Posts Tagged ‘time’

Familes of WWII veterans to hear messages home for first time in 70 years

December 24th, 2015

Designed partly as propaganda to show cheery soldiers having the time of their lives, they were carefully choreographed to send personal messages back to their home towns.

More than 600 examples of the films, lost for decades, were rediscovered in the basement of Manchester Town Hall during a refurbishment of the building years ago.

They will now be broadcast for the first time since the Second World War in a new Channel 4 programme, entitled Calling Blighty.

Channel 4 and the North West Film Archive have already put out on appeal seeking veterans who served in India, Burma and Sri Lanka and their families, with the hopes of including their reaction in a final broadcast.

Mr H Drinkwater, a Leading Aircraftsman in the RAF asks his wife to keep his bed warm for him The reels include footage from Mr H Drinkwater, a Leading Aircraftsman in the RAF, who tells his family: “I hope you are all right at home. I’m not doing so bad out here. It’s a bit warm. Getting decent grub, but missing the old fish and chips and a pint now and then, you know.”

With a cheeky look to camera, he tells his wife: “Anyway, keep the bed warm until I get home and we’ll get up them stairs. Cheerio”

Sam Marshall, a Gunner from the 21/8 Rajput HAA Regiment, told his family back in Manchester: “Well mother, Sam calling. I hope you’re quite well and in the pink.”

Other men are seen playing darts, polishing their specs and larking around in the background.

The messages are just two of hundreds recorded between 1944 and 1946 by the Directorate of Army Welfare in India.

At the time, British troops were stationed in India, Burma and Sri Lanka, fighting on even as Europe celebrated the end of war in what has become known as The Forgotten Army.

Without the possibility of home leave, and in an atmosphere where disease was rife and morale low, the Ministry of Defence embarked on a scheme to boost them with filmed messages to home.

Taking up to three months to arrive, with some servicemen dying before the messages got home, families and friends were invited to local cinemas to catch a glimpse of them.

These particular films were found on 25 reels in rusting film canisters in the basement of Manchester Town Hall, with paperwork detailing the names, ranks, regiments and serial numbers of participants surviving alongside it.

Steve Hawley, professor at the Manchester School of Art, said: “I saw an amazing film of servicemen in the second World War speaking to their loved ones, and mentioned this to Marion Hewitt, the Director of the North West Film Archive.

“To my delight, she told me that three decades previously, a pile of rusting film canisters had been discovered in the basement of Manchester Town Hall during refurbishment, and these were about to be thrown out when they were rescued by the Archive.”

Calling Blighty will air in early 2016 on Channel 4. The film is produced by Oxford Scientific Films.

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Germany could send troops into streets for first time since war

November 20th, 2015


The first explosion went off near the Stade de France, where president Francois Hollande was at a football match between France and Germany. One person was killed in the blast. The body of a terrorist was found at the scene wearing a suicide belt filled with shrapnel.


Shortly after the first explosion at the Stade de France, gunmen with Kalashnikovs launched an attack at Le Carillon bar and Le Petit Cambodge restaurant on Rue Bichat, in the city’s 10th arrondissement, killing 15 people and injuring 10.


The attackers drove about 500 yards to the Casa Nostra pizzeria in Rue de la Fontaine au Roi and opened fire on diners on the terrace of the restaurant, killing at least five people and injuring eight.


Another explosion went off outside the Stade de France when a second suicide bomber blew himself up.


Militants launch an attack on La Belle Equipe in Rue de Charonne, spraying the terrace bar with bullets and killing 19 people in gunfire which witnesses say lasted “two, three minutes”.


Three black-clad gunmen wielding AK-47s and wearing suicide vests stormed Le Bataclan during a concert by American rock band Eagles Of Death Metal. At least 89 were killed and more than 100 others injured during the shooting. The attackers were heard mentioning Syria and Iraq during the massacre.


A third suicide bomber blew himself up on Rue de la Coquerie, near the Stade de France.


