SUTTON & WAWNE MUSEUMinside the Old School,
Sutton on Hull, East Yorkshire
MOST OF THESE LINKS ARE GENERALLY FREE TO VISIT,
to view the specific site.
We will indicate any link that makes a charge to view information,
though most of them on here are FREE.
Link Requesters from other countries should carefully note:
WE NOW ONLY POST NEW LINKS RELATING TO BRITISH HISTORY
: : : : :
Click the Other Links button
to ease your eyes,
Most of these links are to other sites,
SERIOUS HISTORY LINKS
Old Books and MSS
At risk of viewers thinking we may be trying to guide them away
from our own site, we post even more History Links on yet another page
to other sites of more general, but even deeper historical interest.
Some have connections to the East Riding, and some to the wider UK,
and the first ones are to FREE eBooks. I know it sounds improbable,
but they are genuinely free to use. Once there, just watch for futher links
to not-so-free products or services. Be careful where you 'click, tap, or point'.
And do 'Bookmark' us so that you can come back here and find us again.
BROKEN OR OBSOLETE LINKS
With the internet as we know it being now some 30 years old, it stands to reason that many original links and website addresses will have changed over the years, or even no longer exist. I'm sure you've sometimes clicked a link and nothing happens, or an annoying page of adverts you didn't want pops up. It's the same with me, it happens occasionally when I check this links page that some no longer work. Sometimes, the address has changed ever so slightly, but often it's disappeared entirely. If there is a page you used to visit, that no longer exists, and desperately need to see again, all may not be lost. It may be a page you wrote, on a site that went down, and you want to recover the text. There is an excellent archive site, that continuously trawls the web and archives pages at regular intervals, say every couple of months or so.
But, before you despair and give up, try this tip : many websites still have the same address, but for one letter, an 'S' ... where the site has gone 'secure' and so adds an 's' to the http, as in https. So, just type an 's' before the double // .. hit enter, and as often as not, it may well work.
But if not ... here is the next best trick, a site of pure Internet Magic !
Commonly known as the WAY BACK MACHINE it is BACK !! ...
.. after a long period when it wasn't updated, and another archive site called SCREENSHOTS had appeared to have taken over the task of archiving past internet content. This incredible archive now seems to be updated once again, and is as good as ever, if not more so.
You can indeed easily go way, way back, and can often retrieve pages you may have thought long lost. The example below has aerial photos of East Yorkshire first posted back in 1996, and no longer generally available. It's very good for web historians to track how a particular site has evolved over the years. If you ever had a site of your own, for more than a few months, and the server went down and you lost all your info without any backup, you may well find it is still mostly there. If you have a broken link still saved in your Favorites, then you already have the address or URL. Just copy the link, and paste it into the search box on WAYBACK MACHINE.
The older aerial views of Hull and East Riding towns shown further below is a good example. The pages are all still there, including most of the photographs, as they were when last archived in 2007, but they're just not on the original URL of . . . http://tlfe.org.uk/air/. Paste that address into the WAYBACK MACHINE Home Page search box, and hey presto ... all is not lost. Oh, I nearly forgot to mention, it is free, always has been. Yes, free to all comers. Once again, what a resource! And thanks to those who devised and maintain it now. The servers and hard drives must be phenomenal in size.
NOW TO THE REST ....
LINKS TO CHARITIES SUCH AS
THE BRITISH LEGION and BRITISH ARMED FORCES
voluntary organisations are kept; because they represent the men
and women who fought for our freedoms, and the many who
paid for those freedoms with their lives, in order
for us to have any history worth celebrating.
THE LEONARD CHESHIRE FOUNDATION
is one of the most worthwhile organisations ever set up, and also one of the most
widely known. For those not aware,
Group Captain Leonard Cheshire, VC, OM, DSO & Two Bars, DFC ,
was one such man, who fought for our freedoms, and set up this
humanitarian organisation which, along with the one set up by his
second wife, Sue Ryder, sort of kick-started today's hospice movement
for people with terminal illnesses.
