Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Great War Trenches at RAF Halton

Just a quick e-mail to let you know about the trenches that have been escavated at RAF Halton. The trenches were discovered last year. They are located on the camp between the new workshops and the old rubbish tip. The trainees have reconstructed a small portion of them using the manuals of the day and they consist of a short communication trench and revetted front line trench with fire step and wired to the front. They are perhaps the best trenches I have seen, no concrete sandbags are in evidence, the RAF appear to have used genuine materials and methods to reconstruct them. They are well worth a visit if you are passing some time.

Kevin Adamson
Guild of Battlefield Guides

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Help For Heroes - Big Battlefield Bike Ride 13 - 19 September 2010

Mike Peters relating the story of Waterloo at the Butte De Lion

Once again Guild Members provided the Historians for this year's Help For Heroes 'A Bridge Too Far' Big Bike Ride.

Guild members led by John Greenacre included Bob Darby, Mike Peters and Jo Hook. Although billed 'A Bridge Too Far' the ride itself started in Brussels with a visit to the Waterloo battlefield. It then touched on Operation Market Garden 1944 at Joe's Bridge and Son but then meandered its way across eastern Holland before coming back on track via Nijmegan and eventually arriving at Oosterbeek near Arnhem to see a parachute descent on to one of the original Drop Zones.

During the course of 6 days the cyclists completed over 350 miles and raised over £1 million for the Help for Heroes charity. A very commendable effort by all involved.

The Guild members involvement was to position themselves at various stands en route and tell the story of a particular action. However, it was difficult to get sufficient time to tell the story. 5 minutes on the banks of the Waal could not do justice to Julian Cook's assault river crossing by men of the 504th Parachute Infantry 82nd US Airborne Division.

The War Cemetery at Lommel in Belgium. The largest Second War German Cemetery in Europe

The end of a long ride for the cyclists at the John Frost Bridge Arnhem

Two of the 'Bravest of the Brave'. Glider Pilots Arthur Shackleton (above) and Mike Dauncey (below). Dauncey had been recommended for the Victoria Cross. Seen at the Airborne Memorial opposite the Hartenstein Hotel Oosterbeek

Bob Darby
Badge No 29

Monday, 20 September 2010

The Face of the Battle of Britain

Much has been talked about lately with the celebration of the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain. What did it mean to us in human cost and to us as a nation?

I have received the following article from Norman Sibbald written by an unknown American. It is not the complete article but a synopsis of the relevant points. If you wish to read the whole article I can email it to you.

The face above and facing you is the face of Brian John Edward Lane. This is the face of the Battle of Britain. Lane was not the highest scoring 'ace' with a final score of 'only' 6. The man to his left, our right is George Unwin who downed twice as many as Lane and survived the war. Lane on the other hand met his fate in combat over the North Sea in December 1942.

Lane didn't have a low score because of a lack of ability. He had leadership thrust upon him at a young age and carried his torch well. This is the face of newly promoted Squadron Leader Lane who is 23 in this picture, This is the face of battle. Very weary, very young but very determined.

The victory over southern England could not have been accomplished without the assistance of young men from many nations. Poles, Czechs, South Africans, New Zealanders, Australian, Canadians and those from Belgium, France and the USA. We were not alone.

It was another two years after the picture was taken did we enter the war, and almost two years before sending our Army Air Force to England to carry out the bombing campaign against occupied France and Germany. We talk about American victories and military might, but without Britain it never would have happened.

Contributed by Norman Sibbald