Notes in RAF writing pad



Notes in RAF writing pad


Notes on history of use of aircraft mentioning mail, locating shoals of herring, air surveys, air taxi services, air ambulance,. Mentions routes taken by cargo boats. Experiments with small planes in Iceland. Mentions strategic importance of Iceland, and monitoring shipping in Atlantic. Mentions Balbo ideas. Section on food and communications, industry, education and immigration in Iceland. Continues with agriculture, climate and other information about Iceland.

Spatial Coverage





Twelve page handwritten document


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[RAF Crest]

Writing Pad

Owing to the shortage of paper the Government urges the utmost economy in its use. This Stationery has been reduced in size and thickness to conform to the present National need.


Navy, Army & Air Force Institutes.

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[RAF Crest]

1929 – 1931

some mail was also carried by air during herring season one of these planes was used for spotting herring shoals & to report them to the herring fleet.

An aircraft Fund was formed by Gov which provided that while a plane was so engaged any ship fishing had to contribute to this in proportion to its catch. Bad fishing season caused the withdrawal following complaints by the fishing people of this tax & the fund went out of business

1932-3. Dutch gov sponsored an expedition to Rek. 2 Fokkers carried out aerological observations for information about flying conditions in Iceland.

1938. Aeronautical Society organised for summer flying in a five seater – had regular route but also provided taxi service – fly to any point where business offered – profited so continued in winter – Its success & that of privately owned planes of great importance as aviation assures a dependable service that can reach isolated farms & towns patients can be taken to hospital & doctors can reach patients quickly.

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mainly passenger cargo boats – possessed to cargo vess[missing letters] Gov [indecipherable word] & coasting steamers used to call regularly at 60 points round the year – might make 17 & 10 trips round Iceland a year – again service may have to be suspended in mid winter owing to the weather sometimes in summer one of these coasters was withdrawn to help in the Brital Tourist Traffic – Gov.

[indecipherable word] also about 10 smaller vessels used for local transport in fjords & bays.

Several small steamship companies have been formed with freighting as their object – sail to Med countries CB. N. Europe & America (Reykjavik Co.) [Merchant fleet 1940 – 78 steam vessels 348 mates vessels]

Lack of good Harbours leads to inconvenience – felt in steamer traffic along coasts with more frequent attempts to serve isolated farms. Might lie of (sic) shore blowing blasts on the whistle for hours before passengers on board can be certain whether those farmers intend to take advantage of the rare opportunity.

[underlined] Air Communications. [/underlined]

1919 – 1920 experiment with small plane – not successful

1928 Aeronautical Society of Iceland hired a four seater plane from a foreign country which operated between Rek & places on the coast – used for transport – next season 2 planes four seater sea planes were hired

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[indecipherable word]

The strategic importance of Iceland as a base for planes to keep a watch on movements of shipping in the N Atlantic has been well demonstrated in this War.

Transatlantic flying: Iceland suitable stage for flights between Europe & America

Marshal Balbo's air fleet strengthened this idea as they took this route via Iceland & flew in one stretch from Rekj to Labrador

Earlier a British Arctic Air Route Expedition has used Iceland as a stage between this country & Greenland.

Lindbergh survey flight Europe – America 1933

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[RAF Crest}

they are accustomed to drink every hour but can go without water for 20 hrs. [symbol] feeding due to poor quality of pasture – over feeding will make them uncontrollable – very docile.

[underlined] Poultry [/underlined] chicken farming has increased greatly
Wild ducks & geese of have suffered due to indiscriminate taking of their eggs – eider duck has its home here.

Fox farming has been popular since 1930 owing to high prices fetched in its European market but this is not compatible with the eider duck farming

[underlined] Reindeer [/underlined] introduced threatened to outnumber sheep laws relaxed to kill these until 1934 when the Gov gave complete protection again so liable to increase again.

[underlined] Communications [/underlined]

[deleted] Communications [/deleted] Land. – Road transport – recent development – before pack horses over bridle paths. 1894 building roads between big towns – hence mainly coastal roads & across coastal plains

Norwegian Engineer – Main [deleted] object [/deleted] obstacle to road building & transport in Iceland is rivers – large of course & amount of water in rivers changing may wash every road - may flow beside

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bridge instead of under it – frost action on roads an example of poor state of road communication is that one of its greatest herring centres in the world on the NW. coast lacks road connection with the rest of Iceland. – not all the roads are fit enough to be classed as motoring roads (1936 total length of roads 4400 KM – 2800 fit for motor transport) – road passenger service between main towns in summer suspended largely in winter – heavy snowfall in mountain (2225 vehicles in Iceland in 1940) – these also carry baggage & mail – but freight goes by motor truck.

No railways in Iceland

[underlined] Sea Communications [/underlined]

First [deleted] [indecipherable word] the [/deleted] Icelanders realized unsatisfactory to rely almost entirely on foreigners for their communications with other countries – formed the Iceland Steamship Co. in 1914. Before this Denmark & Norway ran a service between their respective countries & Iceland. that is after 1854 when their ports were thrown open to ships of all nations – before this restricted to a few Danish Concessionaries (1602 – 1787) however none Scandinavian trade persisted during the closing periods.

1200 – 1400 most were Norwegians

1400 – 1600 English & Germans mainly replaced Norwegians

[symbol] Some of the boats used to come into Hull (Leith Hamburg Copenhagen & Antwerp) until the War & weekly service was maintained between GB & Iceland

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[underlined] Main Industries [/underlined] Fishing & Agriculture

agriculture – decline in no of people dependent upon this occupation – owing to movement to towns & emigration where the (younger people) fishing industry provides a better livelihood – state schools only in urban centres – believe travelling schools & boarding houses in country districts are the answer to this.

