British Steam Railways

I am currently collecting British Steam Railways, the latest series of lavishly-illustrated hard backed books by DeAgostini. These chronicle the rise of Steam Power in Britain, From the efforts of early pioneers like Cugnot, Richard Trevithick and George Stephenson. The books look at the origins of the steam locomotive and also features Early locomotives such as Stepenson’s Rocket and Locomotion No.1. It also features Powerful Turn of the Century locomotives like the Midland Railway Compound no.1000 and GWR 3717/3440 City-of-Truro which held the unofficial record for being the first locomotive to exceed 100 miles per hour.

British Steam railways also looks at the period between World war One and the 1920’s and features the Q1 Class Locomotives, LNER A3 4-6-2 4472 Flying Scotsman and the GWR 4-6-0 Castle Class locomotives. It also looks at the golden age in the 1930’s When train travel was seen as glamorous and The World Record breaking steam locomotive LNER A4 4-6-2 locomotive no. 4468 Mallard reached 126 Miles per hour and broke the record for being the worlds fastest steam locomotive.

The books also feature in depth articles on noteworthy Chief Mechanical Engineers such as sir Nigel Gresley, Charles Collett, Henry Ivatt and sir William Stanier, whose innovative designs with the Jubilees, Black Fives and the three cylinder Princess Royal Class Locomotives helped to shape locomotive development throughout the years and culminated in the Duchess of Hamilton and Duke of Gloucester which were among the most powerful Pacific locomotives. Another noteworthy chief Mechanical engineer featured is the Southern Railway’s Richard Maunsell who took Robert Urie’s original locomotive designs such as the S15, King Arthur Class, Lord Nelson and Schools class and improved upon them. The series also looks at innovative and technologically advanced cutting edge locomotives such as Oliver Bulleid’s 1941 Merchant Navy Class locomotives, Battle Of Britain Class locomotives and West Country light pacifics. Also featured are the GWR KING class 4-6-0 locomotives which are also among the most powerful British Steam Locomotives. Many other noteworthy locomotives are featured such as LNER D49, j94 Austerities, SR PACIFIC 35028 Clan Line, GWR Hall Locomotives, Jones Goods Locomotives, Duke of Gloucester, LMS 6100 Royal Scot, lMS 6201 Princess Elizabeth, GWR 3440 City of Truro, 4771 Green Arrow, King George V, LMS 8f’s, Q1 Class.

The books also look at the formation of the big four railway companies Great Western, London North East, London Midland Scotland and Southern Railway in 1923 and also look at the post-war period when the Railway was nationalised in 1948 to form British Railways, in an effort to save money and saw a new range of Standard Locomotives being introduced. However this measure plus lack of investment, saw the slow decline of steam in the Railways during the 1950’s and 1960’s. This was hastened by the so-called Beeching Axe. When ICI BOSS Sir Richard Beeching was asked by the government to stop the railways losing money So he recommended a series of closures and favoured road transport. This plus the introduction of Diesel Locomotives sounded the death knell for the final steam locomotives made in the 1960’s such as the Britannia Class locomotives and the Standard Class 92xxx 2-10-0 class freight locomotives such as Evening star which were only introduced only a few years before steam traction was banned outright in 1968 following the Fifteen Guineas Special in August 1968.

There are also twelve DVD’s including Arfon Haines DVD Learning to Steam, these feature hours of archive steam footage, footage of preserved Steam Engines running on Heritage lines and footage from the footplate. Plus a silver plated stationmasters pocket-watch and TWO Stunning prints of LNER 4472 Flying Scotsman and LNER 4468 Mallard.

Marvin Gaye

American singer songwriter and musician Marvin Gaye was born April 2, 1939. Marvin Gaye helped to shape the sound of Motown Records in the 1960s with a string of hits, including “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)” and “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”, and duet recordings with Mary Wells and Tammi Terrell, later earning the titles “Prince of Motown” and “Prince of Soul”. During the 1970s, he recorded the concept albums What’s Going On and Let’s Get It On and became one of the first artists in Motown to break away from the reins of its production company. Gaye’s later recordings influenced several R&B subgenres, such as quiet storm and neo-soul.

