Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Shortest Story on the BBC Archives?

I was browsing through some of the many stories in the archives and it set me wondering which had been the shortest/longest articles posted.

My award for the shortest goes to the following article that was posted back in October 2004.

World War Two by vanhan

Contributed by vanhan
People in story: Jordan,Aaron and Adam
Location of story: Yorkshire
Background to story: Royal Air Force
Article ID: A3105451
Contributed on: 08 October 2004

It was

I see that I added a comment at the time.

Message 1 - World War Two

Posted on: 13 October 2004 by Ron Goldstein
"it was"?

I'm sure you're right

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Quick Delivery

Click to enlarge

My Veteran's Badge arrived this morning, much quicker than I expected. It is in a choice presentation case with this fine certificate:
Click to enlarge

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Sgt (Flight Engineer) Henry Sadler

No 514 Bomber Squadron motto: Nothing can withstand
Maurice Morgan-Owen with his crew of Lancaster II DS682 JI-N. Identified are: Back row left to right - unknown Airman, F/Officer Morgan-Owen, Sgt Herbert Stanley Hayward, F/Officer George Alexander Jacobson, RAAF. Other three Airman are any of the following - Sgt Alfred Douglas Tetley, Sgt Henry Sadler, Flight Sgt Alan W. Green, and Sgt F. Barrett

Sgt Henry (k/a Leo) Sadler was killed on the night of 22/23 April 1944. He was in Lancaster II DS682 JI-N, the full crew, who were all killed, being:

Flying Officer Maurice Linden Morgan-Owen, from London, aged 20
Sgt Henry Sadler, from Birmingham, aged 25
Flight Sgt Alan William Green, from Quinton, Warwickshire, aged 23
Flying Officer George Alexander Jacobson RAAF, from Gunalda, Queensland, aged 27
Sgt Ernest (Sunny) Gledhill, from Bradford, aged 22
Sgt (Mid-Turret Gunner) Alfred Douglas Tetley, from Harrogate, aged 23
Sgt (rear Gunner) Herbert Stanley Hayward, from Bishop Stortford, aged 27

They took off from RAF Waterbeach at 2258 Hrs but crashed in the sea. Sgt Sadler, who was washed ashore on 21 June 1944, and Sgt Teteley are buried in Sage War Cemetery, near Oldenburg; the rest of the crew are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

Full details of the last mission of Lancaster II DS682 can be found here. There it is stated that:

"DS 682 was supposed to return to Waterbeach at 03.00 on Sunday the 23rd of April. At 02.56, an SOS message was received from the aircraft. Their position was over the sea, approximately 70 miles west off the Dutch coast. Nothing more was heard from the aircraft. According to the acting Squadron Leader at the time, Barney Reid, at first light an Air Sea Rescue aircraft was despatched to look for the crew. Barney Reid personally took part in this. However, despite good visibility, nothing was found."

They were part of one of the great pre-invasion raids on targets on the hinterland of the invasion coast, stretching back into the Reich. On the night of 22/23 April 1944 596 aircraft -323 Lancasters, 254 Halifaxs, and 19 Mosquitos, of all except 5 Group, took off for Düsseldorf. The losses however were high, 29 aircraft (16 Halifaxes and 13 Lancasters) amounting to 4.9% of the force, mainly caused by night-fighters which penetrated the bomber stream wreaking havoc.

This story has demonstrated how unreliable records can be. In Avro Lancaster - The Definitive Record, 2nd edition, by Harry Holmes, Lancaster II DS682 is recorded as being with 115 Squadron, and that it landed at Ford after being hit by a Ju88 during the night of 5/6 September 1943. Philip Moyes, in Bomber Squadrons of the R.A.F. and their Aircraft also lists DS682, coded KO, with 115 Squadron. But although 115 Squadron did take part in the great Düsseldorf raid, they were based in RAF Witchford, not RAF Waterbeach. The only Lancaster lost by 115 Squadron that night was Lancaster III ND753 KO-K, piloted by P/O R.E. Chantler. These books contain an imense amount of data and errors are to be expected in such long detailed lists. The sollution is to cross-check everything, and in this particular case even the Commonwealth War Graves Commission record for Sgt Sadler is wrong, giving his date of death as 23 July 1944, but with correct squadron, whilst for the rest of the crew they give the correct date of 23 April 1944.