And, LEST WE FORGET -
Over the years, we have all known many ex-servicemen and women who gave of their best years to serve in the forces, whether as volunteers or by conscription. We young'uns who came along in the 1950s have probably enjoyed the very best that Britain has ever been able to offer, thanks to the peace and security those hundreds of thousands of men and women gave us.
This is one way we can help, to say thanks to those who came home,
and Give Thanks for the lives of those who didn't.
Did you know that you don't have to have been
in the Forces to join the Royal British Legion?
And for Family Historians, here is another potentially very useful link -
indispensable some would say. Go straight to the
COMMONWEALTH WAR GRAVES COMMISSION
We hope it helps -
- it truly is an olympic site and archive of hundreds of thousands of names;
and that includes BOTH World Wars;
ALL 4 services including the Merchant Marine, and Civilians killed in the UK,
and ALL countries of the Empire and Commonwealth.
Even if your relative was lost at sea, he or she will be honoured on this database.
Reading This Page will inform anyone about
our policy regarding adding links, what type of links we
are interested in, and most firmly what type of link
we have no interest in. Reading it will save them,
and us, an enormous amount of time.
MEMORIAL ROLL OF HONOUR
Back to the Sutton & Wawne Museum Page
ARCHIVES AND THE TWO WORLD WARS
LINKS TO SITES OF MILITARY INTEREST FOR
RESEARCHERS OF FAMILY HISTORY
do note that these links are not posted in any particular order, usually just as
I came to them; some of these near the top could be the newest.
KINGSTON UPON HULL WAR
MEMORIAL 1914 - 1918
HULL PEOPLE'S MEMORIAL
THE YORKSHIRE REGIMENT
HULL & EAST RIDING AT WAR A local site run by a team of enthusiasts keen to see the part Hull and the East Riding played in both world wars more widely told. Whether the role of the Hull Pals battalions in the Great War, or Hull's untold suffering in the blitz in the second, this is a remarkable site, with a great wealth of interest to this area. It's particularly strong on other bodies and authorities as well as the regular military, so police and fire brigades, civil defence and Home Guard, and many other auxilliary units all have a place here. There's an extra-special focus on individual stories, as well as pages on eachof the RAF stations across East Yorkshire. It will grow and grow, and well worth a visit.
HULL BLITZ MAPS
- maps plotting the fall of bombs - this links to a new
window and a set of 16 scans of a large streetmap of Hull,
dated 1945, onto which has been entered details of the
fall of HE bombs and mines for the period 1940-44. The
many more thousands of incendiary bombs cannot be
shown, there simply were far to many to count.
RAF SUTTON ON HULL
THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN HISTORICAL
NORTH-EAST DIARY 1939 -1945 - by the late Roy Ripley & Brian Pears - another stupendous site that also documents much of the heartache that the North-East underwent during those dark years. RAF casualties and crash landings at numerous airfields, ships built on the Tyne, all sorts of incidents, some of which tie in with the civilian casualties in the list above, make this an incredible archive for those interested in the Home Front of WW2 and family historians alike. Many references to Hull and the East Riding area. Enough to keep you busy all evening.
HOME SWEET HOME FRONT - a comprehensive site documenting life on the Home Front during WW2. Contains a good page on the Women's Land Army, telling how a force of 80,000 women by 1944 were working the land, literally, farming, forestry, every aspect of agriculture. Also contains pages on the WVS, Women's Voluntary Service, and Home Guard, LDV.
FORGOTTEN HEROES - The
Wartime Memories Project
JOINT WAR ORGANISATION
International BOMBER COMMAND Centre
... LOSSES DATABASE
RAF HOLMPTON - the top-secret underground
Cold War Bunker, open to the public since 2007, with
guided tours. A fascinating look at a hitherto
unsuspected fact of life on the East Yorkshire coast
just south of Withernsea. It houses the only surviving
Radar Projection Table in the UK. This is one of the
Command Centres that would have run the British nuclear
reaction had the 'four-minute warning' been sounded.