The first reports came in of the Bataclan massacre and within 10 minutes there was confirmation that a hostage crisis had developed at the theatre.


Prime Minister David Cameron said on Twitter: “I am shocked by events in Paris tonight. Our thoughts and prayers are with the French people. We will do whatever we can to help.”


An emotional French president Francois Hollande, who was earlier evacuated from the Stade de France, closed the borders and declared a state of national emergency. The French military were called into the centre of Paris.


Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn said on Twitter: “My thoughts are with the people of Paris tonight. We stand in solidarity with the French. Such acts are heinous and immoral.”


French emergency services activate Plan Rouge to tackle the large numbers of casualties.


Parisians used the #PorteOuverte hashtag to search for or offer safe places for those fleeing the violence. The hashtag was soon trending.


A new toll of at least 35 dead.


President Obama delivered a speech at the White House, expressing solidarity with the people of Paris and calling the attacks terrorist acts. “Those who think that they can terrorise the people of France or the values that they stand for are wrong.”We are reminded in this time of tragedy that the bonds of liberte, egalite, fraternite, are not just the values French people share, but we share.”Those go far beyond any act of terrorism or the hateful vision of those who perpetrated the crimes this evening.”


Reports emerge of French taxi drivers turning off their meters and offering passengers free rides home. A citywide curfew was put in place, the first since 1944.


Police storm the Bataclan, ending the siege. Two terrorists die after activating their suicide vests and a third is shot dead by officers.


The death toll reached at least 120.

Saturday, November 14


At least 1,500 soldiers have been called upon to patrol the streets of Paris.


Schools, markets, museums and major tourist sites in the Paris area are closed and sporting fixtures cancelled.


Hollande calls the attacks “an act of war… committed by a terrorist army, the Islamic State, against France, against… what we are, a free country”. He declares three days of national mourning.


Isil claimed responsibility, saying in a statement issued in Arabic and French that the attackers had targeted “the capital of abominations and perversions and those who carry the crusader banner in Europe”.


Gatwick Airport north terminal was evacuated after a suspected firearm was discovered. A 41-year-old French national was taken into custody for questioning. He was later charged with possession of an air rifle and a knife.


David Cameron warned the UK “must be prepared for a number of British casualties”, and condemned the “brutal and callous murderers. The Queen also sent a message of condolence to Mr Hollande, saying she and the Duke of Edinburgh had been “deeply shocked and saddened by the terrible loss of life in Paris”.


By noon on Saturday French officials had put the provisional death toll at 127 people from the combined attacks, with 180 injured and 99 people in hospital in critical condition.


One of the bombers was identified by his fingerprints as a young Frenchman flagged for links with Islamic extremism. He is later named as Ismaël Omar Mostefaï, 29.


A number of people are arrested in Brussels in relation to the Paris attack. Belgian prosecutors later confirmed they have opened an anti-terrorist investigation based on a car that was hired in Belgium and was found near the Bataclan concert hall.


One Briton is confirmed to have died and “a handful” of others are feared to have been killed. The British victim was later named as Nick Alexander, who was selling band merchandise at the Bataclan.


Francois Molins, the Paris prosecutor, said 129 people were confirmed dead and 352 people were injured, with 99 in a critical condition.

Sunday, November 15


Home Secretary Theresa May indicated the British death toll in the Paris attacks may rise as she said the government has concerns about a “handful” of UK citizens. She said that British police and intelligence agencies were “working day and night to keep people secure”.

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What is Armistice Day, what time are we silent and why is it for two minutes?

November 11th, 2015

After Armistice Day, the Tower poppies were to have been removed by 8,000 volunteers

Each year at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month we remember those who fought and died for Britain.

Veterans and their families will join military top brass at The Cenotaph in Whitehall to pay their respects to those killed in conflicts since the beginning of the First World War.

“By holding a poppy to their lips they re showing the nation that they’re ready to mark the two-minute silence in Remembrance of those who laid down their lives,” say the Royal British Legion.

What will happen on November 11?

