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BS: Appeal to military historians

alanabit 12 Jan 13 - 03:33 PM
mg 12 Jan 13 - 03:37 PM
GUEST,Lighter 12 Jan 13 - 03:52 PM
alanabit 12 Jan 13 - 04:06 PM
GUEST,999 12 Jan 13 - 05:47 PM
Charmion 12 Jan 13 - 06:27 PM
Bert 12 Jan 13 - 09:38 PM
Charmion 12 Jan 13 - 10:09 PM
Rapparee 12 Jan 13 - 10:22 PM
alanabit 13 Jan 13 - 03:42 AM
gnu 13 Jan 13 - 04:50 AM
alanabit 13 Jan 13 - 06:42 AM
GUEST,Jon Heslop 13 Jan 13 - 06:50 AM
alanabit 13 Jan 13 - 06:56 AM
gnomad 13 Jan 13 - 07:00 AM
gnu 13 Jan 13 - 08:01 AM
Rapparee 13 Jan 13 - 08:29 AM
alanabit 13 Jan 13 - 08:42 AM
Keith A of Hertford 13 Jan 13 - 09:37 AM
Leadfingers 13 Jan 13 - 10:12 AM
Charmion 13 Jan 13 - 10:50 AM
alanabit 13 Jan 13 - 01:41 PM
GUEST 15 Jan 13 - 12:43 PM
Charmion 15 Jan 13 - 12:51 PM
meself 15 Jan 13 - 02:29 PM
GUEST,Charmion's brother Andrew 15 Jan 13 - 02:46 PM
gnu 15 Jan 13 - 03:32 PM
Mr Red 16 Jan 13 - 10:52 AM
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Subject: BS: Appeal to military historians
From: alanabit
Date: 12 Jan 13 - 03:33 PM

Here's an appeal for advice from some of our military historians on Mudcat.
A few years ago I recorded a song called "East Looe Boys", which describes the coming of age of a young man from Cornwall. He grew up brawling with lads from local villages as a youth. In the Second World War, those same lads fought together in the Duke of Cornwall Light Infantry Regiment. This regiment actually existed and fought through the Africa campaign, up through Italy and even saw service at the Battle of Kleve and Wesel, which was the final major battle of the Western Front. That was the battle which achieved the objectives, which had originally been planned for Operation Market Garden.
For some years, I have been toying with the idea of trying to flesh out the bones of the song by trying to re-create the young soldier's life as he progresses through the war. My ignorance of military matters is unprecedented, but I still fancy having a crack at writing a novel. To do this I will need to find out about the daily life of a young soldier in the forties and get a lot more detailed information about the Africa campaign and the landings – and subsequent campaign –in Italy. I also need to learn something about the weapons, the kit, the smells, the noises around the soldiers and all the other details which can help a reader to imagine the situations.
I am not unlikely to write a pile of unpublishable drivel – and even if I do write something publishable, it probably will not be published. I am not starry eyed about this. However, I am mad enough to have a go. This is an appeal for help to all you military historians who may be able to tell me which books I need to read and which organisations I should contact for help. I will be grateful to any of you who can enlighten me.


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Subject: RE: BS: Appeal to military historians
From: mg
Date: 12 Jan 13 - 03:37 PM

best bet is to find some real live veterans who lived through this and ask them..quick...record them while you were at it and if the book does not turn out, their stories would still live on someplace.


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Subject: RE: BS: Appeal to military historians
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 12 Jan 13 - 03:52 PM

In terms of written accounts, you could probably do worse than to start with Godfrey & Goldsmith's "History of the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, 1939-45" (1966).

As the regimental history it cannot be assumed to be 100% objective (but what can?); on the other hand, it undoubtedly contains a wealth of detailed information for a writer.


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Subject: RE: BS: Appeal to military historians
From: alanabit
Date: 12 Jan 13 - 04:06 PM

I knew two men who were involved in the Africa Campaign as part of the Eighth Army. Sadly they are no longer with us. I am also too rarely in the UK to have any real chance of talking to vets. However, I am sure there are memoirs out there and no doubt some Catters know some of them. Thanks for that tip Lighter. I think I shall also check out the DCLI museum at Bodmin next time I am in Cornwall - I am planning to gig there in summer - and the church there which has some records.


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Subject: RE: BS: Appeal to military historians
From: GUEST,999
Date: 12 Jan 13 - 05:47 PM

http://cstl-cla.semo.edu/pardee/li220-05/protected/Materials/Reports/johnston.htm

Americans, but good for general overview.


