I appreciate that this is slightly off subject, but I came across it and thought I should share it. It is well made and informative, but most of all I like the general context of military research. I hope you agree.
In the Footsteps of a Hero
Time Stood Still in a Muddy Hole – Captain John HANNAFORD – One of the Last Bomb Disposal Officers of WWII
Bath, Self-Publishing Partnership, 2018
196 pp ISBN 978-1-78545-286-4 (pbk)
Every so often in life, surprises arrive from ‘out of the blue’. This book was one of those surprises, and a very pleasant one it was too. I was asked to review this book, and I have enjoyed doing so. As its title so aptly suggests, it is the story of John HANNAFORD, who originated from Shaldon in Devon, and during the Second World War, became by a dint of fate, a Bomb Disposal officer in the Royal Engineers. As I lived in Teignmouth for a time, it added a local connection to the story.
The book is the story about how a painting led the author to research and meet John HANNAFORD, who sadly died on 1 November 2015, who served as a Bomb Disposal Officer in South Wales. The book is a delightful, and incisive, view of the life of John HANNAFORD, and the realities of serving in a Bomb Disposal unit during the war. The deaths of several colleagues clearly affected John and his team, many of whom were to lose their lives later in the war. Soldiers being heroes is a much used, and in my view much abused, saying. Reading this book makes you understand the cold blooded heroism of men who went out to diffuse German and British bombs and mines, knowing that each time could be their last. It is poignant to read that how when two men died in such circumstances, there was nothing left of them, so soil from the site was used to fill the coffin which was buried with full military honours. They were told that if the bomb exploded, it would all happen so quickly they would not know anything about it.
The book is interspersed with interesting and relevant photographs. I found it easy and pleasant to read, the author’s writing style being flowing and non-technical. This book is not a history of the Royal Engineer’s Bomb Disposal teams during the war, but it does add to the knowledge of this subject. For £9.99, it is excellent value for money. For readers who wish to learn more about the technical side of Bomb Disposal during the Second World War, I recommend a pdf document available on-line called ‘Bomb Disposal in WWII’. It is excellent, and complements the book well.
Remembrance – Not Everyone Died in Action
To consider a different aspect of wartime Britain, and serving in the Royal Air Force, let us remember 967947 Aircraftman 1st Class Arthur GREEN of No. 172 Squadron, based at R.A.F. Chivenor. On 8 January 1943, while cycling back to R.A.F. Chivenor from a dance at Ilfracombe with four friends, he was thrown from his cycle and received injuries. He did not report sick until the following morning, and stated that he had mistaken his front brake for his back, and had suddenly applied the front brake and gone over the handlebars. He had had nothing to drink and was not unconcious, and slept in his hut overnight. He was admitted to the Station Sick Quarters at R.A.F. Chivenor on 9 January with a fractured nasal bone and fractured skull.
His condition worsened, and he was transferred to the North Devon Infirmary (N.D.I.) at Barnstaple at 08.00 hours on 10 January. The next day, the N.D.I. requested he be transferred to the Royal Naval Hospital, Sherborne, Dorset, where he died at 18.00 hours, a few hours after admission. His next of kin were with him when he died. The C.W.G.C. show him as a Leading Aircraftman, the son of James and Ella GREEN of Birkdale, Southport. He was 26 years’ of age, and married to Eva Ruth GREEN of Haskayne. He is buried in Sec. C., Grave 2 of the Birkdale Cemetery, Lancashire.
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Video Rededication of War Memorial
The ceremony on Saturday 13 April 2013 to rededicate the war memorial at Torrington following the addition of the M.C. awarded to Major David WALKER. His surviving brother, Ken, attended with his family and it was a privilege to see them all. For more information and a biography of the brothers, contact the webmaster.
Released April 17, 2013
The Burma Boy
Here is a fascinating story told in video. I hope, like me, you find it moving.
In December 1941, the Japanese invasion of Burma (now Myanmar) opened what would be the longest land campaign fought by the British in the Second World War. It began with defeat and retreat for Britain, as Rangoon fell to the Japanese in March 1942. But the fighting went on, over a varied terrain of jungles, mountains, plains and wide rivers, until the Japanese forces surrendered in August 1945.
Some 100,000 African soldiers were taken from British colonies to fight in the jungles of Burma against the Japanese. They performed heroically in one of the most brutal theatres of war, yet their contribution has been largely ignored, both in Britain and their now independent home countries.
In the villages of Nigeria and Ghana, these veterans are known as ‘the Burma Boys’. They brought back terrifying tales from faraway lands. Few survived, even fewer are alive today.
Al Jazeera’s Barnaby Phillips travels to Nigeria, Burma and Japan to find a Nigerian veteran of the war and to talk to those who fought alongside him as well as against him. He even finds the family that saved the life of the wounded veteran in the jungles of Myanmar.
Source: content and video courtesy of Barnaby Phillips and Al Jazeera English.