Schools, offices and churches up and down the country will take part in the two minutes silence at 11am, marking the time when Allied Forces declared an end to fighting with Germany 97 years ago.

The Gurkhas will be among regiments lining the street for the Whitehall ceremony, where singer Cerys Matthews will read an extract from The Times newspaper from October 1915 about the deaths of 41 only-sons in battle.

The Queen will spend the two minutes’ silence privately at Buckingham Palace where she will remember the war dead with her family.

Armistice Day v Remembrance Day

Armistice Day is also commonly referred to as Remembrance Day. Remembrance Sunday always falls on the second Sunday in November.

Why do we fall silent for two minutes?

A member of the armed forces with prosthetic legs pays his respects at the Armed Forces Memorial in the National Memorial Arboretum near Lichfield, Staffordshire

The first Remembrance Day in Britain and the Commonwealth was held in 1919.

Australian journalist Edward George Honey is originally thought to have proposed the idea of a two-minute silence in a letter published in the London Evening News in May 1989.

King George V later issued a proclamation calling for a two minute silence, it said: “All locomotion should cease, so that, in perfect stillness, the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the glorious dead.”

Why the act of remembrance matters

Royal British Legion standard bearers and brothers Neil and Phil Bushell hold their standards following the Armistice day service at the Royal British Legion village which was attended by Defence secretary Michael Fallon in Aylesford, Kent

The Royal British Legion says: “Great Britain still believes strongly in remembering those who fought not only in World Wars, but the more than 12,000 British Servicemen and women killed or injured since 1945.

“The Royal British Legion supports silences observed during both Remembrance Sunday services and on 11 November, Armistice Day, itself. The act of Remembrance rightly has a place in – and impact on – our lives, no matter which day of the week it might fall upon.”

Why do we wear poppies?

Poppy Day is a British tradition that dates back to the 1920's

The tradition was started by American teacher Moina Bell Michael, who sold silk poppies to friends to raise money for the ex-service community, and the first poppy day in the UK was in 1921.

The poppy commemorates those who have died in war and is generally perceived as a heartfelt nod to those who lost their lives for Britain’s freedom.

In Britain, poppies are on sale to raise money for the Royal British Legion.

Which side should you wear it on?

Some people say left, so it is worn over the heart. Others say only the Queen and Royal Family are allowed to wear a poppy on the right, which is an urban myth.

But a Royal British Legion spokesman said there is no right or wrong side, “other than to wear it with pride”.

The Remembrance Poppy by numbers

Voices of Remembrance: Veterans of World War Two describe their experiences

Armistice Day has also been trending on Twitter

You can watch live as Armistice Day is marked around UK with a two minute silence.

A look at why Britain must find its fighting spirit again.

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Foyle’s War: Even for the best TV shows, there’s an ideal time to go

January 14th, 2015

So how do you know when your TV series has reached the end of its natural life? In some cases, the answer is obvious. Poirot, for example, was clearly over once it had adapted all the Poirot stories.

Elsewhere, though, the trick, as pulled off by Inspector Morse and now, I’d suggest, Foyle’s War, is surely to finish before – but only just before – the viewers realise that the scripts are starting to repeat themselves. Otherwise, you end up like Old Tricks.

But equally important as when is how. Get the final episode right, as Poirot triumphantly did, and you remind the viewers why they liked your programme so much. Get it wrong, and you could well resurrect all their long-buried reservations about it.

Even Seinfeld, one of the greatest sitcoms of them all, ended with such a stark reminder of the show’s only real flaw – a tendency to be a little too pleased with itself – that you began to wonder if it had really been so great all along. (It had, but you needed to watch several old episodes to prove it.) The conclusion of Miranda, for example, confirmed that the series – however enjoyable early on – had always been in danger of becoming an annoyingly smug celebration of itself.

