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Read about the shipment of a Newcastle shipyard to India here...

More about the missing Spitfire

Posted on 20th August, 2021

After posting that dramatic picture and commentary, more information has come forward from local residents. The first is the lecture notes for a talk given by Geoff Cox, the painter of that picture from a lecture he gave to the Teston History Society in the 1990s. This has all kinds of fascinating detail, including the description of the crash landing of a Hurricane piloted by a French pilot, who was taken off to the pub for a pint after his ordeal! 


You can read Geoff Cox's notes here


But we also had a long term West Farleigh resident, Jack Martin, come forward.  Jack's recollection - aged 3 - was very vivid. An aircraft came down and his Dad carried him down to see it. It was a Spitfire!


I published 4 articles about the material and in particular Cox and Martin's recollections in West Farleigh Lifeline.  Here they are.  The whereabouts of Cale's aircraft (or at least the engine) remains a mystery.


Stephen Norman

Aug 2021


Mystery of the missing Spitfire

Posted on 17th June, 2021

Mystery of the missing Spitfire

Geoff Cox was 15 years old and standing by the lychgate of Teston Church at 7pm on 15th August, 1940. Years later he painted this dramatic picture to crystallise his recollection: a Spitfire in flames passing behind the church and crashing into the Medway valley below. It was the height of the Battle of Britain, which was being fought in the skies above Kent.


Painting done by Geoff Cox



We know from local records that the pilot was a young Australian, Frank Cale, of 266 Squadron, based at Hornchurch, and the aircraft was N3168. We know that it was shot down by a Bf 109 and that Frank Cale baled out. His parachute harness was burned and he may already have been fatally wounded. His body was found in the river the next day, and the harness, badly burned, was found in a nearby orchard. The photo below is an extract from the Battle of Britain's records:


Extract from Battle of Britain records


A fellow pilot - (later Squadron Ldr) W Ross Jones who was flying that day gave a graphic account of it (extract from a letter written many years later):


15th Aug 1940 a memorable , if not a disastrous day, we claimed 12 enemy airraft destroyed, six damaged, but tragically we lost Pilot Sgt Hemsley, Co S/Ldr Wilkenson, P/O Cale, P/O Bowen, Sub/Lt Greenshield RN (FAA). F/Lt Bazlay survived his “baling out”. P/O Sodan injured in combat but landed safely at base – Manston – yet at 5.30pm I went on my 5th sortie of the day primarily to look for our missing pilots, mid channel, encountered a HE115 kind of air Sea/Rescue float plane – made a pass at him – but thinking he might be picking up some of “ours” and theirs, left him to carry on his good and/or bad work!

This was of course the peak daylight raids on London – 300 plus enemy airraft mainly JU88s. Some HE111s, under cover of ME109 and the off Fx190, the Hurricanes of course had a meal with the bombers, whilster we “spits” had as always the high cover to contend with, with dire results.


I was with him [Frank Cale] when he was shot down (I was flying N3127). Cale was flying N3168  and I hazard to guess that Frankie Cole might have been mortally wounded before “baling out” but I’ve a feeling that he may well have been “shot” whilst floating down, since in the same encounter, our Flight Commander F/Lt Bazley was shot down, and baled out and whlst floating down he was being “shot at” by a ME109 and I chased the b******d and gave him 2 x 5 second bursts. The last I saw of him, was at low level over the coast by Margate – whether he managed to survive I do know or even cared. I claimed one ME109 damaged, not that anybody cared – but thankfully Bazlay landed safely in Kent only to survive a few more months.


Postscript: there is some mystery surrounding the location of the wreckage of N3168. For several months in the spring of 2021,  the Battle of Britain Museum at Hawkinge near Folkestone looked for it along the Medway, using a very sensitive metal detector capable of finding metal 5m underground. The search was dogged by the wet weather. Every field on both sides of the river was scoured, without success, although some quantities of melted aluminum were found in the rhubarb field by Teston Bridge.  However these may relate to the Bailey Bridge which was installed there at some point during the 1950s when the bridge was being repaired.


Newspaper report including this incident:






Posted on 23rd May, 2021


Read all about the army pillboxes built to defend our valley against invasion...


Article by kind permission of the Pillbox Study Group, author David Ottway 2009.


Just follow the link below...



Read about Atticus Marinus and his ship "Fides", and her last voyage carrying goods from The Farleighs here

Local quarrying during the Roman occupation

Posted on 26th October, 2020

Dr Simon Elliot, our own distinguished archeologist, has written a fascinating article about local quarrying by the Romans during their occupation. To read it, click here

I have the great pleasure in working at and for the Big Cat Sanctuary.  The sanctuary is based at Smarden, Headcorn, Kent and is home to approximately 50 cats, both large and small.













The animals are from a variety of previous situations, they can be rescued from private collections or previously from the circus industry, or they can be retired cats from zoos and collections that cannot keep them for different reasons. 


CAT4We are part of the European Breeding Programme which holds all the records of the various breeds of cats and issues permission to breed ethically if the gene pool requires and allows it.

