Friday, May 08, 2020

VE Day 1945 The Gibraltar Way

1. Gibraltar Chronicle, Tuesday May 8 1945
The front cover on VE Day 1945

2. Gibraltar Chronicle, Wednesday May 9 1945
The front cover on VE Day +1

3. Gibraltar Main Street, Monday evening May 7 1945
(Published in Gibraltar Chronicle, May 8 1945)

4. Gibraltar's Alameda parade ground, VE Day 1945
The crowds gather to celebrate 'Victory in Europe' 
(Published in Gibraltar Chronicle, May 9 1945)

5. All set fair with the Royal Navy at the Gibraltar fair
Two Naval Ratings help four young lads to enjoy the fair
(Published in Gibraltar Chronicle, May 9 1945)

6. Alameda Parade Ground, Gibraltar (May 2019)
Now a municipal car park next to the cable car
[Thanks to Gibraltar Garrison Library for access to the 'Chronicle' archive]
For additional information see 'Comments' below.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Home-made decorations for a wartime Christmas

1. Pine trees in the countryside
Greenery could be gathered to make decorations
Adding some colour to the drab of wartime  
2. Seasonal wreaths were fashioned from twigs and plants
They could be placed on doorways or graves of relatives
3. Wartime decorations could be cheaply made at home
Silver stars could be made from cardboard and tinfoil
3. Home-made wartime decorations could be edible.
Fresh eggs were rationed but could be specially decorated
They could be hung on the tree before Christmas
A special holiday treat was to unwrap and eat the eggs

4. Rationed foodstuffs could be made into decorations
Gingerbread could be shaped into hearts and decorated
Leave a hole for a ribbon to hang on the Christmas tree
5. Decorative paper chains were easily made
Cut old newspapers into shapes using a cardboard template
Then tie them together with string and ribbon
 Christmastime during the war in Britain did not have to be without decorations. Even with rationing and many shortages it was possible for households to make their own, Some examples are shown above, recreated from suggestions found in wartime newspaper cuttings. 

Monday, December 17, 2018

Season's Greetings 2018

1. Christmas Tree,
The Rum Story, Whitehaven 

2. A snow-clad Skiddaw
Keswick, Cumbria

Wishing all members and visitors to this site seasonal greetings of peace and goodwill. With best wishes to all regardless of Creed, ethnicity or nationality.  

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Whitehaven Aircrash of 14 October 1943

1. Avro Anson Mk I Aircrash (14 October 1943)
Rededicated memorial bench at the crash site
Arrowthwaite Woods, Kells, Whitehaven
[75 years after five airmen died here]
2. Dedication inscription to the 5 airmen who died
"Always in our hearts and minds"  
3. Personal tributes to the five airmen who died
Thursday 14 October 1943 (c. 4.30 pm)
4. Personal tribute from an eye witness
75 years of Remembrance
5. View to the south from the aircrash site
(October 2018 - 75 years after the crash)
75 Years of Remembrance (14 October 1943 - 14 October 2018)
 Sergeant (Pilot) Vincent James DUNNIGAN, RCAF, aged 26
Sergeant (Wireless Op./Air Gunner) Thomas INMAN, RAFVR, aged 20
Sergeant (Navigator) Cyril JOHNSON, RAFVR, aged 33
Sergeant (Navigator) Rene Harold MURPHY, RCAF, aged 20
Flying Officer (Pilot) Henry Joseph O'GARA, RAFVR, aged 29

For additional information click on 'Comments' below'.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Elmers End Bus Garage Memorial

1. London Transport Museum
Covent Garden, London 
The Elmers End memorial can be found here
2. Elmers End Bus station memorial
Information board at the museum
3. Elmers End memorial display 
'London Transport at war' section 

London Transport Museum
4. Elmers End Bus Station memorial (detail)
Records the names of 10 staff killed
V1 bombing of Elmers End, Beckenham, London
On 18 July 1944 in the middle of London's 'Second Blitz' a V1 flying bomb ("doodlebug") landed on Elmers End bus station, south London. At least 17 civilians lost their lives because of the explosion, including 10 members of London Transport staff. Despite the loss of 39 vehicles in the explosion normal bus services were resumed the following day. 

