Going back and revisiting some "older" albums I've not listened to in a while, I was stirred to listen to the album Folklore
by British prog rock outfit Big Big Train. Released in 2016 (hence the quotes around the aforementioned word "older"), it tells tales of an England of old, focusing on the folklore and stories of the country. This is something that Big Big Train does exceptionally well on many of their albums - starting with 2009's The Underfall Yard
and continuing even up until last year's releases (yes, plural) Grimspound
and The Second Brightest Star
In fact, these last two release combined with Folklore
kind of comprise a trilogy of folk stories and history albums from the massive band of (currently) seven people (It was eight until the departure of one of the keyboardists not too many months ago). On these albums are songs inspired by the Victorian Era into the 1950s.
This brings us to what I am going to be sharing with this post: an innocuous song titled simply "Winkie," the story of NEU 40 NSL, a carrier pidgeon known as Winkie, and her journey from the crash site of a Bristol Beaufort torpedo bomber in 1942 that allowed Air/Sea Rescue to save the four men who went down when the plane ditched into the North Sea.
The song tells that the radio operator had managed to get out the SOS before the crash, but the impact knocked out the radio before he could relay coordinates and location to the rescuers. Nonetheless, ASR attempted a recovery, but the lack of coordinates meant that the search area was just too large to be effective, and they turned in.
The next morning, Winkie was found at her home. With the information determined based on the bird's exhaustion, the wind direction, and the like, the RAF was able to get a much more accurate idea of the plane's location.
Fifteen minutes later, the crew was found, all thanks to a bird named Winkie.
She would later be honoured as one of the first recipients of the Dickin Medal, an award for animals in the military that served with considerable valour in any branch of the British Armed Forces.This
is the song Big Big Train wrote to memorialize her actions.
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