15 May 2013
In May, our talk was a Battlefield Study on Ford Airfield by SMHS member Dave Dimer. Dave explained that the oceans and skies are as much a battlefield as the land upon which Armies have fought.
Battlefield study involves examining the background to the events, details of the attack, eyewitness accounts, topographical analysis, ground relief and obstacles, drainage and water supplies, cemeteries and myth & reality.
Dave explained that the Germans believed the invasion of Great Britain, codenamed Operation Sea Lion, could only succeed if they had air superiority. So commencing on 5th August 1940 the Germans implemented ‘Operation Adler'; its mission to destroy the RAF.
By August 18th 1940 Ford Airfield, Poling Radar Station and Thorney Island were targeted, along with Gosport in Hampshire. Other targets that day were the airfields at Croydon, Kenley and Biggin Hill.
Dave described how the River Arun would have been an excellent guide for the attacking force, its distinctive bends being highly visible from the air.
He played some audio recordings of three gentlemen who had been present at Ford on the day of the attack (courtesy of the IWM). Interestingly each of the three recalled the attack taking place on a different date!
During his research he located records of 25 people who perished in the attack; however secondary sources all place the death toll at 28.
The talk illustrated how battlefield students have to be tenacious and persistent. Detail lost with the passage of time may never be recovered, sources may be unreliable; evidence must be checked and cross-referenced.
Dave had done a fine job in his investigations into Ford and his audience were particularly pleased with the photographic evidence showing Ford throughout its long and varied history, right up to the present day.
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7.30pm for 8.00pm start
Function Room of the
Royal Oak Public House,
Station Street, Lewes,
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