Letter of thanks…

 

Oxfordshire Family History Day at Marlborough School 4th October 2014

 

 

We attended your day at the Marlborough School for the first time on Saturday and were very impressed with the organisation and helpfulness of the various stall holders.

 

We received some very useful information and pointers from the Oxfordshire records Office stand which will hopefully help in the search for information on my father’s family history and service in WW11.

 

However the best tip was from Malcolm Austen who told us we needed to speak to Graham Bandy on The Living Military History stand. This proved invaluable as Graham had a huge amount of information at his fingertips that was really helpful and gave us a much better insight into the war in Burma and the Far East where my father served. We spent nearly two hours talking and being given hints and tips and contacts where we can obtain further details and every minute was really appreciated.

 

It might be an advantage for future events to consider promoting Graham’s special interest in identifying and dating uniforms etc from old photos as we would certainly have been keen to bring some of our photos along for him to see.

 

We are very grateful to Graham and to your group for staging the event and will certainly try and attend future shows where possible.

 

Well done for a most interesting day.

 

Berkshire Family History: Conflict and Change 18th Oct 2014

On the 18th of this month I will be appearing at this event…

http://www.berksfhs.org.uk/cms/Conference/

I will be talking about how to identify your wartime memorabilia, how to date military photographs and how to interpret paperwork.

I will be appearing with a number of other experts in family history and the conference is going to be quite an interesting event. I commend it to you all.

Changes….

My apologies for not keeping up on the blog. Things this past year have become interesting and there have been huge changes for me. I hope that I am now able to continue with this and update regularly. As an addenda, I have just had to remove 3.5k spam comments….That will teach me to keep abreast of things!

Remembrance In Tuscany

Badge of the Central India Horse

Last weekend was spent in Tuscany as the guest of the local government and ex pat community.

I was asked over to commemorate two George Cross awards from WW2, and to represent Great Britain.

The plaque on the village wall in Monterchi has always had its wreath laid by the village mayor. It was my honour, to be the first non Italian to lay a wreath for almost 70 years, in fact since the plaque was placed there. I was also honoured by laying the first wreath, normally in the gift of the local mayor.

The region was the scene of fierce fighting and the area was strewn with German “shoebox mines”
The Schu or Shu-Mine is a small wood box fragmentation mine. It measures six-inch by six-inch and contains a detonator and a solid charge.  Another name or spelling of this mine is “Shoe Mine” or “Shoe Box ” mine. The “Shoe Box” was a favourite among the Germans. Small in size and constructed primary of wood, the Schu is next to impossible to discover with a normal metal mine detector.  It seldom kills instantly, instead the sinister device mutilates the unfortunate victim.

The citation in the London Gazette for 20th July 1945, states that the posthumous award of the George Cross was made “In recognition of most conspicuous gallantry in carrying out hazardous work in a very brave manner.” Lieutenant Young, in charge of night patrol realised that they were in a middle of an enemy minefield. Lt. Young received the full force of a blast and both his legs were shattered. Despite the terrible pain he continued to give such great encouragement to his men that the majority of them managed to reach safety in the early light of morning. One of Lt. Young’s soldiers, Sowar Ditto Ram, Central Indian Horse was also awarded the George Cross for actions in this same incident. Both died of their wounds on the following day.

I was welcomed by the entire village and the local Bersaglieri. The Commandante il Carabinieri invited me for coffee with him in his office, and the after the remembrance service-very much like our own here in Britain-most of the village attended a large meal at a a local restaurant. here the band of the Bersaglieri entertained us with songs and tunes.

At the end of the meal I was surprised to be included in the presentations by the Bersaglieri, and given a book on the history of this famous unit of Light Infantry.

Monterchi memorial plaque Laying the first wreath Bersaglieri

 

My thanks to Debbie, Roger, Chunky, Trevor et al involved  🙂

REMINISCENCE THERAPY AGE UK

More on our Age UK Reminiscence Therapy sessions in Oxfordshire

 

Old soldiers share memories of service and sacrifice
As reported by mark taylor in the Oxford Mail today June 12th 2013

Age UK

SIX weeks ago they were strangers left with their memories.

Now they are friends with real ties.