Marvin began singing in church at age four and was accompanied by his father on piano. Gaye developed a love of singing at an early age and was encouraged to pursue a professional music career after a performance at a school play. Marvin attended Cardozo High School and joined several doo-wop vocal groups, including the Dippers and the D.C. Tones.The younger Marvin’s relationship with his father worsened during his teenage years .Following an argument in which he stood up against his father, the younger Marvin walked out of the house for good and dropped out of high school. With dreams of being a flyer, 17-year-old Marvin enlisted in the United States Air Force as a Basic Airman. However he faked mental illness and was discharged shortly afterwards. Following his return, Marvin and good friend Reese Palmer formed the vocal quartet The Marquees.The group performed Gaye released his first single, “Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide” in May 1961, with the album, The Soulful Moods of Marvin Gaye, following a month later. The Marquees Were signed to Columbia subsidiary OKeh Records.The group’s sole single, “Wyatt Earp”, failed to chart and the group was soon dropped from the label.

During this period Marvin began composing music and.The Marquees changed their name to Harvey and the “New Moonglows” and recorded several sides for Chess in 1959, including the song “Mama Loocie”, They also found work as session singers for established acts such as Chuck Berry, singing on the hits “Back in the U.S.A.” and “Almost Grown”. In 1960, the group disbanded and Marvin signed as a session musician, playing drums on several Tri-Phi releases. Sadly Gaye’s initial recordings were flops. Gaye spent most of 1961 performing session work as a drummer for artists such as The Miracles, The Marvelettes and blues artist Jimmy Reed.In 1962, Gaye found success as co-writer of the Marvelettes hit, “Beechwood 4-5789” and also released the songs, “Stubborn Kind of Fellow”, “Hitch Hike”and “Pride and Joy” these were included on Gaye’s second album, That Stubborn Kinda Fellow. Gaye performed as part of the Motortown Revue. A performance of Gaye at the Apollo Theater was also filmed. Then signed with Motown subsidiary Tamla and performed of jazz music and standards, having no desire to become an R&B performer.Before the release of his first single, Marvin was teased about his surname, with some jokingly asking, “Is Marvin Gay?” Marvin changed his surname by adding an “e”, following the style of Sam Cooke.

In 1964, Gaye recorded a successful duet album with singer Mary Wells titled Together, including the songs “Once Upon a Time” and “What’s the Matter With You Baby”. Gaye’s next solo hit was “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)”. Gaye also appeared on the TV. show American Bandstand and the concert film, The T.A.M.I. Show. Gaye had two number one R&B singles in 1965 with the Miracles-composed “I’ll Be Doggone” and “Ain’t That Peculiar”. After scoring a hit duet, “It Takes Two” with Kim Weston, Gaye began working with Tammi Terrell on a series of duets, mostly composed by Ashford & Simpson, including “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, “Your Precious Love”, “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing” and “You’re All I Need to Get By”.”I Heard It through the Grapevine” was recorded by Gaye in April 1967, and became Gaye’s first to reach number one , followed by “Too Busy Thinking About My Baby” and “That’s the Way Love Is”.

The album M.P.G. became his first number one R&B album. Gaye produced and co-wrote two hits for The Originals during this period, including “Baby I’m For Real” and “The Bells”. Gaye’s new song “What’s Going On”, was inspired by an idea from Renaldo “Obie” Benson of the Four Tops after he witnessed an act of police brutality at an anti-war rally in Berkeley which became a huge hit and was also the title of Gaye’s next album Which also featured the singles, “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” and “Inner City Blues”and was described as “the most important and passionate record to come out of soul music, delivered by one of its finest voices”. The album received two Grammy Award nominations and several NAACP Image Awards. Gaye then released the soundtrack and subsequent score, Trouble Man, released in late 1972.

In 1973, Gaye released the album Let’s Get It On. This included the song of the same name which became Gaye’s second number one single together with the songs “Come Get to This” and “You Sure Love to Ball”. Marvin’s final duet project, Diana & Marvin, with Diana Ross, garnered international success. Responding to demand from fans and Motown, Gaye went on tour starting AT the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum and this performance received critical acclaim and resulted in the release of the live album, Marvin Gaye Live! and its single, a live version of “Distant Lover”, an album track from Let’s Get It On.Gaye toured throughout 1974 and 1975 and gave a performance at a UNESCO benefit concert at New York’s Radio City Music Hall to support UNESCO’s African literacy drive, resulting in him being commended at the United Nations. Gaye’s next studio album, I Want You, followed in 1976 with the title track becoming a number-one R&B hit. That summer, Gaye embarked on his first European tour in a decade, starting off in England and issued the live album, Live at the London Palladium, featuring the song, “Got to Give It Up”.In December 1978, Gaye issued Here, My Dear, inspired by the fallout of his first marriage to Anna Gordy.

