Spitfires - newsclips
The Rushden Echo & Argus 6th December 1940, transcribed by Jim Hollis
Our Seven Spitfires
Lord Beaverbrook, Minister of Aircraft Production, has written a personal letter of thanks to the Council Chairman of each town and parish organising contributions to the “Evening Telegraph” Spitfire Fund, and these messages have been read at the several Council meetings and reported in our columns.
In acknowledging the receipt of the total sum of £35,570 11s 8d. through the efforts of the “Evening Telegraph,” cheques for which remarkable record were presented to the Right Hon. R.B. Bennett, K.C., former Prime Minister of Canada, at the public ceremony in the Odeon Theatre, Kettering, Lord Beaverbrook writes to the managing-editor of the “Evening Telegraph”:-
Ministry of Aircraft Production,
Dear Mr. Hutchin, -- Will you please accept my warmest thanks for all you have done to ensure the brilliant success achieved by the Spitfire Appeal in Northamptonshire.
May I congratulate you on so wonderful a result.
It reflects the most immense credit on you and your newspaper, which played a vital part in this triumph.
For me it is a source of great satisfaction that my own profession should give so much help to the Spitfire movement. They have been responsible for directing and simulating the generosity of the public.
In Northamptonshire, the result has been so remarkable that you must feel an exceptional degree of pride. With many thanks.
The Towns Which Raised The First
It will be recalled that the cheque from Rushden and Higham Ferrers, amounting to the magnificent figure of £7,468 1s 1d., was, at the request of the townships, handed over by Mr. Walter C. Tarry, President of the Rushden and Higham Ferrers Shoe Manufacturers’ Association, who had himself headed the list with a personal contribution of £1,000, Mr. Tarry has since received the following acknowledgment from Lord Beaverbrook:
Dear Mr. Tarry, -- Please accept my warmest thanks for the fine contribution which reaches us from Rushden and Higham Ferrers.
It is a magnificent gift. It demonstrates in the people a spirit of sacrifice and devotion which carries with it the assurance of final victory. And it pays noble tribute to the heroic young pilots of the fighter squadrons to whom our debt is so deep.
Will you be good enough to convey to the generous donors the deep gratitude we feel for the resources which they freely bring to the strengthening of the Royal Air Force. Yours sincerely,
Messrs. John White’s Spitfire
On the same occasion when the “Evening Telegraph” cheques were presented to the Ministry of Aircraft Production, the handsome sum of £5,000 raised by the employees and directors of Messrs. John White, Ltd., “Impregnable” Shoes, Rushden and Higham Ferrers, was also handed over by Mr. John White to Mr. Bennett. Mr. John White has since received the following warm acknowledgment from Lord Beaverbrook :-
You strengthen the Air Force for the vital struggles that lie ahead, and you set an example of devotion to our country’s cause which must inspire the friends of freedom and justice in every land.
Against the spirit which inspired your gift the hosts of Hitler and his Italian satellites will give battle in vain. While it prevails, victory is certain.
I send you my warmest thanks. Yours sincerely,
Rushden Echo and Argus, 3rd October 1941, transcribed by Kay Collins
Spitfire "Impregnable" Goes After The Messerschmitts
First newsand great newsof the Spitfire "Impregnable," gift to the country from Messrs. John White Impregnable Boots Ltd, and companion to the Evening Telegraph fleet of gift fighter planes, is now released for publication.
Already the warrior of thirty sweeps over enemy territory, the £5,000 'plane presented by Mr. John White, of Rushden, his co-directors, and their host of boot workers, has gained a distinguished record in the hands of a brilliant Polish squadron of the Royal Air Force. It has definitely played destroyed two Messerschmitts and played havoc with others.
Given 'with a full heart' when
the battle of Britain was still searing the skies over British soil and waters, the "Impregnable" emerged from the workshops in time for the R.A.F.’s tremendous counter-blow, and its history is one of audacious attack against German aerodromes and the gallant escorting of Britain's bomber fleets.