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Subject: RE: BS: Appeal to military historians
From: Charmion
Date: 12 Jan 13 - 06:27 PM

Yes, start with the regimental history. At least you won't put your characters in the wrong places at the wrong times!

Since you are so new to this field, I suggest that you contact a Second World War re-enactment group so you can actually see and feel the kit. Make sure it's British Army kit -- Canadian or ANZAC won't do. Candian battledress, for example, was of markedly better quality than that issued to the average squaddy.


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Subject: RE: BS: Appeal to military historians
From: Bert
Date: 12 Jan 13 - 09:38 PM

Spike Milligan would be a good start.


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Subject: RE: BS: Appeal to military historians
From: Charmion
Date: 12 Jan 13 - 10:09 PM

Umm, no. Spike was a gunner.

Read the regimental history first, and a couple of good survey histories of the war so all the big pieces are in place first.


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Subject: RE: BS: Appeal to military historians
From: Rapparee
Date: 12 Jan 13 - 10:22 PM

Regimental history. A visit to the Imperial War Museum and the BM might also be useful, especially the IWM.


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Subject: RE: BS: Appeal to military historians
From: alanabit
Date: 13 Jan 13 - 03:42 AM

I have been to the Imperial War Museum, but I would like to go again. When I was last there - about five years ago, they had re-created a Flanders trench from the First World War. They did a very good job of it too. I am sure they would be able to give me some advice and tell me quite a lot. Thanks Rap.
I read the Milligan books, which I should read again. I had forgotten about those, because it is over thirty years ago that I read them. Indeed, he was in the artillery rather than the infantry, but there is still plenty to glean about those campaigns from those books - especially about the day to day life and living conditions of a private soldier.
Thanks for all the suggestions so far.


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Subject: RE: BS: Appeal to military historians
From: gnu
Date: 13 Jan 13 - 04:50 AM

Dunno if this is of any value.

Canuck stories.


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Subject: RE: BS: Appeal to military historians
From: alanabit
Date: 13 Jan 13 - 06:42 AM

I shall have a look gnu. Certainly Canadian troops played a major role in the Battle of Kleve and Wesel. They were in the war from the start, so I won't be in the least surprised if they played a major role in the Africa and Italy campaigns too.


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Subject: RE: BS: Appeal to military historians
From: GUEST,Jon Heslop
Date: 13 Jan 13 - 06:50 AM

TRy contacting the DCLI Regmental Museum, Plas Newydd Ave, Bodmin, Cornwall. They may well be able to search out relevent documents etc for you or at least piont you in the right direction. Another good book is "One and All" by Hugo White (ISBN 1-873951-45-0)published by Tabb House, a history of the DCLI 1702 1959.
For information on the last months of WW2 from the British 2nd army point of view try "Invasion of the Third Reich" by Patrick Delaforce (ISBN 978-1-84868-948-0) published by Amberly books. 5 Batt/DCLI were part of the 43rd (Wessex)Div at that time.
Hope that helps a bit.

Jon


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Subject: RE: BS: Appeal to military historians
From: alanabit
Date: 13 Jan 13 - 06:56 AM

It does Jon, thanks.


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Subject: RE: BS: Appeal to military historians
From: gnomad
Date: 13 Jan 13 - 07:00 AM

There appears to be a regimental museum in the old barracks, Bodmin, which must surely merit a visit.

If I remember rightly your previous posts place you in Germany. I am unsure whether the British Legion function there, but if they do they could be able to put you in touch with a local contact or two who might be happy to share some tales. Not necessarily from the exact unit, but there should still be a few light infantry men, and some who were in other units but the right campaigns.

Of course if you are UK based the Legion will be more likely to be able to help. How willing they may be to help will doubtless depend on whom you encounter, and on your ability to demonstrate your bona fides. I would expect them to be at least a bit protective towards these now elderly men.


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Subject: RE: BS: Appeal to military historians
From: gnu
Date: 13 Jan 13 - 08:01 AM

Re Canuck contributions in Italy, indeed they did.

And Dieppe was, IMO, the "best contibution", but there are other Canucks herein who know far more than I.

I assume studying the history of all cntibutors and the "other side" will be of benefit even tho it's not the actual subject.


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Subject: RE: BS: Appeal to military historians
From: Rapparee
Date: 13 Jan 13 - 08:29 AM

I was going to suggest contacting some German sources as well. There must be some still around. I know that it's a period they didn't care to talk about, but....