Sadly Gaye became addicted to cocaine and had serious financial problems with the Inland Revenue Service. In 1980, Gaye went on a European tour . After the tour he relocated to London where he feared imprisonment for failure to pay back taxes, which had now reached upwards to $4.5 million.(US$12,880,250 in 2014 dollars. Gaye decided to rework Love Man from its original disco concept to another personal album invoking religion and the possible end time from a chapter in the Book of Revelation entitled In our Lifetime. However the Master Tape was stolen. Motown remixed the album and issued it on January 15, 1981 without permission, prompting Gaye not to record any more music for Motown. In 1981, Gaye relocated to Ostend, Belgium where He began attending a local Ostend church, regaining personal confidence. Following several months of recovery, Gaye sought a comeback onstage, starting the short-lived Heavy Love Affair tour in England and Ostend between June and July 1981.

Gaye then released his first post-Motown album titled Midnight Love. The first single, “Sexual Healing”, was released in 1982, and became a huge hit, winning two Grammy Awards and becoming Gaye’s most successful single to date. In 1983 Gaye performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the NBA All-Star Game, accompanied by Gordon Banks and also performed at the Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever special and also made his final TV Performance on Soul Train. Gaye embarked on his final concert tour, titled the Sexual Healing Tour, in 1983 in San Diego, California. Midnight Love was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Male R&B Vocal Performance, his fourteenth and final nomination.

Sadly on April 1 1984, Gaye was shot twice by his Father and was rushed to California Hospital Medical Center but was pronounced dead on arrival. Gaye died a day before turning 45. The gun with which Marvin Gaye, Sr. shot his son was given to him by Marvin as a Christmas present. Following his funeral, Marvin was cremated with part of his ashes spread near the Pacific Ocean. Since  his death in 1984, Gaye has been posthumously honored by many institutions, including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Marvin’s fans have also held vigils for the singer at the final residence to celebrate the day of his birth. Marvin was the father of three children, Marvin III, Nona and Frankie, and the grandfather of three boys, Marvin IV, Nolan and Dylan. At the time of his death, he was survived by his three children, parents and five siblings.

Jesse Tobias (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Alanis Morissette, Morrissey)

American guitarist Jesse Tobias was born April 1, 1972. He has been the guitarist/co-writer for Morrissey since 2005. Tobias first gained notoriety during a brief tenure with the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1993, although he was replaced by Dave Navarro within a month after joining the band. Before he joined the Chili Peppers, he briefly played with L.A.-based band Mother Tongue. In 1996, Tobias joined the touring band for Alanis Morissette and from 1999-2005 was a member of the musical duo, Splendid.

After having their offer turned down by Dave Navarro in 1992 to become the replacement for John Frusciante, the Red Hot Chili Peppers turned to guitarist, Arik Marshall to finish out their world tour for their hit album, Blood Sugar Sex Magik. Once the tour ended in 1993 the band felt that there was no connection in the writing and recording process with Marshall so he was fired. Shortly after, singer Anthony Kiedis spotted Tobias while he was performing with his band, Mother Tongue in a local nightclub. Kiedis felt that Tobias had what the band was looking for and after months of long auditions , Tobias became the new guitarist for the Chili Peppers. Rolling Stone magazine devoted a full page article to the new guitarist of the Chili Peppers. Jesse and the Peppers began writing for the next record; however, while the band felt Jesse was a great guitarist, the connection just wasn’t there between Jesse and the other three, especially bassist Flea. At this time, Dave Navarro suddenly made himself available and the band fired Tobias, Kiedis saying that it would have happened regardless of Navarro becoming available. The band felt bad that they pulled Tobias away from a band he just joined only to fire him a month later.

Tobias became guitarist with Alanis Morissette on the Jagged Little Pill world tour. While he was on tour with Morissette in 1996, he met Angie Hart, whose band Frente! was Morissette’s opening act. The two were married in 1997 and moved to Los Angeles. Tobias continued to work as a session player, touring guitarist and in other non-performing roles in the music industry. The pair formed their own band, Splendid, and released an album in 1999. Splendid also appeared on Joss Whedon’s series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, performing at The Bronze, the fictional nightclub featured in the series. Tobias was credited as a producer (with Christophe Beck and Whedon) and with arranging the music (with Beck) for “Once More, with Feeling”, the musical episode from Whedon’s show’s sixth season. In 2005, Tobias joined Morrissey as his studio and touring guitarist and sometimes co-writer. Tobias has appeared on all of his studio, live releases and tours since joining.