"Impregnable" has been operating since May, and now the official story through the Ministry of Aircraft Production, which has supplied the news both to the "Evening Telegraph" and direct to Mr. White.
Four Me’s Take The Plunge - Official Story of Victory Raids
Splendid work in the offensive operation over Northern France (states the official account) has been performed by a Spitfire bearing the name "Impregnable", flown by Polish pilots of the R.A.F. Fighter Command. For two months it was in the service of the famous Polish squadron which has accounted for over 150 of the enemy, and its contribution to the squadron’s bag in the recent offensive operations was two Me. 109s definitely destroyed, two probably destroyed and one damaged.
The machine was later transferred to another Polish squadron.
While with the first Polish Squadron the Spitfire was flown thirty times over enemy territory, and it has been piloted by some of the most famous airmen of our Allies, including the pilot officer who in June destroyed four Me’s in one day, finishing up by ramming his last victim and then making a safe return home.
Scalp No. 1.
"Impregnable’s" first success with the Poles was obtained on June 22md, when the squadron was part of an escort for bombers attacking the marshalling yards at Hazebrouck. It was flown by a flying officer who had fought in the Battle of Britain.
The target had been successfully bombed when the flying officer saw an Me. 109 climbing to attack the squadron. He turned to meet, but after a very short burst from 300 yards he fell into a spin. As he came out, the Me. was right in his sights. Peices broke away, and the Me. went down to crash seven or eight miles from Hazebrouck.
The squadron shot down six German fighters that day anddid not lose a pilot or machine.
Down in Smoke
Next day, with a sergeant pilot at the controls, "Impregnable" was in a fierce dog-fight over France with an Me. which had dived to attack other squadrons. The Spitfore soon had the better of the fight, and after two bursts from its guns the Me’s. aircrew stopped and, with black smoke pouring from the engine it plunged straight down. As the sergeant was too busy to see whether it crashed or not, the enemy was claimed as only a “probable”.
It was on this day that the Polish pilot who had flown "Impregnable" over France in May got his four victims.
Four days later the Pole who had piloted the Spitfire through its first successful engagement put its nose down over an aerodrome in Northern France and sprayed aircraft on the ground with bullets and shells. His official claim was one Me. 109 damaged.
Helping to escort bombers to targets at Lille on July 2nd, "Impregnable's" pilot got an Me. 109 destroyed and another probably destroyed. After the bombs had been dropped the squadron was continually engaged by German fighters, and a running fight followed halfway across the Channel. The first Me. at which "Impregnable's" guns were directed went straight down in flames. Three other Me's. received bursts in quick succession, and a fourth was hit so badly it corkscrewed down out of sight. Other pilots reported that a parachute floated down in the neighbourhood of the combat.
Committees, headed by civic and business leaders, set to work in the same spirit, and with a magnificent response from all classes of the community, the fund set in motion by the "Evening Telegraph" became the finest effort in the country.
There was the "Impregnable" £5,000, and there was £30,570 from the district in general.
Cheques from all parts of the area were presented at Kettering on November 12th to the Rt. Hon. R. B. Bennett, former Prime Minister of Canada, who came as a special, representative of the Ministry of Aircraft Production on behalf of Lord Beaverbrook, then the Minister at the head.
Now The Harvest
Presenting the "Impregnable" cheque, Mr. White spoke of the enthusiasm among his workers. "What they have given," he declared, "has been given with a full heart, and they wish the Spitfire a long and successful career."
And now the harvest is in the reaping, Britain strikes back and six local Spitfires soon to be “introduced” to our readers are flying in the wake of "Impregnable" for the overthrow of the enemy.
Perhaps there will be another and more intimate sequel, for Mr. White has confided that he would be only too happy to receive and entertain members of the Polish squadrons who have handled "Impregnable" with such magnificent skill and courage.
The heroism of those who are piloting our fighters and bombers deserves our greatest admiration. Mr. John White.