Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Charles Frank 67 Saltmarket

I wrote a post a while ago, which seemed to get a bit of interest following the news that Maplin had folded, and was closing (everything).

That post had been about the earlier demise of electronics retailers in Glasgow, specifically RME in Stockwell Street.

Responses to those thoughts included mention of Charles Frank, an optical and scientific instrument maker who, together with his son Arthur, had shops in the city’s Saltmarket, and later, Ingram Street.

That venture came to an end in the 1970s, with the shops finally closing their doors for the last time in 1974.

In his time, Frank designed, sold, and repaired photographic and scientific apparatus from the Saltmarket premises, with Ingram Street being described as a more upmarket showroom for the sale of his scientific instruments.

While I was never aware of the Ingram Street venture, I was dragged along to his establishment in Saltmarket, which had become an outlet for various sort of surplus just before it closed. Seems it was fuelled by a flood of high quality ex-military optical and photographic equipment in the postwar years. Frank Ltd took advantage of this by buying at public auctions held by the military which had no use for the items, and then reselling them to the public.

I have (as a child at the time) some memories of the shop and stuff stacked in it. Some large reels of quarter-inch recording tape were bought, and maybe some assorted slide rules, but that’s all that stuck in my mind. I’d always imagined going there when I ‘Grew Up’ – but neither of those ever happened.

See the note at the end of this post – my useless memory had the wrong Saltmarket shop tagged as Frank’s.

I’m amazed at being so wrong for so long – when the dumb strikes, it strikes hard!

I just learnt of my mistake after noticing the ’30’ above its door – Frank’s shop was 67.

Time to start hunting for confirmation, and I did find this old B&W pic on a number of sites, credited to the Jewish Archive, but I couldn’t track down the original, they were all ‘re-use’.

CH Frank 67 Saltmarket Jewish Archive Pic

CH Frank 67 Saltmarket Jewish Archive Pic

That made the hunt a lot easier to complete, and we can see the same shop today.

It’s a slightly bigger image than usual, so you can click for bigger.

67 Saltmarket Gilt Edged

67 Saltmarket Gilt Edged

Intriguing changes – there are now FIVE assorted electrical/electronic control gear boxes planted on this short length of street; the low wall in St Andrews Street (on the left) has been considerably heightened; and the close entrance which sat in the middle of shop (to the right) has had its original width reduced, and is now considerably smaller than it used to be.

My mistake

As noted above, tiny memories are not always reliable memories, and I walked past a derelict Saltmarket shop for years, sadly thinking (wrongly) of it being the remains of Frank’s.

I always thought it was this one, just across from the long-established pet shop in Parnie Street.

(Just how long has that pet shop been there anyway?)

Not Former Charles Frank Shop Saltmarket

Not Former Charles Frank Shop Saltmarket

When this group of shops was ‘modernised’ some years ago, I was here regularly, and was sad to see a (presumably original) stained glass window above the door to number 30 was gone when the shutters came down to reveal the ‘improved’ premises. I’ve always wondered what happened to that panel, undamaged for as long I watched it. Skipped, or ‘liberated’ by some lucky builder or salvager?

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September 17, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, Lost, military, photography, World War II | , , | 3 Comments

The Steinmeyer Legacy

It’s been some time since the story of Heinrich Steinmeyer and his bequest to Comrie first appeared in the news, and the size of his gift became apparent.

Now the story is coming to an end, with news of how his legacy will be used.

The late Heinrich Steinmeyer bequeathed his estate of almost £400,000 because of the kindness and humanity shown to him by local people at what he said was the lowest point in his life.

He later renounced the Nazis and said he had fought for Hitler as a soldier, not a criminal.

Aged just nineteen, Henrich was already a member of Hitler’s fanatical SS when he was captured in 1944 in France and joined other Nazi hardliners at the Cultybraggan Prison Camp in Perthshire.

When he went to fight for Hitler, he could hardly have imagined that his war would end in Scotland, and even less so that 70 years later his legacy would help people he once regarded as the enemy.