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Subject: RE: BS: Appeal to military historians
From: alanabit
Date: 13 Jan 13 - 08:42 AM

That has actually changed a bit over the years Rap. Over the last years there have been several series of excellent TV documentaries by Professor Guido Knopp of Frankfurt University. It is a while since I came across a German war vet - of course not so many are still alive. However, all those whom I did meet were very friendly and forthcoming. I do fancy doing some digging here too. The main problem is that I do not write German - although I can speak it passably.
Thanks gnomad. I have come across the Bodmin museum on the internet. I intend visiting it when I gig in Cornwall in June.


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Subject: RE: BS: Appeal to military historians
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 13 Jan 13 - 09:37 AM

Don't forget IWM Duxford.
They have an impressive walk through recreation of a WW2 Europe ground war scenario.


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Subject: RE: BS: Appeal to military historians
From: Leadfingers
Date: 13 Jan 13 - 10:12 AM

Alan - If you can find a copy of "Popski's Private Army" by Vladimir Peniakov it may give some info . He was a White Russian of Belgian Nationality who joined the British Army at the Outbreak , and commanded a Special Operations unit mostly behind enenmy lines in North Africa , then in Italy . If nothing else , its a bloody good book !


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Subject: RE: BS: Appeal to military historians
From: Charmion
Date: 13 Jan 13 - 10:50 AM

I strongly second Leadfingers' recommendation; it's a great read.

But again, if you're serious about writing about an infantry soldier in a line regiment in that campaign, focus on finding sources from not only the unit in question, but also that brigade and division. If you are as new to military research as I infer, learn how the Eighth Army was organized and what the Cornwalls were doing within that structure. That info will steer you to other regimental histories and memoirs pertinent to your story.

Popski's Private Army was a Special Forces unit with a culture very different from that of a battalion of line infantry.


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Subject: RE: BS: Appeal to military historians
From: alanabit
Date: 13 Jan 13 - 01:41 PM

All good stuff folks. Thanks. I shall check it out.


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Subject: RE: BS: Appeal to military historians
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Jan 13 - 12:43 PM

If you want to get the smell of equipment, I would endorse the idea of meeting up with a WWII re-enactment group, but I would say try towards the end of the season, when the kit has been worn for a while and (if possible when wet) - the smell of wet Battledress worn in confinded spaces is, shall we say, quite destinctive (especially the stuff recently out of stores with that 'camphor' tang to it).


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Subject: RE: BS: Appeal to military historians
From: Charmion
Date: 15 Jan 13 - 12:51 PM

alanabit, if you're interested in other British Empire sources:

* The 1st Canadian Corps soldiered all through the Italian campaign as well as North-West Europe, but the only Canadians who served in North Africa were sailors and airmen.

* The Australians were in North Africa (especially Egypt), but I'm pretty sure they didn't hop the Med to do Italy.


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Subject: RE: BS: Appeal to military historians
From: meself
Date: 15 Jan 13 - 02:29 PM

BBC has a great 'oral history' archive somewhere on the net - you might well find anecdotes there from the time and place and people you want to write about.


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Subject: RE: BS: Appeal to military historians
From: GUEST,Charmion's brother Andrew
Date: 15 Jan 13 - 02:46 PM

The Aussies gradually withdrew their formations either to home or to the Pacific theatre after the attacks on Hong Kong and Pearl Harbor. The Kiwis stayed in the Eighth Army and were important in the attack on Monte Cassino and in the taking of Trieste.


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Subject: RE: BS: Appeal to military historians
From: gnu
Date: 15 Jan 13 - 03:32 PM

My FiL was at Monte Cassino. Canuck artillery. I have related the story here at Mudcat of how he was blinded a great deal by a potatoe masher on recon.

My Uncle Chic told me many stories. His recording is available at the link I posted. He tones that particular story down a LOT. The other stories may be of value as they do have to do with daily life... learning to sleep on a motorcycle... sleeping under a motorcycle or in a puddle in a rut in a dirt road to avoid gunfire... trading clothing for fresh eggs and then trading the eggs for a bottle. I assume such stories are not limited to Canucks. My memory is sketchty but, over time, I may be able to relate them if it may contribute to such a worthwhile endeavour.


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Subject: RE: BS: Appeal to military historians
From: Mr Red
Date: 16 Jan 13 - 10:52 AM

if you want some names of military afficianados try PM'ing Walrus.

and Max Arthur and Roy Palmer are two authors I can point to. Roy lives in Malvern.


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