'Mad Mike' Calvert Interviews

Discussion in 'Burma & India' started by mikky, Sep 22, 2013.

  1. mikky

    mikky Member

    One for Bamboo

    Again the IWM turns up trumps with many hours of interviews with the remarkable ' Mad Mike ' Calvert

    James Michael Calvert

    The first interview has 10½ of conversation, there are 4 more


    Object description

    British officer served with London Divisional Engineers in Norway, 1940; officer served with Special Operations Executive in GB, Australia and Burma, 1940-1942; officer served with Chindits in India and Burma, 1942-1944; officer served with Special Air Service in GB, North West Europe and Norway, 1944-1945


    Content description

    REEL 1 Background in India and GB, 1913-1940: family; education and period with Royal Engineers; expansion of London Divisional Engineers and defence duties in London; reaction to outbreak of war 9/1939 and opinion of how war would be won; role of force sent to Narvik; own role in force including reason for volunteering; rank and training with Scots Guards; voyage to Narvik; discussions with fellow troops; German invasion of Norway. Aspects of operations as officer with London Divisional Engineers in Norway, 1940: situation on arrival in Andalsnes; scenes of retreating troops; troops under command; demolitions between Andalsnes and Dombås; story of Royal Marine NCO; discussion of Royal Marines; further details of demolitions; return to Andalsnes and evacuation; lessons learned in Norway including Junkers Ju-87 Stuka attacks and opinion of ground and air forces. Aspects of period as officer with Special Operations Executive in GB, 1940: joining of Special Operations Executive; details of training centre posted to; role of centre; book written on demolitions; training given to David Niven. REEL 2 Continues: idea of ignoring any intention of government to make peace including story of Guards officers in London; posting with Peter Fleming to southern England; plans for guerrilla force; fellow officers; role with unit; details of bombs made; plans for defence against German invasion including work on piers; recruiting and training of guerrilla force; booby trapping of possible German headquarters; opinion of unit; construction of underground hideouts; opinion of contingency plans; reluctance of some to destroy heritage; posting of non-Kent and Sussex regiments in these counties; potential use of Lovat Scouts; opinion of use of Royal Navy and Royal Air Force; opinion that should have let some Germans land; later expansion into and opinion of Auxiliary Units including story of sabotage kits later issued; opinion of ex-Anti Aircraft officers later seen in Burma; details of Military Intelligence Research demolition course attended; formation of Special Operations Executive and expectations of direction of war; letter written by Winston Churchill to Commonwealth leaders. REEL 3 Continues: background to posting in Australasia; reaction of an older officer to Churchill's plan and discussion on his comments; make-up of team posted to Australasia. Aspects of period as officer with Special Operations Executive in Australia, 1940-1941: enquiry on arrival in Australia; memories of Freddie Spencer Chapman; discussion of organisation of guerrilla forces in different areas during and after war including role of Special Operations Executive with guerrillas; role in Melbourne; equipment taken to Australia; training area. REEL 4 Continues: formation of independent companies; use and misuse of units in South East Asia; discipline required of guerrillas; opinion of Australian troops; dangers of explosives; further details of companies and eventual withdrawal to Burma; political situation in Australia; importance of winning hearts and minds; political considerations in Timor and Abyssinia; restoration of European monarchies by Special Operations Executive; problems for mission in Australian military including story of visit to Darwin and interview on arrival in Singapore. REEL 5 Continues: thanks received for soldiers he trained; sources of anti-British feeling in Australia; failure to give necessary credit to Timor operations; later expansion of independent companies; opinion of Australian loyalties to the British sovereign; story of letter delivered to Colonel Moorhood in 1941. Aspects of operations as officer with Special Operations Executive in Burma, 1941-1942: details of Mission 204 to and Japanese occupation of China; Chinese history in use of booby traps and deception; details of Bush Warfare School at Maymyo; role at school; details of officers posted at Maymyo; rank held; terrain. REEL 6 Continues: make-up of Mission 204; earlier achievements of Orde Wingate in Abyssinia; Wingate's support of Haile Selassie; depression and suicide attempt of Wingate; hostility toward Wingate from within Mission 204; arrival of Wingate and establishment of relationship with him; story of refusal of Mission 204 members to serve under Wingate and letter written to General Alexander; survey of Burma with Wingate including meeting with General Slim; further details of Mission 204 personnel. REEL 7 Continues: Allied rivalries in Far East including US mission in Kachin; US-Anglo relations in Far East including Congress approved Indian insurrection; opinion of work of Auchinleck, Wavell and Mountbatten in Far East; earlier failure to expand Indian Army sufficiently; contact with Viceroy Archibald Wavell; memories of General Joseph Stilwell including details of action at Mogaung. REEL 8 Continues: further memories of General Joseph Stilwell; relationship between US and British Armies including strategy for re- conquest of South East Asia; opinion of reasons for failure of Mission 204 including examples and problems with Japanese reprisals; description of mission along Irrawaddy River. REEL 9 Continues: problems after handing mission over to Colonel Musgrave; defence of Gokteik viaduct and failure to blow it up; depletion of force; contact with Peter Fleming; Viceroy Wavell's plan to deceive Japanese at Mandalay; carrying out of plan including own involvement; aid given to Indian refugees; reunion with troops; General Alexander's attempts to keep up morale; activities and scenes during retreat; action on Chindwin River; situation faced after falling behind Japanese lines; swim across Chindwin River; march through jungle including help gained from Oriya refugees; arrival in British lines. REEL 10 Continues: recovery of refugees and stragglers; impression of returning troops; wait for evacuation from Assam; praise and criticism received for work in