The crew photograph is from a website dedicated to the memory of Ernest 'Sunny' Gledhill and the Men He Flew With in the Photo Gallery here.

Sage War Cemetery - Click to enlarge
Sage War Cemetery - Click to enlarge.

(Correct data from The Bomber Command War Diaries, by Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt, and from Volume 5 of Royal Air Force Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War - 1944 by W.R. Chorley)

So who was Sgt Henry Sadler? Tom Canning will explain.

The Troopship S.S.Frankonia

In April 1943 both Tom Canning and myself were (completely un-beknown to each other) on the same boat bound for Algiers.

The internet being what it is, it should have been no surprise to me that there were plenty of photographs available, but I was still surprised to see this lovely ship serving its original purpose as a pre-war cruise liner.

Both Tom and I have written about the voyage out from Greenock, , it was not the most pleasant of trips and I don't remember dining at the Captain's table.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Veterans Badge - design details

Click to enlarge

Commemorative service 2005

For no other reason than to 'wind-up' our Canadian representative I now show the invitation sent out by the powers that be for the Commemorative festivities in Hyde Park in 2005

Monday, April 24, 2006

UK Armed Forces Veteran Lapel Badge

Did you serve in HM Armed Forces up to and including 31st December 1954?

Men and women who served in HM Armed Forces up to and including 31st December 1954 are entitled to a Veterans Badge. For full details and the application form go to the Ministry of Defence website

Sunday, April 23, 2006

National Veterans Day

Does anybody have any information about the 'National Veterans' Day' that I seem to remember it was announced would take place throughout Britain each June? If my memory serves me right, Gordon Brown (Chancellor of the Exchequer) made the announcement. There was also an indication any 'Veterans', (initially from the WW2 years) would be awarded a medal at various ceremonies throughout Britain on this 'National Veterans Day'.

A number of the veterans, or their relatives, whose stories I wrote down for the "People's War" project have asked me about this proposed National Veterans Day. There seems to have been little definite information about what is supposed to happen, or indeed how a 'veteran' applies for this new medal if they qualify for it. The local Veterans Associations and British Legion do not have any information yet, so far as I know. So, can anyone assist please?

A 'Wish I wasn't here' postcard Christmas 1941

A 1941 Christmas Card from Oflag VIIC

This is the front of a second postcard sent by Driver Moreton Wilson RASC (Service No T/60834) to his wife and four children back home in Workington West Cumberland (now Cumbria) for Christmastime 1941. Moreton's Prisoner of War number was 668.

According to recent information kindly supplied to the family by the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva, Switzerland, Moreton was taken prisoner during the Battle of Amiens on 20 May 1940 at either Doullens or Albert. Moreton was known to his friends as 'Joe'. Sadly, Moreton died in a German hospital in May 1943. He is buried in the CWGC Cemetery at Krakow Rakowicki in Poland.

(For further information click on to 'Comments' below')

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Happy Christmas 'Over the Wire'

'Over the wire'

A 1941 Christmas Card from Oflag VIB:

"But I assure you, my dear chap - I really AM Father Christmas!"

For additional information click on 'Comments' below

Friday, April 21, 2006

More on German propaganda

With reference to the Propaganda Leaflet to be seen on Page 59 of my Album, I now show the 'other side'of the leaflet, that is the text that was designed to encourage us to allow ourselves to be taken prisoner.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Adding your photo to your Profile, revisited

I have put together a flash demo, go to the FAQ, go to the relevant question, then click on the green Play Demo button. Sit back with a coffee and watch. Then get cracking!

Dodgy German propaganda leaflet ?

I have already posed a question relating to Pages 59 & 60 of 'Ron's Actual Army Album', this photo might help you make up your mind :)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Ron Goldstein's Actual Army Album

Click to enlarge, then expand to full size

Don't miss looking at Ron's Actual Army Album.

