‘Red Lichtie’ anniversary to be remembered

AN ARBROATH councillor is hoping discussions between Angus Council and Community Partnerships can begin soon on how best to celebrate the town’s own Spitfire, the ‘Red Lichtie’, next year.

The programme will remember the fund-raising efforts and generosity of the people of Arbroath during the Second World War.

Since first requesting stories and information from residents earlier this year through the Arbroath Herald/Guide & Gazette about the fund-raising efforts of locals in purchasing the Red Lichtie, Councillor Donald Morrison has met with the director of neighbourhood services to look at moving ideas forward ahead of the 70th anniversary of the Red Lichtie entering service.

Councillor Morrison said: “With so much time and effort involved to have the Bell Rock Tower Museum renovated ahead of the summer season as part of the Year of the Light celebrations, discussions between council officials on the Red Lichtie had to be put on hold until after the museum had reopened and officers in the cultural department had had time to regroup.

“The meeting with the director was extremely useful and I am delighted the council is keen to press ahead, which hopefully will involve working with other local partnerships.

“I would like to once again thank everyone who has contacted me. Their help has proven invaluable in taking this forward to this stage.”

Arbroath historian Morris Scott, John Street, was just a boy of six or seven years old when the fund-raising for the Spitfire was going on, but he remembers it vividly.

He explained: “My input was minor, but we were told that every contribution counted. I used to get 2d to put in the plate at Sunday School every week. Myself and my group of friends used to put 1d in the plate and contribute the other 1d to the Spitfire Fund.

“I remember that Mrs Webster of Gowanlea was heavily involved in the fund-raising, as was Wing Commander Macrae Wilson, Hayshead.

“Just about everyone in the town took part in one way or another and there were all kinds of events organised.

“My sisters ran a library in a shed at our back door. They charged 1d a day for the loan of a book, or 2d for a weekend and all the money they raised went to the Spitfire Fund.

“There were collections at the school. I was at Abbey where one of the teachers joined the Royal Air Force and he came back after the war and told us about his experiences.”

The aircraft was presented by the people of Arbroath in March, 1942. Mk Vb EP121 was taken on charge at No. 37 Maintenance Unit (MU) Burtonwood on May 24, 1942. It was allocated to No. 50 (County of Gloucester) Squadron engaged on convoy patrols, Rhubarb and Roadstead operations from Ibsley.

On December 29, EP 121 joined No. 131 (County of Kent) Squadron at Westhampnett to fly sweeps, Circus and Rhubarb operations until January 20, 1943, when No. 610 (County of Chester) Squadron moved in from Castletown to continue with the offensive, taking over EP 121, now coded DW-B.

On June 10, EP 121 was transferred to No.416 (RCAF) Squadron at Digby, where the engine cut on approach on June 26 and the aircraft stalled and spun into the ground.