One of the real pleasures being a professional archaeologist and historian is having the chance to appear in television programmes as a presenter or expert. This is a fantastic medium to work in given its enormous reach, with viewers able to access programming today through the widest variety of platforms. This can range from the family watching the television in the corner of the living room, to an individual on the other side of the world viewing streamed programming on the latest electronic device.
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WHEN WE GET OUT OF LOCKDOWN AND BACK ON TO THE RIVERS, HERE ARE TEN WAYS TO GET YOUR ROD BENDING AGAIN TO A SALMON.
Mystery of Missing Flight F-BELV
The writing and completion of this book was a long time in the making, forty-three years to be exact.
My late mother first told me about the death of her half-brother, James Sylvester Byrne, in 1976, whilst he was serving as a Canadian soldier during the Vietnam war. I was 18 years of age at the time. I had found the story very compelling, even more so as I had seriously considered joining the Army at that time, so anything to do with the military, I found extremely interesting. The fact that in this case the person in question was related to me gave the story an extra edge.
COMPARING THE LIVES OF RAF AND EAST GERMAN PILOTS IN THE COLD WAR
My wife held up the barbed wire for me to crawl under and into the once highly secret Warsaw Pact airfield at Zerbst, in East Germany, which in the Cold War had thundered to the sound of Russian fighter-bombers, and so was a target of interest to me as a NATO fast-jet pilot. Now a sinister silence pervaded the deserted guard posts, crumbling runways and rusting hangars; it was 1998, and the Cold War was over.
While we socially isolate, we might spare a thought for seafarers battling the main diseases that often reached epidemic proportions among ships’ crews in the Age of Sail, a period in which the ‘miasma theory’ — that disease was contracted by inhaling foul air — still prevailed. We glimpse the theory in the laments of a former ship’s doctor writing early in the 18th century, regarding unventilated ships’ holds, in which ‘stagnant salt water’ tended to accumulated, and regarding their lower decks, in which ‘a multitude of people breathing and constantly perspiring’ were crowded together. The long-held theory is reflected in the name of that well-known scourge of tropical climes including the coast of West Africa, malaria (‘bad air’), which we, of course, know is spread by mosquitoes. But before we look briefly at epidemics involving infectious diseases, let’s look at that well-known non-communicable disease, scurvy, which had a devastating impact on seamen’s health ever since long voyages came to be undertaken.
AIRBORNE WITH THE ‘BEST OF BREED’
An eerie silence seemed to have descended over the North German Plain, on that crystal clear Christmas morning of 1955, as we patrolled the Inner German Border (IGB) at 50,000 ft in our brand new Hunter Mk 4s, our guns loaded, looking for any suspicious activity in the air above the forbidden land of East Germany. Other than the gentle purring of our jet engines, and sporadic checks on our radios to keep us alert, our world seemed to be at peace – but this was the Cold War.