Anne McCaffrey

Best known for the Dragonriders of Pern science fiction series the American Born Irish Novelist Anne Inez McCaffrey was Born 1 April 1926 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She attended Stuart Hall boarding school in Staunton, Virginia), and graduated from Montclair High School in New Jersey. In 1947 she graduated cum laude from Radcliffe Collegewith a degree in Slavonic Languages and Literature.In 1950 she married Horace Wright Johnson who shared her interests in music, opera and ballet. They had three children: Alec Anthony, Todd and Georgeanne (“Gigi”, Georgeanne Kennedy). Except for a short time in Düsseldorf, the family lived for most of a decade in Wilmington, Delaware.

They moved to Sea Cliff, Long Island in 1965, and McCaffrey became a full-time writer. McCaffrey served a term as secretary-treasurer of the Science Fiction Writers of America from 1968 to 1970. In addition to handcrafting the Nebula Award trophies, her responsibilities included production of two monthly newsletters and their distriution by mail to the membership. In 1970 McCaffrey emigrated to Ireland with her two younger children after filing for divorce. Ireland had recently exempted resident artists from income taxes, Alongside fellow science-fiction author Harry Harrison. McCaffrey’s mother soon joined the family in Dublin in 1971. McCaffrey was also guest of honor at her first British science-fiction convention. It was here that she met British reproductive biologist Jack Cohen, who would be a consultant on the science of Pern.

McCaffrey had had two short stories published during the 1950s. “Freedom of the Race”, about women impregnated by aliens) was written in 1952 and the second story, “The Lady in the Tower”, was published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. She was also lnvited to the Milford Writer’s Workshop, where participants each brought a story to be critiqued. In 1959 she wrote “The Ship Who Sang”, the story which began the Brain & Brawn Ship series, which she considered her best story and her favorite. McCaffrey then wrote two more “Ship” stories and began her first novel , Restoree (1967), which featured an intelligent, survivor-type woman as the protagonist”.

Her next novel Decision at Doona opens on “an overcrowded planet where just talking too loud made you a social outcast”. McCaffrey also competed for the 1971 publication Dragonquest and two Gothic novels for Dell, The Mark of Merlin and The Ring of Fear. With a contract for The White Dragon (which would complete the “original trilogy” with Ballantine), The young-adult book market provided a crucial opportunity. and McCaffrey started the Pern story of Menolly. Starting with “The Smallest Dragonboy” , the Crystal Singer and Dragonsong and The tales of Menolly are continued in Dragonsinger: Harper of Pern, and Dragondrums as the “Harper Hall Trilogy”.

Whilst brainstorming about dragons she devised a “technologically regressed survival planet” whose people were united against a threat from space .The dragons became the biologically renewable air force, and their riders ‘the few’ who, like the RAF pilots in World War Two, fought against incredible odds day in, day out—and won.”The first Pern story, “Weyr Search”, was published in 1967 It won the 1968 Hugo Award for best novella, voted by participants in the annual World Science Fiction Convention.

The second Pern story, “Dragonrider”, won the 1969 Nebula Award for best novella, voted annually by the Science Fiction Writers of America. McCaffrey was the first woman to win a Hugo for fiction and the first to win a Nebula.”Weyr Search” covers the recruitment of a young woman, Lessa, to establish a telepathic bond with a queen dragon at its hatching, thus becoming a dragonrider and the leader of a Weyr community. “Dragonrider” explores the growth of the queen dragon Ramoth, and the training of Lessa and Ramoth. The third story, “Crack Dust, Black Dust”, was not published until 1974–1975.

She next wrote A Time When, which would become the first part of The White Dragon which was released with new editions of the first two Pern books, with cover art illustrated by Michael Whelan. It was the first science-fiction book by a woman on the New York Times bestseller list.in 2005 the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America named McCaffrey its 22nd Grand Master, an annual award to living writers of fantasy and science fiction. She was inducted by the Science Fiction Hall of Fame on 17 June 2006. Sadly though McCaffrey died at age 85 on 21 November 2011 at her home in Ireland, following a stroke, however her novels remain popular and i think Michael Whelan’s illustrations are fantastic too.