A series of military reminiscence sessions ended with a party in Didcot yesterday as former servicemen and women swapped tales of life in uniform.

The Age UK sessions have been credited with helping old soldiers come to terms with their experiences decades later.

Old newspapers, photographs, uniforms and other props are used to stir memories.

Even those punished by war to the point of recluse came out of their shells.

Rymans Court sheltered housing in Britwell Road, Didcot, was the venue for the final military reminiscence event of a six-week pilot project.

It was a raucous day as the group of about 30 men and women chatted like old friends over tea and cake.

Royal Engineer Ronald Frampton, of Rymans Court, regaled wartime stories of his brother Laurie, who also served as a Sapper in the Corps of Royal Engineers.

Mr Frampton was in the temporary establishment of engineer services, having joined in Devizes, and served in Africa where he helped build hospitals and radar towers.

The 92-year-old said: “We were on leave here in 1942, he was a devil of a chap.

“It’s a great day to come out and meet everyone here. You get to meet so many people, and talk about old times too.

“We’re all really grateful for everyone who has helped put this on, I’ve made a lot of new friends.

“It’s not something you ever think about when you’re fighting in war, what will happen afterwards.”

Rymans Court resident Betty Smith was 15 when the Second World War broke out.

She enjoyed tea with Freda Douglas, of Didcot, and told how she was called up to serve as a ship’s electrician in Southampton.

The 88-year-old said: “We trained for four weeks and then they let us loose on the ships; it was a crazy time but we saw so much. Coming here has given me a chance to meet people and find out more about what other people went through.

“Hearing other tales is always a lovely thing because you know you all went through something similar.”

Community psychiatric nurse officer Graham Bandy, of D Detachment 202 M Field Hospital in Abingdon is the man behind the Living Military History events.

He said: “It is a joy to see the change in some of the old soldiers as they open up.

“We’ve had one man who at first wouldn’t speak at all, now he is completely out of his shell, laughing, joking with people.”

He helped co-ordinate the day with Ruth Swift and Karen Thomas from Age UK Oxfordshire who bid for funding from the Civilian Military Partnership Forum to run the events.

For more information on our Reminiscence Therapy sessions and how we can help with projects in your area please contact us. 

Living Military History and Age UK providing Reminiscence Therapy in Oxfordshire

Age UK

Today was the last of our 6 sessions with Age UK and the veterans of Oxfordshire as mentioned in a previous blog post

http://livingmilitaryhistory.co.uk/Blog/2013/04/02/working-with-age-uk/.

It has been a successful series of session for all concerned. Well done to Karen Thomas of Age UK Oxfordshire for bringing it all together. All we need now is some funding to be able to roll the programme out further!

BFBS British Forces News came along today and there’s a video on their website.

Watch Video here:

Age UK Reminiscence Therapy

Age UK Reminiscence Therapy

This is what they had to say:

“A pilot project that brings serving troops and elderly veterans together to reminisce about wartime experiences could be rolled out across Britain.

It is designed to give the veterans companionship as well as therapy to combat forgetfulness and other mental health issues faced in old age.

The programme’s expansion now depends on finding new funding.”

Interviewees:
Corporal Peter Humphrey, RAF Veteran,
Private James Lindsay, 4 Logistic Support Regiment
Graham Bandy, TA Nursing Officer
Corporal Mark Copperwheat, RAF

For more information about our Reminiscence Therapy Sessions or to find out how we can help you set up similar projects, please contact us.

 

 

 

Second World War Propoganda Posters released into Public Domain on Wikimedia

Thanks to a partnership with Wikimedia UK, the National Archives has been able to digitise and release into the public domain over 350 images from our collection of almost 2,000 original artworks by war artists working for the Ministry of Information during the Second World War. We hope we will eventually be able to release the whole collection.

This project aims to make the best possible use of these images across Wikimedia projects and ultimately to link The National Archives’ catalogue back to definitive information on Commons. We have done some very basic categorisation of these images but we know very little about some of the artists and many of the works are anonymous.

Here’s a selection of some of the artwork ranging from encouragement to lend a hand on the land, to saving bones for scrap and taking care in the blackout.  More of the collection can be found here.

