Saturday, 21 September 2013

Sunday Times Where Was I? Holiday Competition

Near as I can figure it, through the possibly flawed perceptual filters of my own reality tunnel, the most likely answers this week, seem to me to be:

Q1. Falmouth

Q2. Operation Chariot

(N.B. for question 2, this WWII operation is sometimes referred to as the 'St Nazaire Raid')

The initial clues most likely place us on the Maritime Line (around 11 3/4 miles long), which runs between Truro and Falmouth, in Cornwall. Several references claim that Falmouth docks opened c1861 and the harbour there, is said to be the deepest in western Europe. The first station which the puzzle author stopped at, from the information given, is likely to be Perranwell, which is around half a mile north of Perranaworthal village, where Tullimaar house lies. Tullimaar house was, according to some sources, used by General Dwight David Eisenhower (born c 1890, in Denison Texas) for two weeks c 1944. The same house was also for a time, said to be the home of William Golding, author of a book called 'Lord of the Flies', which features characters called Ralph and Jack and was published c 1954. Golding won a Nobel prize (c 1983) for his writing.

The creekside town passed through is probably Penryn (though there are several other creekside settlements in the area) and there seem to have been eight viaducts on this line at one time,with some of them being rebuilt or turned into embankments. These are the Penwithers, Ringwell, Carnon, Perran, Ponsenooth, Pascoe, Penryn and Collegewood viaducts. The one which is the most likely fit for the clues given, seems to be Collegewood, as it has similar dimensions at around 100 feet (30 metres) high and 291 metres (318 yards) and is said in some sources, to be the last timber viaduct to have been replaced in Cornwall and dates from around 1863.

The castle near the station terminus in Falmouth, is called Pendennis castle (built c 1539).The Operation Chariot (St Nazaire Raid) was launched from Falmouth and it involved several converted destroyers, a fleet of small boats carrying commandos and several MTBs, which were towed by the destroyers to conserve fuel. The purpose of the attack, was to destroy the Normandie dry docks at St Nazaire, to deny the only site big enough to carry out repairs to ships like the Bismarck. The raid was successful, in that the destroyer Campbeltown, packed with explosives, was driven into the dry dock gates and scuttled, so that the Germans could not move it. It subsequently blew up, rendering the facility unusable for years after. The commandos trashed the town and the dockyard infrastructure before they ran out of ammunition, with some of them surrendering and becoming POWs. It seems that most of the small boats they had planned to make good their escape in, were shot up and sunk, so the escape had to be attempted overland.

Some sources claim that Falmouth pier was opened c 1905 and is around five hundred and ten feet long. Falmouth seems to have been a hub for the post office packet service in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and an author who stayed at the Greenbank hotel and wrote a book called 'Wind in the Willows', which features a road raging character named 'Toad of Toad Hall' (he shouted 'poop poop', when he was near or in motor vehicles),was Kenneth Grahame. Grahame worked in the Bank of England and is said in some references to have been lucky to have survived several assassination attempts by rival banksters, while working there. He would not be able to write 'Wind in the Willows' today, as the coalition government have ordered the badgers killed. There are several ferries operating from Falmouth, travelling to destinations like St Mawes and Truro, which don't sound particularly foreign. There is a ferry which goes to Flushing, which is also the name of a place in Holland.

Where Was I?

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