A WWII English Love Story

June 6th, 2010 by xformed

In rememberance of D-Day today, a story about three men:  An American pilot, an Englishman, and the pilot’s son.

I first met Doug Kirkland in Oct/Nov 1976, while attending Communications Officer School in Newport, RI.  We never really talked, he being a LT, seasoned aviator and me merely an Ensign with no permanent ship assignments in my record.  In Oct, 1989, as I emceed the Change of Command, a face in the guest seats kept attracting my attention.  It was Doug.  At the reception, we both realized we knew each other, but it took about 30 minutes of the “were you ever stationed at…” conversation to finally get us to the point were we figured we had been in Newport for school at the same time, and other than that, our paths had not crossed professionally or otherwise since then.  Fast forward to 2009, when I began going to the every other Saturday breakfasts with a group of local vets…there was Doug again, and one morning, he told me this story and has been kind enough to share it, particularly with the hope the story will maybe connect a few more people who are involved in this story.

Here’s my request:  Pass this story along, please.

A Model of a US Navy PB4Y-l Bureau # 231

English Love Story – Why FAW-7 Loves the people In tbe Devon countryside

This was written by Captain Douglas I. Kirkland ( Delta Air Lines) of Reddington Beach, FL about his father.

My father, Lieutenant Commander Lawrence A. Kirkland, Jr. ( deceased 1990) was a Navy pilot in World War II.  Dad graduated Naval Pilot Training in class 2B41J at the Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida early 1941.  During the early part of the war he flew PBY aircraft first in the Pacific Asiatic and later in North Africa. When VPB-U4 was commissioned, Dad was assigned as Plane Commander and according to bis squadronmates, he was one of the “war weary”, well seasoned veterans at the squadrons beginning in August of 1943.

VPB-114 deployed to Dunkeswell Abbey Airfield Near Exeter in Devon, England and this history is well documented at the museum.

To cope with the rigors and stress of the 41 missions Dad dew from Dunkeswell in PB4Y-1 aircraft, be would take a shotgun and hunt on farmland in the Honiton to Broadhembury area just south of Dunkeswell Airfield.   He would then take his fresh kill to The inn at Broadhembury (which still has a great thatched roof’ pub), and have it cooked, dine with his favorite libation in hand, and finally relax a bit.

The Frost Family farm near Broadhembury was a favorite hunting place of Dads, and the descendant of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Frost still lives on the farm today  (John and Jean ( Frost) Barker) Incidentally, both Jean and John Barker remembered my father when I visited them in December of 1998. The Barker’s mentioned that lots of the men stationed at Dunkeswell hunted their farmland and one man in particular liked to hunt rabbits with a Thompson submachine gun (guess the ammunition and the rabbits were plentiful then)!

According to Dad, one day white relaxing at the Inn at Broadhembury, be met a man named Theo Church from Ex-Axminister, a carpenter by trade. Thea Church was making aircraft parts on jigs in his shop for the war effort.  In conversation, Dad discovered that Theo Church had never been in an airplane, even though he was making aircraft parts! Dad invited Theo to go on a training flight from Dunkeswell, and he provided Theo with a flight suit and the necessary instructions for the flight.  All went off with out a hitch, and several months after the flight, Theo Church came to Dad and presented this hand made, wooden model of a P84Y-1 ship 8ureau #231.

Dad asked Theo to keep the model for the duration of the war, and then ship it to me, because of the the “uncertainties” in his schedule and his longevity. Dad later gave the model to me and after he died, I found a scrapbook from WW II with pictures of the actual plane # 231 in a revetment at Broadhembury.  The box, the stamps, the model, everything you see is just as be received it from Theo Church after the war. This model and its history have always symbolized for me, the spirit of cooperation and combined efforts of our countries in defeating our enemies. Truly, the men and women who served our Countries in WW II deserve our eternal gratitude.

For the most part, they were ordinary citizens who performed extraordinarily. When the war ended, they returned to their families and civilian life and built the better World we now enjoy.

I welcome any additions or input from this word of mouth story about my father.

CDR Douglas I. Kirkland, USNR-R (Ret)
16500 Gulf Blvd. Unit 455
North Redington Beach, FL 33708
850-960-8866 cell
727-320-0012 home
douglas.kirkland@1972.usna.com

Captain Meyer Minchen of Houston, Tx., offers the following information about # 231. Jack McGarry ( Plane Captain) and Jim Baird AMM in Crew 11 were prefiighting the plane for a patrol, and were not in the picture at left.   However they did help in identifying the crew members of #231 in VB-114. Left to right: John Paul Woods, Harold Coffin, Cliff Halls, Larry Kirkland, More Slouch, Don Burns, Oren W. Clark (PCP), Meyer Minchen, Ed E. .Elmwood.

