Last month we travelled to Compton Abbas Airfield in Dorset to meet two pilots who have raised thousands for the Royal British Legion.
Jason Davidson and Simon Shackell flew in specially to tell us all about a remarkable challenge they took on in May.
To mark the 80th anniversary of the Dambusters Raid, they undertook a commemorative flight to recognise the technical skills, ingenuity and courage of those who conducted the legendary air operation.
And in doing so, they have already raised over £3,000 for the Royal British Legion!
Watch below as we meet Jason and Simon, who tell us about the challenge and why they chose to raise funds for the RBL.
We were delighted to gift Jason and Simon a 2023 Royal British Legion Poppy® Silver Proof £5 each as well as the FINAL 2023 Poppy® Silver Masterpiece Coin to be struck to honour their achievements and thank them for their fundraising efforts…
Watch the interview and gifting in full below or read on to find out more about Jason and Simon’s story…
Jason and Simon’s Story
Both Simon and Jason have a close connection to the military – Jason served in the Parachute Regiment for over 22 years and his twin brother was also in the RAF. Simon’s father was a navigator in the RAF during National Service.
They took on the challenge as they were inspired by the bravery and skill that the 617 Squadron showed. Simon said that the idea was to “champion the engineering aspect” as well as the airmanship. “It really struck home how difficult that would have been, and how dangerous. The airmanship was what blew me away”, Jason said.
On 16th May 2023, the 80th anniversary of the Dambusters Raid, Jason and Simon began their challenge – departing from the RAF St Athan airfield site on a mission to pass over 8 locations:
- Chesil Beach, Dorset – testing location for the “bouncing bomb”
- Reculver Bay, Kent – testing location for the “bouncing bomb”
- East Kirkby Aviation Heritage Centre, Lincolnshire – a unique living museum to the Dambusters and home of ‘Just Jane’.
- Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire – home of the Dambusters Memorial
- RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire – the wartime base of the 617 Squadron and location where the Raid was launched
- Derwent Dam, Sheffield – a location closely resembling the Möhne Dam where the Dambusters practiced for the Raid.
- Nant-y-Gro Dam, Rhayader – the site where Barnes Wallis successfully demonstrated the concept of the depth charge mine.
- Penarth, Glamorgan – the site of Wing Commander Guy Gibson’s memorial and his wartime home.
Jason and Simon conducted each flight using only maps, stopwatches and compasses to navigate as the Dambusters did.
The 2023 Official RBL Poppy® Coin Range
For nearly 20 years, The Westminster Collection has released coins in support of the Royal British Legion – and collectors have raised over £1.25 million for the RBL.
The 2023 coin range is available to order now but with stock selling fast, you’ll need to act today to secure your tribute…
This year marks 40 years since the founding of the Douglas Bader Foundation. To celebrate the occasion a range of NEW commemoratives have been issued in partnership with the charity. But, before I go into any details about these new issues, I want to tell you about the fascinating life of the foundation’s namesake – Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader.
Sir Douglas Bader
Douglas Bader was born in London in 1910 and was commissioned into the Royal Air Force in 1930. Tragically, 18 months later he was in a plane crash in which he lost both legs.
Due to this accident, he was discharged from the RAF and was forced to find work elsewhere.
However, after the outbreak of the Second World War, Bader was able to rejoin the air force. He became a leading airman during WW2, flying Spitfires and Hurricanes at Dunkirk and the Battle of Britain. In 1941, he was shot down and held as a prisoner of war.
During his descent, Bader lost his right artificial limb. He persuaded his German captors to radio England to ask them to send over a replacement leg. On the night of 19 August 1941, during a normal bombing raid, his new leg was dropped from a Blenheim, along with some stump socks, tobacco, and chocolate.
Despite his disability, he made several escape attempts. Bader was eventually placed in Colditz until its liberation in 1945.
