D-Day 75 – In this year of the 75th Anniversary of D-Day we remember what took place – why not join us and keep these memories for the future generations so that they will know from first hand voices what occurred.

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The ninth in our so far 38 Journals – D-Day – available in print. Written with the voices of those who were there.

 

Journal 09 – D-Day

 

Americans – Introduction

Introduction – Journal 38  Americans

This issue’s cover theme draws from the Centre’s archive on American service personnel.

In our first article, Texas- born Willard Korsmeyer recounts his introduction to the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, describing himself as ‘one of the more diminutive pilots… assigned to the largest fighter’. He flew escort for bomber raids and top cover for carpet bombings until shot down during a mission over Germany. Captured and sent to Stalag Luft 1, Willard attributes his moral and spiritual survival as a POW to his mentors, one of which was an African-American Tuskegee Airman. We also have Frank ‘Kirby’ Cowen, a radio operator and gunner from Arkansas, aboard the B-17 Flying Fortress, ‘Horn’s Hornets’, which was hit by enemy fire. Kirby was rescued by the French Underground but betrayed by the notorious double-agent, Jacques Desoubrie, and interred in Buchenwald Concentration Camp.

Henry Ford’s B-24 Liberator production plant is the focus of Ford’s Willow Run. The factory produced an astonishing fully-built aircraft every fifty-five minutes during its peak production. George Martin Bauer from Central Illinois, pilot of the indomitable B-24 Liberator, ‘Fairy Belle’, recounts a few of his missions including the Gotha raid during Big Week, for which his Group was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation. George describes the ‘utter confusion’ of the catastrophic Friedrichshafen mission on 18th March 1944 when 44th Group was attacked by Messerschmitts, resulting in the loss of fourteen aircraft. George also discusses training and mental toughness, and he gives a candid account of the sheer mental exhaustion (known as ‘flak happy’) which he experienced after an extended period of combat.

D-Day 75th Anniversary

2019 is the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Previous journal issues on this subject include D-Day (issue no. 09) and Normandy (issue no. 19). To commemorate this anniversary, we have Radio Operator Theodore ‘Ted’ Stebbins, 6th Engineer Special Brigade, USAAF, who landed on the infamous Dog Green Sector of Omaha Beach in support of the 5th Rangers. Ted’s eye-witness account tells of the ‘melee and confusion’ of the landings, the ‘nightmare’ scenes on the beach, and of how he managed to join up with the Rangers despite being under continuous mortar and sniper fire. Also on Omaha Beach we have an insight into the German perspective from Franz Gockel, who at barely eighteen-years-old was a machine-gunner in the notorious strongpoint of WN-62 (Resistance Nest 62). In Good Luck & God Speed Private Richard Harris, a young infantryman in
the 1st Battalion Suffolk Regiment, recounts his experience of landing on Sword Beach and the assault on the enemy gun emplacement codenamed Morris, and 736 Grenadier Regiment HQ. One D-Day event that Richard describes as ‘never to be forgotten’ was the arrival of the airborne forces.

Airborne forces

James Goulty’s article Argonauts of the Airborne introduces the establishment and training of the airborne forces, while Colonel David Wood of the 2nd Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry tells of his experience of Operation Deadstick, the airborne operation which took place in the early hours of 6th June 1944 as part of the Normandy landings.

Moving on to March 1945, we have Flight Lieutenant Ken Scolding piloting a glider during the largest and last airborne operation of the war, Operation Varsity, part of the British- American push into Germany. Ken’s article centres on the German village of Hamminkeln which is also the subject of American-born John Kormann’s article Be Merciful. A letter to John from his German mother, imploring that he be merciful to the enemy, resulted in John saving the lives of fourteen women and children of Hamminkeln. The legacy of the Be Merciful story lives on, serving to educate the schoolchildren of Hamminkeln and to honour the fallen, thanks to the efforts of John’s daughter, Andrea Kormann Lowe.

