons had been charmed by the plausible Haigh and decided to keep in touch with him. So it was that when they said they were going down to Brighton for a holiday, Haigh booked a room in the same hotel the Metropole.
On February 16th 1948, Dr. Henderson and his wife vanished. In fact, Haigh had lured Dr. Henderson to Leopold Road where he shot him dead with the man's own gun which Haigh had stolen earlier. Haigh then told Rose that her husband had taken ill and offered to drive her to Crawley so that she could be with him. Once at the workshop, she too was shot, both bodies being dissolved in acid. Before this as with the McSwanns, Haigh had taken his glass of blood from each corpse and drunk it down. This was to be Haigh's most successful killing to date. Using his talent for forgery, he convinced the Henderson family and servants that they had gone to South Africa. Further he then went on to appropriate their not inconsiderable property and sell the lot.
Haigh was undoubtedly an evil multiple murderer, but was he sane? The defence at his trial called Dr. Henry Yellowlees, a psychiatrist who had examined Haigh on four occasions at Brixton prison. Ever since he had been a young child, Haigh had been fascinated by blood. He had once accidentally hurt himself and drawn blood, licked it and found the taste agreeable. Haigh also told Dr. Yellowlees of some recurring dreams which were extremely bizarre and involved Haigh drinking blood. These urges had been suppressed in the adult Haigh until one day in 1944 when he had been involved in a serious car accident near Three Bridges in Sussex, Haigh's head was cut and the blood ran into his mouth. This rekindled his desires and led to him drinking the blood of the people he killed. Dr. Yellowlees gave his opinion that Haigh was a lunatic.
The jury retired on the second day and took only 17 minutes to decided that Haigh was sane, and guilty of murder. On Wednesday August 10th 1949 a crowd of 500 people gathered in bright sunshine outside Wandsworth jail. At 9.00a.m. John George Haigh was hanged by Albert Pierrpoint.
There was a touch of mist in the air over southern England on the morning of 15th September 1940. It cleared fairly quickly and the sun shone through clear and bright. IT was excellent BOMBING WEATHER.
At around 11 o'clock on the morning of Sunday, September 15th, a large German formation was detected massing over Boulogne and Calais. The target was London. The attack was to be a repeat of the onslaught of September 11th. The Luftwaffe commanders and their aircrew had doubts about the real value of these attacks, because their losses were mounting at quite an alarming rate. The difference this time was that their bombers were going to fly direct to London instead of engaging in diversionary attacks as had happened in the past - the object having been to disguise the real target
The German bomber formation crossed the Channel at 15,000 feet, rising to 26,000 feet as it crossed the English coastline near Dungeness. The RAF squadrons were ready and waiting, and they immediately went into the attack- at first without 602 Squadron. As more squadrons joined in, 602 were kept in readiness. The squadron together with 607 from Tangmere, were at last scrambled, but by the time they reached Mayfield, their target, the action had finished. This was young Paddy Barthropp's first sortie with 602, and he knew enough to realise that to be in the front line was going to be a tough job despite the damp squib of this early experience. The squadrons were soon back at base, settling down to grab a bite of lunch.
Their rest was short-lived: at 2.15p.m. the dreaded telephone summoned them to scramble. They set course for Kenley-Biggin Hill-Gravesend area. Again they were one of the last squadrons to be summoned, as they had been kept in reserve. This now meant that all the squadrons within 11 Group were committed, with no reserves left. If needed, other squadrons would be called from the other groups.
A Spitfire of 602 Squadron
As 602 with their 12 Spitfires were leaving Westhampnett, 609 Squadron from Middle Wallop,(10 Group) were taking off with their 13 Spitfires to patrol the Brooklands-Kenley Area. They sighted two formations of Dornier DO17's and Heinkel He111's over Edenbridge, Kent. 602 was led by Sandy Johnstone and, ever watchful, his eyes searched the sky for the escorting Messerschmidt Bf109's. At this time they weren't seen. He gave the order, and they went into attack the Dorniers, which were flying slightly higher than the Heinkels. They picked their targets, and gathering speed, they were soon down upon them. The German planes scattered as quickly as they could, but not before 4 Dorniers had gone down, three of them at least definite 'kills'. The others jettisoned their bombs in a blind panic and were soon turning for home.