Though what use four minutes would have done for most of
us, I am at a loss to imagine. However, a very
But did you know so much is available for free? For instance, most wartime Cabinet Office records, Chiefs of Staff memos, telegrams from commanders and colonial governers abroard, as well as a good many regimental war diaries and movement orders. A good deal has been digitised, and you'd be surprised how many are available for free, zero charge in your basket. Just browsing through a huge archive of saved memos and typed operational orders gives an incredible insight to the complications of running a major war at a time when the nation's very survival was at stake. Click this quick picture link for one such item, and note the signature. Just one of the silly things that wartime throws up but has to be dealt with, this time by the highest authority in the land.
As new problems emerged, new enemy conquests, major warship losses and battle defeats mounted one on top of the other, the clarity of thought of those in charge is something to behold and tells a great deal about the quality and education of our military and civil service, the machinery of government, in those now far off and tragedy filled days. It is sobering to read day by day memos dealing with everything from the movement of stores to discussing how large liners should be used as troopships. You may not find your regiment's actual war diary, but you can often find documents that confirm or deny dates or events you already suspect. Many of the 'events' a lot of memos warn about never actually took place in the end, and a good job they didn't.
One such was a huge batch of memos and telegrams warning of the dangers of Spain and Portugal throwing their lot in with the Axis Powers and allowing a German invasion of Gibraltar. For, it was on the cards, and with massive implications for the war in the Atlantic, including total loss of control of the Med. There would not have needed to be a battle for Malta, we would not have got near it. My word, there would have been no victory in 1945 if that had come to pass, that's for sure. Try this as a taster;
CLICK HERE .. it opens in a new tab.
It's a request for a large file, containing the details of the move to the Middle East, late in 1940, of a huge unit of Royal Marines for the defence of the Canal Zone in Egypt. But that is not the main interest for you, it's what it comes with, many other documents and memos such as I've described above are all bundled up with it, but in date order. Click the "Go To Record" box, and download it, first part is just under 40Mb of PDF pages. For those who already have a fairly detailed knowledge and grasp of the war, and would like a gentle browse to dip in and out of, this is fascinating stuff indeed.
MORE MILITARY LINKS
Most WW1 & WW2 Links specific to Hull and the East Riding
are nearer the top of this page,
though there are two repeated below.
Just a suggestion, before you start - have a
look at this list of
A UK GUIDE FOR VETERANS
WESTERN FRONT ASSOCIATION
- was formed with the aim of furthering interest in
the period 1914-1918, to perpetuate the memory, courage
and comradeship of all those who served their countries in
France and Flanders and their own countries during The
Great War. It does not seek to justify or glorify war. It
is not a re-enactment society, nor is it commercially
motivated. It is entirely non-political. The object of The
Association is to educate the public in the history of The
Great War with particular reference to the Western Front.
Applications for membership are welcomed from anyone with
a like mind.
WORLD WAR I - TRENCHES ON THE
WEB - a complete directory of maps of
the main areas of operation in Europe, 1914-1918.
More than a few of our Tommies did not shoot to kill, they often deliberately intended to miss, aiming just close enough to make the enemy keep their heads down. And the Germans did the same to us, reciprocating the gesture. At times it was almost ritualistic, they'd fire a shell, we'd fire one back, but not actually aimed directly at the other, but just for show to keep their respective officers' happy.
Folks today will not realise that junior officers in charge of sections of trench had to fill in daily returns of the totals of ammunition spent, mortar shells, machine gun rounds, individual rifle rounds. Woe betide the officer who could not show that his men were up with the best of them in 'constant attrition.' The pressures from above to keep the fight going was tremendous. It's almost unbelievable now, but on the odd occasion when a shell, designed to miss, did kill, they often shouted apologies to each other in order to stop it escalating into a full firefight. Neither they nor the Germans saw any point in wanton killing if no territorial advantage could be immediately gained, other than to fulfill their unit requirement of ordnance expended, figures laid down by 'brasshats,' the brigadiers and general above. Why rile the enemy and take his trenches when you knew there were no reinforcements to follow it up. It was just asking for trouble.