Friends did exactly what was required, by stretching Ross and Rachel’s will-they-won’t-they? storyline almost to breaking point, but not beyond. Even so, for my money, the show with the best final episode of them all was Cheers. It, too, stretched the will-they-won’t-they? over Sam and Diane almost to breaking point, but not beyond. Instead of their walking off into the sunset, Sam was seen alone, tidying his bar one last time, as a would-be punter appeared at the door. “Sorry,” said Sam, “we’re closed.” Beat that, Mr Horowitz.

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Eindhoven: Joe Cattini receives hero’s welcome for a second time, 70 years on

September 23rd, 2014

The organisers of the trip said the people of Eindhoven wanted to thank the Allied soldiers for their freedom.

The veterans, who arrived back in the UK on Tuesday, spent two weeks in Holland as “guests of honour”. They toured museums, met serving soldiers and revisited some of the places they had stayed.

Also on the trip was Denys Hunter, with whom he was reunited during the D-Day celebrations.

Mr Cattini and Mr Hunter became the faces of this year’s D-Day anniversary commemorations when they were picture moments after being reunited for the first time since they took part in the landings on the Normandy beaches 70 years ago.

In Eindhoven, they were also invited on to the pitch ahead of football match between PSV Eindhoven and SC Cambuur, where three paratroopers jumped from 1,500 feet holding football shirts which were then presented to the veterans.

Mr Cattini and Mr Hunter were both part of the 86th Hertfordshire Yeomanry Field Regiment RA, which was part of the British advance through Europe and which helped free Eindhoven from Nazi occupation.

Joe Cattini and Denys Hunter spent two weeks in Holland as ‘guests of honour’

The city was liberated when an American paratrooper from the 101st Airborne division advancing from the north made contact with British ground troops, advancing from the south, at a church.

The American paratroopers had been dropped at Son, a village north of Eindhoven, on September 17 and advanced to Eindhoven the next day. Their job was to secure the four bridges over the River Dommel ready for the British ground forces to advance.

The British troops, who had entered the Netherlands from the south, liberated the town of Valkenswaar on September 17. They spent their night there before continuing on to Eindhoven the next day, where they were welcomed as heroes.

One American trooper recalled being asked for his autograph by a woman, so relieved occupation was over.

Mr Cattini said he remembered driving into Eindhoven and six young women jumping in the back of his truck.

It was the first major city in Holland to be liberated by troops on the way to Arnham as part of the doomed Operation Market Garden.

However Eindhoven’s jubilation was short lived. The following day, on September 19, while the city was still celebrating, German Luftwaffe planes appeared above overhead and launched a bombing campaign. In total, 227 civilians were killed.

But Eindhoven has commemorated the liberation each year on September 18 since 1945.

This year, a “liberation torch” was carried by cyclists and runners from Bayeux in Normandy, along the same route the Allies used in 1944, culminating in a torch lit procession to the Town Hall Square where the veterans and guests were received.

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Two Lancaster bomber planes fly together for first time in 50 years

August 14th, 2014

Flying in the skies above RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, plane enthusiasts were treated on Wednesday to a display not seen since the filming of The Dambusters in the 1950s.

Two Lancaster bombers flew around together one behind the other for the first time in more that five decades.

Their reunion had been difficult because Lancaster Thumper is based in Britain as part of the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial flight and the Lancaster Vera is based in a museum in Ontario in Canada.

But now the aircraft have been brought together for a series of air shows and events around the UK over the next few weeks.

The Avro Lancaster bomber is one of the most recognisable aircraft from the Second World War and was made famous in the Dambuster raids in 1943.

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D-Day veterans meet for the first time in 70 years

June 3rd, 2014

They may be a little frailer, but their wartime memories are still razor sharp.

British Normandy Veterans Joe Cattini and Denys Hunter met on Tuesday for the first time in 70 years since they took part in the D-Day landings on the Normandy Beaches.

Mr Cattini, 91, and Mr Hunter, 90, were both in the same unit of Herefordshire Yeomanry on Gold Beach on D-Day and attended a special ceremony at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard before setting off for France for the anniversary of the D-Day landings.