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Category: Air Force, Army, History, INternational Relations, Leadership, Maritime Matters, Military, Military History, Navy | 1 Comment »

Navy Memorial’s Navy TV Airs 120 Rarely Seen, Archival Navy Films

May 10th, 2010 by xformed

Received via email from the Navy Memorial, announcing the showing of recovered WWII Navy 16mm films on Navy TV!

It’s history not seen in a long time.

For Immediate Release

Navy Memorial’s Navy TV Airs 120 Rarely Seen, Archival Navy Films

Internet Television Network Partners With Periscope Film

To Showcase Vast Film Collection

WASHINGTON, D.C. [May 10, 2010] – With Washington’s GI Film Festival launching this week, the U.S. Navy Memorial is announcing their screening of 120 rarely seen archival Naval films on the U.S. Navy Memorial’s Internet television network Navy TV. Obtained through a partnership with Periscope Film LLC, the films were salvaged by the founders of Periscope Film, who also share a passion for military history.  Within the next twelve months, visitors of Navy TV will be able to view the collection in its entirety at www.navytv.org.

While making a documentary, Periscope Film founders Doug Weiner and Nick Spark obtained several original 16mm films from World War II, which they intended to use as stock footage for their film.  Realizing the historical value of this footage, they began producing VHS and DVD collections of the films. “They proved so popular that we just kept expanding our library, acquiring rare military and aviation footage from World War I to Vietnam,” says Spark.

Discovering excerpts of the films on YouTube, the Navy Memorial contacted Periscope Film to request permission to screen the footage on Navy TV.

“When I saw the vast quantity and extensive variety of the collection, I knew this collection would appeal to our Navy TV audience,” said Rear Admiral Edward K. Walker, Jr., SC, USN (Ret.), President and CEO of the Navy Memorial. “Periscope Film’s willingness to allow us to air the entire collection on our network is a testament to our shared commitment of educating the public about the sacrifices our sea service men and women have made throughout the history of our nation.”

Some examples of the rich collection include:

  • “U.S. Navy Blasts Marshall Islands” – 1942 newsreel that shows the first offensive action of the Pacific Campaign of WWII;
  • “The Fathoms Deep” – 1952 film containing early footage of French naval officer Jacques Cousteau demonstrating his revolutionary underwater breathing apparatus known as SCUBA; and
  • “Seapower” – 1968 film featuring Hollywood actor Glenn Ford as star and narrator that shows the fleet at the height of the Cold War.

Viewers can watch any of the films free of charge and on demand at www.navytv.org and can sign up on the website to receive alerts about new films from Periscope Film on Navy TV. The films aired on Navy TV are available for purchase at www.PeriscopeFilm.com.

Internet Television Network Partners With Periscope Film

To Showcase Vast Film Collection

WASHINGTON, D.C. [May 10, 2010] – With Washington’s GI Film Festival launching this week, the U.S. Navy Memorial is announcing their screening of 120 rarely seen archival Naval films on the U.S. Navy Memorial’s Internet television network Navy TV. Obtained through a partnership with Periscope Film LLC, the films were salvaged by the founders of Periscope Film, who also share a passion for military history.  Within the next twelve months, visitors of Navy TV will be able to view the collection in its entirety at www.navytv.org.

While making a documentary, Periscope Film founders Doug Weiner and Nick Spark obtained several original 16mm films from World War II, which they intended to use as stock footage for their film.  Realizing the historical value of this footage, they began producing VHS and DVD collections of the films. “They proved so popular that we just kept expanding our library, acquiring rare military and aviation footage from World War I to Vietnam,” says Spark.

Discovering excerpts of the films on YouTube, the Navy Memorial contacted Periscope Film to request permission to screen the footage on Navy TV.

“When I saw the vast quantity and extensive variety of the collection, I knew this collection would appeal to our Navy TV audience,” said Rear Admiral Edward K. Walker, Jr., SC, USN (Ret.), President and CEO of the Navy Memorial. “Periscope Film’s willingness to allow us to air the entire collection on our network is a testament to our shared commitment of educating the public about the sacrifices our sea service men and women have made throughout the history of our nation.”

Some examples of the rich collection include:

  • “U.S. Navy Blasts Marshall Islands” – 1942 newsreel that shows the first offensive action of the Pacific Campaign of WWII;
  • “The Fathoms Deep” – 1952 film containing early footage of French naval officer Jacques Cousteau demonstrating his revolutionary underwater breathing apparatus known as SCUBA; and
  • “Seapower” – 1968 film featuring Hollywood actor Glenn Ford as star and narrator that shows the fleet at the height of the Cold War.

Viewers can watch any of the films free of charge and on demand at www.navytv.org and can sign up on the website to receive alerts about new films from Periscope Film on Navy TV. The films aired on Navy TV are available for purchase at www.PeriscopeFilm.com.

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