Above is a cartoon from page 90 (yes, page 90). Just one of the many gems in this album. The cartoon is full of in-jokes. Those who fought in Africa and Italy will immediately recognise the Two Types, the mustachioed duo; on their table is a copy of Avanti, the Italian Socialist Party's newspaper, banned during the fascist era. Then we have Ernest Bevin, the British Foreign Secretary, seated at a table with the American Secretary of State, James F. Byrnes, arguing over a map of Italy, which Bevin has drawn on the tablecloth (with an arrow pointing to Salerno). Propping up a table is a bust of Mussolini. There is also a reference to mepacrine anti-malarial tablets and don't miss the travel advert "Happy Holidays in the Apennines - Just Like You Used To Have"

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

A History of the BBC's WW2 People's War site

There are some interesting pages here giving a full history of the project.

This brought a smile: Most of the wartime generation did not have computer access or the skills to use a computer, and much is made of this in the following pages. Whilst no doubt true, I think something could have been said about the many who were more than able to handle a computer, even if well past seventy. :)

Just an afterthought, wouldn't 'the wartime generation' have ranged between the ages of a few days and six years old in 1945? The majority of those who fought were of the 1920s' and earlier generations.

The old Research Desks

Although the contents of the Research Desks were not included in the final BBC People's War Archive they can still be accessed here.

Just scroll down past the The WW2 People's War site is now closed for contributions warning, and there they all are.

They make fascinating reading now that the dust has settled.

Lady Nancy Astor: WW2 and afterwards

(Top): Memorial for Mildred Warner (Washington) Gale
[Grandmother of George Washington, 1st USA President]

(Bottom): Lady Astor (left) wearing fur stole
On the steps of St Nicholas' Church, Whitehaven.
(After unveiling the Mildred Washington Gale Tablet)
[Tuesday 18 October 1955]
Courtesy of Mr. R. Devlin, WW2 & mining historian

For additional information click on 'Comments' below.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Assault Glider Project Blog

The AGP has a Blog:

Comments are welcome.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The magic of the human voice

In the world of Opera there is a term which covers a strange happening in the singing of an aria when it appears that the quality is enhanced through some medium which is unaccounted for in the practice of singing - particularly, this is called a "moment" - a moment which cannot be accounted for in rational terms.

When we think of the great Pavarotti singing the "anthem for the Soccer World Cup - "Nessum Dorma" in his homeland of Italy;the scenes of Joan Sutherland in 'Lucia di Lammermoor' - the soprano voice of Elisabeth Schwartzkopf in the Beethoven "Ode to Joy" at Beyrueth in 1951 -and the unforgettable 'Casta Diva' of Monserrat Caballe in Bellini's 'Norma' - or Beverley Sills as Anne Boleyn as she sang her farewell to life the evening before her execution in Donizetti's 'Anna Bolena'.

We have all probably had 'moments' in our lives but possibly one of the strangest I ever had was when we were waiting to move upto Montecassino for the push into the Liri valley after the fourth battle had just ended in the middle of May 1944. We were between Presenzaro and Cassino and the noise was indescribable in it's ferocity as every gun on both sides seemed to be firing in quick succession one after the other - it was an nightmarish cacophany. I was standing in front of my Tank in the early evening watching the firefly's weaving their patterns around the mosquitoes, when suddenly an awesome silence descended and not one gun was firing. The silence on a Battlefield is something strange in itself as not even a cricket would chirp when - suddenly a sound impressed itself upon me..... and the moment revealed itself as the Song of the Nightingale !

I wonder if anyone else had that wonderful experience ?

Friday, April 07, 2006

An important new link

The Web never ceases to amaze me. Delving deeper from an interesting link sent to me by Tom, I discovered that the entire 50 volume New Zealand official history of WW2 was on the Internet. Needless to say, this is a vast source covering all aspects of WW2. Too good not to link to.