Burma; opinions of Vieroy of Wavell; conditions on train journey to Calcutta; facilities in camp and hospital at Ranchi; work of Aileen Slim in improving hospital; reactions to conditions following retreat from Burma. Aspects of operations as officer with Chindits in India and Burma, 1943- 1944: method of Wingate to develop ideas; officers involved in operation including memories of Humphrey Trevelyan; Wingate's knowledge of military history; Wingate's relationship with fellow senior officers in Indian Army; Viceroy Wavell's role for Wingate in India; problems with Wingate Operations; handling of Chindits following Wingate's death. REEL 11 Continues: role in preparation near Jhansi; leave; camp formed for training; background of troops; division into and make-up of columns; formation of overnight jungle laagers; activities of rearguard; lighting of fires; communications; organisation of use of rivers; laager defences; breakfast; opinion of Wingate's jungle training; morning procedures; ration arrangements of sepoys; decision to not employ Indian units; later changes to rations including bully beef tins; opinion of weaknesses of Indian Army, 1942. REEL 12 Continues: story of Wingate demonstrating method of cooking rice quickly; opposition of senior Ghurkha officers to Wingate; use of machine guns and mortars against Japanese; learning to handle including exercise for officers and NCOs; changes to columns; training, organisation and opinion of Commandos; problems with conducting guerrilla warfare in Burma and need for large columns; discussion on formation and role of special force units; visits from Viceroy Wavell; role of column; political situation in India; story of riot witnessed in Delhi and subsequent escape from mob. REEL 13 Continues: details of famine, 1943, and effect on morale of Indian and British Army; concerns about Japanese invasion of India and decision to use Wingate Column; horsemanship of Wingate; communications including use of one time pad and transport of wireless sets; co-operation with air support; opinion of Royal Air Force pilots; reasons for Wingate being unwilling to co-operate with Force 136; rations and problems with malnutrition; story of gaining extra rations for 2nd Wingate Operation; medics and medical facilities in columns; river crossing course; manoeuvres. REEL 14 Continues: boots and beards including morale; unconventional side and humour of Wingate; hygiene in army; morale; leadership and nature of Wingate; rendezvous system introduced by Wingate; adaptations made for 2nd Wingate Operation; lobbying methods taught to Wingate by Lord Bandon; memories of Bernard Fergusson; discussions about posting Wingate to Italy; example of Wingate's abrasiveness; opinion and memories of Wingate. REEL 15 Continues: Wingate's opinions on relationship with civilians; discipline; opinion of Ghurkhas; earlier suggestion they should use Anglo-Indian troops; troops selected and their performance; work of 142 Commando; relationship between 4 Corps and Chindits; withdrawal across Chindwin; treatment on arrival; opinion of origin of bad feeling between Ghurkha officers and Chindits; publication of patrolling notes. REEL 16 Continues: wounded troops entrusted to Japanese; details of 1st Wingate Operation; reception of report; jealousy between Indian and British troops and its history; reception from Walter Lentaigne, 111th Brigade commander; criticism of orders given by senior officers to juniors in field; example of problems of command from time with Special Air Service in North West Europe; leave in Bangalore and Colombo; reformation of brigade and temporary rank; reorganisation of brigade; manoeuvres following changes; co-operation with Royal Air Force; Wingate's debating methods. REEL 17 Continues: relationship with and use of Royal Air Force; medical facilities in columns; further detail of air support including opinion of US pilots worked with; rations and problems with malnutrition; story of gaining extra rations; training given to officers and NCOs; promotion to brigadier; memories of fellow officers; reasons for strong messages during heat of battle; problems raising from Wingate's ill health including Wingate's use of artillery; death of Wingate and question over his successor; opinion of Walter Lentaigne. REEL 18 Continues: influence of Michael Roberts on General Slim's memoirs; later contact with East European military attaches and their opinion of Wingate; opinion that history too often forgets non-conformist units; sympathy for Russian and Japanese attitude to POWs losing nationality; post-war attitude toward Chindits; opinion of need for pilotless aircraft for supplying troops; problems of conducting modern nuclear warfare; attitude towards POWs; handling of Russian POWs in Norway after war and opposition from KGB; discussion of British surrenders during Second World War; differences in attitude toward surrendering. REEL 19 Continues: reason for return to GB and period of hospitalisation; acceptance of post with Special Air Service. Aspects of operations as officer with Special Air Service in GB and North West Europe, 1944-1945: make-up of Special Air Service; activities of Special Air Service in North West Europe; communications; memories and opinions of fellow officers; relationship of guerrilla warfare and politics; nature of guerrilla warfare; importance of unpredictibility; initial relationship with troops; description and use of armoured jeeps; problems with French Special Air Service troops and ex-Long Range Desert Group officer in Colchester; story of day sorting French troops out; background and opinion of French troops. REEL 20 Continues: plan for Rhine crossing; own airborne crossing and walk back across Rhine; opinion of 2nd Army; plans for crossing of Ijessel; problems with airborne operations; meetings with French in Essex and details of parachute drops; drive into northern Netherlands; reasons for decision to not passing information to Dutch resistance, April 1945. REEL 21 Continues: details of activities in Netherlands; description of attack on Winschoten; opinion of French Special Air Service troops; liberation of camp for Polish female internees and treatment of guards; opinions of Special Air Service and own personnel including second in command; military situation in Norway; fate of French and Belgian Special Air Service troops at end of war; preparations for operations in Norway at Colchester. Aspects of period as officer with Special Air Service in Norway, 1945: arrival in Norway; surrender of German forces; attitude of U-Boat crews; escape of a U-Boat to Argentina.

