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July 8, 2009 at 7:19 pm #11184maartenParticipant
I have been offered a rather big, bronze/nickel bell, weighing about 25 kgs, of which the vendor claims that it is a so called “scramble bell”from 1940.
This bell is supposed to have been standard equipment on RAF front line fighter stations and would be used to warn pilots for German aircraft attacks and to make them “scramble”. The bell is said to be very rare, hence the price is rather high. It carries certain inscriptions: There is a crown, the abbreviation AM ( Air Ministry?) and 1940.
Does anyone know anything about these bells? I have seen the article in Bell Tower about Air Ministry bells, but those appear to be much smaller, and were used by the fire brigade ( probably on their vehicles).
This request is rather urgent, as there is some serious money involved ( which I do not care about if it is a genuine article!)
Thanks for your help!
July 12, 2009 at 6:00 am #14770
July 15, 2009 at 3:48 pm #14771AnonymousInactive
Catherine P. has found a press release about a scramble bell that was for sale back in 2003 that she hopes will help others to learn about this lovely bell.
Somerset, England – 15th May 2003
RAF Wartime ‘Scramble’ Bell to be offered for sale
at DCAF Fair, Matford on 7th June 2003
Oldnautibits, who specialise in Nautical and Aeronautical Memorabilia, will again be exhibiting at the Devon County Antiques Fair event at the Matford Centre, Exeter on Saturday 7th June 2003. They will be carrying a range of collectables to suit all tastes and budgets!
Geoff Pringle, an enthusiast for all things in his chosen field, and the driving force behind Oldnautibits, said this week…
“It continues to get harder and harder to source interesting and unusual items to offer for sale. We are, therefore, delighted to have recently obtained a very rare RAF Wartime Station Bell. This superb example will be offered for sale, for the first time, by Oldnautibits at the Matford Fair on 7th June. The Bell has a fine King’s Crown with the letters AM below (standing for Air Ministry) and is dated 1941. Although in collecting circles everyone is after the magic 1940 date, which takes us back to Winston Churchill’s ‘Finest Hour’, this is close enough to epitomise the heroic efforts of the young RAF pilots of the time.”
These bells were actually designed as emergency sounding instruments, but they soon came to be used to warn fighter pilots of incoming attacks by the Luftwaffe. The ringing bell was the signal for the pilots to ‘run like hell’ in order to ‘scramble’ their waiting Hurricanes or Spitfires. This is why these bells have acquired the name ‘Scramble Bells’, despite their designated original purpose! Unfortunately, unlike Royal Navy Bells (which were made from the same basic casting), the RAF never engraved their bells with the station name. The “Oldnautibits” bell came to us with no provenance, so we can only speculate as to where it was in use back in those dark times from 1941 – perhaps Biggin Hill, Manston, or Tangmere. As the bell was sourced in the West Country, could it have been used closer to home, possibly Exeter, where 213 and 87 Squadrons flew Hurricanes as part of 10 Group Fighter Command?
Whatever its background, this is a bell with history. It is made of white brass, measures nearly 11.5″ across the base and still has traces of the original red paint on the crown. It is being offered for sale by Oldnautibits at £850.00, for which the buyer will acquire a unique piece of World War II aviation history. “This is certainly not something you see every day” concluded Geoff Pringle, who also admitted he would be sad to see it go.
This item has now been SOLD
At today’s rate, £850.00 equals $1,323.94.
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