Edgar Wallace

Prolific English writer Edgar Wallace was born 1 April 1875 in Greenwich, London. Wallace’s family had been in show business and his mother worked in the theatre as a stagehand, usherette and bit-part actress until she married in 1867. His father Joseph was a Merchant NavyCaptain. When Mary was eight months pregnant, in January 1868, her husband, Joseph Richards died at sea. After the birth, destitute, Mary took to the stage, assuming the stage name “Polly” Richards. In 1872, Polly met and joined the Marriott family theatre troupe, managed by Mrs. Alice Edgar, her husband Richard Edgar and their three adult children, Grace Edgar, Adeline Edgar and Richard Horatio Edgar. Richard Horatio Edgar and Polly ended up having a “broom cupboard” style sexual encounter during an after-show party. Discovering she was pregnant, she stayed at a Boarding House, because unmarried mothers were frowned upon in those days. Her midwife introduced Polly to her close friend, Mrs Freeman, a mother of ten children, whose husband George Freeman was a Billingsgate fishmonger. Wallace, then known as Richard Horatio Edgar Freeman, had a happy childhood, forming a close bond with 20-year-old Clara Freeman who became a second mother to him. By 1878, Polly could no longer afford the small sum she had been paying the Freemans to care for her son and instead of placing the boy in the workhouse, the Freemans adopted him. His foster-father George Freeman was determined to ensure Richard received a good education and for some time Wallace attended St. Alfege with St. Peter’s, a boarding school in Peckham,however he played truant and left full-time education at 12.

Wallace had held down numerous jobs such as newspaper-seller at Ludgate Circus near Fleet Street, milk-delivery boy, rubber factory worker, shoe shop assistant and ship’s cook. A plaque at Ludgate Circus commemorates Wallace’s first encounter with the newspaper business. He was dismissed from his job on the milk run for stealing money.In 1894, he became engaged to a local Deptford girl, Edith Anstree, but broke the engagement, enlisting in the Infantry. Wallace registered in the army at 21 under the adopted the name Edgar Wallace, taken from the author of Ben-Hur, Lew Wallace. He was posted in South Africa with the West Kent Regiment. in 1896 He transferred to the Royal Army Medical Corps, and transferred again to the Press Corps. Between 1898 and 1902 Wallace began publishing songs and poetry, inspired by Rudyard Kipling, whom he met in Cape Town in 1898. Wallace’s first book of ballads, The Mission that Failed! was published that same year. In 1899, he turned to writing full-time and became a war correspondent during the Second Boer War for Reuters and the Daily Mail. In 1901, while in South Africa, Wallace married Ivy Maude Caldecott sadly though Their daughter Eleanor Clare Hellier Wallace died from meningitis in 1903 and they returned to London, deep in debt. Wallace found work at the the Mail in London and began writing thrillers and detective stories in a bid to earn quick money. A son, Bryan, was born in 1904 followed by a daughter, Patricia in 1908. Unable to find a publisher, Wallace set up his own publishing company, Tallis Press, and published the thriller The Four Just Men (1905). Despite promotion in the Mail and good sales, the book was financially mismanaged and Problems were compounded when inaccuracies in Wallace’s reporting led to libel cases being brought against the Mail and Wallace was dismissed in 1907,

In 1907 Edgar travelled to the Congo Free State, to report on atrocities committed against the Congolese under King Leopold II of Belgium and the Belgian rubber companies, in which up to 15 million Congolese were killed. Wallace was invited to serialise stories inspired by his experiences. These were published as his first collection Sanders of the River (1911), which was adapted into a film with the same name, starring Paul Robeson. Wallace went on to publish 11 more similar collections (102 stories). They were tales of exotic adventure and local tribal rites, set on an African river. Between 1908 to 1932 Wallace wrote many more books including detective stories, adventure stories, science fiction and thrillers. The success of his books restored his reputation as a journalist. he then began reporting from horse racing circles. He wrote for the Week-End and the Evening News, becoming an editor for Week-End Racing Supplement and started his own racing papers Bibury’s and R. E. Walton’s Weekly. Unfortunately he lost thousands gambling and Ivy divorced him and moved to Tunbridge Wells with the children Wallace married his secretary Ethel Violet King, the daughter of banker Frederick King, in 1921 and their daughter Penelope Wallace was born in 1923.

