As the Army Flying Museum in Middle Wallop gears up for its annual fundraiser – Wallop Wheels and Wings – on 1 July, it continues to push the events side of the Museum by delivering yet another fascinating monthly lecture.
This month sees a first time visit to the Museum by Air Marshal GA ‘Black Robertson’ CBE, the son of a decorated Spitfire ace, with a lecture very close to his heart.
His story ‘A Spitfire Named Connie’ is an exciting, rollercoaster of a story which will appeal not only to military enthusiasts, but also those with a love of history, or who just like a good old love story.
‘Robbie’ Robertson began his RAF training during the Battle of Britain and the Blitz and as he learned his trade, he soon began rubbing shoulders with Fighter Command heroes.
The lecture tells of his account against the Luftwaffe and then to action in North Africa, where he was shot down by Erich Rudorffer, one of the Luftwaffe’s most celebrated Experten, who ended the war with over 200 victories. Robertson despite his wounds, and barely able to see, somehow survived his Spitfire’s crash-landing and after being found lying near the wreckage by an Army patrol, he was moved from casualty clearing stations to hospitals across Tunisia and Algeria where doctors try desperately to save his sight. Finally, unable to stand the pain any longer, he reluctantly agreed to the removal of his right eye, which sadly saw the end of his flying career.
Desk-bound for the remainder of the war, the second, more poignant phase of his RAF life began. The young schoolgirl, Connie Freeman, with whom Robbie remained in regular correspondence with since her evacuation, became his wife.
Literally hundreds of Robbie’s letters form the basis of this powerful and moving story. Together with his own and Connie’s diaries, correspondence from RAF colleagues and his flying logbook, they bring a unique authenticity to this highly-charged and emotive tale.
Join ‘Black’ in the Museum or online on Tuesday 16 May to hear the full story of Robbie’s life in the fabulous surroundings of the Hayward Hall at the Museum and take time to view the exhibits on display by taking a walk around the Museum beforehand.
This special event will be presented by Paul Beaver and will also be live streamed on the Museum’s website, as well as available to a limited audience at the Museum itself. A live Q&A session will take place following the talk with both live and online audience members able to participate.
Tickets to attend the event in the Museum on 24 April at 7pm are just £12, with online pay per view £8. For further or to book, visit www.armyflying.com
The talk will also be recorded for catch up viewing after the event through the museum website.
Interviews – Black Robertson is available for interview, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to arrange this.
Biog – Air Marshal G.A. ‘Black’ Robertson CBE BA FRAeS FRSA
Born in Woodford, Essex, and educated nearby at Bancroft’s School. He earned his wings, the coveted pilot’s brevet, in 1966 after three years at the RAF College Cranwell. Subsequent postings included Bahrain, the USA, Germany (twice) and the Falklands. He flew all the RAF’s front line fast jets and also qualified as a helicopter pilot. Five tours as a Whitehall warrior were probably necessary penance for the privilege of command at almost every level.
Sheer enjoyment, sport, a love of flying and working with high calibre individuals were constants throughout a 36-year career. Highlights including time as CO of No 92 Squadron, followed by appointment as an ADC to HM The Queen. In 1998 he joined BAE Systems where he maintained close links with the aviation world – as he did later running his own consultancy business.
When he retired he published his first book, Fighters in the Blood. Shortly afterwards, realising he’d done his father less than justice, he embarked on a prequel, A Spitfire Named Connie. Published in April 2022, it revealed new and fascinating perspectives on a father – a mother too – he knew less well than he thought. His latest project is a book about one of his father’s wartime colleagues, New Zealander Wing Commander Owen Hardy DFC* AFC; From Spitfires to Vampires and Beyond which is due for release in June 2023.
Summer 2022 saw him appointed an ambassador for the National Spitfire Project, which aims to erect a permanent monument to this iconic aircraft on the Southampton waterfront.