Douglas Bader was a charismatic and controversial character. After the war, he campaigned tirelessly on behalf of amputees and people with disabilities. He inspired millions with his example and was honoured with a knighthood in 1976. He is considered a national hero for both his war efforts and his work with the disabled which he was involved in up until he died in 1982.
The Douglas Bader Foundation
The Douglas Bader Foundation was established immediately following his death in 1982 by his friends and family, many of whom had flown by his side during the war.
For 40 years, the Douglas Bader Foundation has worked to help people with disabilities, supplying prosthetics, grants, and support to many people.
To support this fantastic charity, a donation from the sale of each of the brand-new commemoratives will go directly to the Douglas Bader Foundation.
So, let’s take a closer look at the new range ….
The Silver Spitfire Commemoratives
These incredible Silver Spitfire commemoratives feature a 3D Spitfire model crafted from a genuine piece of aluminium from a Spitfire AB910.
AB910 flew in The Dieppe Raid – one of the most significant air battles in history and flew cover patrols over Normandy beachheads on D-Day.
I can’t think of a more fitting tribute to Douglas Bader and the Douglas Bader Foundation. The daring airman flew Spitfires over Dunkirk and during the Battle of Britain.
These are available in both 1oz and 5oz silver specifications. With a small amount of this historic metal available, just a limited number of these commemoratives can be made.
Douglas Bader Medal Box Set
Strictly limited to JUST 250 worldwide, a spectacular box set has been released to honour the extraordinary life of Douglas Bader. This set brings together not one, but three full-coloured commemoratives designed by artist Adam Tooby.
Alongside these commemoratives also sits replicas of three of the many medals that Bader received during his astonishing military career.
As this set comes beautifully displayed in a presentation box with a numbered certificate of authenticity, it is the perfect collector’s piece.
“Before Alamein we never had a victory. After we never had a defeat.”
It’s 1942 and the fortunes of war are running against the Allies on almost every front.
In the east, the Soviets are in collapse.
In the Atlantic, U-boats are crippling the ferrying-in of Britain’s vital supplies.
While, in western Europe, Nazi troops are the occupying force in country after country.
To North Africa, where Rommel’s Afrika Korps are trying to break through to the Suez Canal – and to that all important oil of the Middle East.
To stop them, the Egyptian village of El Alamein, situated between the Mediterranean Sea and the Qattara Depression, simply had to be held.
The defending Allies were represented by the Eighth Army – the ‘Desert Rats’, led by General Montgomery.
Montgomery had a plan. He would launch a diversionary attack to the south, while the main attack would come from the north, nearer to the coast.
And 80 years ago, on the night of 23-24 October 1942, the attack began.
A noise so great, the gunners’ ears bled
It started with the firing of over 800 artillery pieces at the German lines, creating a noise so great that, according to legend, the ears of the gunners bled.
When the infantry attacked, they were followed by tanks that moved through the minefield along a path cleared by engineers.
Outnumbered and under constant attack from land and air forces, on November 4th, Rommel, refusing to carry out Hitler’s suicidal order to fight to the last, retreated.
The Battle of El Alamein, fought in the deserts of North Africa with tank warfare at the heart of it, was undoubtedly one of the pivotal battles of World War II.
The battle revived the morale of the Allies and helped turn the tide during the war. As Churchill noted, “After Alamein we never had a defeat”.
The Battle of El Alamein NumisProof
A Silver Proof NumisProof Commemorative has been issued to mark the 80th Anniversary of the battle of El Alamein.
This stunning NumisProof has been struck from Sterling Silver to a perfect Proof finish, it features a full colour design created by world renowned digital artist Adam Tooby.
It depicts the two leading military commanders involved in the battle – Britain’s Bernard Montgomery and Germany’s Erwin Rommel, with the battle raging in the background.
For such an important anniversary of such an important WWII battle, you’ll be surprised by the edition limit. Just 250 have been authorised.
Today I invite you to be one of just 250 people in the world to own this scarce 80th anniversary commemorative.