Tag Archives: WWII

A Famous Son of Brixham

 

Commander Evelyn George Martin OBE RNVR
1881 – 1945

 

martin2

 

The port of Brixham is used to seafaring men but Commander Martin was special. He was not born locally but, because of his parents overseas commitments, he and his siblings were “fostered” by the Hogg family who lived in the property which today is known as “The Berry Head Hotel”.

George’s childhood was spent on the quayside and harbour of Brixham and he made friends with the fisherman and was soon an experienced rower and sailor.
The family were wealthy and he had a privileged schooling going to Eaton and then graduating at New College, Oxford. As a young man he had endless opportunities. He was handsome, clever and well connected , but he decided to devote himself to the sea. He built and bought several yachts and got into international racing often being accompanied by seasoned Brixham fisherman, John Blackmore.

He soon began to win prestigious races, but the First World War interfered and he saw service with the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserves earning an OBE for running operations out of Falmouth. He donated the Challenge Trophy Cup, helped plan the course around the Fastnet Rock and promptly went on to win the first race in “Jole Brise”.

World War Two meant an RNVR posting to Campbeltown where thousands of tug man were trained for rescue service and safeguarding convoys across the globe. War service finally broke George’s health and he died near Ipswich in 1945.

Clare Hoogewerf-McComb may be known to some of you. She is a regular visitor and researcher to the Museum and a member of the Martin family. Her brother has written a biography of Commander Martin and together they organised on 24th May 2013 a celebration of the life of Commander Martin at Berry Head House Hotel.

A small number of Museum staff were asked to attend and a Blue Plaque now hangs adjacent to the entrance to the hotel. In her speech to guests Clare Hoogewerf said “Although not born locally and travelling most of the world in many boats George Martin’s heart was and always will be in the place he loved most, Brixham”.

Terry Lakeman
dtlakeman@hotmail.co.uk

 

Object of the Month – Radar Rat

 

Radar Rat

An interesting exhibit at Brixham Heritage Museum is a mascot named ‘Radar Rat’. This Rat is attired as a Corporal in the WRAF (we thought!) and was carried in the cockpit of a bomber during 30 sorties to Germany in the Second World War.

However, following some publicity in the Herald Express, a gentleman was prompted to do some research, thinking that the women in the Royal Air Force were WAAFS (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force) throughout World War II, so that Radar Rat would have been attired as a WAAF Corporal (not WRAF, as we had stated).

His research via the Internet revealed that the Women’s branch was originally formed as the WRAFs between the two World Wars, but reverted to the WAAFs between 1939 and 1949, after which they were re-named WRAFs.

Thus, if Radar Rat was attired pre-1939 she would have been a WRAF, but if attired after war commenced she would have been a WAAF. Who knows?

Whatever her title, she was extremely lucky to survive 30 sorties over Europe!

Battle for Berry Head

Pictures taken 6th and 7th August during the “Battle for Berry Head” event organised by Torbay Coast & Countryside Trust. The Curator and volunteer staff of Brixham Heritage Museum participated offering children the opportunity of dressing up in period military uniforms/costumes and receive instruction in marching and firing muskets. Over 160 children participated. The Museum wishes to thank the 44th (East Essex) Regimental re-enactment group for the excellent drilling sessions.