    Mike
     
  2. zahonado

    zahonado Well-Known Member

    That'll take some sifting! Thanks for putting it up.
     
  3. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Thanks Mike,

    I'll take a deep breath and dive in soon. I have listened to about 12 of these IWM audios so far, they are sometimes worth their weight in gold. :)
     
  4. mikky

    mikky Member

    Indeed they are.

    At 6.50 of Reel 10/21 Calvert says

    " I think Slim was a great chap, but he hadn't got the brains of Wavell and, eh, the wise knowledge, sense of history; knowledge of history, eh, etc and I still think that General Wavell was the finest General of all, except possibly Mountbatt... eh, Montgomery whom I worked with just after the war. I got to know him quite well. "

    Mike
     
  5. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    In all honesty I think the Generals involved in the SE Asia theatre as the Japanese advanced were simply dismissed as being failures. This is not true in my opinion, men such as Wavell did some incredibly important work after the retreat in 1942. You have to look at the hardware and resources available to these men when the Japanese stuck to see that they had very little chance of holding them.
     
  6. zahonado

    zahonado Well-Known Member

    Can't seem to get access to the one I want....any tips? IWM says not available.
     
  7. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

  8. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    They do not have the copyright for all the material so they have not made all of it publicly available - those items can be purchased (so I'm told) or can be listened to at the IWM - not much use for you I'm afraid - they may become available, eventually...
     
