Getting at the engines!

uncle frank intro (640x474)

The tools of a skilled man. Image from Andy Dennis.

Following his donation of the picture of his uncle Frank training for a trotting race last week, friend of the blog Andy Dennis has been thinking more about his uncle, who lived in Brownhills for most of his life – it seems Frank was a very skilled man.

I’ll let Andy explain…

Hello Bob

Having found by accident the trotting picture, I was reminded of some other things that belonged to uncle Frank, who lived in Castle Street for most of his life.

During the war he was called up to the Fleet Air Arm and, having poor eyesight, was trained as a ‘sparks’ (electrician) on marine aircraft, such as the Sunderland pictured. He was stationed for a time at RNAS Machrihanish, on the Kintyre peninsula, where his squadron was involved in convoy support, mainly u-boat spotting – so that destroyers could attack. This was where Campbeltown Airport is today (further reading here and a great piece here (scroll down)). The tools are from that time; pincers and a ‘cowling screwdriver’ – for getting at the engines. Today, they are used for more prosaic activities, such as pulling out nails (the metal DIY type) and prising the lids off paint tins!

After the Battle of the Atlantic became less pressing, he was transferred to Lincolnshire, where he serviced Lancaster bombers.

The book is an aircraft recognition manual from 1944 and I wonder if your followers would be interested in some of the silhouettes of aircraft that might have been seen over Brownhills or nearby between 1940 and 1945, like the ones bottom left in the picture. (Occasionally you can see some of them even now.) If so, I am quite happy to send some images.


Thanks to Andy for another fascinating bit of his family history. Well, I for one would be fascinated in that, I really would. What do readers think?

Please comment here, or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers to Andy for a very thought provoking and interesting contribution.


RNAS Machrihanish (HMS Landrail), Argyll, Scotland as it is today. Image from Urbanghostmedia.

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2 Responses to Getting at the engines!

  1. Pingback: Sugar and Sparks – Andrew's Kindred

  2. Andy Dennis says:

    Thanks, Bob.

    I’ve found out more about this from a photograph that was among uncle Frank’s possessions, which I think he took, and a better copy online. I’ve put up a brief blog at


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