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|My name is Trevor Kenneth Baker and I
am 64 years old. I have been running my own software
companies since 1980. I am interested in fast cars and
flying, having held a private pilots licence since
1990. I have always been interested in books.
I bought the Leuchars Visitors Book at an auction in 2012. I had previously bought an RAF Leuchars Visitors Book which covered the years 1988 to 2004 and contained the signatures of well-known senior RAF personnel and some royalty. The seller told me that he was going to auction a Visitors Book covering the years 1938 to 1966 but he needed time to identify the signatures so that he could put a reserve on its auction price. Three months later, he put it up for auction, basing his reserve price on just 30 signatures, albeit some very rare RAF signatures, including Battle of Britain pilots.
At that time, I was only interested in the RAF, so I contacted the seller to try to persuade him to remove it from the auction and negotiate direct with me. During our negotiations, he pointed out that the Visitors Book contained nearly 1,000 non-RAF signatures, many of which related to BOAC pilots, but most of which seemed foreign. Like the seller, I wasnt interested in the foreign signatures, so I agreed a price which was based on the RAF signatures. Since the seller had gone through the book, I wasnt expecting to make any discoveries. My first shock was the number of signatures: about 3,800. I started the painstaking task of working my way through each page. At first, I couldnt read many of the signatures but, slowly, I was able to do so. I had to start buying reference books to help me. When I came across the BOAC and foreign signatures, I ignored them. After a year, I had identified hundreds of RAF signatures including many who were awarded the DSO, DFC and DFM. A UK military bookseller said that the book would be worth at least £50,000 based on the UK signatures.
By chance, I opened the book at random and saw the signature of Leif Tronstad. Although at first I was not aware of who he was, I could easily read his signature and so I was able to find out about him using Google. I decided to spend a few days looking at the other foreign signatures and quickly realised most of them were Norwegian. I then realised that many of the RAF signatures related to people who had escaped from Norway (often with the help of Norwegians), made their way to Sweden, from where they were flown to RAF Leuchars. They include Jens Jenssen who assisted Pilot Officers Don MacIntyre and Ian Hewitt (both of whom signed the book on 15 June 1942) after their attack on the Tirpitz. Youll see the signatures of Terence Corkran, Rae Walton and E J Booker who were shot down on 28 May 1942 near the Lofoten Islands whilst on a reconnaissance mission to find the Tirpitz. On 1 September 1942, they were flown from Bromma airfield to RAF Leuchars in an aircraft of the BOAC courier service. All three signed the visitors book on 2 September along with Anne Waring and Paal Frisvold.
It quickly became obvious that the Visitors Book was, as Geoff Ward put it, truly a treasure trove. In fact, it is probably the most complete original archive of Norwegian SIS and SOE agents in existence.
By using technology and a lot of help from people like Geoff and Bob Pearson, I have identified most of the signatures. Along the way, I have acquired a passion for Norway during WW2.
My plan for the Visitors Book is to eventually offer it for sale in Norway, where it belongs. I would like to see an interactive version where people can identify those signatures that Ive been unable to read; relatives can use hyperlinks to see the SOE files; people can add comments and ask questions; schools can use the signatures as the basis of projects; and so on.
|The 3,800 signatures,
covering the years 1938 to 1966, include:
Marshal of the Royal Air Force Hugh Montague Trenchard
pioneers of aviation such as Ian Harvey, Bernard Frost, Arthur Wilkinson, Robert Mayo and Donald Bennett
many Battle of Britain pilots including Paddy Finucane
dozens of air chief marshals, air marshals, air vice marshals and air commodores
some VC holders
over 200 pilots who were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross
over 100 Distinguished Service Order holders
over 100 escapees and evaders including, for example, Terence Corkran, Rae Walton and Ernest Booker who were shot down on 28 May 1942 near the Lofoten Islands whilst on a reconnaissance mission to find the Tirpitz. Their story was the basis of Graham Pitchforks Shot Down & On The Run. On 1 September 1942, they were flown from Bromma airfield to RAF Leuchars in an aircraft of the BOAC courier service. All three signed the Visitors Book on 2 September 1942.
the 12 pilots from Leuchars who, on 11 February, participated in the search for the German warships Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Prince Eugen
over 60 signatures (mainly British but some Canadian) of volunteers in Finlands Winter War. I have identified all of them.