And then of course, in other sectors, all hell would let loose, and for long periods of time. This is not a comment on our soldiers' bravery; far from it. But most men could only keep up constant attrition for so long, and after a time, even the most battle-hardened sickened of it. It became an unofficial way for soldiers to keep a tiny measure of control over their own lives in a way they couldn't when involved in the bigger and more famous battles. At the very least, it enabled tired men to get a few nights sleep and have their breakfast in relative peace - for the enemy just a few yards away was doing exactly the same.
We can only speculate whether a
decisive conclusion to the war one way or the other could
have been brought about much quicker had all the men on
BOTH SIDES been equally as keen to kill ALL THE TIME - or
perhaps whether the final casualty list could have been
even worse for no appreciable gain in time or effect. I
certainly sympathise with the men on both sides who needed
a break from the constant killing - and yet also can well
understand Douglas Haig's attitude that such practices
would not win the war and constant attrition was the only
answer. You know, I can't make my mind up.
World War II - Maps on the Web - more detailed maps, of World War II, many theatres of war, Europe, Far East, etc - eg. Places in Britain within range of German fighters.
Army Roll of Honour at The National Archives - can be used to find a war grave or burial site. Use in conjunction with the Commonwealth War Graves site below.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission - the first place to look if you have name, service, which war, and knowing a rank will help enormously with the most common names. Includes the Merchant Navy.
The Royal British Legion - the quintessential ex-serviceman's organisation, famous for organising the annual Festival of Remembrance in the Royal Albert Hall, as well as the annual Poppy Day collections nationwide.
MOD Records and Contacts - for all service records, an overall site linking to records offices for all three armed services, and also information on how to apply for copies of medals and decorations awarded, etc.
World War 1 Medal Rolls . Over half of the army's records for men who served in WW1 were destroyed by enemy action when bombs fell on Whitehall in WW2. Years later, someone cleverly realised that if a man or woman served abroad in the First War, then they were almost certainly awarded a campaign medal. And those records survived the bombing. This is a database of those Medal Rolls, all 5.5 million men and women, including those who died, all on one site. It came on line in Jan 04, and should now be complete. To send for an image of one particular record, the cost is GBP3.50, payable by credit card online. A wonderful resource, found at the National Archives, ie, Kew Records Centre in London. Of course, you can also come to us in here in the Sutton & Wawne Museum, where we have access to those same archives. Bring a memory stick and take an image of your relative's medal card away with you.
The Long, Long Trail - a massive site giving many Regimental, Corps and Battalion locations, specifically for the 1914-1918 War. Invaluable if you know the unit your forefather was in, but don't know where he went. Gives some very useful starting clues. For instance, if you know your man was in the East Yorkshires, and there was family talk of Salonika and fighting the Turks, then you have a lead on his being in either the 2nd or 6th Battalions - both of which served in the disastrous Dardanelles campaign.
The Veterans' Agency - an MOD site with lots more links and information.
The National Army Museum - in Royal Hospital Road, London.
RAF Museum, HENDON - for more links to archives and RAF history.
RAF Records Office - for links for addresses for service records of all personnel.
WAAFS - to the Women's Auxiliary Air Force Association, the women's section of the Royal Air Force.
WRACS - to the Women's Royal Army Corps Association, includes and incorporates the ATS, or Auxiliary Transport Services, who were the women pilots that delivered warplanes direct from the factories to the squadrons.
WW2 - NAVY, ARMY & AIR
FORCE LISTS - all officers
AIRCREW REMEMBRANCE SOCIETY
- speaks for
itself, a very worthy site to be added here. It runs on
donations from members of the public and indeed is reliant
upon the public for increasing their total library of
information. It's a non-political site dedicated to
perpetuating the memory of aircrew lost mainly during the
Second World War.