Whilst a prisoner of war, he was smuggled out of the camp by local girls who took him to the cinema.

He never forgot this kindness and after he died left his estate of nearly £400,000 to the people of Comrie.

Heinrich intimated that he wanted the elderly to benefit, and now his money is being shared amongst various projects including the community bus and the Silver Circle old folks group.

His presence in Comrie is now underlined even more by what has become known as the Steinmeyer Legacy.

Ken Heiser from the Steinmeyer Legacy Committee became one of Heinrich’s friends and scattered his ashes on a hill overlooking the camp.

He said: “I think he just wanted to show his appreciation of the friendship that he had here in Scotland.”

Former Nazi’s fortune devoted to causes in local village

I often wonder if those brought up in the recent years of the Internet can even comprehend the world of those born in Mr Steinmeyer’s world, understand the closed nature of the world he was raised in, appreciate how slow and limited the spread of news was, how easy it was for a dictator like Hitler to close his country’s borders, and make sure the only news the population heard was ‘his’ news. There were radios, the ‘Great Leader’ still had to get his message out – but get caught with a radio playing, or even tuned, to the BBC and your next public appearance was probably going to be in a concentration camp, or against a wall.

I don’t hear it said these days (well, those likely to are no longer with us), but I used to hear my elders say that the ‘lucky ones’ in World War II were those soldiers who survived to be taken prisoner, and transported out of the conflict if, like Mr Steinmeyer, their indoctrination was not complete.

I like the allocation of part of the legacy to fix up one of the huts in Cultybraggan for locals to use.

 

September 16, 2018 Posted by | World War II | , , | Leave a comment

RAF100 to visit the Glasgow Science Centre with five aircraft

Hopefully this won’t change after I mention it, but I spotted an interesting (free) event which is set to arrive at the Glasgow Science Centre this weekend (Friday to Sunday, 31 August to 2 September),  specifically…

Open on Friday 9am to 5.30pm – Last admittance is at 5pm.

Open on Saturday and Sunday 9am to 6pm – Last admittance is at 5.30pm.

On show:

  • Sopwith Snipe Biplane
  • Supermarine Spitfire MkVb
  • Harrier GR3 – (first VSTOL production aircraft)
  • Typhoon Full Scale Replica
  • F35 (LII) Full Scale Replica

Iconic fighter planes from past 100 years to go on display in Glasgow this summer as part of RAF100 Aircraft Tour

RAF100 Aircraft Tour Glasgow

RAF100 Aircraft Tour

 

RAF100 Publcity Image

RAF100 Publicity Image

Update

Red Arrows cancel Glasgow flypast for RAF centenary

August 27, 2018 Posted by | Aviation, Cold War, photography, Transport, World War I, World War II | , , | Leave a comment

Arctic Convoy museum receives funding assistance

I never really appreciated the detail of the Arctic Convoys until I did a little of my own research for a post, then realised I’d missed a lot with regard to this story.

Sadly, while education about this wartime effort is growing, this is only happening as the last few survivors have grown very old, and their numbers are dwindling.

There has always been some sort of memorial to those involved, but not a proper, formal museum.

However, ongoing efforts to create such a facility are moving towards a successful conclusion, and I noticed news of another award which the project will benefit from.

A project dedicated to World War Two’s Russian Arctic Convoys has received £72,820 from the Scottish Land Fund.

The Highlands’ Russian Arctic Convoy Project (RACP) will use the money to buy a former butcher’s shop in Aultbea for a new exhibition centre.

The nearby Loch Ewe was a gathering point for many of the convoys.

The Arctic Convoys transported four million tons of supplies and munitions to Russia between 1941 and 1945.

More than 3,000 Allied seamen lost their lives to the freezing conditions and attacks during the trips to ports in the Arctic Circle after Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941.

