Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A British Boy in Fascist Italy

As some of you will know, following my short account of wartime Italy in the BBC's WW2 People's War archive a commissioning editor for The History Press contacted me in late 2008 and suggested that I should expand it for publication. The result is to be published on 1 September.

What has surprised me is that it is already being advertised world-wide. Here are the major locations:

Amazon UK
Bookstores Co UK


Friday, May 21, 2010

VE Day Thanksgiving

Ritson family group outside Buckingham Palace (1949)
Marie Ritson (née Cranfield), Agnes Ritson (née Cunningham), Ronald Ritson.
On VE Day 1945 large crowds celebrated the end of the war here
(From family phohotograph collection)
The above photograph was taken outside Buckingham Palace in 1949. During WW2 Marie served in the WAAF in the London area, while Ronald served in the RAMC, in the UK and NW Europe. On this occasion they are showing Ronald's mother Agnes one the principal tourist attractions of London.
On VE Day, 8 May 1945 a large crowd of people gathered in front of Buckingham Palace to cheer the King and Queen and the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill. For this day, at least, a short period of rejoicing was appropriate. On 8 May 2010 the British Legion helped commemorate the 65th anniversary of VE Day with an event in London.
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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Histoires floues

Histoires floues cover
Joseph has suggested that we give a link to Catherine's interview about her well researched historical novel of a very dark period in French history, Histoires floues (Blurred Stories), and I couldn't agree more. It's in French, but I'm sure you'll enjoy hearing her voice.

An extract of 50 pages (out of a total of 266) from Histoires floues is available here. It is fitting that it is in French; it is a story which needs to be told and re-told, for all too soon after the war many in France suffered from collective amnesia. The unspoken sentiment was ne pensons plus à cette histoire.

Further information (in French) and details of where Catherine's book can be purchased from her publisher here. It is available in print or as a downloadable electronic edition.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Guarding the Home Guard’s Home

Family group, Trafalgar Square, London (July 1949)
Grown-ups (L-R): Joe Ritson, Agnes Ritson (née Cunningham), Marie Ritson (née Cranfield)
Front: Brenda Ritson (later Mrs Henry)
On 14 May 1940 German land forces were making rapid advances in the west, through the Netherlands, Belgium and France. This was due, at least in part, to German parachutists taking and holding some key installations. It was also on this day that ordinary British citizens (but only the men!) were asked to volunteer to safeguard their land, their homes and their families against the threat of German parachutists and become a 'Local Defence Volunteer'.

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Monday, May 17, 2010

"No Invader shall take our land".

Ennerdale Water and fells, Cumberland (c. 1938)

Even those serving full-time in the armed forces came to respect the role played by the Home Guard, who were defending the people and places they knew at home. The following tribute to the men of the Home Guard was written by a soldier, Private W.D. MacFarlane from Cleator, Cumberland (about 2 miles from Ennerdale) who at that time in the war (November 1943) was serving in the REME in Italy. The letter appeared in the West Cumbrian weekly newspaper, 'The Whitehaven News' in the 'For Troops Only' column.

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

HMS Whitehaven, WW2 Minesweeper

(Top): The 1942 dedication plaque of HMS Whitehaven
(Middle): The ensign (flag) of HMS Whitehaven
(Bottom): The bell from HMS Whitehaven
The plaque is now displayed in Whitehaven Library
The bell and ensign are displayed in ‘TS Bee’, Whitehaven Sea Cadets HQ
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