Thursday, August 27, 2009

Concentration Camp Emblems of WW2

The principal distinctive emblems worn by deportees during WW2
(Worn by prisoners in the Nazi Concentration Camps during WW2)
The emblem worn by a prisoner indicated to which category they had been assigned
(Courtesy of the Deportation Museum & Archives, Tarbes, France)
[Photo: J. Ritson]

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Maréchal, nous voilà!

Copy of a French WW2 poster dating from 1940.
(Courtesy of the Deportation Museum & Archives, Tarbes, France)
The poster is exhorting the French people to support Marshal Pétain
(Head of State of the Vichy Government between June 1940 - August 1944)
Photograph: J. Ritson]

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Monday, August 10, 2009

"Christmas under Fire"

A traditional Christmas nativity scene
A depiction of ‘The First Christmas’ underground
“Christmas under Fire” compared 1940 with this ‘First Christmas’

In December 1940, when virtually Britain and the Commonwealth were alone in opposing the Axis powers then in control of most of western Europe, the Crown / GPO Film Unit released a short 10-minute film entitled 'Christmas under Fire'. The film was primarily aimed at an American audience - to win over popular opinion in the USA which at that time was a neutral country. “Christmas under Fire” uses film footage of choristers from King’s College, Cambridge singing Christmas carols, children and families collecting and decorating Christmas trees, a troupe of actors preparing for a pantomime and families sleeping in the London Underground stations.

In his commentary Quentin Reynolds compares the ‘Christmas underground’ of London in 1940 to the ‘First Christmas’. There is also a comparison between the ‘First Christmas’ (i.e. the birth of the ‘Prince of Peace’) and Christmas in Britain in 1940, or at least the Christmas of Britain in 1940 portrayed on the film. It showed families and children still celebrating the festival although this was a time of war and not one of peace.

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Friday, August 07, 2009

Two casualties of HMS Dasher

Father Bernard Hearty at the war memorial, St Joseph's, Frizington
Able Seaman Sylvester Woolaghan is commemorated on this memorial
(AB Sylvester Woolaghan, HMS Dasher, is buried in the churchyard)
[Photograph by J. Ritson]

The sinking of HMS Dasher

On 27 March 1943, shortly after entering the Firth of Clyde on the west coast of Scotland the escort carrier HMS Dasher was sunk by an internal explosion. Of the 528 crew, 379 perished in the disaster which was not believed to have been the result of enemy action. Many of the bodies that were recovered were not formally identified.

Some WW2 researchers have even suggested that one of the casualties was used as 'The Man Who Never Was' (alias Major William Martin) in a plan to fool the Axis powers about the Allied plans to invade Sicily. The body of ‘Major Martin’ was left to wash up in Spain, after apparently having been lost in a plane crash on the way to Gibraltar. Whether or not it was the body of one of those lost on HMS Dasher that was became William Martin is debatable, but at the very least it seems it was considered.

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Thursday, August 06, 2009

BBC looking for contributors for a film about Christmas on the Home Front

The BBC's weekday series The One Show is looking for contributors who experienced Christmas on the Home Front, especially those who were Evacuees between 1939 and 1945. We are making a short insert film about how Christmas was celebrated during these war years and we are looking for contributors who can explain their experiences to our presenter, talking about the food, decorations and atmosphere over the festive period. Ideally we are looking for people who are comfortable enough to talk on camera.

It would be very useful to make contact with any interested parties as soon as was possible.
Unfortunately we have a very fast-turnaround schedule and would be requiring to film contributors on one of the days in the week beginning Monday 21st August in the London region.
For further information I can be contacted on my direct line; tel: 0117 9742352 or by email: .
Thank you for your time and I look forward to any enquiries.
Best wishes,

Marc Barrett, Researcher - The One Show, BBC Bristol

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