Funds awarded to Aultbea, Aberdeen and Leadburn projects

Arctic Convoy Memorial

Arctic Convoy Memorial

August 11, 2018 Posted by | Maritime, Naval, Transport, World War II | , , , | Leave a comment

Scot directs new film about Polish flyers in World War II

Having Polish roots, I came to learn of the Poles part in World War II after Hitler overran the country at the start of his ‘land grab’, and how Scotland came to figure in the lives of many Poles.

Many troops were based in Scotland after being displaced, stationed on the east coast, where there was always the possibility of a Nazi invasion routed via occupied Norway. Much of the coast was formed into a ‘Stop line’ to delay such an enemy incursion, which would allow time for troop movements to the area. Those on a Stop Line were almost certain to lose their lives, were it ever activated.

But their main active contribution was the part they played in the RAF, where their reputation as determined flyers became legendary.

Unfortunately (and note the use of ‘English’ in this quote):

These men were instrumental in winning the Battle of Britain yet in time-honoured English tradition, the majority of the population wanted them deported after the war – once they’d fulfilled their usefulness.

“Not unlike what we’re trying to do today with our catastrophic approach to immigration, the Windrush generation and so on.”

The source is a Scottish filmmaker has directed a new film about a squadron of Polish pilots who fought alongside the RAF at the Battle of Britain in World War II.

Hurricane is Johnstone-born David Blair’s first war feature.

Starring Iwan Rheon of Game of Thrones fame, the film is about fliers who fought Nazi Germany after escaping to Britain from occupied Poland.

Flying Hurricane fighters for the RAF, they became a key component in the story of The Few.

Blair, who now lives near Moniaive in Dumfriesshire, said that while making the film he was struck by the Poles’ self-sacrifice.

He said: “I knew there had been Poles – amongst others, from around the world – serving in the British armed forces during World War Two but that was about it.

“As I was growing up, there was little inclination in history lessons to point up the contribution made by ‘foreigners’ to our war effort.”

Directing Hurricane, Blair said he learned of the exploits of Poles and service personnel from other parts of the world in Britain’s war-time activities.

He said: “It’s one thing to fight for a cause in a far away land but to do so while all sorts of horrors are taking place back home – of which you have only scant information – made the story heart-breaking – but irresistible too.

“What was taking place in Poland no doubt acted as a spur and incentive for the men to keep going.”

Scot directs new film on WW2 Polish fighters

Hawker Hurricane Charles Daniels Photo Collection

Hawker Hurricane Charles Daniels Photo Collection

July 22, 2018 Posted by | Aviation, military, World War II | , , | Leave a comment

How many Italian Chapels?

Most will be aware of the Italian Chapel created by Italian PoWs at Lamb Holm on Orkney during World War II.

The page given above also describes a second such chapel located Camp Atterbury PoW camp USA.

Now there’s a third.

This was noted in a display spotted in Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.

While the chapel has no name, it was sited near Berbera, in what is now known as Somalia, and was used to hold Italian PoWs captured in North Africa.

Lafaruk Madonna Story

Lafaruk Madonna Story

 

Lafaruk Madonna Chapel

Lafaruk Madonna Chapel

 

Italian Mud Chapel

Italian Mud Chapel

So…

Are there more such chapels to be found?

July 6, 2018 Posted by | World War II | | Leave a comment

Kelvingrove Spitfire Gallery

Not a new picture, but not all that old either – the gallery where Glasgow’s Spitfire LA198 is housed. A late model Mark F21 airframe fitted with the more powerful Rolls Royce Griffon engine, as opposed to the Merlin, it flew with 602 City of Glasgow Auxiliary Squadron between 1947 and 1949. LA198 was eventually placed in storage, then spent three years as a gate guardian at RAF Leuchars during the 1980s, I’ve read that 602 pilots were the first part-time squadron to be equipped with Spitfires on 8 May 1939.

When I took this pic there was a sign posted nearby to the effect that this gallery had just been re-opened to the public, having been closed for some time for remedial work. I’m guessing this referred to the floor mounted displays and cases – as I took a few pics of the aircraft, I couldn’t help but notice that some years must have passed since it last saw a duster. Not a complaint in any way (it is hanging from the roof after all), merely an observation.

