Tagged: British

Viscount “President International” – Finished

She is a beauty!

I’m over the moon with how this build has turned out. My only criticisms are the lack of chrome rims and the lack of decals. The first was a genuine mistake when ordering new rims (and a semi misleading picture) and the second is purely down to nobody produces the exact Viscount decals. I have found some, but when I ask a question and the seller ignores me I don’t find that too promising for a potential sale.

Anyway, the finishing touches. Starting with the wheels I replaced the old rusted spokes and the badly painted rusted rims with a brand new set of alloy rims and stainless spokes. I’ve built the wheels myself and trued them to the best of my ability with my jig. They seem straight and true, and the white wall tyres finish the bike off perfectly. Building the wheels wasn’t actually too hard. I’ve built one wheel before and this time the whole process seemed ten times easier. I feel like I could lace another set from memory any time now.

After using white wall tyres I had to use white cables; clean and crisp. They’re held down with a series of brand new cable clamps which the bike lacked in its original state. The Sturmey Archer hub has taken a bit of tweaking to find that sweet spot for “2nd” gear but I think we’re there now. I took her out for a quick test ride and all seemed well.

I’d love to get £250 back for the bike and maybe make a small profit; we’ll see. A lot of money and time has gone into this build but I’ve tried to focus on quality. It’s lasted 40 years already, I’m sure it will last another 40! (My Carrera Vulcan cost more and barely made 2 years without a complete rebuild!)

What do you make of the finished bike?

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69 Years Ago Today

Take a moment to remember, 6th June 1944, D Day

 

A day that should always be remembered.  A day that spelled the beginning of the end for the Second World War. 69 years ago, hundreds of thousands of Allied personnel put their lives on the line for our freedom.

It’s a day that I’ll never forget, not because I was there or because any of my family were there but because thousands of Allied (and Axis) troops paid the ultimate price.  I’ve always been fascinated by the Second World War and I’m thankful to all those who made D-Day a success.  It started the ball rolling to bring about the end of the Nazi regime, to freeing millions of oppressed civilians and to uniting Europe.

It wasn’t an easily won and simple campaign.  Countless months had gone into planning the invasions.  A fake invasion force was built in and around Dover to fool the Axis command into thinking an invasion would take place in Calais, helping soften up the defences on the target beaches.  Air superiority was claimed, helping keep the invasion fleets undiscovered, helping soften up inland targets and provide vital air cover.  It helped create mass confusion and delivered thousands of airborne troops behind enemy lines.  Detailed surveillance had to be carried out on the beaches, identifying the characteristic of the beaches, the properties of the sand, the strengths and the weaknesses in the defences.  New technology had to be crafted to overcome new challenges like the flat bottomed landing craft that could skip over underwater obstacles and deliver troops and vehicles to the beaches, the DD tanks that were designed to float and “swim” to shore to provide vital armour support and “Hobart’s Funnies” that could clear beaches of mines, lay down safe paths, bridge spans and much more.  Everything was planned down in as much detail as possible, failure was not an option.

The invasion was actually scheduled for the 5th but bad weather delayed departure.  The weather actually played a part in Rommel’s choice to leave his command and return to Germany for a few days and who knows, maybe without his on the scene influence the coastal defences were a bit more vulnerable.  He hadn’t left the beaches open though.  Thousands of mines, miles of barbed wire and steel obstacles littered the beaches.  His forces were dug in well and inland he had flooded some of the land and prepared fields around vital targets with huge wooden spikes to prevent and airborne invasion.  One thing Rommel didn’t expect, was an invasion at low tide, and that’s exactly when the Allies attacked.

Airborne troops attacked first with their task being to secure two vital bridges and numerous routes off the beaches.  In the early morning a British glider force were towed in and let loose over the French coast to fly silently to their destination.  Two bridges to secure and amazingly they achieved their goal with only a few casualties catching the Axis forces completely by surprise.  Soon after, thousands of British and American Paratroopers were to be dropped behind enemy lines to secure towns and routes off the beaches.  These drops failed to hit their targets with bad weather and heavy anti aircraft fire causing mass confusion and the Paratroopers were dropped all over the French coast.  Many lost their lives before they had even set foot on French soil, many more as soon as they hit the ground but against all odds they achieved many of their objectives and the confusion in the drops actually helped cause panic and confusion with the Axis defenders.

The seaborne invasion followed shortly after.  British forces landed at beaches code named Sword and Gold, Canadian forces and Juno and American forces at Utah and Omaha.  Thousands and thousands of men lost their lives on those beaches fighting to gain a foot hold.  The newly developed specialised inventions proved their worth on the British beaches.  The majority of the DD tanks landed safely to support the troops and “Hobart’s Funnies” made the beaches safe but on the American beaches it was a different story.  The American command had refused to use the crazy British inventions so they had nothing to make the beach safe.  Nearly all of their amour sank in the channel after they were released too far out to sea.  The Axis forces had the high ground and without armoured support they were sitting ducks.  The rocket barrage they had been promised to create craters in the beaches for cover had all fallen short too but somehow, those courageous men fought through all adversity to make it off the beaches.

There’s much, much more to the events of D Day than what I’ve written.  Thousands of stories to be told and every story should be heard.  It’s saddening to say that thousands of those stories will never be heard when thousands of loved ones did not return home after being involved in the D Day invasions.  We should always remember the bravery, courage and determination these men showed and the sacrifices they made to ensure a better world.  Next year will be the 70th Anniversary of the landings and I’d like to make a trip over to Normandy to pay my respects in person but for now, this post will form my respects.  Please take a minute to remember all those involved in the D Day landings.

Long live their memory.

May we be always thankful and respectful for their sacrifices.

Rest In Peace all those that didn’t make it home.

Remember the 6th June 1944.