Wallace signed with publishers Hodder and Stoughton, and organising his contracts, instead of selling the rights in order to raise funds. This allowed him advances, royalties and full scale promotional campaigns for his books. He became know as the, ‘King of Thrillers’, writing across many genres including science fiction, screen plays, a non-fiction ten-volume history of the First World War. He went on to write over 170 novels, 18 stage plays and 957 short stories. Wallace also served as chairman of the Press Club, which continues to present an annual ‘Edgar Wallace Award’ for excellence in writing. Following the great success of his novel The Ringer, Wallace was appointed chairman of the British Lion Film Corporation. Wallace was the first British crime novelist to use policemen as his protagonists, rather than amateur sleuths as most other writers of the time did. Most of his novels are independent stand-alone stories; he seldom used series heroes. In 1923, Edgar Wallace became the first British radio sports reporter, when he made a report on the Epsom Derby for the British Broadcasting Company. In the 1920’sWallace wrote a controversial article entitled “The Canker In Our Midst” about paedophilia and the show business world. Wallace also joined the Liberal Party and contested Blackpool in the 1931 general election as one of a handful of Independent Liberals, who rejected the National Government, and the official Liberal support for it, and strongly supported free trade.

In 1931 he went to America and wrote the screenplay for the first sound film adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles (1932) produced by Gainsborough Pictures.Moving to Hollywood, he began working as a “script doctor” for RKO. His play, The Green Pack opened to excellent reviews, boosting his status even further. Wallace wanted to get his own work on Hollywood celluloid, adapting books such as The Four Just Men and Mr J G Reeder. Wallace’s play On the Spot, written about gangster Al Capone, also became a huge success and launched the career of Charles Laughton who played the lead Capone character Tony Perelli. In December 1931, Wallace was assigned work on the RKO “gorilla picture” (King Kong, 1933) for producer Merian C. Cooper. However he started having sudden, severe headaches and was diagnosed with diabetes. Unfortunately His condition deteriorated within days and Edgar slipped into a coma and died of the condition, combined with double pneumonia, on 10 February 1932 in North Maple Drive, Beverly Hills.

Royal Airforce 100

April 1st 2018 marks one-hundred years since the formation of the Royal Air Force which was Formed towards the end of the First World War on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world. Following victory over the Central Powers in 1918 the RAF emerged as, at the time, the largest air force in the world. The RAF’s mission is to support the objectives of the British Ministry of Defence (MoD), which are to “provide the capabilities needed: to ensure the security and defence of the United Kingdom and overseas territories, including against terrorism; to support the Government’s foreign policy objectives particularly in promoting international peace and security” The RAF describe its mission statement as “… to provide An agile, adaptable and capable Air Force that, person for person, is second to none, and that makes a decisive air power contribution in support of the UK Defence Mission”. The mission statement is supported by the RAF’s definition of air power, which guides its strategy. Air power is defined as “the ability to project power from the air and space to influence the behaviour of people or the course of events”

While the British were not the first to make use of heavier-than-air military aircraft, the RAF is the world’s oldest independent air force: that is, the first air force to become independent of army or navy control. It was founded on 1 April 1918, with headquarters located in the former Hotel Cecil, during the First World War, by the amalgamation of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS). At that time it was the largest air force in the world. After the war, the service was drastically cut and its inter-war years were relatively quiet, with the RAF taking responsibility for the control of Iraq and executing a number of minor actions in other parts of the British Empire. The RAF’s naval aviation branch, the Fleet Air Arm, was founded in 1924 but handed over to Admiralty control on 24 May 1939

Supermarine Spitfire

Prior to, and During the Second World War The RAF underwent rapid expansion and Under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan of December 1939, the air forces of British Commonwealth countries trained and formed “Article XV squadrons” for service with RAF formations. Many individual personnel from these countries, and exiles from occupied Europe, also served with RAF squadrons. By the end of the war the Royal Canadian Air Force had contributed more than 30 squadrons to serve in RAF formations, similarly, approximately a quarter of Bomber Command’s personnel were Canadian Additionally, the Royal Australian Air Force represented around nine percent of all RAF personnel who served in the European and Mediterranean theatres. The RAF alsdeveloped the doctrine of strategic bombing which led to the construction of long-range bombers and became its main bombing strategy.

During the Battle of Britain in 1940, the RAF (supplemented by 2 Fleet Air Arm Squadrons, Polish, Czecho-Slovak and other multinational pilots and ground personnel) defended the skies over Britain against the numerically superior German Luftwaffe. In what is perhaps the most prolonged and complicated air campaign in history, the Battle of Britain contributed significantly to the delay and subsequent indefinite postponement of Hitler’s plans for an invasion of the United Kingdom (Operation Sealion). In the House of Commons on 20 August, prompted by the ongoing efforts of the RAF, Prime Minister Winston Churchill eloquently made a speech to the nation, where he said “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few”.