The idea behind the pic was to see if it was possible to get a centred and symmetrical shot from the upper balcony.

It seems it is, and the only thing that is ‘off’ is the 5-blade propeller, which has settled a few degrees away from vertical.

The original pic was surprisingly close to ideal, and needed only a few degrees of correction for converging verticals (which was the photographer’s fault, for not holding the camera properly). I should also have been a fraction further to the right, but this detail was just too fine to see in the viewfinder.

The museum staff seem to have done a VERY good job of hanging the airframe to ensure the wings are truly horizontal.

I had used the tailplane and vertical fin as my references to line this one up.

Click on the image for a slightly bigger version.

Kelvingrove Spitfire Gallery

Kelvingrove Spitfire Gallery

Suspension

Just to be different/awkward (and avoid ‘just’ having the same pic as everyone else, I thought I’d point the camera at the cockpit and aerial suspension system.

It didn’t quite come off perfectly, as it was just an afterthought, but I did catch the bits I was interested in.

Maybe I’ll take some proper pics if I get back.

The cockpit and upper suspension yoke (and you can probably see the need to fly someone up there and give the canopy a once over with some polish 🙂 ).

Kelvingrove Spitfire Cockpit

Kelvingrove Spitfire Cockpit

This view of the lower wing root suspension is even worse than the first (I almost missed the upper yoke!) as I was so busy looking at the wing root I forgot to keep the camera level.

Let’s call it intentional, and meant to portray the Spit in a dive – or maybe I’ll just level the pic, since it portrays something hanging, and just looks ‘wrong’ with those cable lying at an angle. (So, I levelled, but couldn’t crop fully and had to edit a little, or lose the periscope mirror).

Kelvingrove Spitfire Cockpit

Kelvingrove Spitfire Cockpit

I was sure I had some earlier pics (taken at the re-opening of Kelvingrove), but guess they are on film, so not readily to hand.

The reason I wanted to dig them out was for comparison.

Stuck in my mind is the image of a number of missing screws I spotted in the pics I took on that opening day, and this new shot clearly shows that nothing is missing.

One day, I’ll get around to digitising my film pics, and will have to check this out.

July 5, 2018 Posted by | Aviation, photography, World War II | , | Leave a comment

Statue unveiled in memory of Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown – Britain’s Greatest Test Pilot

I have to confess I had no idea this statue existed, let alone was complete and set to be unveiled.

I came across Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown’s name on numerous occasions whenever I was investigation aviation related stories, and my attention became all the greater when I learned he was a Scot from Leith.

I did raise a page to his achievements in our Wiki, but it was really only a token gesture, so I could avoid being accused of not noticing him. There’s just too much to mention.

He even met Yuri Gagarin, and learnt how Gagarin ejected from his spacecraft and parachuted to Earth separately – something denied by the Soviets, and not revealed officially until some years later.

Episode 40: April 2nd 2011: Gagarin in London : Captain Eric Brown

As well as the summary, there are a couple of short video clips featuring him.

Eric Melrose “Winkle” Brown

Edinburgh Airport has unveiled a statue of Eric “Winkle” Brown, Britain’s greatest ever test pilot.

The life-sized bronze sculpture outside the terminal was funded by former pilots from the Edinburgh University Air Squadron.

Prince Andrew revealed the statue on Monday (01 July 2018).

Sir Jon Elvidge, chairman of Edinburgh Airport, said: “Captain Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown is someone who is synonymous with RAF Turnhouse, and is in turn a key figure in the history of what is now Edinburgh Airport.

“His achievement (sic) speak for themselves and the fact his remarkable career is still held in such high regard after all these years is testament to the man himself.”

