Tuesday, 31 July 2012

War and Peace Show - Part 4 (final)

At last year's War and Peace Show (2011) we met a man and his two young son's who took a real interest in what we were doing, we happily had our photo taken with the two lads and were over the moon this year when they turned up again with two copies of the photo for Andy and myself! Like a fool I completely forgot to make a note of their name, doh! However, I'm pretty sure I passed on one of our cards so if you're out there reading this please email me, and many thanks for the photograph. Matt

Monday, 30 July 2012

The War and Peace Show - Part 3

On the Saturday of this year's show we were visited in our slit trench by a veteran of the Arnhem battle, but as he informed us; he wasn't an Airborne!

Stan Hodge served with 4th Battalion the Dorsetshire Regiment 43rd Wessex Division and was one of the men who took the boats across to bring back as many survivors as possible on the 25/26th September 1944 known as Operation Berlin.

Stan informed us that they were given canvas 'storm' boats with outboard motors and made as many trips across the Rhine river as they could before daylight stopped the operation (the op took place between 22.00hrs and 05.00hrs with a total of approximately 2,500 men of the 1st Airborne Division being evacuated), he also told us that 4th Battalion lost 200 of their own number captured in an earlier attempt to cross the river and strengthen the Airborne soldiers in the Oosterbeek perimeter.

He bravely made his way through the mud with the aid of a Dutch Border Regiment Reenactor and also very kindly agreed to have his photograph taken with us. I asked him what he thought of our slit trench, had we got it right? and he answered "Yeah, not bad, about 95% correct"... Well, 95% correct is way better than 95% wrong I guess? It was an absolute honour to meet Stan, he was a ray of sunshine in a somewhat soggy slit trench!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

The War and Peace Show - Part Two

As usual after a living history event I've tried to 'age' some of the photo's, some people don't like it but I do, obviously or I wouldn't do it!

As this year's show was pretty quiet I've only got the one pic of Chalk (others were taken by visiting photographers and once they're all in I'll post them here), however I did manage to get one or two pics or the Ox and Bucks Light Infantry which have come out looking good.

More W&P to follow.

The War & Peace Show - Part One

Oh the mud, the mud and the rain...

Actually, as we got down to Kent on the Wednesday I think we'd missed the worse of the weather, granted it was still raining and the site roads were an ocean of sticky brown porridge but we tightened our boot laces and got on with it, just as the hundreds of other reenactors and stall holders did. We found a clear spot in the woods and erected our pup tents. As we travelled down with a friend of ours who owns a BMW motorcycle and sidecar combination (I believe its a Chinese motorcycle which has been transformed into a pretty good facsimile of a WW2 BMW?) we were lucky enough to move most of our essential equipment such as tents etc with the assistance of this marvellous machine from the main car park to our base in the woods, after two days or so of battling through the quagmire our little warhorse looked rather authentic - for the Eastern front!

Thursday dawned with sunshine and the ground started to dry out, apparently the nearby River Medway draws most of the water from the site and as a result it tends to drain very quickly. Just as we were about to start enjoying ourselves the heavens opened again and down came the rain, smiles turned upside down and a 'Zero Vehicle Movement Order' was established to prevent any further deterioration to the already treacherous roads and tracks.

Undeterred, Chalk prepared their slit trench, even 'borrowing' a little straw for the bottom from our nearby German counterparts when they weren't looking! Then we hit the traders stalls (again) in search of bargains and old friends.

More to follow.

The chosen site for our tents, we were to share this area with slugs, snails, rodents, frogs and of course mosquitoes!

Home, Sweet Home. Not so much a place to live as a place to sleep. Even sitting up is impossible.

An old slit trench in need of some 'modernisation'.

Chalks' secret weapon; Andy with a spade and a mattock!

Our transport. A proper little warhorse!

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

S.Sgt Tom Wilson - GPR

A week or so before we attended the War & Peace Show (pics and report to follow) I was contacted by Paul McInnes regarding his Grandfather S.Sgt Tom Wilson, veteran of Operation Ladbroke (Chalk No.29 Waco/Hadrian) and Operation Market Garden (Chalk No.489 Waco/Hadrian). Interestingly, S.Sgt Wilson flew as part of 'X' Flight into Nijmegen as part of Browings HQ, taking in members of the USAF Forward Air Signals unit!

S.Sgt Wilson flew from Manston to LZ 'N' near Groesbeek, with Sgt Nicholson as his 2nd pilot.

Paul is fortunate enough to be the owner of some of Tom's GPR memorabilia, including his Pilot's log book and 1st Pilot wings amongst other items (see photo's below).

Paul believes his Grandfather served with the KOSB's before joining the GPR and he unfortunately contracted Malaria whilst serving in North Africa. If anyone has more information regarding either S.Sgt Wilson, Sgt Nicholson or indeed the USAF FAS please don't hesitate to comment on this post or contact myself directly.

Many thanks to Paul for allowing us to post his Grandfathers' story here and also to Steve Wright for providing Paul with invaluable information regarding chalk numbers etc.

A photograph of Tom Wilson in his later years. Courtesy Paul McInnes 2012.

S.Sgt Tom Wilsons Waco/Hadrian glider after Operation Ladbroke, July 1943. Courtesy Paul McInnes 2012.

Some of Paul's GPR memorabilia relating to his Grandfather. Courtesy Paul McInnes 2012.

A page from S.Sgt Wilson's Pilot Log Book. Courtesy Paul McInnes 2012.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Scotland's History: Life As A Glider Pilot in WW2

I've just been having a quick 'Google' before home time and came across this little gem! Scotsman Walter Naismith talks about his experiences in the Glider Pilot Regiment. 

A wonderful interview, with a very eloquent gentleman who's memory is crystal clear! As a bonus, two download options are also included. Enjoy.

Link: Scotland's History: GPR

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

War & Peace Show - 2012

Chalk are getting ready to attend the annual War & Peace Show again this year. As usual we will be joining forces with Just Ordinary Men, VERA and Spirit of Britain among others and we'll be located in the woods (see map below) AND the main battle arena where we'll be part of a major British Vs German battle scenario the likes of which have not been seen before at War & Peace. This promises to be one event to remember so why not pay us a visit? See you all there! Matt

Monday, 2 July 2012

Colour Footage of Gliders

Another Youtube find this time by a member of WW2Talk.com (you know who you are). Some wonderful rare clips here and I understand that they are available in better quality on the DVD 'Victory in Europe'. Enjoy.