To finish we have Aircraft Salvage by Reg Redford, a driver working for 54 Maintenance Unit, recovering and stripping downed aircraft in the area of East Anglia and the south- east coast. Reg gives a detailed explanation of the work of the unit and the incidents he attended at RAF stations of Tangmere and Manston, illustrated with his own wartime sketches.

Research

In addition to the American section of the archives, the Centre has a wealth of material in the Cooke Collection. This collection consists of original hand-written letters and memorabilia collected and donated by the late Emeritus Professor and military historian, James Cooke. James served in the United States Army during the Second World War and the Gulf War. His published articles in Everyone’s War include D-Day and the Americans, The Songs Behind the Stars and Stripes and The Americans and VE Day.

Amanda Herbert-Davies

James Goulty is a military historian and author with an interest in twentieth century warfare, particularly the training and combat experience of the British Army. Here he discusses the commencement, value and potential pitfalls of British Battle Training

Journal37 Cover

Journal37 Cover

 

Further references  – Journal 37  MEDICS

 

See below further references for some of the articles in Journal 37  “Medics”

 

 

 

References – Battle School Training , J.Goulty

i Author’s Interview: Pte Bill Titchmarsh (2/6th Queen’s Regiment), Royal Hospital Chelsea, 18/8/10.
ii Timothy Harrison Place, Military Training in the British Army, 1940-1944: From Dunkirk to D-Day (London: Frank Cass, 2000), p. 41.
iii IWM DS Acc. No. 31401, Interview Reel 3: Richard Phillips (Pte & NCO 2nd SWB, UK & NW Europe, 1939 -1945).
iv Frederick Myatt, The British Infantry 1660-1945: Evolution of a Fighting Force (Poole: Blanford Press, 1983), p. 211.
v Paul Bryan, Wool, War and Westminster (London: Tom Donovan, 1993), p. 54. (NB The papers of Lt. Col Sir Paul Bryan DSO, MC can be seen in the SWWEC archives Acc no. 2000-608).
vi A. R. Farrar-Hockley, Infantry Tactics 1939-1945 (New Malden: Alnmark, 1976), pp. 20, 22.
vii IWM DS Acc. No. 10165, Interview Reel 33 Martin McLane (NCO 2nd DLI, UK, France, NW Europe, India and Burma 1939-1945).
viii Myatt, The British Infantry 1660-1945, p. 211.
ix Sydney Jary, 18 Platoon (Privately published, 1994), p. 6.
x See for example, Harrison Place, Military Training in the British Army, 1940-1944, pp. 53-54, 64-65.
xi WO Code 7589, Infantry Training Pt. VIII, Fieldcraft, Battle Drill Section and Platoon Tactics, 4 March 1944, Ch. 4 The Battle Drills for the Attack, Section 21, p. 47.
xii Bryan, Wool, War and Westminster, p. 54.
xiii Denis Forman, To Reason Why (London: Andre Deutsch, 1991), p. 41. (NB Sir Denis Forman was commandant of a battle school and served as a major in 6th RWK in Italy. His papers are held by SWWEC).
xiv Forman, To Reason Why, p. 41.
xv Christopher Bulteel, Something About A Soldier (Shrewsbury: Airlife Publishing, 2000), p. 34.
xvi Robert H. Ahrenfeldt, Psychiatry in the British Army in the Second World War (London: Routledge & Keegan Paul, 1958), p. 199.
xvii David French, Raising Churchill’s Army: The British Army and the War against Germany 1919-1945 (Oxford: OUP, 2000), p. 206.
xviii Ahrenfeldt, Psychiatry in the British Army in the Second World War, p. 203.
xix Forman, To Reason Why, p. 54.
xx SWWEC, Typed Transcript of Taped Interview-Tape 1383, Dr. Ian D. Campbell, April 2002, p. 4.
xxi Durham County Record Office, D/DLI 2/9/342, Account by Eric ‘Bill’ Sykes (70th DLI & Parachute Regiment, 1942-1949).
xxii Harrison Place, Military Training in the British Army, 1940-1944, p. 62.
xxiii DCRO, D/DLI 2/9/257 (1), Lessons from Ten Days’ Close Country Warfare in Sicily, Catania-Riposto by Lt. Col. J. R. Woods DSO, MC (9th DLI), 20/8/43, Conclusion: paragraph 9.
xxiv John A. English, On Infantry (New York: Praeger, 1981), p. 141.