This enables extremely endangered breeds, for example the Amur Leopard being the most endangered cat in the world, to be bred in captivity in an organised way to promote the gene pool effectively of this species going forward.  There are many organisations that are helping to reintroduce these rare species back into their own habitat but this must be done in the correct way. 

The Amur Leopards have indeed bred at the sanctuary and their offspring have gone on to have offspring themselves which hopefully will enable sometime in the future reintroduction for these beautiful cats back into the wild.  There are less than a hundred in the wild so we need to do all we can to save them from extinction.



We have been seen on tv with Giles Clarke, rearing two cubs from different situations but who are now all grown up and huge ambassadors for their breeds and education about conservation.  Meet Maya and Willow now!

























Cats are given the best care from our team of keepers and this includes setting the enclosures up correctly for their specific habitats, feeding them in a way that they would eat in the wild and giving them enrichments which keep them occupied in finding their food or stretching, jumping, climbing, hiding, smelling just as they would in the wild.












We are not open to the general public enabling the sanctuary to be a peaceful environment for the cats and thus successful in breeding programmes. We have two handsome Snow Leopard Cubs born to Laila and Yarko last year and they have grown so fast!  Meet Khumbu and Koshi!















All our funding comes from generous donations from members of the sanctuary and the public and through personal experiences booked directly with the sanctuary.  These can include encounters with a hand feed, a ranger day which shadows one of the keepers during a typical day, photo workshops with our expert resident photographer, all for beginners through to experienced!  We also have lodges on site, which are for an overnight stay with all the trimmings and include very immersive tours of the cats.  A truly unforgettable bucket list experience!


The sanctuary also donates to a variety of conservation programmes to enhance their work and has outreach and in-house education programmes for children and schools to further the conservation message to the youngsters.


On a personal note I have worked on Front of house helping and welcoming all our experience holders and now have helped set up the new onsite shop and online shop. At present we are unable to open due to the current situation and rely on donations as the cats still need feeding and we all miss the cats greatly as the sanctuary is truly a family of devoted staff and volunteers.


You can find further information by visiting The Big Cat Sanctuary on Facebook or our website:  Thebigcatsanctuary.org.







Posted on 21st May, 2020

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The day West Farleigh School closed...

Posted on 12th December, 2019
Wendy Butler sent in this lovely reminiscence, photo and letter (see Pip Wakefield's obituary by Tim Hill in "Friends and Neighbours" on this website). 
PS.  We'd love to hear any stories or school photos from other ex-pupils [editor@thefarleighs.co.uk].
Whilst my sisters and I were sorting out our late mums belongings we came across this photo. It was accompanied by a letter from Miss Wakefield and Miss Whittle (excerpts below).
Four out of five of us attended the school between 1966 and 1976 and all agree they were idyllic years.  Sitting by the pond in the summer making our tapestry pyjama cases.
Growing veg in our gardens. Competing to see who could get the straightest lines and sieving the soil like our lives depended on it!! Ready for the day our gardens were judged. 
Playing kiss chase on the playground and hanging like monkeys from the bars fixed to the wall, are they still there we are wondering. So many happy memories, I could go on and on :)
I don't know if there are any past pupils still living in the village. We lived in Charlton lane for around 25 years and whenever I visit Kent I always have a drive around the village and 
Best wishes
Excepts from the letter from Misses Wakefield and Whittle:


Posted on 19th October, 2019

A plea from local dog walkers……to all dog walkers


Please clean up after your dog.


The sheep fields in Charlton Lane have long been a facility for the football pitch and dog walkers. The Sports Club utilise the field to train youngsters and also to play local teams.  As dog walkers we are extremely grateful to those allowing us to walk our dogs here.  Our dogs can run freely and safely, and we feel safe due to the visibility and security of the fields.  Dog walking is a great social activity and many of us in West Farleigh have got to know one another by exercising our dogs.

Unfortunately, there are a small minority of dog owners who do not clear up after their dogs.  This is unacceptable for a number of reasons –

  • It can pose a health risk to those playing on the football pitch, especially children.
  • Crops can be ruined by dog faeces.
  • There are disease-causing bacteria and parasites in some dog faeces, and these can be passed on to sheep.
  • It is extremely unpleasant for anyone who happens to step on it.


Some might argue that dog faeces are ‘totally natural’ or that there is “no difference between sheep and dog poop”.  This is not the case.  Sheep are herbivores and their droppings can be made into manure, whereas dogs are carnivores. Dog waste is an environmental pollutant, and if it’s left on the grass it decays and bacteria will seep into the soil.

In response to reports by the Sports Club of dog waste being left on the football field, local dog walkers met to discuss the issue.  It was agreed unanimously that the disposal of bagged dog waste should not be the responsibility of a member of the Sports Club. Dog walkers should dispose of the bags themselves.  In an attempt to encourage all dog owners to clean up after their dogs, it was agreed that the dog walkers would provide signage and put an article in LifeLine and on the village Facebook page to this effect.  It was suggested that the Sports Club be approached, to see if they would consider securing some gaps to the fencing of the football field with chicken wire to prevent smaller unaccompanied dogs access to the pitch.


Back to the plea…….


It is a great spot to walk dogs, but now it’s become a case of pick it up and take it home, or we all lose the facility. So, please help…..