Ten years later, in 1954, a memorial tablet was dedicated at Elmers End bus station commemorating the 10 staff members who died. A second tablet was unveiled at the main entrance gate to the station which was named after one of the engineering staff, John Cunningham, who had sounded the alarm bell warning of the approaching V1 before he was killed. 

When Elmers End bus station was closed in 1986 the memorials were moved. The  'Cunningham Gate' memorial was moved to the another London Transport garage at Norwood, also south London. Initially the main bus station war memorial was taken to the London Transport Museum at Acton. It has subsequently been cleaned up and incorporated into a section of the museum's 'London Transport at War' section at Covent Garden, London, as can be seen in the above photographs. 

For additional information click on 'Comments' below. 


Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Learning the truth of Marine Robert Casson on D-Day

1. Marine Robert Casson from Whitehaven
Born 1 March 1919, Died 6 June 1944 

46 Royal Marine Commando/4th Special Service Brigade
Killed at sea, landing on Juno Beach, Normandy
(Robert's brother Joseph also died in Normandy) 
2. Robert Casson's niece Mary Holland 
A pilgrimage to Normandy and the beaches
April 2018
3. Robert's niece Mary Holland and her husband John
Remembering two of Mary's uncles:
Robert Casson, died 6 June 1944
 Joseph Casson, died 27 June 1944 
Normandy Veterans Memorial, Whitehaven (June 2018)
4. Robert Casson's wartime medalas and certificate
Issued to his family by the M.O.D. in April 2018
5. WW2 memorial at Rowntrees factory, York 
Mary Holland points to her Uncle Robert's name
Robert Casson worked at Rowntrees before the war
Royal Marine Robert Casson, EX/3236, originally from Whitehaven was killed at sea while landing on Juno Beach on the first day of the Normandy Landings, D-Day 6 June 1944. He is buried at Ryes (Bazenville) War Cemetery, Calvados, Normandy next to his younger brother Joseph who also died in the Normandy campaign. 

In 2018 Robert's family obtained his wartime service records and his medal entitlement. For the first time Robert's relatives were able to learn the truth of what happened on D-Day. It also turned out that the Commonwealth War Graves Commission had incorrectly recorded Robert as serving with 45 Royal Marine Commando. In reality, his Robert's records show he was serving with 46 Royal Marine Commando (attached 4th Special Service Brigade H.Q.). The Commission has since corrected their information about Robert.   

Most of this new research about Robert Casson was done by his niece, Mary Holland and her husband John. 

Click on 'Comments' below to read John and Mary's summary of Robert Casson

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Understanding Auschwitz and the Holocaust

"The biblical word Shoah (which has been used to mean 'destruction' since the Middle Ages) became the standard Hebrew term for the murder of European Jewry as early as the early 1940s." 
(Yad Vashem - the World Holocaust Resource Centre)

1. "Auschwitz: Understanding the Past, 
Facing the Future" by Gordon Cockburn (b.1944)
[2018 touring exhibition at The Beacon Museum]
2. "Shoah". Oil on canvass by Gordon Cockburn
[2018 touring exhibition, The Beacon Museum]
3. "Shoah - Destruction No 2" . 
Oil on board, by Gordon Cockburn
[2018 touring exhibition, The Beacon Museum]
4. "Ladies of Auschwitz: The Survivors"
Oil on canvass board, by Gordon Cockburn

[2018 touring exhibition, The Beacon Museum]
5. "Head Studies: From Sanity to Insanity"
Pastel on paper, by Gordon Cockburn

2018 touring exhibition, The Beacon Museum]
+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + 
 (Photographs of the artwork taken with permission) 
"Auschwitz: Understanding the Past, Facing the Future"
This exhibition was a series of paintings, drawings and pastels about the WW2 by the Scottish artist Gordon Cockburn (b. 1944) at The Beacon Museum, Whitehaven, Cumbria in 2018. Some of the artwork by Gordon Cockburn in the exhibition can be seen in the above images. The artist's interpretation of the horrors of those who were incarcerated at Auschwitz during the Second World War help the present day generations to understand the past and face the future. 

For further information, click on 'Comments' below. 

Thursday, March 08, 2018

"Until the day break ..."

