‘FOR THE ALERT’

DATAFILE

Pavements ice-clad, roads overtaken by deep, rutted snow, engulfed in darkness. A grim, wartime morn. At 06.45hrs, 2 January 1941, I set off to acquire a copy of the first issue of that eight-page wondrous delight, The Aeroplane Spotter.

In the best newsagent’s was a voluminous, formidable female who bellowed that the Spotter was “only for adults”. I begged, pleaded, battled on until she surrendered, released my threepenny bit and fled in case she changed her mind. Only a war-winning adult could, she said, order the short-insupply newcomer. Mum obliged.

Like all new wartime publications, it was not permitted to contain advertising. Every other Thursday it emerged, on government accounting day when news and pictures of the latest British aircraft were released. First issue, page 3, carried accurate silhouettes and a photograph of a new, outstanding, war-winner, Blackburn’s Botha — pronounced, we were told, ‘Boater’.

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