INF3-101 Food Production Lend a hand with the potato harvest (workers in basket)

INF3-104 Food Production Lend a hand on the land Whatever your front line job Artist Showell

INF3-111 Forces Recruitment Skilled hands are needed - join the RAF Artist Grey

INF3-115 Forces Recruitment ATS the job for you

INF3-120 Forces Recruitment ATS and WAAF

INF3-137 War Effort And they will say This was our finest hour Artist Pat Keely

INF3-160 Fighting Fit in the Factory Artist A R Thomson

INF3-164 Britain expects that you too, this day, will do your duty Artist Forster

INF3-176 Fuel Economy Turn that gas down

INF3-195 Fuel Economy The worker who left the lights on - don't be fuel-ish (woman factory worker) Artist H M Bateman

INF3-207 Salvage Salvage saves Shipping (torpedoed ship sinking) Artist E Oliver

INF3-217 Salvage Still more bones needed for salvage (rag and bone man with dog) Artist Gilroy

INF3-225 Make do and mend (Stuffed doll figure patching cloth)

INF3-231 Anti-rumour and careless talk Be like dad - keep mum! (set of twelve human figures talking) Artist Grimes

INF3-280 Health Diphtheria is deadly - protect your child by immunisation Artist J H Dowd

INF3-293 Road safety Look out in the blackout - think before you cross the road Artist Pat Keely

Theirs Is The Glory: Stunning film of Operation Market Garden

This film was made a year after the actual scenes depicted. It shows the actual troops who fought there and footage from the actual battle at Arnhem. Also seen are the local civilian population re-enacting what they did at the time.

This film has largely been forgotten but is available on youtube in its entirety. It is all the more poignant due to the lack of credits as to whom we are seeing on film. Some names are mentioned, but sadly they are few and far between.

It is  a fitting tribute to those who tried to end the war early

Anniversary of VE Day – 8th May 1945

On the anniversary of VE Day I have been taking a look at some old newsreel of the celebrations and trying to imagine what it must have been like to hear the news and know that a six year nightmare was nearly at an end.

But try as I might, I find that it is almost easier to imagine what it must have felt like to be “at war” than what it must have felt like on the 8th May 1945 when you knew that, at least in Europe, the war was over.

These scenes captured by Pathe and shown in cinemas in a special extended Pathe Gazette, can only provide a snapshot of the “spontaneous” celebrations.  A series of black and white newsreel shots, many set up for the camera, which are now such familiar images we almost take them for granted.

But inside each and every head in the crowd are memories of hardship, pain and fear, grief for loved ones lost, lives on hold, homes and families destroyed, friendships made, courage, relief, disbelief, joy and so much more – such intensity and variety of emotions that there isn’t a word which encapsulates it all.

With luck it is a word we will never need to define again.

The Fruits of Victory, 1945, Pathe Gazette

THE FRUITS OF VICTORY

 

RAF Airfields of World War 2 by Jonathan Falconer

RAF Airfields of World War 2 by Jonathan Falconer

A complete and unique single-volume illustrated reference book covering all of the RAF’s frontline airfields in the UK during World War 2.

RAF AIRFIELDS OF WORLD WAR 2 by Jonathan Falconer

RAF AIRFIELDS OF WORLD WAR 2 by Jonathan Falconer

 

For all those interested in the activities of the RAF during the Second World War, RAF Airfields of World War 2 provides comprehensive information about all the frontline RAF airfields in Britain, including all the RAF Fighter, Bomber, Coastal and Transport Command airfields and bases of the period.

This fascinating books provides a short history of each airfield, first-person accounts and information on airfield buildings and is illustrated with photographs and maps.

Chapters also take a look at airfield construction and organisation, orders of battle for each command at notable points of the war.  Of great interest are the tabular listings of RAF frontline airfields, which provide full details of location and user squadrons/units.

Present-day usage of the airfields and the buildings is also covered.

Of great interest also are the first-hand accounts by veterans of the four wartime Commands add a layer of compelling personal testimony to the book.

The author originally published two books on RAF Fighter and Bomber airfields of World War 2 in the early 1990s, which are now out of print, but this book contains significantly new text and illustrations as well as covering RAF Coastal and Transport Command for the first time.

RAF Airfields of World War 2 by Jonathan Falconer was published in January 2013