Home Guard Bibliography

Anon, Home Guard Manual 1941 (Reprinted: Stroud, Gloucs: Tempus, 2006)
Anon, History of the Cheshire Home Guard: From L.D.V. Formation to Stand Down, 1940-1944 (Reprinted: Uckfield, East Sussex, Naval & Military Press)
Brophy, John, Britain’s Home Guard (London: George G. Harrap & Co. Ltd, 1945)
Beckett, Ian F. W., Britain’s Part-Time Soldiers: The Amateur Military Tradition 1558-1945 (Barnsley: Pen and Sword, 2011)
Danchev, Alex and Todman, Daniel (eds), War Diaries 1939-1945: Field Marshal Lord AlanBrooke (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2001)
Gardiner, Juliet, Wartime Britain 1939-1945 (London: Review, 2005)
Gough, Gen. Sir Hubert, Soldiering On (London: Arthur Baker Ltd, 1954)
Graves, Charles, The Home Guard of Britain (London: Hutchinson & Co. Ltd, 1943)
Green, Brig-Gen. A. F. U., The British Home Guard Pocket Book 1942 (Reprinted: London: Conway, 2009)
Hamilton, Nigel, Monty Volume 1: The Making of a General, 1887-1942 (London, Sceptre, 1989)
Horrocks, Lt-Gen. Sir Brian, A Full Life (Glasgow: Fontana Books, 1962)
Longmate, Norman, The Real Dad’s Army (Stroud, Gloucs: Amberley, 2016)
Macksey, Kenneth, Armoured Crusader: The Biography of Maj-Gen. Sir Percy ‘Hobo’ Hobart (London: Grub Street, 2004)
Mackenzie, S. P., The Home Guard: The Real Story of ‘Dad’s Army’ (Oxford: OUP, 1996)
McCann, Graham, Dad’s Army: The Story of a Classic Television Show (London: Fourth Estate, 2002)
Scott, Ronnie (ed), The Real Dad’s Army: The War Diaries of Col. Rodney Foster (London: Penguin Books, 2012)
Shaw, Frank & Joan (eds), We Remember the Home Guard (London: Ebury Press, 2012)
Shears, Gen. Phillip J., The Story of the Border Regiment 1939-1945 (London: Nisbet & Co. Ltd, 1948)
Street, A. G., From Dusk Till Dawn (Oxford: OUP, 1989)
Wintringham, Tom, New Ways of War (London: Penguin Books, 1940)

Noor  on the  £50 note

The new £50 note could become the UK’s first to feature someone from an ethnic minority, as the Bank of England begins its call for submissions from the public. Second World War heroine, Noor Inayat Khan, could be the “face” of the highest-denomination note, which will be reissued in plastic from 2020.

She was born on 1 January 1914 in a monastery just outside the Kremlin in Moscow. Her father was a Sufi preacher, Hazrat Inayat Khan, and her mother was an American, Ora Ray Baker.  Her father had travelled from his homeland of Baroda in India to the West on the instructions of his teacher, who had told him to take his message of music and peace to the world. Trained in Indian classical music, Inayat Khan picked up his veena and left for New York with his brothers. They set up a group called the Royal Musicians of Hindustan and travelled around the US giving concerts and recitals combined with Inayat Khan’s lectures on Sufism.

See more here the Life of Noor

Noor Inayat Khan
Noor Inayat Khan

INTRODUCTION – Journal 37 Medics.

The reason for this issue’s theme of Medics is twofold. Firstly, it is to honour the men and women who served in the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) and other medical services and institutions during the Second World War, and to thank those who contributed their material to the Centre’s archives.
Equally, it is a tribute to our Chairman Robert Fleming who trained as a registered nurse and clinical teacher, serving for eleven years as an airman and officer in the RAF, home and overseas including the Falklands in 1982.