See the very bottom of this page for links to wartime
issues of "FLIGHT - Service Aviation" issued to RAF and
THE NOT FORGOTTEN ASSOCIATION . . . a Tri-Service Charity, "which provides entertainment, leisure and recreation for the serving wounded, injured or sick and for ex-service men and women with disabilities," to quote directly from their website. Incredibly, they were founded around the same time as the Royal British Legion, being founded in 1922. Today's patron, since 2000, is HRH The Princess Royal, and the charity is also supported by 'Help for Heroes.' They help around 12,000 people a year. Naturally, their emblem is an elephant. Elephants never forget, do they. A good choice.
AUXILLIARY TERRITORIAL SERVICE - a different ATS , those thousands of unsung women of all ages who did their bit towards the ultimate victory by doing what had previously been men's jobs in the forces, jobs that relieved more men of the armed forces to take the war to the enemy. Women that were drivers, clerks, cooks and orderlies, gunners and armourers, searchlight operators, wireless operators and telephonists, and not forgetting that legion of storewomen feared by rookie soldiers everywhere. We couldn't have won it without them. This is a tremendous site, and comes recommended by your Webmaster.
LAND ARMY & TIMBER CORPS - another massive group of unsung women, even more thousands, that worked the land and set free farmers and farm labourers free to join the armed forces. Another major organisation of womenfolk that made such a huge contribution, we couldn't have won it without them either. Between the ATS and the Land Army, this nation owes a huge debt of gratitude, and it's been far too long in the coming. Another recommended site for Grandmas everywhere. Grandkids should be saying, 'what did YOU do in the war, Grandma?". Some of their stories will astonish you.
National Maritime Museum - in Greenwich holds records for casualty lists of merchant shipping losses. This goes to the Collections page, because the Home Page didn't seem to be working when I tried it, showing an error (29/01/05).
WRNS - the Women's Royal Naval Service Benevolent Trust - the women's section of the Royal Navy. Now disbanded as a separate service, as with the WRACS and WAAFS above, the WRNS likewise performed sterling service supporting the administrative side of the navy, in bases all over the world. As well as basic office duties, they were also invaluable in manning war rooms, signals and transport sections, supporting the work of fighting ships in every imaginable way.
NAVAL HISTORY NET ... a truly incredible and valuable resource, and growing. Devised and provided by Gordon Smith as a tribute to his father, killed at sea in WW2, and also his grandfather, who served in both world wars. It lists EVERY naval casualty of the RN and Dominion Navies - including Royal Marines - who were killed or died, by enemy action or by accident, whilst in service at sea, or on a shore station, including between the wars. For instance, it is incredible how many men, and women, we lost just to road accidents in foreign ports. Also lists all our warships, where they served, what happened to them, in fact, just about all you want to know about our Royal Navy history. It's sobering to see lists of dead, day by day as we go through the months of war, and see listed the whole ship's company of sometimes hundreds of men, often designated as MPK - missing presumed killed - but the exact fate of that ship is still unknown, just that she was sunk or bombed and was lost without trace with all hands - very, very moving.
CONVOY WEB ... the link to Naval History above does also link to this, but this link takes you directly to this superb site. WW2 naval historians will be beside themselves with joy here. Every convoy of WW2, all their code letters, dates and ports of departure and arrival, names of ships within the convoys, sometimes numbers of troops aboard troopships. When researching, the site makes one good point to remember, will save a lot of time later to emphasise it here; troops were frequently embarked aboard their troopships some days before the actual date of sailing shown in the archives , typically three or four days. Similarly, on arrival, troops may be another day or so before actual disembarkation. Generally, a Magnificent Site, and should be far better known.
ROYAL NAVAL MUSEUM - at HM Naval Base, Portsmouth. Lots of info on HMS Victory, HMS M.33, plus a features on the Dardanelles Campaign of 1915 marking the centenary, plus much more. Includes links to history and records for Royal Marines. Also see next entry below.
