Author Guest Post: Phil Appleby
As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, my knowledge of the RAF was negligible when I started working with Tony Lamsdale on The RAF Armourers: Safely Making Aircraft Dangerous Since the First World War. I was aware that my dad had been a Mosquito pilot during the Second World War, but that was about it. I didn’t even know what a Mosquito looked like. Well, except for those annoying insects that somehow seem to get into your bedroom at night and emit an irritating, high-pitched buzzing sound.
As an ex-RAF Armourer, Tony was very much the expert. But, as I’m sure other Pen and Sword authors have found, working on a book about any aspect of military life inevitably piques your interest. You want to learn more, and to see things first-hand. So I was delighted when Tony suggested meeting at the RAF Museum at Cosford. It would be our first get-together since our book was published, and with Tony living in Northumberland and me on the south coast, Cosford was pretty much halfway between us.
We started making plans and contacted the RAF Armourers community to let them know when we’d be at the museum. Our hope was that some of those who’d contributed to the book would be able to join us, so that we could sign their copies.
The day arrived, October 14th to be precise, and Tony and I duly drove over to the RAF Museum. After parking close to the entrance, Tony showed off some of the practical skills he’d learnt in the trade by converting his car into a promotional ad for our book. Then we started looking around the museum.
For me, it was one of the most memorable days of my life. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but the reality exceeded any expectations. All of the aircraft that had been mentioned in the book – Typhoons, Nimrods, Hercs, Phantoms, to name just a few – were on display. Not to mention the armaments themselves: bombs, torpedoes, missiles, and more. And of course I had the perfect guide in Tony. At various points during the day Tony’s phone would buzz, and we would head back to the café near the museum entrance and sign some books. Our visitors included a carload of Armourers on their way to a RAFA committee meeting, impeccably dressed in their Armourers’ shirts, ties and waistcoats – that was a bit special.
The best part of the day for me? That had to be seeing a Mosquito close up. The thought of my dad, who would have been exactly 100 this year, sitting in the cockpit of an identical aircraft… It sent shivers up my spine.
For anyone who hasn’t visited the RAF Museum, I have one word of advice. Go! I can’t wait for my next visit.
The RAF’s Armourers is available to order here.