Friday 6th June is the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings which saw 156,000 troops from the allied countries including the United Kingdom and the United States join forces to launch the historic attack on the beaches of Normandy, credited with the eventual defeat of Nazi Germany.

A series of events commemorating the anniversary are planned for the week with many heads of state travelling to the famous beaches to pay their respects to those who lost their lives.

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Record of largest-ever Nazi art hoard made public for first time

May 29th, 2014

And this week it has made the information from those catalogues freely available on the Internet – the first time any German art dealer has publicly released its records from the Nazi era.

Their publication is the initiative of Katrin Stoll, who took over the auction house in 2008, and has no connection to Mr Weinmüller.

“I feel very fortunate to have this difficult task,” she told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper.

Names and images of artworks that were sold can be freely browsed on, the German government website for recovering looted art. The website does not list who bought the artworks, but anyone with a serious claim to legal ownership can apply for that information.

The website does list where Mr Weinmüller obtained the artworks, and the entry “seizure by the Gestapo” frequently crops up. Where some dealers traded in art sold at knock-down prices by Jewish owners fleeing the Nazis, Mr Weinmüller was dealing directly in looted art.

Despite his significance, Mr Weinmüller has remained a shadowy figure. For years no one even knew what he looked like, until a photo emerged a few months ago of a bespectacled, unobtrusive man at an auction.

He successfully lied to the “Monuments Men” about his role during the war, and hid his connections to the Nazi high command. In fact he had risen to wealth and prominence by his loyalty to the party, and counted Martin Bormann, Hitler’s private secretary, amongst his clients.

A previously small-time dealer, he chaired a pro-Nazi trade organisation and took over the Munich arts scene as Jewish dealers were forced out.

Despite investigating him as a high priority, the “Monuments Men” were unable to prove anything against him, or prevent him from reopening his auction house. He held a further 35 auctions before his death in 1958.

After his death the Weinmüller auction house, as it was then known, was sold to Ms Stoll’s father, Rudolf Neumeister, who changed its name.

Experts say the real test of the new initiative will come when legal owners come forward to claim looted artworks. Some of the details of the buyers in the auction house’s records are sketchy, and list no more than a common surname. But others may be traceable, and artworks long given up as lost may finally be found again.

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Best war and history books of all time

May 4th, 2014

Edward Gibbon (1776-1789)

“History is little more than the register of the crimes, follies, and misfortune of mankind,” Gibbons wrote in this classic history tracing the Roman Empire from the 1st Century BC to the 15th AD. Vast, learned, opinionated, and witty, it is an absolute epic.

A Farewell to Arms

Ernest Hemingway (1929)

Set in the Italian theatre during the FirstWorldWar, Hemingway’s short, powerful, semiautobiographical novel is guaranteed to make any grown man cry, but it is also a penetrating study of camaraderie in the face of danger and is, as you’d expect, beautifully written in telling sentences.

1066 and All That

W C Sellar and R J Yeatman (1930)

Subtitled “A Memorable History of England, comprising all the parts you can remember, including 103 Good Things, 5 Bad Kings and 2 Genuine Dates” 1066… is a tongue in cheek send-up of the way history used to be taught, and may yet be again.

All Quiet on the Western Front

Erich Maria Remarque (1929)

“This book is neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure”: so begins the remarkable semiautobiographical, humane and poignant novel about Remarque’s experiences in the trenches and back in Germany after the war.

Legion of the Damned

Sven Hassel (1953)

Written in highly suspicious circumstances by a highly suspicious author (or perhaps his wife, or editor) this is the first in a series of novels that became cartoonish, yet for all that it packs immense power, describing the misadventures of a group of German soldiers on the Eastern Front.

A History of the English-Speaking Peoples

Winston Churchill (1956-1958)

A magisterial, if patchy, four-part history of Britain from Anglo-Saxon times to 1914, it was begun in 1937 but subsequently much delayed. Subjective, erratic, with a romantic view of the world, it is full of character and incident, and is beautifully written.

