Dan Snow, a BBC presenter who does the odd turn in imaginative history to tell the story the company way is involved in a row about fighter pilots in World War 2 and saying that women flew Spitfires in action against the Hun as members of fighter squadrons when they did not. Women did fly planes but in transport from one place to another.
One can only gasp at the possibility of, say, a "1917 Squadron" led by Bessie Braddock taking on the massed Luftwaffe bombers over Bootle. As ever the BBC misses the point and fails to make a real case. That is what the women did do during the War that in that period had been regarded as men only jobs.
Because Bessie was an ambulance driver and a brave one at that. The casualty rate for fighter pilots was high and although not the equal those for the ambulance drivers in Liverpool and Bootle In a time of dimmed headlights and no street lighting this was high and especially during the air raids.
Ah, an academic historian might say we should rely on the sources. One such is the 1939 Register compiled at the beginning of the war. At 25 Freehold Street we have Hugh Bamber a retired book binder, John Braddock, an insurance agent and his wife Elizabeth M. an unpaid domestic, who we know to be Hugh's daughter. It is not far away from the McDonnell family of our present Labour Deputy Leader.
That is our Bessie. She and her husband at the time were both leading figures and very active in the politics of Liverpool as her father had been before her. They were very much of The Left and given the industrial relations problems in Liverpool in the early years of the war you might ask whose side were they on?
The answer was Uncle Joe's the lovable old dictator of the Soviet Union who was leading the world towards an age of workers bliss and from 1939 to 1941 honouring an agreement with Adolf Hitler. The Braddock's and others were putting Communism before country. The 1939 entry is a minor example of their non-cooperation.
But the fighter pilots were up the skies and taking heavy losses. Long ago I knew some as a teenager playing rugby along with men in their late 30's. Our Hon. Sec. was one, a couple more with a handful of other RAF types as well. When after a game the Hon. Sec. clambered off his stool with the third pint, put it on his head and began to stamp his feet the show began.
If the messes in which the surviving pilots in the war drank were anything like this then they were not places for women, of any kind, high or low. The planes themselves needed remarkable strength to fly. More to the point often every man available was needed up there, not grounded by the monthly usual or pregnancy.
Dan Snow and his dad, Peter Snow, are fully paid up members of our present Westminster media elite who tell it the way they want to and for the way they want other people to see it. The past they see is a cash flow for their interests. But not alas ours.
The Hon. Sec. went to a higher place a while ago, beyond the limits of any aircraft past, present or future. We have an old airfield nearby that has shows now and again. Sometimes we see the Spitfires and if really lucky the Hurricane's as well.