Panavia Tornado GR1

The largest RAF effort during the war was the strategic bombing campaign against Germany by Bomber Command. While RAF bombing of Germany began almost immediately upon the outbreak of war, under the leadership of Air Chief Marshal Harris, these attacks became increasingly devastating from 1942 onward as new technology and greater numbers of superior aircraft became available. The RAF adopted night-time area bombing on German cities such as Hamburg and Dresden, and developed precision bombing techniques for specific operations, such as the “Dambusters” raid by No. 617 Squadron, or the Amiens prison raid known as Operation Jericho.

DC-4 Dakota

Following the Second World War, the RAF underwent significant re-organisation, as technological advances in air warfare saw the arrival of jet fighters and bombers. During the early stages of the Cold War, one of the first major operations undertaken by the Royal Air Force was in 1948 and the Berlin Airlift, codenamed Operation Plainfire. Between 26 June and the lifting of the Russian blockade of the city on 2 May, the RAF provided 17% of the total supplies delivered during the event, using Avro Yorks, Douglas Dakotas flying to Gatow Airport and Short Sunderlands flying to Lake Havel. Before Britain developed its own nuclear weapons the RAF was provided with American nuclear weapons under Project E. However following the development of its own arsenal, the British Government elected on 16 February 1960 to share the country’s nuclear deterrent between the RAF and submarines of the Royal Navy, first deciding on 13 April to concentrate solely on the air force’s V bomber fleet. These were initially armed with nuclear gravity bombs, later being equipped with the Blue Steel missile. Following the development of the Royal Navy’s Polaris submarines, the strategic nuclear deterrent passed to the navy’s submarines on 30 June 1969. With the introduction of Polaris, the RAF’s strategic nuclear role was reduced to a tactical one, using WE.177 gravity bombs. This tactical role was continued by the V bombers into the 1980s and until 1998 by Tornado GR1s.

Hawker Harrier

For much of the Cold War the primary role of the RAF was the defence of Western Europe against potential attack by the Soviet Union, with many squadrons based in West Germany. With the decline of the British Empire, global operations were scaled back, and RAF Far East Air Force was disbanded on 31 October 1971. However The RAF fought in many battles in the Cold War period. In June 1948 the RAF commenced Operation Firedog against Malayan terrorists during the Malayan Emergency Which continued for the next 12 years until 1960 with aircraft flying out of RAF Tengah and RAF Butterworth. The RAF played a minor role in the Korean War, with flying boats taking part. From 1953 to 1956 the RAF Avro Lincoln squadrons carried out anti-Mau Mau operations in Kenya using its base at RAF Eastleigh. The Suez Crisis in 1956 saw a large RAF role, with aircraft operating from RAF Akrotiri and RAF Nicosia on Cyprus and RAF Luqa and RAF Hal Far on Malta as part of Operation Musketeer The Konfrontasi against Indonesia in the early 1960s did see use of RAF aircraft, although thanks to deft diplomacy it never developed into a full-scale war. One of the largest actions undertaken by the RAF during the cold war was the air campaign during the 1982 Falklands War, in which the RAF operated alongside the Fleet Air Arm. During the war, RAF aircraft were deployed in the mid-Atlantic at RAF Ascension Island and a detachment from No. 1 Squadron was deployed with the Royal Navy, operating from the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes. RAF pilots also flew missions using the Royal Navy’s Sea Harriers in the air-to-air combat role and remained in the South Atlantic to provide air defence to the Falkland Islands, based at RAF Mount Pleasant.

Nimrod

Since the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the RAF’s focus has returned to delivering expeditionary air power and they have conducted Four major defence reviews: the 1990 Options for Change, the 1998 Strategic Defence Review, the 2003 Delivering Security in a Changing World and the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review. All four defence reviews have resulted in steady reductions in manpower and numbers of aircraft, especially combat aircraft such as fast-jets. As part of the latest 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review, the BAE Systems Nimrod MRA4 maritime patrol aircraft was cancelled due to over spending and missing deadlines. Other reductions saw total RAF manpower reduced by 5,000 personnel to a trained strength of 33,000 and the early retirement of the Joint Force Harrier aircraft, the Harrier GR7/GR9. Since 1990 the RAF has been involved in several large-scale operations, including: the 1991 Gulf War the 1999 Kosovo War, the 2001 War in Afghanistan, the 2003 invasion and war in Iraq and the 2011 intervention in Libya.

