Friday, June 03, 2022

"Firing into the Brown" #17 - thumbs, books, Bellona and stuff..

"So Carnehan weeds out the pick of his men, and sets the two of the Army to show them drill and at the end of two weeks the men can manoeuvre about as well as Volunteers. So he marches with the Chief to a great big plain on the top of a mountain, and the Chiefs men rushes into a village and takes it; we three Martinis firing into the brown of the enemy".

Kipling "The Man Who Would Be King"

Time for another update..  and yeah, I appreciate I am off target, but hey ho..  the summer is here...  😁

Book catch up first...

Seventh in the Bernie Gunther series, and a real watershed in the story as this is the one where Bernie's past as the member of a police unit on the Eastern Front in WW2, so often alluded to in previous books, finally catches up with him..

Following the events of the previous book where Bernie had holed up and dropped out of sight in post-war, pre-Castro, Cuba looking for a quiet life and trying to get by un-recognised he is arrested by the American's and investigated for war crimes, before being handed over to the French to do the same..  

The key to his eventual outcome is a Communist he helped once in in pre-war Berlin, and it would seem everyone is after him.. more than any other writer, Kerr has the ability to describe and picture how monstrous crimes can be explained in terms of people responding that they were "only following orders" or were"only doing what they were told to do" or were "helpless to make a difference..  if I hadn't done it I would have been killed/imprisoned"...  as an imagined snap shot of a tie in history he writes cracking books!  9/10

A Pan 70th Anniversary edition..  and I reckon I must have first read this about 50 years ago..  probably because I had just read his other well known book "Escape or Die" which I had enjoyed enormously and as a result was looking for more of his books..

Unlike "Chastise" which I read last year, this book is more an operational history of the squadron than an exhaustive look at the Dams raid..  in fact the raid only takes up about a third of the book, as the rest of it covers events after the raid, and how 617 Squadron became a special operations squadron known for their fantastic ability to drop bombs from considerable heights into very small area's (one of the bomb-aimers in 617 had an average of dropping a bomb within 70 yards of a target, which given this was pre-laser is astonishing!)

The squadron had a very close relationship with Barnes Wallis who is best known as the inventor of the bouncing bomb, but who also designed and invented the Grand Slam and Tall Boy bombs (and also the Wellington bomber, by the by)..  known as 'earthquake bombs' they were massive (10 and 6 tons respectively) designed to bury themselves deep underground, and explode on a delayed fuse causing shock tremors to destroy the target..  

617 were the specialists in dropping these with pin point accuracy, and focused on the U Boat pens, the rocket sites, and enemy concentration sites (marshalling yards, bridges, viaducts, etc) 

Grand Slam bomb - the fins would cause the bomb to spin as it dropped helping stability and it's ability to drive deep into the surrounding ground..

The Wikipedia article on Grand Slam [clicky] is well worth reading..

Brilliant book - well worth reading...  10/10

Probably the edition I first
remember reading.. 😊


The last post I did on Bellona products sparked a smidge of interest, and the excellent Jim Walkley sent me a scan of another catalogue that he had discovered - thanks, Jim..

This one pre-dates even me, and is from 1965 (!)

Badgers Mead by the way (above) is gone...   it looks like a property developer got it and then rebuilt it, but as is my way I found some pictures of the original building here [clicky]

I'd completely forgotten about the Bellona AFV prints (above) - they were an intrinsic part of the scratch builders armoury back in the day..  I remember them featuring a lot in Airfix Magazine..  πŸ˜€

Magic stuff..  thanks again, Jim..  good to save this stuff for posterity..


Things have slowed down slightly (following)... only a thumb, only the top joint of the thumb, but booted and splinted for a few weeks..   amazing how many things you require a fully working right hand for, even when you're nominally left handed...  scissors...  trouser zip fly's (😁)..  the list goes on..

How? Came off Gertrude [clicky] while looking at helicopters rather than where I was going.. what can I say, it was a very low helicopter and I am a foolish old man..  πŸ˜‚


Laters, as the young people are want to say...


  1. Get well soon! Remember, flies can be dangerous...!

    1. Ta David... flies are dangerous if you can't get it undone quick enough... :o))

  2. Ouch Steve! Strangely, as a fellow member of the 'sinister' brethren, I have always managed to reach round to the fly.
    Glad the Bellona pages came out so well - I had a number of the AFV prints and not long ago took them to a charity shop. Have to keep that quiet or I shall be thrown out of the Ancient Order of Hoarders. Hope your thumb is not too painful and soon recovers.

    1. All practice where fly's are concerned, Jim, all practice.. :o)) Thanks again for the scan's, trip down memory lane for sure...