The Night A Naval Torpedo Boat Went Aground Off Bembridge

At around 9pm on the evening of the 16th December 1908, the pulling and sailing Lifeboat ‘Queen Victoria’ under coxswain John Holbrook answered signals of distress made from a vessel which had grounded on the ledge at…

Source: The Night A Naval Torpedo Boat Went Aground

Nazi spy or sad fantasist? Newly-released files finally shed light on the seaside B&B landlady sentenced to death for treason | Daily Mail Online

Unassuming: Dorothy O'Grady's neighbours knew her as a guest house landlady whose greatest pleasure was walking her Labrador, Rob

Unassuming: Dorothy O’Grady’s neighbours knew her as a guest house landlady whose greatest pleasure was walking her Labrador, Rob

To her neighbours, Dorothy O’Grady was a pleasant middle-aged woman who liked walking her Labrador around their sleepy seaside town.

So when the unassuming landlady of Osborne Villa in the Isle of Wight was suddenly arrested in 1940 on suspicion of being a Nazi spy, few believed it possible…

via Nazi spy or sad fantasist? Newly-released files finally shed light on the seaside B&B landlady sentenced to death for treason | Daily Mail Online

The French Invasion | The Isle of Wight | The History Project

21july1545iowIt was on this day, 21st July back in 1545 when the French tried to invade the Isle of Wight but failed when their troops were repelled.  The invasion attempt came just days after the Mary Rose sank whilst battling against a French invasion fleet, said to be larger than that of the Spanish Armada years later.  Following years of unrest in Catholic Europe, the King of France…

via The French Invasion | The Isle of Wight | The History Project

PLUTO Pump-houses at Shanklin, Isle of Wight

A picture from the Illustrated London News, showing a cut-away diagram, revealing the main features of a PLUTO pumphouse. "Pluto," Britain's Latest War Secret: How a Million Gallons of Oil Are Daily Pumped across the Channel. Illustrated London News, 02 June 1945, Issue 5537. Camouflaging

A picture from the Illustrated London News, showing a cut-away diagram, revealing the main features of a PLUTO pump-house. “Pluto,” Britain’s Latest War Secret: How a Million Gallons of Oil Are Daily Pumped across the Channel. Illustrated London News, 02 June 1945, Issue 5537. Camouflaging

In 1942, in preparation for D-Day, the crucial issue of fuel supply for the tanks and vehicles of the Allied forces became a vital consideration for the military staff, charged with the planning of the landings in Normandy and the subsequent advance through France. It was realised that a reliance on oil tankers might bring with it problems…

via Isle of Wight History Centre

Shrabani Basu in conversation with James Vaux [YouTube]

Bembridge Ramshackle Cinema & Events presents Shrabani Basu in conversation with James Vaux. Historian & journalist Shrabani Basu is the author of ‘Victoria & Abdul’, upon which the feature film starring Dame Judi Dench & Eddie Izard is based, as well as ‘Spy Princess’, the story of Noor Inayat Khan, a descendant of an Indian prince who became a secret agent for SOE in World War II. She is also the author of ‘Curry’ The Story of the Nation’s Favourite Dish and ‘For King and Another Country’, Indian Soldiers on the Western Front 1914-18. The video recording of the conversation at Bembridge Village Hall, Isle of Wight on Sunday 8th April 2018 is produced by Christopher Offer.

Mary Wilkins Ellis – solentaviatrix

If you watched RAF at 100 with actor Ewan McGregor and his former RAF pilot brother Colin on BBC1 at the weekend, you will have seen the siblings interview this indomitable lady alongside the late Joy Lofthouse. She is a year older than the RAF. And she lives a few miles down the road from me on the Isle of Wight.

Mary Wilkins Ellis in ATA uniform 1941

Mary Wilkins Ellis in ATA uniform 1941

Mary Wilkins grew up in a farming family in Brize Norton, Oxfordshire. She learned to fly at Witney and Oxford Aero Club, where the directors were Mrs. Beatrice Macdonald and Mr. K. E. Walters.

