IT WAS this time of year, 1942, that a bizarre series of events led to a German fighter pilot landing at RAF Pembrey in South Wales, unintentionally aiding the war effort of The Allied Forces in the process.
On June 23, 1942, Oberleautnant Armin Fabar was ordered to a fly a combat mission along with his squadron, in response to an Allied bombing raid of northern France.
Fabar’s squadron (the 7th Staffel) all flew Focke-Wulf 190 fighter planes. These planes were seen as superior to the then current Spitfires of the Allied Forces, and in the subsequent dog-fight that developed over The English Channel seven Spitfires were shot down, compared to only two Focke-Wulf 190s (FW-190s).
One Czechoslovakian Spitfire pilot, Alois Vašátko, dramatically lost his life when, in the fray of combat, he collided head-on with an FW-190. The German pilot bailed out and was later captured by Allied Forces.
In the ensuing battle, Faber became disorientated and was separated from his squadron. He was attacked by a Spitfire manned by Seargent František Trejtnar. In a desperate attempt to shake off his pursuer, Faber fled North over the skies of Devon. He pulled off a brilliant ‘Immelman Turn’, a move in which the sun is used to dazzle a pursuer on your tail. Now flying directly from Trejtnar’s view of the sun, Faber shot him down.
Trejtnar crashed near the village of Black Dog, Devon suffering shrapnel wounds and a broken arm.
The victorious Faber had another problem entirely, though he was unaware of it at the time. He had mistaken The Bristol Channel for The English Channel, and flew north into south Wales, thinking it was northern France!
Finding the nearest airfield – RAF Pembrey, in Carmarthernshire, Faber prepared to land. Observers on the ground ‘could not believe their eyes’ as Faber waggled his wings in a victory celebration, lowered the Focke-Wulf’s undercarriage and landed.
Faber expected to be greeted with open arms by his German brothers, but was instead greeted by Pembrey Duty Pilot, Sgt Matthews, pointing a flare gun at his face (he had no other weapon to hand).
As the gravity of the mistake slowly dawned on him, the stricken Faber was ‘so despondent that he attempted suicide’ unsuccessfully.
Faber was later driven to RAF Fairwood Common for interrogation under the escort of Group Captain David Atcherley. Atcherley, fearful of an escape attempt, aimed his revolver at Faber for the entire journey. At one point the car hit a pothole, causing the weapon to fire; the shot only narrowly missing Faber’s head!
Fabers mistaken landing in Wales was a gift for The Allied Forces, a disaster for The Third Reich.
He had inadvertently presented the RAF with one of the greatest prizes of the entire war – an intact example of the formidable Focke-Wulf 190 fighter plane, an aircraft the British had learned to fear and dread ever since it made its combat debut the previous year.
Over the following months Faber’s plane was examined in minute detail, the allies desperately looking for any weakness in the FW-190. There were few to be found.
They did find one, however.
The FW-190s became relatively sluggish at higher altitudes. This knowledge aided the Allied Forces and saved countless lives, as the aerial battles turned increasingly in their favour.
Faber was taken as a prisoner of war, eventually being sent to a POW camp in Canada. Towards the end of the war he was sent home to Germany due to his ill health.
49 years later Faber would visit the Shoreham Aircraft Museum, where parts of his FW-190 are displayed to this day, along with parts of the Spitfire that he shot down in the skies over Devon. He presented the Museum with his officer’s dagger and pilot’s badge.
This little-known but important piece of Carmarthenshire history illustrates not only the high-stakes arms race between The Third Reich and The Allied Forces during WW2, but also the cost of human error.
Ceredigion Leisure Centres Summer holiday programme
A BUSY TIMETABLE of inclusive summer holiday activities for children has been organised across all Ceredigion County Council-run leisure centres in the county.
From football to bouncy castle sessions, from cycling skills to archery, there’s a wide variety of activities to choose from over the course of the summer.
There will also be day camps and multi-skills activity days available at some of the leisure centres, for children to attend for the whole day. There’s even a day trip to the beach with Teifi Leisure Centre!