ROYAL MARINES MUSEUM - the RM Museum used to be at Eastney Barracks, Southsea. They are in the process of moving to a new museum site within the historic Portsmouth Dockyard. To help fund that, an application was made to the National Lottery Fund for funding to facilitate the move. Would you believe this, but they were TURNED DOWN! So they now have to appeal to the public on their new website for donations to raise £5M by themselves. In the meantime, there is no Royal Marines Museum to visit. I still can't credit that. What has our nation come to? A sad shadow of its former self.
ROYAL NAVAL PATROL SERVICE ASSOCIATION - shown here because so many men from Hull and the Humber ports volunteered, often as whole crews together in much the same fashion as the Pals Battalions in the army of the Great War, that I thought it proper to have a direct link. There's a picture of the RNPS Memorial at Lowestoft, as well as their museum and HQ in what was HMS Europa in Sparrow's Nest Gardens in Lowestoft. The memorial overlooks both the gardens and the sea. This is for all those who served in "Harry Tate's Navy" - brave men, and hitherto their contribution, no less vital than say the pilots of the Battle of Britain, has so often been unrecognised. Minesweeping, anti-submarine patrols, air-sea rescue, and a lot of 'dangerous and dirty' jobs no one else would willingly undertake, all fell to the men of this unique if unglamorous outfit. Taking on a submarine in only a fishing trawler armed with a 12-pdr gun, doing both Atlantic and Arctic Convoy escort duty, landing Special Forces and reconnaissance units on enemy shores, were all no mean feats. There casualty rate was horrendous, on a par to the Merchant Navy and Bomber Command. And for those that survived, when the war was over, it was simply back to the fishing and earning a living in one of the most dangerous occupations on this earth - or sea. We're proud to honour them here.
Top of Page
DEMS Gunners - this link is the best first step to find information on these often overlooked men, by searching on Wikipedia. DEMS stood for 'Defensively Armed Merchant Ships', and any relatives that have come across references to a man being part of the ship's company of a vessel called HMS PRESIDENT will want to know about this. For PRESIDENT was simply an old steam ship moored in the Thames, and she's still there with her yellow funnel and can now be hired for functions and parties. But in WW2, PRESIDENT was the pay HQ of all naval ratings assigned to merchant ships for gunnery protection against German subs and aircraft. More than a few of these men lost their lives on some unheard of merchant ship or tramp steamer, and the only record left is of their name inscribed on the RN memorial and as having supposedly served on HMS PRESIDENT. In the vast majority of cases, they never set foot aboard her. There was a lot more to their stories than that, very complicated and all wrapped up in the British government's desire to be seen to be observing the rule of war whilst still giving our merchant seamen some protection. The Americans were far less squeamish, and called their USN gunnery ratings 'Armed Guards'. Often, they served together on the same ships with Royal Navy personnel, as we 'loaned' the Americans some of our DEMS gunners. So it's worth seeking out Armed Guard websites too. If you have a relative that was killed at sea, apparently on an American merchant ship, the chances are he was really a Royal Naval rating trained as a DEMS gunner on smaller calibre guns, like 3" or the famous anti-aircraft Oerlikon, or even mounted Lewis guns of WW1 vintage. They really were fighting against all the odds and were very brave men indeed. Many would go on to find themselves taking on a squadron of Luftwaffe Stukas armed with nothing more than an ageing WW1 machine gun, and many lost that unequal battle doing it. Others simply died in their sleep when torpedoed, or drowned in abandoning ship. For those who have never even heard of DEMS gunners, just knowing what they were will help.