On 15th March 1939, she flew B.A. Swallow G-AFGE for the first time. She flew it again…

via Mary Wilkins Ellis – solentaviatrix

The Borstal Boy, The Can-Can Dancer and The Stolen Auster Aircraft

You couldn’t possibly make it up.  A borstal boy, Windmill can-can dancer and stolen Auster aircraft make headlines for Bembridge on the Isle of Wight around the world.

On the 30th May 1949, an 18-year-old serial absconder from borstal institutions all across England broke into a hanger at Bembridge Airfield and although never having piloted a plane before took off and attempted to fly to Southern Ireland. This story made newspaper headlines around the world and put Bembridge on front pages from Hobart to Honolulu.

Brynley Fussell was a young miscreant who had spent many years in various borstals and had previously escaped from one such Island institution, Camp Hill at Yarmouth, and attempted to sail a small boat to the Mainland. On that occasion, he was caught and sent to Rochester, Kent before escaping yet again. He made his way back to the Island,  stole some cash from houses in Ryde and paid for two short duration flights as a passenger at Somerton Airfield, Cowes, quizzing the pilots on their instruments as they flew along.

He then made his way to Bembridge and having broken into the Sailing Club and stolen money and a pair of binoculars he arranged another half hour joy ride as a passenger in an Auster carefully watching every action the pilot made. Having then stayed around until nightfall he broke into the hanger moved two other aircraft and a crash tender out of the way before pushing an Auster Autocrat registration G-AGVL out onto the airfield. Climbing in, he started the engine and roared off into the early evening.

The flight lasted an hour but running low on fuel he was forced to land just outside Cheltenham close to the Severn Estuary. After again going on the run he was finally arrested at Whitchurch Airfield, Bristol whilst attempting to find another aircraft to continue his flight.

Meanwhile, the stolen Auster was hurriedly flown back to Bembridge and as had been the original intention was prepared for an upcoming Island air race. The pilot was to be Anita D’Ray (born Dorothy Poore) who was a featured dancer at the world-renowned Windmill Theatre, London. At just nineteen she was an accomplished pilot with over one hundred solo flights and had entered the Air Race piloting this privately owned aircraft. Over the Whitsun weekend not only does she enter the international race as one of the very few female entrants but pitted against many well-known international pilots goes on to win it.

Brynley Fussell went on to commit many further crimes including stealing another aircraft and flying to France before eventually settling down and becoming a world-renowned microlight aviation expert gaining his full pilots licence in 1988 some forty years after that first maiden solo fight out of Bembridge airport. Anita D’Ray become an accomplished actress and dance advisor to the film and television industries.

© Peter Chick 2017 (Facebook)

John Wilkes and Knighton Gorges Manor House – All Things Georgian

John Wilkes’s Cottage [near Sandown Fort] on the Isle of Wight. Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

In the late eighteenth-century, John Wilkes, journalist, radical and politician, took a cottage on the Isle of Wight in which he installed his middle-aged mistress Amelia Arnold and subsequently he…

Source: John Wilkes and Knighton Gorges Manor House – All Things Georgian

Portsmouth HMS Invincible excavation wins lottery support – BBC News

The HMS Invincible shipwreck is the “best preserved of a warship from the mid-18th Century”.

Source: Portsmouth HMS Invincible excavation wins lottery support – BBC News

Ryde Lifeboat Disaster 1 January 1907 – RSHG RSHG

Selina Lifeboat

In the early afternoon of New Years Day 1907, Augustus Jarrett, master of the 56-ton barge “Jane”, complained to Mr Brooks, Chief Officer of the Coastguards, that a boat belonging to the barge had been stolen and he was referred to the police. It was later thought the boat had not been tied up properly and the rising tide and wind had carried her away.

Later in the afternoon a man was seen to put off from the Dover Street slipway in a small boat and was observed…

Source: Ryde Lifeboat Disaster 1 January 1907 – RSHG RSHG

Honoured on her 100th Birthday – Pilot Who flew Spitfires and Bombers in WW2

Women pilots of the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA), 1940.