For me, the books main interest relates to Scandinavia and the SOE during WW2. There are about 800 Norwegian signatures, many belonging to Norwegian Resistance fighters.
Heres a small selection of well-known signatures (the 3-digit numbers in red refer to the page in the actual Visitors Book):
Sir George Binney 024, 033, 034 & 052
John Cordeaux 071 & 075
Andrew Croft 071
George Harold Neville Larden 097
Hugh John Marks 024
Cecil Cuthbert Parrott 051 & 107
Reginald Spink 090
Vernon Alexander Spinks 077
Reginald Sutton-Pratt 023
Peter Frank Tennant 051 & 115
Henry McLeod Threlfall 076
Ronald Turnbull 024, 027, 037 & 070
Anne Elizabeth Tindal Waring 082
Henry William Allen Waring 109 & 121
Leif Andreas Larsen 095
Leif Hans Larsen Tronstad 025
Max Manus 106
Einar Johansen 025 & 099
Konrad Mathias Nordahl 025 & 121
William Strömer Houlder (mentioned in http://www.wwiinorge.com/TempsfordTaxi_eng.htm) 037
Claus Urbye Helberg 038
Sverre Midtskau 038
Johan Ingebrigt Rognes 042
Bjørn Arnold Rørholt 025 & 061 (as Rolf Christiansen, his alias)
The Gunnerside Team, each of whom using their SOE alias when they signed the book:
o Joachim Holmboe Rønneberg 102
o Knut Haukelid 102
o Fredrik Kayser 102
o Kasper Idland 102
o Hans Storhaug 102
o Birger Strømsheim 102
Henning Nordhal 071
Ragnvald Alfred Roscher Lund 024 & 098
Olav Crown Prince of Norway 061 & 125 and his father Haakon VII 108 & 125
Linge Company Roll of Honour
Peter Vogelius Deinboll 101
Gregers Winther Wulfsbery Gram 106
Sverre Granlund 052
Nils Uhlin Hansen 071
Sigurd Ingolf Haugen 085
Konrad Anker Hennum 066
Torbjorn Kaare Hoff 044
Odd Nilsen 066
Johnny Pevik 063
Mogens K. A. Hammer, (26 September 1942) 088
Otto Erik Johannes Lawaetz (15 April 1942) 051
Jens Harald Christensen (20 April 1942) [almost certainly an alias for an SOE agent] 053
Knut Arnold Arntsen (20 April 1942) 053
Erik Boelskov (7 May 1942) 061
Thomas Christian Sneum (15 June 1942) 071
Gerhard Henrik Schaumburg (13 September 1942) 085
Eigil Sophus Lorenz Borch-Johansen. (7 October 1942) 090
Henning Pedersen (12 December 1942) 097
Knude Thrane AKA Gerd Christensen (18 July 1943) 110
Lars Lassen-Landorph AKA Fritz Vibeck (18 July 1943) 110
POSSIBLY Nils Henrik Bohr 112
John Nesbitt-Dufort 020
James Ansford Pulton 021
Stanislaw Krol 035
Franciszak Sobkowiak 037
Walenty Wasilewski 037
Oscar Næss 042
Erling Voldberg 048
Per Berg 080
Arthur Clement Bartter 118
Clarence William Fry 118
Ernest Howell 118
Eric John Palmer 222
Air Vice-Marshal Fielden 189
Air Commodore Atcherley 169, 181 & 184
Air Chief Marshal Embry 169, 184 & 186
Here is the original Visitor Book.
Here is the 4165 pages Visitor Book with TREVOR KENNETH BAKER's comments.
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