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  🙂

1940s Day for The British Legion at Weyhill Fairground Craft & Design Centre

Living Military History visit Weyhill Fairground Craft & Design Centre, Near Andover for a 1940s day in aid of The Royal British Legion on Saturday 4th May. 

Graham Bandy WW2

Daytime:
Vehicle Displays, Re-enactors, Make Do & Mend
Dance Lessons and 1940s style
Make-over’s, Vintage Fair, Childrens Activities.

Evening Entertainment:
Grand Nostalgia Dance 7.30pm,Tickets £7.50 in advance £10 on the night

All proceeds for the Royal British Legion.

The Fairground Craft & Design Centre is a “not for profit” Community Interest Company.
It aims to promote, support, educate, involve and develop public awareness, within the framework of art and crafts.

Previously run by Penton Grafton Parish Council, it first opened its doors in Weyhill, Hampshire in October 2003.  Open to the public,  it is now a Community Interest Company, run by volunteers and tenants for the benefit of the community.

Find out more about the history of the Fairground here.

The Weyhill Fairground Craft & Design Centre
Weyhill
Nr Andover
SP11 0QN
Google Map

Weyhill Fairground Craft & Design Centre

Weyhill Fairground Craft & Design Centre

Living Military History on TV: Country House Sunday

Ragley Hall Warwickshire Living Military History

Ragley Hall,  Warwickshire

Living Military History were on TV last week in ITV’s new series Country House Sunday made by TwoFourProductions.

The show featured The Warwickshire Regiment 1914-1918 Living History Group at Ragley Hall in Warwickshire, family seat of Lord and Lady Hertford, for a Great War weekend Event. The Warwick’s gave a fine display for the visitors and the camera crew which featured in this new TV series.

The medical display was also featured and according to Lynda Bellingham’s voice-over, its Medical Officer was “perfectly placed for complete historical accuracy”.

This episode is available to view on ITVPlayer until the end of May.

Graham Bandy WW1 Display - Country House Sunday Ragley Hall 28 april 2013

WW1 Display at Ragley Hall

This Daytime series sees Lynda Bellingham take a tour around some of Britain’s most beautiful stately homes.

Lynda and her team of presenters and chefs explore the very best that the house and estate have to offer, unpicking their rich history, revealing their secrets and uncovering life both upstairs and downstairs from cooking in the kitchens to tending the grounds.

The series also features the beauty of the local countryside, afternoon walks, antiques and days out at markets rounding off each episode with a hearty Sunday lunch.

For more on the history of some of the wonderful Stately Homes of England or inspiration for more great days out, why not invest in one of the handy pocket guides available such as the AA’s Great Days Out

Living Military History – Wartime in The Cotswolds at Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway

Pitsford Home Guard

Pitsford Home Guard

This weekend Pitsford Home Guard  will be at The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway Honeybourne Line for their Wartime in the Cotswolds event.  The Home Guard will be setting up camp at Gotherington and look forward to seeing you there!

Pitsford Home Guard

Pitsford Home Guard

During the wartime weekend there’ll be plenty of opportunity to travel the line between Cheltenham Race Course and Toddington (air raids permitting) when they’ll be operating an intensive steam-hauled timetable.

Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway Toddington

Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway

There’ll be lots of other things to keep the whole family entertained with wartime music,  soldiers on leave and on duty;  the auxiliary fire service and displays of military and civilian vehicles from the period. The extensive model railway will also be up and running.

The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Dakota will be visiting the railway on Sunday 28th April, subject to weather and operational considerations. The low-altitude flypast is expected between 2pm and 3pm.

Free parking is available at Toddington and Cheltenham Race Course stations. Please note Winchcombe Station will be closed.

Gates open at 0930 on both days.

Fares for this event:

Adult £20, senior £18, child (aged 5 – 15) £10, family ticket (2 adults and up to three children) £55.

Tickets can now only be purchased on the day at Toddington or Cheltenham Racecourse stations.

A copy of the timetable for the event can be downloaded here.

 

A Weekend of Medieval Fun for Living Military History!

This weekend sees Living Military History making a first furtive excursion into the land of the medieval and the life of a Benedictine monk.

Graham Bandy Benedictine Monk

Benedictine Monk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The event is at Riverside Country Park, Gillingham, Kent for The English Festival with Black Knight Historical.

Riverside Country Park is a large coastal public park in Kent, situated alongside the River Medway estuary between Gillingham and Rainham.

Riverside Country Park Map

Riverside Country Park Map

 

There is limited parking on site but there are park and ride buses from Chatham Historic Dockyard and Rainham Mark Gramar School from 10am to 6pm. More details here.

 

 

 

And on Sunday, Medieval Living History will be at the National Trust’s Bodiam Castle in Sussex.

Bodiam-castle-10My8-1197

Bodium Castle  East Sussex

Bodiam Castle – East Sussex

 

 

 

 

 

 

The National Trust are giving away Free Entry for up to four people this weekend (20th and 21st April) to a number of places – and Bodiam Castle is on the list!

 

All you have to do is register on their website http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/article-1355774281951/ and download a voucher (valid for up to four people).

Remember – the offer is for this weekend only!  

 

 

Reminiscence Therapy: Living Military History Working with Age UK

Age UK

Today was spent in discussions with Age UK (formerly Age Concern and Help The Aged) Oxfordshire,planning Reminiscence Therapy  for Veterans in Oxfordshire. We are putting together a unique project which will fill a gap in current service provision and create a much needed resource for ex-service men and women.

Group activities such as listening to period music and handling authentic uniforms or military items from my collections, will help participants by triggering memories and encouraging interaction. The scheme will also help to combat the loneliness many elderly people and particularly veterans can feel.

We are aiming for an initial pilot project of 6 consecutive weeks with a bid to the local Civilian Military Partnership Forum for funding in order to roll it out county wide.  This is an exciting project which has the potential to provide a valuable service not currently available elsewhere.

Graham Bandy sits on the Surrey Civilian Military Partnership Forum and is experienced in handling bids from local projects wishing to access Armed Forces Community Covenant Grant Scheme Funds. Please visit the Living Military History website for more information.

Who Do You Think You Are Live!

Graham appeared for the second year at Who Do You Think You Are Live this weekend. Alongside author and historian Neil Storey, he identified and dated hundreds of vintage military photographs brought to the helpdesk by visitors to the popular genealogy show.

Meanwhile, Janet was helping out on the Rootschat stand – promoting the biggest and best Free Family History Forum in Britain!