Mary Ellis is one of the last surviving Air Transport Auxiliary pilots. She was surprised by a party in her honour at the Sandown Airport on the Isle of Wight…

Source: Honoured on her 100th Birthday – Pilot Who flew Spitfires and Bombers in WW2

World War II torpedo blown up off Isle of Wight – BBC News

Move to the Isle of Wight and every bit of news I read relates to the Island!

A World War II torpedo is blown up in the sea off the Isle of Wight after being discovered by a dredging barge on the seabed in Portsmouth Harbour.

Source: World War II torpedo blown up off Isle of Wight – BBC News

Tragic chapter in Isle of Wight maritime history remembered

Painting inspired by research into the loss of SS War Knight. War Knight ablaze in the foreground with Lysanda standing off behind. Picture courtesy of Mike Greaves.

THE tragic but forgotten tale of the collision of a steamer and the world’s biggest oil tanker off the Isle of Wight, which resulted in the loss of 34 seamen, is being marked almost a century on.

Thanks to Heritage Lottery funding, the Maritime Archaeology Trust (MAT) will be commemorating the disaster — the collision of the SS War Knight and the American tanker, OB Jennings, on March 24, 1918 — as part of its Forgotten Wrecks project.

Dive skipper and historian Dave Wendes, who has been researching the wreck and crew for many years, is leading the project to tell the tale of the tragic chain of events — and to have formally recognised, the contribution and sacrifice made by the majority of the ship’s crew.

The ships were part of a 16-vessel convoy, designed to protect them, from U-boat attacks.The War Knight crashed into the side of the tanker and caused a massive explosion and inferno, which killed…

Source: Tragic chapter in Isle of Wight maritime history remembered

The black Victorians: astonishing portraits unseen for 120 years | Art and design | theguardian.com

The African Choir were a group of young South African singers that toured Britain between 1891 and 1893. They were formed to raise funds for a Christian school in their home country and performed for Queen Victoria at Osborne House, a royal residence on the Isle of Wight. At some point during their stay, they visited the studio of the London Stereoscopic Company to have group and individual portraits made on plate-glass negatives. That long-lost series of photographs, unseen for 120 years, is the dramatic centrepiece of an illuminating new exhibition called Black Chronicles II.

“The portraits were last shown in the London Illustrated News in 1891,” says Renée Mussai, who has co-curated the show at London’s Rivington Place alongside Mark Sealy MBE, director of Autograph ABP, a foundation that focuses on black cultural identity often through the use of overlooked archives. “The Hulton Archive, where they came from, did not even know they existed until we uncovered them while excavating…

Read more: The black Victorians: astonishing portraits unseen for 120 years | Art and design | theguardian.com.

Julia Margaret Cameron in Ceylon: Idylls of Freshwater vs. Idylls of Rathoongodde | The Public Domain Review

Originally posted on The Public Domain Review.

Photograph of a Sinhalese woman by Julia Margaret Cameron, 1875

Photograph of a Sinhalese woman by Julia Margaret Cameron, 1875

Leaving her close-knit artistic community on the Isle of Wight at the age of sixty to join her husband on the coffee plantations of Ceylon was not an easy move for the celebrated British photographer Julia Margaret Cameron. Eugenia Herbert explores the story behind the move and how the new environment was to impact Cameron’s art.

The Victorian photographer Julia Margaret Cameron is currently undergoing a revival with a recent exhibition of her work at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. She has long evoked interest not only because of her distinctive style but also because of her eccentric personality, her dominant — very dominant — role in a circle that in many ways prefigured the Bloomsbury of her grandniece, Virginia Woolf. But there was another strand in her life that was quintessentially Victorian: the imperial. She was daughter, wife and mother of Empire. To top it off, four of her five sisters…

Read more Julia Margaret Cameron in Ceylon: Idylls of Freshwater vs. Idylls of Rathoongodde | The Public Domain Review.