- Contributed by
- People in story:
- W.A.C.James; his son, name not known
- Location of story:
- Mansfield Woodhouse, Nottinghamshire
- Background to story:
- Royal Air Force
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 11 August 2004
In the 1950s I attended Oxlose Lane School (now Robin Hood School), Mansfield Woodhouse, in north Nottinghamshire. In the third form I did some artwork for the school and my form teacher, Mr Richardson showed me, as a special treat, the headmaster's collection of scale aircraft of World War Two. There were at least 100 of these aeroplanes in cardboard boxes in the store room. They took up all of the room. I was amazed to see the models; they were made of hardwood and apparently correct in every detail. Cockpits had been made by making wooden formers and painting many layers of dope onto them. The models were returned to their boxes. Mr Richardson explained to me that they had been made by the son of the headmaster, Mr W.A.C.James (hence 'Whacker James' because he was not at all averse to the use of the cane!)in his off-duty hours as a bomber pilot in the war. The collection included most British types - bombers, fighters, etc, American types, and, incredibly,many German types. There were Heinkels, Messerschmitts and Dorniers in scale detail. I believe that Mr Richardson told me that the son had visited Spain in the war and had met up with German pilots on a regular basis. I am not sure if he told me that they had exchanged plans or whether the passage of time has caused me to elaborate this - I relly do not know. What I do know is that Mr James' son had been killed on operations in the war and that he had built several models of German aircraft, so he must have had access to German drawings actually during the war. A couple of years after I was shown the models, the storeroom had to be cleared and Mr James sold most of the models to the schoolchidren, for as little as a shilling or 2/6d each. My two brothers and I bought several of them, including a Heinkel, a Superfortress and a Hampden. Many of the models were thrown around the school playground and destroyed. It still breaks my heart to think of this. Even the models my brothers and I bought did not survive, although we were quite careful with them. In recent times I have written to the local newspaper and appealed for further information about the models and tried to find out if any did survive. I have not had any response. Since the 1970s I have been a university history lecturer and I now teach a course on World War Two. I often wish that I still had Mr James' son's aeroplanes but I doubt if any survive. I do know that Mr James himself retained at least two models - a Spitfire and a Hurricae, which were always on his study desk - I saw them once as I received six of the best for running across the edge of the girls' playground. My friemd, who had been with me, also got the cane, despite peeing himself all over the head's carpet! A kindly interpretation would suggest that Whacker was still mourning the loss of his son.
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