The Messerschmidt Bf109's and 110's fighter escort were now on the scene, and the skies became a maelstrom of twisting and turning pieces of flying metal. Fighters and bombers all seemed to be firing at once, the sky a tracery of lead. First one aircraft would go down, then an opponent would fall. One parachute was followed by another, then another, and now several at once, the skies beginning to fill. Pilot Officer Paddy Stephenson of 607 Squadron found two of the Dorniers coming straight towards him. The closing speeds made it impossible for him to take any evasive action: there was not even time to fire any shots at them. In the split second he had, he aimed his Hurricane at the very narrow gap between the two German bombers. Incredibly, he felt two bumps and muffled bangs as first one wing and then the other crashed into the Dorniers, and both went down out of control, the wings torn from their fuselages. Meanwhile, Paddy suddenly found himself in the bright, clear sky- minus both his own wings. He swiftly baled out and what was left of the Hurricane dived vertically into the ground. One of the Dorniers crashed into a wood near Goudhurst, Kent, the crew all killed. There are no known details of the other one.
A little further away, a number of Dorniers were scattered by a single Hurricane in a head on attack. Above, a Bf109 pilot, completely astonished by what he had just witnessed, lost his concentration and shot down his own section leader. He, was then shot down by one of the Hurricanes.
Paddy Barthorpp, on his first major sortie, knew that he was involved in something really historic, later making a note in his log-book: - 'thousands of them'. He admitted later 'I exhausted my ammunition but God knows if I hit anything. When you are milling around, absolutely terrified, looking behind you, and firing at something painted with Swastikas, it is difficult, if not impossible to follow the progress of 'Harry the Hun' from 25,000 feet to the deck.
Pat Lyall was one of the first to get to the Dorniers. His target made a run for it, dropping its bombs in an effort to increase speed. It became a race,- a death race, as the Dornier, now picking up speed, headed for the Channel. They were some 5 miles north of St. Leonards, when the Spitfire's bullets hit the German bomber. Coming back along the coast, Lyall attacked another Dornier near Beachy Head before heading back towards the Kent countryside. As he rejoined the battle, 602 Squadron was racing alongside the bombers, damaging at least two more. Cyril Babbage also chased after a Dornier bomber, but was unable to get near enough to attack it until they reached Beachy Head. He hit the German plane with two bursts of fire, but his Spitfire was hit by return fire, severely damaging his engine. He knew he was not going to make it back to base , so headed westwards along the coast and force-landed at Shoreham.
The whole of the action lasted just a few minutes, a very small part in a vast battle which filled the skies as far as anyone could see. The massive air armada stretched 70 miles back across the Channel, spreading across a nine-mile front, five miles high. These measurements alone are massive and very difficult to imagine. As the German bombers in the vanguard were being attacked and shot down, others, were still crossing the Channel, their turn to come. A Dornier towards the front was attacked and shot down by a Spitfire of 609 Squadron. Trailing thick black smoke, it came down from a height of 22,000 feet. The Spitfire pilot watched but kept his distance, expecting the bomber to explode and break-up at any moment. In fact it crash-landed at Eighteen Pounder Farm at Westfield near Hastings. One crew member baled out and was never found, while the others were captured.
By this time 602 Squadron pilots found that their fuel was getting short and so Sandy Johnstone ordered the squadron back to base. It was a wonderful and majestic sight to see the Spitfires coming in to land at Westhampnett, the evening sunshine reflecting from their fuselages. They were soon parked in their dispersal areas. Incredibly there was not even a scratch on any of these aircraft. Paddy Barthorpp made another entry in his diary "Still Thousands of Them!"