A range of learning to swim programmes are available at Lampeter Swimming Pool and Plascrug Leisure Centre across the summer holidays. A week of swimming lessons will be delivered solely through the medium of Welsh in Plascrug Leisure Centre starting on 5 August.
Councillor Catrin Miles is the council’s Cabinet member with responsibility for Leisure Services. She said: “Ceredigion Actif is once again providing a busy timetable of fun activities during the summer. It’s a healthy and worthwhile way for children to spend their time during the summer.”
Booking for sessions is essential and staff at leisure centres reserve the right to cancel any session if attendance is too low.
For further information on the summer holiday activities planned, visit the Ceredigion Actif website.
A successful first year for Communities for Work Plus
OVER 200 REFERRALS have been received and 88 people have been supported by the Communities for Work Plus project in Ceredigion in its first 12 months. The project began in April 2018 with two Mentors and an Employer Liaison Officer. They support people to improve their employability skills. This should, in turn, help them either get employment or get better-paid employment.
Communities For Work Plus is a Welsh Government funded project, delivered by Ceredigion County Council which supports individuals in or at risk of poverty, aged 16 or over, across Ceredigion and throughout Wales. Participants may be experiencing in-work poverty, unemployment, living on minimum wage or struggling to pay basic monthly outgoings on sporadic zero hour contracts.
Mentors provide 1:1 support for participants with writing CV’s, undertaking mock interviews, up-skilling and funding a wide variety of training including help with starting up their own business. The team are looking forward to building on this success for the next 12 months to help residents of Ceredigion find employment and to reduce poverty.
One participant said: “I want to thank you and your team for helping me through this and of course funding it! Huge thanks to my mentor for putting up with me. She’s been brilliant. I am able to support my family now that I have regained my confidence and have secured a regular income after being out of work for a while.”
With the support of the project, 22 people have entered employment and others have entered volunteering placements, paid work opportunities or training. Training courses range from First Aid qualifications, retail or healthcare, construction safety cards and even HGV driver training.
Councillor Catrin Miles, Cabinet member with responsibility for Learning Services and Lifelong Learning said: “The project can help to source volunteering opportunities, paid work experience placements, employment opportunities and have good contacts with local employers. Support extends to people who are ‘in work poverty’ so if you are looking at improving your skills to enable you to get a better-paid job, then Communities For Work Plus could help you.”
Community Sponsorship to resettle Syrian refugees
FOLLOWING REFUGEE WEEK in June, Ceredigion residents are being encouraged to consider taking part in a community sponsorship scheme to host Syrian refugees.
Community Sponsorship was launched in 2016 and gives power to local volunteer groups to resettle a refugee family in their community.
Two Community Sponsorship schemes – Aberaid and Croeso Teifi – have already been established in Ceredigion. Both schemes have resettled two families each under Community Sponsorship.
Lindsey Gilroy from Aberystwyth’s Aberaid said: “It’s not easy. You have to raise at least £9,000 to cover costs like translation, furnishing the house and English lessons. You also have to get approval from Ceredigion County Council – they need to be confident that we are an organisation that is capable of providing the ongoing support that the families need.”
“However, despite the challenges, community sponsorship is an incredibly empowering and transformative process of taking leadership from the bottom up. We are all used to demanding action from government but community sponsorship enables people to take matters into our own hands and do it ourselves, which is hugely positive.”
Vicky Moller from Cardigan’s Croeso Teifi agreed. She said: “The council has been great, but there are a lot of bureaucratic hoops to jump through. It is very much worth it though. The families we have welcomed to Cardigan are very grateful and very keen to contribute to local life. Our first family arrived in 2017 and the children now speak English and Welsh.”
Councillor Ellen ap Gwynn is Ceredigion County Council’s Leader and is the Chair of the Ceredigion Refugee Resettlement Group. She said: “Community Sponsorship is a big commitment, but hugely rewarding. It is a practical way for local people to respond to the global refugee crisis.”
“The refugees have said they are grateful for the genuine welcome they have received in the UK, and Ceredigion communities have exemplified this warm welcome.”
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