We awoke early morning on Saturday 9th of September in the garden of England, Kent specifically. Mrs poofta went to put the kettle on, sighed and said ‘we’re out of gas’. Ok then, out came the laptop and Google mapped caravan/motorhome outlets and found one in Folkestone, off we set following our satnav heading south from Margate. On passing through Hawkinge I noticed a Battle of Britain museum sign and decided on the roundabout to go take a look. Walking into to the entrance to the building we noticed signs everywhere saying no cameras or mobile phones allowed, when I inquired as to why, it was because of thefts. I was gobsmacked, what scum we have in this world today.
Leaving our phones with the staff, the curator appeared and started to tell us bit about the history of Hawkinge saying that during the Battle of Britain no aircraft was left overnight on the base due to German night bombers and they were duly sent out to airfields further inland for the night. Upon mentioning squadrons based there during the Battle of Britain he mentioned 501 Squadron, my ears pricked up when he said that, and I told him my flying instructor and examiner was with 501 he then asked me for his name, “Gordon Parkin” I said, which he replied he knew him very well. How weird it is that I never knew he flew out of Hawkinge. We were then given a guided tour of the museum By one of the volunteers (ex Military natch) and because of my connection with Gordon Parkin we were allowed to have some pictures taken. The volunteer guide informed us that they have the biggest Battle of Britain memorabilia in the world, hence the thefts by collectors who send in unsavoury types to photograph certain items and are willing to pay top dollar for their removal. This is our heritage and memory of those young boys that gave their lives.
|My log book signed by Gordon the day I passed my flying test|
The museum only gets its funding from donations. Nothing from government and nothing from the lottery fund which they did apply for but were turned down because the curator didn’t have the right qualifications (requires a Doctorate) but he holds an MBE for his sterling work in keeping our history alive. The airfield is long gone now, just the museum. The rest is nothing more than housing estates and supermarkets.
They told us a funny story about the time they had a Tory minister come to visit after they were turned down for funding, a certain Michael Howard MP, upon his departure he was presented with a gift; a German fighter pilots Iron Cross which he accepted graciously upon asking why such a gift as this was presented to him, he was told by the curator it was for doing more damage to Hawkinge than the entire might of the German Luftwaffe did, true story that.
Flight Lieutenant, Eric Gordon Parkin, I have some very fond memories of that man and I am honoured and indeed privileged and immensely proud to have been taught by him, I was trained by one of the few and what better start in a flying career than that.
Read more about Parkin here