CONVOYWEB - I can't recommend or praise this site enough. If you have been researching anyone who served in the Royal or Merchant Navy and trying to trace ships, convoys, movements around the globe in those vital years 1939-1945, then this site is a real find. And free. A good example is when looking for a DEMS gunner detailed above. If you know the name of the ship, or when your relative sailed or arrived, or ports he mentioned, you have a good chance of finding out even more. Even if you have no ship, but have dates or port of departure, you still have a chance. In many cases, it's more a question of a process by elimination. When looking for those killed, the CWGC site will name the ship, and more details may then be on the equally incredible Naval History site, and the "Casualty Researches of Don Kindell". All those killed in action, missing presume killed (mpk), died of wounds (DOW) or just died of illness whilst part of a ships company, all are listed for the RN and Dominion navies. Even those killed in road accidents when ashore are listed.
FLEET AIR ARM MUSEUM - at RNAS Yeovilton, Somerset, will change your perception of aircraft Museums. The Museum has the largest collection of Naval aircraft anywhere in Europe, together with the first British built Concorde which you can go aboard and visit the cockpit. Find out more by exploring this Web Site and then see us for yourself.
A more complete story of Hull in World War One . . . a totally marvellous and phenomenal new website dedicated to honouring every single one of all the men of Hull who lost their lives in the First World War. It really is an amazing resource, with losses even listed by street name as well as by service, regiment or ship. An incredible amount of information here, all researched and put together by Hull WW1 historian Paul Bishop. It will certainly be well used by folks here at the Sutton & Wawne Museum, and I wholeheartedly recommend it as a new resource to use alongside the existing ones, such as Hull & East Riding at War listed above. Thank you Paul.
NEW !! Jan 2018
THE YORKSHIRE REGIMENT
THE SECRET LISTENERS - a website dedicated to the army of WW2 'secret radio listeners' who used their own amateur radio sets to firstly listen out for German spies here in Britain from 1940 onwards, but more importantly who later discovered the wealth of secret German High Command radio traffic in their 'uncrackable' five-letter codes. A truly amazing story, one that will especially fascinate anyone with an interest in radio and its early history.
EDEN CAMP - If you didn't
live through these wars, but want to know more about
the privations and hardships your family had to bear
on the 'Home Front', or experience a little of the
atmosphere of the times, then you should visit this
excellent museum just outside Malton. I use the word
"experience" advisedly - you will not feel the real
fear and cold and pain, but you may come to understand
a little, just a little. You may have had older
relatives no longer with us who told you something of
those years, and they, perhaps, were very descriptive.
Perhaps you doubted them, considered their stories
somewhat exaggerated. Come to Eden Camp, and I think
you'll find they didn't exaggarate one bit, more
likely they couldn't or wouldn't tell you the half of
it. It would be hard to exaggerate what our enemies
did to us, and even more of what they did in
continental Europe to other nations, or the exploits
of the Japanese out in the Far East to the Chinese,
Malays, the Philipines or Burmese. But Eden's story is
primarily of the war here in Europe. Thankfully, our
parents never knew the horrors of whole villages of
women and children being rounded up and locked inside
a church, to which our very considerate enemy then set
fire, as reprisals for what some of the menfolk had
done. Let's not beat about the bush, yes, Germans did
that several times, in France, Poland, Czechoslovakia
and Italy, though admittedly, it wasn't always in a
church. I suspect some reading this will not believe
that. But I daresay they may get round to checking it
out on "WW2 Atrocities", even if just
out of curiosity to see if it could be
true. You'll not read more than three or
four of these harrowing stories before wanting to
leave the page and go somewhere peaceful.
They're not fiction, they were real. Generations
today have no idea whatsoever what some nations did to
others. I don't think anyone under 14 should
read them at all. But there we are, we have no
control over what our kids see.