We begin with a detailed description of the role of the Field Ambulance as told by Corporal Peter Walker whose unit provided medical support for the Somerset Light Infantry. Peter saw action in Normandy at Caen and Hill 112 where the casualty rates were so high his unit existed on ‘tea and cigarettes until we dropped.’ Peter also describes soldiers who suffered from battle fatigue, formerly known as shell shock, and mentions his difficulty in maintaining his faith after the events he witnessed. Major Geoffrey Wooler, pioneer of open heart surgery, generously donated a wealth of material to the Centre, including his diaries, medical log books, and a large collection of photographs. Geoffrey was interviewed by Peter Liddle in 2000. Surgeon in War, utilising Geoffrey’s interview and diary extracts, tells of his experience as a surgeon in North Africa and Italy. His recollection of the casualties at the Battle of Monte Cassino leads us to an account of a German paratrooper Gerhard ‘Gerry’ Kaeppner. Gerry was wounded during the German defence of Cassino town during a major Allied bombing raid in which the town ‘practically ceased to exist.’

Dr Harry Silman, a medic in the South-East Asian theatre of war, treated patients in the hospital camps on the Thai- Burma railroad. Medic in the Jungle details his experience of the Selarang Incident, plus the forced labour and the tropical diseases that claimed the lives of so many Far East POWs. For those who survived the railroad, their ordeals make for emotive reading. In Surviving the Railroad, Mathias ‘Fred’ Seiker reveals the physical and psychological hardships he faced as a Japanese POW, including the difficulties he faced in adjusting to civilian life thereafter. In northwest Germany, Sandbostel POW Camp (Stalag X-B), referred to as ‘Little Belsen’, was liberated in April 1945. It was the conditions in this camp that Major Hindmarsh, Chief Interpreter, believed changed General Horrocks’ attitude to the enemy prior to the surrender of Corps Ems (see Everyone’s War, issue No. 35, p. 68). Less well known in the media than Bergen-Belsen, Sandbostel deserves better recognition to remember the c.300,000 prisoners of war who passed through the camp and the untold thousands who died there. The Sandbostel Report, written by surgical specialist Major Hugh McLaren, is his personal impression of the first chaotic days of struggling to provide medical assistance for tens of thousands of POWs. The Centre holds rare images of the original camp, taken just after liberation. The touching story of a young Dutch girl and her reunion with the medics of No. 1 Field Dressing Station who saved her life, is told in Saving Mary. From the Netherlands we move to Britain’s Home Front where Joan Dillon worked as an ambulance driver in the East End during the London Blitz. To complete our cover theme, we have teenager Mike Barnett in London who was seriously injured during a bombing raid. His story is one of optimism and courage where, despite losing his leg, he achieved many of his ambitions in life. RAF100 This year is the centenary of the formation of the Royal Air Force which has been commemorated with many activities and events across the UK, including a Ceremony of Recognition at Britain’s first operational military air base at Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre. We pay tribute to RAF100 by celebrating the life of Wing Commander Roland ‘Bee’ Beamont with an article focusing on his experience as a Hawker Hurricane pilot during the Battle of Britain. Bee was interviewed by Peter Liddle in 2000 and his recording gives a comprehensive account of his service in which his
skill and enthusiasm in flying the Hurricane is apparent. 1,715 Hurricanes flew during the Battle of Britain, making their mark by proving to be fast, agile fighters and scoring high numbers of RAF victories. A preserved Hurricane from the Battle of Britain can be seen at Shuttleworth, Old Warden Aerodrome, Bedfordshire (www.hurricaneheritage.com).

Contributions

We would like to thank author and historian James Goulty for his articles on British Army Battle School Training and the Home Guard. Sociologist Bernard Ineichen has contributed an interesting and amusing piece on authors who became motorcycle despatch riders. In our next issue we will see the return of Michael Bully, war poet historian, with a new piece on poetry of the Second World War.

Amanda Herbert-Davies

 

Cover
Patients recovering in the splendour of Hatfield House, home of theMarquis of Salisbury, which servedas a military hospital during the war.
(Cloudsley-Thompson, A)