Friday, December 24, 2010

Sergeant John Allan, Arnhem Hero

(Top): Poppy cross on the grave of Sgt John Allan
[I placed this on his grave at Arnhem / Oosterbeek War Cemetery]

(Bottom): Wartime photograph of Sgt John Allan
(Courtesy of his daughter Catherine)

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The ‘Cross of Sacrifice’

Photograph of the CWGC ‘Cross of Sacrifice’
(Whitehaven Cemetery, Cumbria)

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The ‘John Frost Bridge’ at Arnhem

(Top): The ‘Bridge too Far’ at Arnhem
(Later re-named the ‘John Frost Bridge’)

(Bottom): Hartenstein Museum poster, Oosterbeek

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Honouring ‘Market Garden’ Heroes

(Top) Arnhem resident, guide and poet Sam Rubens
(Bottom) The ‘Cross of Sacrifice’ Arnhem / Oosterbeek Cemetery

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Monday, December 20, 2010

To all members and contributors

A seasonal winter view of Whitehaven Cenotaph

A 'seasonal' view of Whitehaven Cenotaph
(December 2010)

The above 'seasonal' photograph shows Whitehaven Cenotaph in Castle Park, Whitehaven, Cumbria (December 2010). This Cenotaph was first dedicated on 2 November 1923 to commemorate the Fallen of the 1914 - 1918 war. As can be seen in the photograph after the Second World War an additional stone was added at the front to commemorate the Fallen of the 1939 - 1945 war.

Since 1923 this Cenotaph, like the many others throughout Britain and Europe, has stood in silent witness to remember the fallen of the World Wars and other conflicts. Regardless of sun, rain, sleet or snow it always there for them.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Just one Bomber Command casualty

Commonwealth War Graves Commission:
'A Cross of Sacrifice'

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission commemorates more than 55,000 casualties from WW2 who served with RAF Bomber Command. The Commission remembers each one as an individual.

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Friday, December 03, 2010

Researching German & Austrian War Casualties

Kitzbühel War Memorial, Austria
Commemorating the Fallen of the World Wars

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Thursday, December 02, 2010

An extraordinary event

In my book I included this photo of my father taken in Como in 1925 when he returned to Italy to do his national service (discipline was quite draconian in the Italian army in those days and because he unavoidably got back to Italy a couple of months later than he should have done he was sentenced to 6 months in a military prison which he had to serve before starting his military service) He is 21 in this photo.

Now for the quite incredible event. I knew that there was another photo of my father in uniform which he had sent to my mother during the war and I wanted to include it in my book. I asked my sisters to search for it and even described to them the round biscuit tin in which my mother kept all her family photos, but despite several searches neither the tin nor the photo could be found. My mother had given me several photographs in the 1960s and it was suggested that I might have it. I searched everywhere and drew a blank, the deadline for the book came and it was published without it. Whatever happened to that photograph remains a complete mystery, it is inconceivable that it would have been destroyed.

When my book was published I sent a copy to a friend in Italy who has a passion for old photographs and has an extensive archive. My book inlcludes this photo of my Dad which had appeared in a local calendar:

Pancrazio, the archivist, sent me a letter of thanks and at the end said "I include a photo of a soldier who might be your father" ... and amazingly it was a copy of the missing photo which I had never mentioned to anyone in Italy. On the back it says, in my father's neat handwriting "A Desiderio e Carolina Lazzarini - Spalato 29/5/41" and in another hand 'Ghiringhelli'.

Out of all the millions of photos ... and if that isn't amazing I don't know what is!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

A British Boy in Fascist Italy

Peter Ghiringhelli's book, entitled A British Boy in Fascist Italy is of major interest, both as a testimony on what happened to himself and his family, but also to give one an insight of what went on in Italy in WW2, and in Britain before that.
First, I'd like to point out that it is extremely well written, making the read particularly enjoyable. So many of such accounts are hard to follow, or drily written. Not this book. Peter achieves the difficult task of mingling personal anecdotes, all very much to the point, and crucial data that allows the reader to fully grasp how tough everyday life was at that time.
Those of us who were born after the war, into a world where things are comfortable enough, will be amazed at what a kid's life was made of at the time.
Those of us who think they know Italian history will discover the full picture of the devastation the country underwent, between 43 and 45 in particular.
At the same time, the documentation and account are as accurate and rigorous as can be found in a history thesis.

But finally, what I like best is the humanity that pervades the whole book, the warmth with which he describes everyone and everything. Naming the victims for instance, is something I am particularly sensitive to.

Peter's book is a lesson in morality, that everyone should read. Fortunately it is very easy to obtain, and I do hope the publisher has foreseen that a big number of copies should be on the ready for orders!
Thank you Peter, for this formidable contribution.