Sword of Honour Trilogy

Evelyn Waugh (1952-1961)

Loosely autobiographical, this three-part meandering, tragic-comic farce paints a convincingly chaotic picture of the British muddling their way to winning the war. It is beautifully world weary and cynical, as the hapless hero is buffeted by the forces of class, waste, spite, cowardice and inefficiency.

A History of the Crusades

Steven Runciman (1951-1954)

A classic three-part history of the crusades written with such elegance and dash, one might think he was making it all up. Historians have since frowned on his technique, and recent research has revealed some factual flaws, yet Runciman remains required reading.

The Making of the Middle Ages

R W Southern (1953)

Written while the author thought he had only a short time left to live, this concise and unadorned primer has become a classic introduction to how Europeans lived in the early middle ages


Joseph Heller (1961)

The blackest and yet funniest book ever written on any subject. The “hero” is a bomber pilot flying sorties over Italy where thousands of people he has never met are trying to kill him, but it is not them he’s most frightened of: it’s his own side who seem determined to do the job themselves.

The Guns of August

Barbara W Tuchman (1962)

Tuchman was awarded the first of two Pulitzer Prizes for this superb analysis of how and why the European powers went to war in 1914, and what could have been done to stop them. Tuchman enlivens the complex issue to make the book as compulsive as any thriller.


Kurt Vonnegut (1969)

A satire of more than just war, Slaughterhouse-5 mixes elements of science fiction with the novel’s central event: the bombing of Dresden in 1945. Vonnegut was there at the time, an American PoW, who survived the fire storm by sheltering in a slaughterhouse.

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

Dee Brown (1970)

Following the heartbreaking travails of the American Indians from their first contact with white settlers until the massacre atWounded Knee, Dee Brown’s book covers what was in effect their ethnic cleansing by the American Government.

The Face of Battle

John Keegan (1976)

The late John Keegan dissects the ordinary soldier’s experience in three key battles from English history: Agincourt, Waterloo and the Somme and shows how, despite the technological changes, what is asked of a man in war remains fundamentally the same. An absolute classic of the genre.

Montaillou: Cathars and Catholics in a French Village 1294-1324

Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie (1978)

A ground-breaking micro-history of a small French village, researched from the records of a local inquisitor who went on to become Pope. Revelatory of the medieval mindset, as well as more general society.

A Bright Shining Lie

Neil Sheehan (1988)

The life and death of an American colonel who went to Vietnam in the 1960s, didn’t like what he saw – cowardice and incompetence, rather than a wrong war – and so went on to tell the world’s press about it. A fascinating study, not just of the war but of a man.

Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland

Christopher R Browning (1992)

Browning uses records to show how an ordinary group of men became involved in the Final Solution and how just as easily humanity in general might be perverted to evil.


Dava Sobel (1998)

Responsible for many copycat histories of previously overlooked trifles, Dava Sobel’s diminutive masterpiece describes 18th-century British clock maker John Harrison’s invention of a timepiece accurate enough to measure longitude at sea.

The Discovery of France

Graham Robb (2007)

A very different France to the one we think we know emerges from Graham Robb’s unconventional history: one that is impossibly rural, remote, and insular, where no two villages speak the same dialect and peasants hibernate through the winter. The shock is how recently this was the case.


Tacitus (100-110 AD)

The Good Soldier Svejk

Jaroslav Hašek (1923)

The Naked and the Dead

Norman Mailer (1948)


Michael Herr (1977)


Sebastian Faulks (1993)

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

Louis de Bernières (1994)

Regeneration Trilogy

Pat Barker (1991-1995)

Europe: A history

Norman Davies (1996)

Guns, Germs and Steel

Jared Diamond (1997)

The Siege

Helen Dunmore (2001)

A Short History of Nearly Everything

Bill Bryson (2003)


Ian Kershaw (2008)

The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War

Antony Beevor (1982)

Ornamentalism: How the British Saw Their Empire

David Cannadine (2001)

Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution

Simon Schama (1989)

IN PICTURES: The most spectacular libraries in the world

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