[symbol] high price offered for fish & fish products – exported in raw state but use of hydro electric power – plenty of this refineries may be set up near fishing grounds vitamins A & D – this may establish favourable [indecipherable word] of foreign trade for Iceland. – & justify this growth.

[underlined] Example [/underlined] Growth of Reykjavik.

Closeness to the best cod fishing banks & also to the most fertile agricultural region in Iceland. – first port of call on west coast for ships from abroad.

chief collecting & distributing centre of whole island – slightly smaller than Scarborough 31.4 % of pop.

1940 about 38,000 1900 about 6-7000

[underlined] agriculture [/underlined]

Farming Settlements

[symbol] [underlined] Seasonal migration also [/underlined] June – Sept

Herring fishing main cause fishing fleet off northern shores people move into ports & communal dwelling houses have been built to accomodate (sic) these in one or two cases the pop. in these ports is 3 times normal in July.

Cod fishing less seasonal hence has not such a great [indecipherable word]

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An example of the movement from the farms to more profitable occupations in the towns is that the problem of finding labour during the hay harvesting time which coincides with the herring season – young folk like town life much better.

You might think from this that the farmers have a thin time of it but no – because the value of the farm holding has increased considerably so the prices of farm produce in towns are high & farmers are subsidized in the sale of exported farm produce. – machinery can be obtained through cooperative societies – unlike in the time when trading monopolies were held by foreign merchants who charged highly for their goods despite the low purchasing power of the Icelanders

However despite all this agriculture has not been fully exploited – dairy farming could be more fully exploited in the broad lowlands of the SW – market in the growing urban centres – pastureland could be improved – but man power is needed – besides the above mentioned measures adapted by the Gov. cheap loans are made for this development

[symbols] Farms widely separated – near farms small patch of arable land & some improved pasture – rest poor grazing ground – farmers where holding near the sea supplement means by fishing – mode of life [symbol] resembles the Scottish crofting system

[symbol] [underlined] Positions of farms [/underlined] as they are restricted due to stretches of lava & sand, glaciers & ill drained

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lowlands, maintain

1. Broad coastal pastures of S.W.
2. Narrow stretches of flat & gently shelving shoreland.
3 Heads of fjords – extensive alluvial flats
4 Broad river valley above flood level

Only [deleted] examples [/deleted] ice action hummocks

Climate of Iceland not suitable for corn –

[underlined] Hay [/underlined] used for dairy cows & only for other cattle if there is an adequate supply. Horses & sheep if unable to graze in winter fed a different type of hay which grows in unlevelled meadows

[underlined] Vegetables [/underlined] – near some of the towns & coastal villages – where soil is sandy – bags of potatoes & turnips – but still 1/3 of requirements have to be imported

Rhubarb & black currants & grown in large quantities & cabbage & carrots in small quantities – but still shortage of fresh vegetables – the production of fruit & vegetables is liable to increase

Hot houses cultivation is increasing rapidly in neighbourhood of hot springs – which are used [indecipherable words] & know for hot water pipes to be buried to help cultivation of potatoes & help to keep of (sic) the effect of frost – In these greenhouses

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i.e. State Agricultural College – flowers tomatoes grapes & cucumbers are grown – it has also been known for bananas to be grown but by the addition of electrical heating.

[underlined] Sheep [/underlined] in the prop to people more sheep than any other country in the N. Hemisphere – hardy animal long flowing wool – (Norwegian origin) (attempts to improve stock resulted in mysterious disease – not further attempts made – 8 sheep breeding farms). Summer sheep graze unattended in the mountains – end of Sept rounded up driven in to corrals & sorted out to be taken home for the winter by their owners.

[underlined] Cattle [/underlined] – meat rather of poor quality but mainly kept for milk & butter etc 100 cattle breeding & inspection societies for grading purposes – content of milk – measure butter fat etc.

Butter making has been considerable – recently in increasing quantity

cheese has been made for export

canned milk was also exported

[underlined] Horses [/underlined] More numerous compared with no of inhabitants than any other European country – Horses until recently only means of overland communication – also reared for export until recently when it has fallen off. 50 horse breeding societies for improving breed & treatment of these animals – Very hardy animals – everybody rides in Iceland – can work over 24hrs without food

[page break]

[underlined] Iceland [/underlined]

[underlined] Introduction [/underlined] First point out never been there – reason for talk perhaps – one of us might go there

Heard a lot about the place – industry in home town – fishing connected with the place – thought it good idea to look up notes a subject for if anybody does happen to go. although cannot guarantee that will know any more about it after the talk than do now.

3rd Viking to visit country gave it its name – AD 865 – he wintered there very hard [deleted] winter [/deleted] spring – climbed mountain saw fjord to N. full of pack ice – he called it Iceland.

More appropriate Greenland 6/7 area of ice – Iceland. 1/8 area ice – more aptly Volcanoland – rocks directly or indirectly derived from hot rock liquid poured out from numerous volcanoes still active

Geologically unfinished country – added to by outpourings of lava. Glaciers there include the largest one in Europe therefore making it a land of frost & fire – presents phenomena – attracts scientists

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(Alfred Great [indecipherable]

Rough outline historical settlement began in 874 – a few after this viking chappy had wintered

[underlined] 874 – 1262 State organised [/underlined] however earliest disc[missing letters] appeared to be Irish Monks. – as shown in chronicles left by them – there before settlement but left as did not want to live with heathen left books. Irish behind – (in chronicle written in 825 says Monk had been there in spring & early summer - also says that was so light able to pick lice out of shirts at night as easily as in the daytime – hardly the thing to chronicle but



“Notes in RAF writing pad,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed June 16, 2024,

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