Westland Sea King

In recent years fighter aircraft on Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) have been increasingly required to scramble in response to efforts made by the Russian Air Force to approach British airspace. As of 2014  the RAF’s QRA force had been scrambled almost thirty times in the last three years: eleven times during 2010, ten times during 2011 and eight times during 2012. RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire and RAF Lossiemouth in Moray both provide Quick Reaction Alert, or QRA, and scramble their fighter jets within minutes to meet or intercept aircraft which give cause for concern. Lossiemouth generally covers the northern sector, while Coningsby provides QRA in the south. In 2015, a final stand-down saw the end of more than 70 years of RAF Search and Rescue provision in the UK. The RAF and Royal Navy’s Westland Sea King fleets, after over 30 years of service, were retired. A civilian contractor, Bristow Helicopters, took over responsibility for UK Search and Rescue, under a Private Finance Initiative with newly purchased Sikorsky S-92 and AgustaWestland AW189 aircraft. The new contract means that all UK SAR coverage is now provided by Bristow aircraft.

Since its formation, the RAF has taken a significant role in British military history and Today the Royal Air Force maintains an operational fleet of various types of aircraft, described by the RAF as being “leading-edge” in terms of technology. This largely consists of fixed-wing aircraft, including: fighter and strike aircraft, airborne early warning and control aircraft, ISTAR and SIGINT aircraft, aerial refueling aircraft and strategic and tactical transport aircraft. The majority of the RAF’s rotary-wing aircraft form part of the tri-service Joint Helicopter Command in support of ground forces. Most of the RAF’s aircraft and personnel are based in the UK, with many others serving on operations (principally over Iraq and Syria) or at long-established overseas bases (Ascension Island, Cyprus, Gibraltar, and the Falkland Islands). Although the RAF is the principal British air power arm, the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm and the British Army’s Army Air Corps also deliver air power which is integrated into the maritime, littoral and land environments.

Edible book Day

The International Edible Book Festival is an annual event usually held on or around April 1, which is also known as Edible Book Day. The global event has been celebrated since 2000 in various parts of the world, where “edible books” are created, displayed, and small events are held. The creations are photographed and submitted to http://www.books2eat.com and then consumed.Regular contributors to the site are groups from Australia, Brazil, India, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Morocco, The Netherlands, Russia, and Hong Kong. The event was initiated by Judith A. Hoffberg and Béatrice Coron in 2000. The official website Books2Eat.com says that the International Edible Book Festival is held to commemorate “the birthday of French gastronome Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826), famous for his book Physiologie du goût, a witty meditation on food,” though April Fools’ Day is also related as “the perfect day to eat your words and play with them as the ‘books’ are consumed on the day of the event.”(See: the Phantom Tollbooth, as regards eating ones words.)

In 2005, the festival was a joint initiative of forum book art and the Museum of Work, Hamburg, where pastry chefs made edible books. The “book art” was displayed, photographed, and then eaten. In 2005, the event was celebrated in Los Angeles, too, at the Los Angeles Book Arts Center as the Annual International Edible Book High/Low Tea on April 2, where artists were encouraged to create and consume tomes. A 2006 Indianapolis Monthly described the Indianapolis festival as a “quirky event” held on April Fools’ Day, “celebrating both food and literature.” Participants created foods resembling literary titles.Loganberry Books in Shaker Heights, Ohio has held an edible books festival every April since 2004 In 2013, awards were given for Most Literary, Most Appetizing, Most Book-like, and Most Creative.

A University of Florida library holds the event as the Edible Book Contest in April, in connection with National Library Week. There are two rules for the contest: Entries should be edible, and they must somehow relate to a book. Besides edible books, other entries include “edible book trucks” and “edible bookmarks”. The event kicks off with viewing of the entries, each of which has an information card describing the book title, author, and creator of the book art. The “books” are judged by a panel of judges and by public voting. Awards are given in categories like: Most Creative, Least Edible, Best Overall Fiction, Best Overall Non-Fiction, and Best Children’s Book. In 2010, the event is planned to be held on April 15 and the award categories are: Best Overall Entry, Best Book Theme, Best Pun, Best Adult Book, and Best Children’s Book.

One library in the USA celebrated Banned Books Week 2008 by holding an Edible Book contest. The event invited guests to consume cooked dishes and baked goods that resembled covers of banned books or reflected their content. A reporter sums up the aptly named event: “Our celebration took Sir Francis Bacon’s famous words quite literally: ‘Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and the other few to be chewed and digested.’” In 2011, the British newspaper Metro ran a story that they would begin producing the newspaper on an edible “Sweet tasting paper” claiming to bring customers “news in the best possible taste”. The newspaper later clarified this was an April Fools’ joke.