Cranleigh Arts Centre
West Surrey Area
Museums & Art Galleries
Cranleigh DFAS visits
Wednesday 16th March 2016
On a sunny Wednesday, we drove ourselves to Tangmere
for a tour of this historic museum. Historic because, as
explained to us by the Director, Dudley Hooley, in an outstanding
introductory lecture, the Special Operations Executive, created by
Churchill in 1940 as a top secret organisation to “Set Europe Ablaze”,
were based here as well as in other centres around the country.
Other locations were used for specific tasks, such as Forgery, Combat
Skills, Weapons & Tactics and Tradecraft. We were amused by
the stories of exploding coal and exploding rats!
Some familiar names flew from Tangmere to be dropped into France to liase with the Resistance – Odette Sansom, Violette Szabo, “Tommy” Yeo-Thomas and Noor Inayat Khan (a name which I did not recognise, but who suffered terribly at the hands of the Gestapo). Westland Lysander planes flew from Tangmere, and were adapted to collect agents from Europe, under the command of 161 Squadron. Stories were told of planes crashing in fog, of oxen being used to drag a plane from a bog, unsuccessfully, and of pilots who were awarded medals for bravery. 161 Squadron flew 279 missions, inserted 293 agents, and collected 410. Only 13 Lysanders were lost, due to the exceptional talent of the pilots.
Following the talk, we were escorted around two
hangars, in which we
found examples of fighter aircraft, from Hawker Hunters to Spitfires
and Hurricanes, which were much more successful during World War 2 than
the more romantic Spitfire, due in part to their construction, which
was mainly of cloth. This enabled enemy gunfire to pass through
the Hurricane without affecting its flying ability.