Friday, October 30, 2009

Franco and Hitler at Hendaye, 1940


Franco and Hitler at Hendaye, Spain (1940)
[Postcard photographs of Franco meeting Hitler]
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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Love and Loss at an Armaments Factory

Fiancés William Darby and Ada Bawden

William and Ada worked together at Drigg Ordnance Factory, Cumbria
Both died as a result of an explosion at the Ordnance Factory (5 June 1943)
Photograph: Courtesy of Mrs Colette Hodgkinson (niece of William Darby)

Following an explosion on 5 June 1943 at the Drigg Ordnance Factory, Cumberland the lives of fiancés William Bernard Darby and Ada Bawden were lost. Although this young couple lost their lives while doing 'Essential War Work' as civilian war casualties who were not killed as the result of enemy action they are not officially listed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission as war casualties.

Because of wartime reporting restrictions the story of the love and loss of William Darby and Ada Bawden has never been fully told until now. This is their story.

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Changes and changes

Please forget the recent changes, I've reverted to the old 'classic' blog. So, for long Posts use the old system of continuing in a Comment after the first paragraph.

The reason for this is that under the new editor the right column with the FAQ and further links disappears to the very bottom out of sight and at the moment, despite going over all the code, I cannot locate the cause of this. Sorry about that.

Of course you can still place images wherever you want, and at any size you wish, like this
Click to enlarge

but it has to be done in HTML code which I show here and will be happy to explain

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Naval Crewmates of the Second World War

Stoker Bruno Darby (seated) and two crewmates

Photograph: Courtesy of Mrs Colette Hodkinson (niece of Bruno Darby)
The above photograph shows Stoker Bruno Darby, R.N. and two crewmates sharing each other's company and enjoying a few moments of relaxation. Unfortunately the names of the other two in the photograph are as yet unknown. Stoker Darby lost his life in April 1943 when HMS Beverley was sunk and as only four of the crew were rescued it is likely the other two were also lost.
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Friday, October 16, 2009

Stoker Bruno Darby, R.N. of HMS Beverley

Stoker Bruno Darby, R.N., HMS Beverley

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Bruno Darby (seated) and friend, WW2

Stoker Bruno Darby, R.N. from Cleator Moor, Cumberland served on the destroyer HMS Beverley during World War Two. He was one of 151 crew of the Beverley to be lost when the vessel was sunk by submarine on 11 April 1943.
For addtional information click on 'Comments' below.

HMS Beverley (H64)

Postcard photograph of WW2 destroyer HMS Beverley

HMS Beverley was a British Naval destroyer between October 1940 (when it was acquired from the United States) and April 1943 when it was sunk by U-Boat torpedoes. Only four out of a crew of 155 were saved.

For additional information about HMS Beverley click on 'Comments' below

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Further Blog Changes

As you know, in the column on the right I listed some external WW2 related links; over time the list has grown and grown, pushing down links to archived material rendering both lists unwieldy.
In view of this, I have removed all links to a separate webpage out of the blog accessed by clicking on 'WW2 and Related Links'.  Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A George Medal during the invasion of Sicily

This article is about Private Richard ('Dick') Haley, Service No 3598957 of Frizington, Cumberland, who was awarded the George Medal during the invasion of Sicily in July 1943. At that time Private Haley was serving with the 1st Battalion The Border Regiment (1st Airborne Division) who were part of a glider-borne force detailed to land in Sicily with the objective of taking the Ponte Grande Bridge near Salerno.

As events turned out, most of the gliders transporting the 1st Border airborne troops and material failed to reach Sicily, due largely to the tow rope being released far too early by largely inexperienced American pilots from C-47s towing the gliders. Many of the gliders went into the sea, with significant loss of life. Thanks to the selfless gallantry of Private Dick Haley, whose glider was one of those that landed in the sea, a number of his fellow glider crew were able to be rescued.

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An award for gallantry in Tunisia in 1943

This article is about the award of the Military Medal in 1943 to Sergeant John Branthwaite from Moor Row, a small village near Cleator Moor in West Cumbria. In the latter part of the campaign in Tunisia Sergeant Branthwaite led seven others into action against a much superior force which gained the day for the Allies.