1. Staff Sgt. William Fisher Birkett, REME
Known as 'Billie' to family and friends
"Died of injuries in a battle accident" 
Western Front, 18 April 1945

[Photo courtesy of 'The Whitehaven News']
[His father was killed in the 1914 - 1918 war]
2 .High Street, Cleator Moor Cumberland 
(Early 20th C postcard)
Birthplace and home of Sgt W.F. Birkett, REME
3. Cleator Moor Brass at a remembrance service
Cleator Moor Wesleyan (Methodist) Church
Billie Birkett was married in this church 
4. Cleator Moor War Memorial
Decorated with poppies of Remembrance
Billie Birkett died in WW2, his father Dick in WW1
5. 1914 Lonsdale Battalion recruitment poster
Dick Birkett, father of Billie, was a recruit
Dick Birkett was killed in action in 1917

[Photo taken at Cumbria Museum of Military Life, Carlisle]
"Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved, and be thou like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether." 
Song of Solomon 2:17 
The Bible (King James Version)  

[The first part of this verse is the epitaph on Billie Birkett's CWGC headstone in the war cemetery at Becklingen, Germany]


Staff Serjeant William Fisher Birkett, REME (known as 'Billie') [Photograph No. 1] "... died of injuries sustained in a battle accident in a forward area on the Western Front ..." on 18 April 1945. Sgt. Birkett came from Cleator Moor, Cumberland in the N.W. of England [Photograph No. 2]. In life, Billie was a popular member of the Wesleyan (Methodist) church at Cleator Moor, a church which holds an annual service of Remembrance for all those killed in wars [Photograph No. 3]. 

The death of Sgt. Birkett in WW2 was a case of history repeating itself. His father, Pte. Dickinson Fisher Birkett ('Dick'), was killed on the Western Front while serving with the 11th (Lonsdale) Battalion of the Border Regiment in the 1914 - 1918 war. Like father, like son - both made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the Armed Forces. Billie Birkett and his father Dick Birkett are just of the war dead from the Cleator Moor district of Cumbria commemorated by the town's war memorial [seen in Photograph No. 4]. 


For further information click on 'Comment's below. 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Medals for Mary ... after more than 70 years!

1. (Left) W/152141 L/Cpl. Mary Hanson, ATS
Wearing the ATS 'duck cap'(altered for style)
(Right): Mary wears her WW2 medals
Finally received in February 2018 
2. Mary receives her WW2 medals and thanks
The 1939-45 War Medal and Defence Medal
[February 2018]
3. Mary Hanson (right) celebrates with her family
Afternoon tea at the Midland Hotel, Morecambe
[Photograph: John Holland]  
4. Mary Hanson in the years before enrolment
(Left): 'May Queen' at school in Batley (1932/33)
(Right): As a fashion model for Novello's (c. 1939)
5. Overton-on-Dee, on the Welsh-English border
Mary was posted here to the RAOC (1942-1945) 

6. Mary Hanson with her army colleagues
With the RAOC at Overton-on-Dee
(Mary is in the middle row looking down)
7. Mary Hanson with her MOD Veterans Badge
(Awarded June 2018)

At last - appropriate recognition for a wartime veteran
In February 2018, ATS Lance Corporal Mary Hanson finally received her WW2 service medals and written thanks for her service - more than 70 years after the end of the war. Between 1942 and 1946 Mary served in the A.T.S. (Auxiliary Territorial Service), the women's branch of the British Army. A few weeks later, and in time for the 2018 Armed Forces Day and Mary's 97th birthday, she also received her M.O.D. Veterans Badge. Appropriate recognition for Mary's fine contribution to the war effort during WW2. 

To read more about Mary's story click on 'Comments' below.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The War memorials of Loweswater, Cumbria

1. Loweswater Parish Church, Cumbria
Dedicated to St Bartholomew 
2. Interior of Loweswater Parish Church
The WW1 memorial is the lectern near the altar
(Bottom left): The V.E. Day memorial prayer kneeler
3. Loweswater's WW1 memorial lectern
(It lists the names of five parishioners who died)
4. Prayer kneeler in Loweswater church
Remembering the 50th anniversary of V.E. Day
(8 May 1945 - 8 May 1995)
5. Headstone memorial for Rev. G.H. White 
A former Vicar of Loweswater (1945 - 1974)
He was also a P.O.W. of the Germans in WW2
 For additional information click on 'Comments' below.