Faults and bugs in the new BBC Archive


I invite comments regarding your own experiences in using the SEARCH facilities on the new BBC WW2 archives.

Speaking for myself, I find the present situation is lamentable.

I give a simple example.

Imagine if you will, that you are on the 'new' site and wish to find articles written by Frank.
You key into the SEARCH THE ARCHIVES box the keywords 'Frank Mee', enclosed you will note, by apostrophes. You get the following results.

Your page of search results for "'Frank Mee'+ww2"
BBC - Tees Features - Your stories of war
FRANK MEE Frank Mee was just 10 years old when war was declared.
BBC - WW2 People's War - The Man Who Never Was, chapter 1 - A2160415
My only real buddy so far had been a chap called Harry Mee, who stood next to me, in the rear rank, when we were on parade in Bulford basic training camp.
BBC - WW2 People's War - Bournemouth, Bombs, and My Two Brothers - A3526535
I think we had just been given Arthur Mee's Children's Encyclopaedia, all 10 volumes, and I have it still.
(Note that only the first item is applicable)

By contrast, if you were to do the same search procedure on the 'old' site you would get the following 20 items on one page, with a further 5 or six on the following page:

A2097867 It's Over: VE Day in Stockton-On-Tees Edited
A2553761 The Dance Hall, Wartime Escape Edited
A8906376 Farewell to the BBC WW2 People's War Website -
A2110465 Flaming Barrage Balloons, Teeside Edited
A1300465 Flaming Balloons -
A1316288 A Night at the pictures -
A1930079 Active Army Cadets -
A1361981 The Beginning. -
A1361963 The beginning. -
A1365419 Early Days -
A2267615 HMAS Sydney. -
A2521270 Introduction -
A2132029 Christmas, Worlds Apart Edited
A1934958 More Active Army Cadet's -
A1901819 Reluctant Private Evacuee. -
A2041589 More Wartime Schooling -
A4126961 Starting work in war time part five -
A2010213 Wartime Schooling in Stockton-on-Tees -
A2638550 A peaceful Sunday Morning. -
A1324090 The sky was black with planes -
No Previous Results | Next results >> (which would give you another 5 or six articles)

I rest my case

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Old Army Songs - Those were the days!

There is an old 8th Army song from Egypt which has been running through my mind in the past few days and I just wonder if anyone knows the whole song - or even another part of it. It was - as always - bit irreverent to the reigning monarch but no one seemed to mind that - it went -
Queen Farida give us bakksheesh,
Queen Farida give us bakksheesh,
for we all love the King,
and we all love the Queen -
but we'ed rather love Farida than Farouk - Baa din !

Needless to say - this was prior to the advent of the Africa Corps with their now famous Lili Marlene

Monday, April 03, 2006

The BBC WW2 Archive

This is part of an email from Debré:

Hello all,

The password's been taken off and you should now be able to see the archive site ...
If you find anything that's not working, please send me the link and tell me what error you're experiencing.

Hope you like it :-)


I have already added the link to our list of links on the right. I've only had a quick look at the Archive, but it looks great. Let me know if you are having any difficulties, then we can consolidate them all and forward them to Debré.

Postscript to "Day Leave in Rome"

One of the stories that I posted on the BBC WW2 site was entitled
Day Leave in Rome and I beg your indulgence while I add a ‘postscript’ to that tale.

In the story, I mention visiting the Forum and I certainly remember being fascinated by the Arch of Titus with its unique frieze portraying Roman soldiers carrying the loot that they took from the Temple in Jerusalem.
In May 2005, I took advantage of the “Hero’s Return’ scheme to re-visit Rome and Monte Cassino and Nita took the above snap of me back at the Forum.

Since then I have carried out some further research concerning the Arch and learned that because it was a such terrible reminder of the destruction of the Temple and the massacre of the Jewish population it had been a Jewish custom since the Roman times that no Jew should walk under the Arch.

I was delighted to learn that this convention was broken for the first time in 1948 (when the State of Israel was first created) because the Jews of Rome actually paraded under the Arch to demonstrate their solidarity with the newly found State.