Remember this if you go to Eden Camp - as you pay your money to go in, you know you will be coming out. Also, you have the benefit of 70 years of history that tells us that, not only did Britain and the free world win, but that we were right to do what we did. Your forebears neither knew for certain we were going to win, until roughly 1943-44, and for much of the war, most didn't really know what was going on elsewhere. To put it simply, folks in Coventry and London, suffering as they did, had no idea that Hull was having it just as bad - because no-one told them, except by heresay, and that was just rumour when all said and done. Men falling on the field of battle at El Alamein were not to know that their sacrifice was to be a turning point, that history would deem their actions, even in death, helped to turn a perilous corner. Few held the full story. We know all this now. And when the full story came to be told, few realised just how much of a close call we'd all had - we very nearly didn't win. Taken by sheer weight of armour, aircraft, numbers of men and their total war machine, Germany should have won that war. And they know it. What is even more chilling, is that the descendants of the German war machine of those years know it too. Why they didn't is another fascinating story. But, as the victor of Waterloo famously said, "it was a damned close run thing." And that's some understatement. Eden Camp tells a good deal of that story.
For those of you that did experience all
this, and served, and though frightened to death,
still went back off leave for another dose of what you
knew was coming, still went out at night firewatching,
still went to work daily not knowing if your work was
still there, still ushered your family and children
down the shelters almost nightly, I salute you - ! And
so should everyone else. Most of us will never know,
let alone repay, the debt that we owe you.
TO SUM UP . . .. . . and a few more tips to searching
All these above sites will contain many, many links to lead you further on into your research. Also remember that there are hundreds if not thousands of websites posted by individuals, service veterans, their families, that document particular regiments, squadrons, or ships. Since I first wrote this, there has been a massive increase in the number of blogs, forums, and private memories online. It really is incredible just what can be found. Use GOOGLE and enter basic details : for instance, enter SQUADRON 160 RAF CEYLON - and see what pops up. You'll find some instances of where ex-aircrew have posted up actual reports of Air Accident Investigations for losses of individual aircraft. There's information now on the web for all to see that was not given or available to the relatives of lost servicemen at the time of their deaths.
Similarly, search for ships by name, especially the more famous ones - type "HMS HOOD" and use the inverted commas to force a search for the whole name. Many names are thoroughly ambiguous, such as the county class cruisers like the SUFFOLK and DORSETSHIRE - you need to box a bit clever with these, and add the name of the theatre of war, or action, or enemy ship they were engaged with. Type SUFFOLK BISMARCK and see what pops up. There are 57,000 references, the vast majority pointing to the ships themselves, though some will coincidentally be referring to the county of Suffolk and some gentry that was related to Count von Bismarck himself. Also with ships, after loading the links, another worthwhile search is for an IMAGE SEARCH. I did it and the first four pictures are of the Royal Navy cruiser SUFFOLK herself, and the fifth was pic of her Swordfish aircraft taken from the film, SINK THE BISMARCK, starring Kenneth More. The ways of searching are endless.
Type 4TH BTN NORTHANTS - and dozens of
links pop up that contain references to that
particular unit in that county regiment, some of which
will link to the regimental museum itself. If you have
the name of a particular action or battle, type it in
- eg SOMME NORTHAMPTONSHIRE, and also use NORTHANTS,
as when a battalion is referred to, the colloquial
terminology is often used to shorten the county name -
for instance, a man would have said he was in - "the
4th Northants, the 1st Leicesters, or the 8th
Ever heard of Jan Baalsrud ? Those few of you who have read the 1955 book "We Die Alone" will know who I mean. He was a Norwegian Resistance Fighter during WW II. He had one of the most amazing experiences and escapes ever told, and his sheer strength and endurance is an epic tale in itself, let alone naked courage. What would you make of a man who amputated his own toes? Well, 9 - all bar one of them. If you want to know more, go to the Google.com search engine, and type in "Jan Baalsrud", just like that, in inverted commas. Up will pop plenty of links. What a story - get the book; it was re-published in the early 1990's. I spent several years not quite believing it, and only found it was true on the Internet, when I saw a photo of Jan with King Haakon. There's more to this story than I'm telling - I'm not giving the end away - see for yourself. The best read you'll ever have. A real hero, in anyone's book! Young ladies should note that REAL men used to be built like this years ago.
Well, that's almost enough to be going on with.
There's enough here to keep most of you up for an hour or two.