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Private Jackie Gilpin, 5th Border Regiment

Photograph of Private Jackie Gilpin, Service No: 3599463
5th Battalion The Border Regiment, WW2

Photograph: Courtesy of Dawn Wilson
(Great niece of Jackie Gilpin)

Private John William Gilpin (known as Jackie), 5th Battalion The Border Regiment was at 'Razmak Camp' in the Wooler area of Northumberland during the severe winter of 1939 / 1940. He later went with the 5th Borders to France as part of the B.E.F. and was involved in the Dunkirk evacuation in May / June 1940. Unfortunately Jackie Gilpin was to lose his life a few weeks later on 19 August 1940 as the result of a vehicle accident in North Yorkshire.

Click here for a previous article about Private John William Gilpin, and a summary of the Coroner's report about the tragic accident which led to his loss.

"You're on your own bud!"


Sgt. James (Jimmy) Devonport, 1st Bn The Border Regiment
Photo taken Battle of Arnhem commemorations
[Photograph by J. Ritson, September 2008]

During WW2 Sergeant James (Jimmy) Devonport, Service No 3529215, of Carlisle, Cumbria took part in the Airborne assaults at Sicily (July 1943) and Arnhem / Oosterbeek (September 1944). The above photograph was taken during the annual commemorations of the Battle of Arnhem / Oosterbeek where Sergeant Devonport was kind enough to explain a little of his wartime experiences. This article concentrates on the Sicily campaign.


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5th Borders at 'Razmak Camp' in WW2

A photograph believed to of 'Razmak Camp' November 1939
Believed to be in the Wooler area, Northumberland in the winter of 1939
The 5th Battalion The Border Regiment were camped in this area at the time
(Photo: Courtesy of family of Pte J.W. Gilpin, Border Regt)
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Friday, October 09, 2009

Today's ceremony

This plaque was put up today in Nice, in the presence of many officials, and also that of memory activist Serge Klarsfeld who remembered that his own father had been arrested here, in this neighbourhood before being sent to his death in Auschwitz. The plaque ought to have been placed on the Hotel Excelsior where the Jews who had been arrested in the area were imprisoned, tortured and where many committed suicide. Unfortunately the current owner refused, so the plaque is on the public domain : the street. The hotel was chosen because of its closeness to the railway station. The detainees were sent from Nice to Drancy, first...
The crowds were immense today by the ceremony, to listen to the mayor (also Minister of Industry) Christian Estrosi, and S. Klarsfeld also reminded us that numerous lives were saved thanks to the solidarity of the local population.
A memory walk takes place every other year, in September, up the 2474 m high "Col de Fenestre", on the French-Italian border, to commemorate the arrest on the Italian side, of Jewish families trying to escape from France.

It says : 'you who came here free, remember what may happen again any time you tolerate that others do not enjoy the same rights'.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Comment notification

When anyone Posts or Comments I receive an email notifing me. With the new editor I can add a further 9 email addresses to which these notifications will be sent. If you want to receive these notifications just let me know in a Comment below and I will add your email address to the list.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Seeking Private McGuinness

Letter addressed to Mrs Esther McGuinness, November 1944
(Courtesy of McGuinness family)
At the end of September 1944, after the Battle of Arnhem / Oosterbeek, one of the British Airborne troops posted as 'missing' was Private Hugh McGuinness, D Company, 1st Battalion The Border Regiment. One of those did manage to escape - although suffering from wounds - was the Commanding Officer of D Company, Major Charles F.O. Breese. After his release from hospital in November 1944 Major Breese wrote to Mrs Esther McGuinness, the mother of Private McGuinness, to tell her what he knew about her son during and after the battle.

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Monday, October 05, 2009

"I fought at Arnhem"



(Top) An Arnhem veteran at the bridge after the war
Private Hugh McGuinness, Border Regiment (left) and a Dutch civilian
[Photo: Courtesy of McGuinness family]
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(Bottom): The ‘John Frost Bridge’ at Arnhem, September 2008
[Photo: J. Ritson]


In summing up 'Operation Market Garden', which took place in September 1944, Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery said:

"In years to come it will be a great thing for a man to be able to say, 'I fought at Arnhem'."

Private Hugh McGuinness from Whitehaven, Cumberland served in the British 1st Airborne Division during the Battle of Arnhem / Oosterbeek, although during the battle his section never got as far as the bridge seen in the above photographs. Other Allied troops, led by John Frost, did manage to reach the northern side of the bridge and held out for several days. Afterwards, the modern bridge at Arnhem has been renamed ‘John Frost Bridge’ to commemorate this action.

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