Back in the Mess the pilots listened to the BBC news on their wireless set. This was one of the few times when the place was unusually quiet. They were astonished to hear the BBC report that during this day the Luftwaffe had been given the most overwhelming beating . The announcer declared that they had suffered their largest losses of any one day, with 185 aircraft of all types confirmed as shot down. This was, in fact, a gross exaggeration, the real score being in the region of 60 aircraft, but the true figure is astonishing enough. The RAF had lost a total of 27 aircraft with 13 pilots missing.
This happened to be the third most critical day of the Battle of Britain and ultimately, the decisive one. The Luftwaffe had been determined to break both Fighter Command and the spirit of the civilian population by the scale of its attacks - attacks that were intended to engage the RAF's dwindling numbers of defending aircraft and pilots whilst raining annihilation on London. The outcome, however, was not the overwhelming of Great Britain but the further frustration and final disillusionment of the Luftwaffe, which suffered its heaviest ever loss of aircraft and men. The 602 pilots had good reason to remember this day. It was not evident at the time, but this was to be the last major daytime battle over Britain. The Germans would soon switch to night bombing, mounting only small fighter/bomber raids by day - a pattern which was to continue for the rest of the year.
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“B” Flight 602 Squadron Sept. 1940
C. Babbage, G. Fisher, A. McDowall, D. Jack
Many fighters and bombers from both sides were either shot down or badly damaged on this day. The records show that Luftwaffe losses amounted to 83 whilst RAF losses were 64. (It is very difficult to quote correct numbers: these have been taken from "The Battle of Britain" by Dr. Price, a former aircrew member of the RAF who is renowned for his detailed research.
Dense clouds saved many of the intended targets of the afternoon raids on London. Twenty Heinkels of BG53 and 11 DorniersDo17s of BG3 had been meant to attack the Royal Victoria Docks, but switched to the West Ham area instead. The next attack by 27 Heinkels of BG26 was similarly diverted from the West India Docks to bomb the Bromley-by-Bow Gas Works.
The final group, just minutes behind, were briefed to attack the Surrey Commercial Docks but instead bombed targets in South East London and Kent. Sixty of the Luftwaffe crews were killed, 25 were reported missing, 30 were wounded and 63 captured!
British Aces Kills Comment
James "Johnnie" Johnson 38.0 top WWII British ace, flew Spitfires
Brendon E. Finucane 32.0 Irish, 65 Sqn, later KIA
Robert Braham 29.0 POW June '44, night fighter, 3DSO, 3DSC
Robert Stanford Tuck 29.0 2+ years as POW, 92 & 257 Sqns
F. R. Carey 28.0 43 Sqn
J. H. "Ginger" Lacey 28.0 Hawker Hurricane pilot, 501 Sqn
Neville. F. Duke 28.0 Later chief test Pilot at De Havilland
E. G. Lock 25.0
B. Drake 24.5 213 Sqn
G. Allard 23.8 85 Sqn, KIA
Douglas Bader 22.5 242 Squadron inventor of the "Big Wing"
"This time, for a change, we outnumbered the Hun and, believe me, no more than eight got home from that 'party'. At one time you could see planes going down on fire all over the place, and the sky seemed full of parachutes. It was sudden death that morning, for our fighters shot them to blazes."
1944 - Patients and their nurses relax at the Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead
Crew of the Mary Stanford Lifeboat
In the next round Heenan was taking a severe punishment to the face and had the use of only one eye. Heenan had Sayers on the ropes in such a position that some thought he was in danger of strangulation. With the referee unsighted and a complete melee in the ring the fight was abandoned. It was declared a draw. Each man was presented with a duplicate of the Championship Belt and shared the purse.
Sayers career as a prize fighter continued to flourish. His wealth brought him prestige and social invitations . He learned to ride and cantered every day in Rottonrow in London with his daughter Sarah on her pony beside him. In June 1860 Sayers was thinking about retirement after a further successful defence of his title, however his manager had other ideas and arranged for his man to fight his opposite number from across the Atlantic for a purse of £200 each and the title Champion of the World.
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