Statue of Britain’s greatest ever test pilot unveiled

July 2, 2018 Posted by | Aviation, World War II | , , , | Leave a comment

Loch Ewe remembrance visit is down to three Arctic Convoy veterans

In past years I’ve noted the holding of an official memorial ceremony at Loch Ewe to mark the Arctic Convoys which assembled and departed from the safety of the protected location.

I think it was last year which was reported to be the last official ceremony, with an announcement to the effect that the official gathering would no longer be held, due to the advanced years, failing health, and distance involved for the few remaining veterans.

But that didn’t preclude personal visits, and while four planned make the trip, only three were able on the day:

  • Edwin Leadbetter, also known as Eddie, was serving on HMS Fencer, an escort aircraft carrier, when it joined an attack on the German battleship Tirpitz. He spent more than a decade in the Royal Navy and is a recipient of both the Arctic Star and the Burma Star.
  • James Docherty will be making his first journey back to Loch Ewe since World War Two. He remembers looking at the ship next to him, only to see his neighbour from Dalmarnock, Glasgow, looking back at him. He is a recipient of the Arctic Star and the Ushakov Medal.
  • Bernard Roberts, also known as Barney, served in the Royal Navy from 1942 and finished his service in 1947 on HMS Forth, in Rothesay. He spent time on mine-laying ships in the Arctic Circle and an application for the Arctic Star has been made. He has also received the Africa Star for his contributions in northern Africa.
  • A fourth veteran, Albert Lamond, 92, from Erskine, was unable to attend the trip due to illness. He is a recipient of the Arctic Star, the Ushakov Medal and is a Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur for his service to France during the invasion in World War Two when his ship acted as an escort to Bombardment Force D of the Eastern Task Force.

Via Three veterans commemorate Arctic Convoys at Loch Ewe

Gun emplacement by Loch Ewe David Brown

Gun emplacement by Loch Ewe David Brown

May 12, 2018 Posted by | Maritime, Naval, Transport, World War II | , | Leave a comment

Today is Smoke and Mirrors Day

29 March is Smoke and Mirrors Day.

Deceit, deception, illusion, even fraudulent cunning and those we’d better not mention, plus all other types of trickery are celebrated in the festival of Smoke And Mirrors Day.

The phrase “It’s all smoke and mirrors” refers to the way magicians use distraction to make sure their audience fails to see what’s really going on. The more complex the illusion, the more successfully the magician.

The technique played its part in World War II, with many examples, the simplest being inflatable vehicles. A Boeing aircraft factory in America was concealed beneath a decoy town laid over the top, the D-Day invasion was hidden behind false radio messages from a few trucks driving around (some in Scotland! to keep the enemy from discounting the west coast as an invasion departure point), the forces to be deployed were transported under cover so the build-up would not be observed, and in more technical efforts CDL (canal defence lights) were tanks fitted with strobe lights operating around 6 Hz which confused enemy observers. Famous magician Jasper Maskelyne tested a system of rotating mirrors and lights intended to be deployed to protect the Suez Canal, but it seems that only a prototype was ever completed, and it was not used. Most of these now have more detailed accounts given online.

But it’s not just magicians that have learned and perfected this art, as we see with ‘legalese’’ an incredibly convoluted language that lawyers use to make sure that no-one else understands what’s going on.

Some say… it’s even been rumoured that politicians do the same.

One of my favourite examples of Smoke and Mirrors can be seen in the vintage TV series – Mission: Impossible, which ran from 1966 to 1973.

Trying to pick just one? Nope.

This montage is a better reminder.

March 29, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, World War II | , | 4 Comments

James Keith Gorrie – ‘the nicest man in Glasgow’

There’s a lot of pics of items which can be found in Kelvingrove, but the vast majority are of the same subjects.

While I wouldn’t suggest there’s anything wrong with that, it is also true to say that there are many items I’ve never seen anyone take, or share, a picture of.

Case in point, the display pictured below.

James Keith Gorrie Kelvingrove

James Keith Gorrie Kelvingrove

March 17, 2018 Posted by | military, Naval, photography, World War II | | Leave a comment

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