  9. mikky

    mikky Member

    If you email the IWM they will email back a form that you can download and print. I'm not sure if the one you are after will be available, but you can buy digital copies sent to you via FTP server. I think that means download. Worth asking them, and if it is available it you can buy the reels separately for £10.. + VAT (£12.00) and £2.40 delivery. Or something like that.

    Contact IWM

    Mike
     
  10. zahonado

    zahonado Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the ideas..I emailed them and will see what they say. What is the point of having them if they can't be listened to I wonder!
     
  11. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    :rolleyes: Why climb the mountain...?

    Be aware that the price is for each reel, not a complete work - I think some of the Calvert recordings exceed twenty reels - that would be over two hundred pounds...

    I've just purchased (film) copies of 230 Squadron's Sunderlands and their involvement with the Chindits - five reels - £78
     
  12. mikky

    mikky Member

    Might be cheaper going to London, and listening for free?

    Mike
     
  13. zahonado

    zahonado Well-Known Member

    Yes, even coming from Spain it would be cheaper!
     
  14. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    ... and I believe that the listening room is only accessible during the week - not at the weekends... I mean, who on earth would be silly enough to want to do research on a Saturday or Sunday...? :biggrin:

    I've still never been there... as daft as it sounds, it is very difficult to get there by public transport from my side of London and be able to spend any significant time there... it is sooooo much easier to hit the button on here and listen and type...
     
  15. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    I've been to listen to two of the 13th Kings audios. The IWM reading /listening room is not up to much compared to the National Archives. Still, it has some very important documents nevertheless, none more so than Wingate's own personal papers I'm told.
     
  16. zahonado

    zahonado Well-Known Member

    Here is the reply I got from IWM. THe transcript is a bit cheaper but at 10 quid for 11 pages still not very good...I am wondering if I should offer the diary in exchange!!! Anyone going there?


    I regret to inform you that it is only possible to listen to this interview in the Museum. Though we have an ongoing programme of making material available on the internet as we do not own the copyright to this interview we will not be able to make this interview available remotely.

    It is possible to purchase a copy of this interview if you are not able to visit the Museum. There is also a transcript of the interview which is 11 pages long which is available to purchase.


    I have attached the sound order form to this email. It must be returned by post to the address on the form if you wish to purchase the interview.

    Please send me a postal address if you wish to purchase a photocopy of the transcript. Photocopying charges are 40p per page with an additional remote copying charge of £5. Please let me know if you would like me to post this to you.


    I have carried out a search of our catalogue but not found any references to a John de Quidt. I have attached our guide to Army records which you may find of interest.


    I hope this information is helpful to you.


    Yours sincereky
    Katherine Phillips

    Number of documents attached to this message:2
    Attached documents may be listed at the beginning or end of this email

    Katherine Phillips
    PLEASE DO NOT USE THE REPLY FUNCTION TO RESPOND TO THIS EMAIL - only the hyperlinks provided below should be used to contact us. If you use the reply function, your response will be lost.

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    The Imperial War Museum is a charity and relies on individual support to help us provide increased access to our collections and to continue to develop our wide range of learning programmes, events and exhibitions. If you would like to support our work, please click here Support the CollThe Museum does not accept credit or debit card information by email as it is unable to guarantee the security of the email.
    I regret to inform you that it is only possible to listen to this interview in the Museum. Though we have an ongoing programme of making material available on the internet as we do not own the copyright to this interview we will not be able to make this interview available remotely.

    It is possible to purchase a copy of this interview if you are not able to visit the Museum. There is also a transcript of the interview which is 11 pages long which is available to purchase.


    I have attached the sound order form to this email. It must be returned by post to the address on the form if you wish to purchase the interview.

    Please send me a postal address if you wish to purchase a photocopy of the transcript. Photocopying charges are 40p per page with an additional remote copying charge of £5. Please let me know if you would like me to post this to you.


    I have carried out a search of our catalogue but not found any references to a John de Quidt. I have attached our guide to Army records which you may find of interest.


    I hope this information is helpful to you.


    Yours sincereky
    Katherine Phillips

    Number of documents attached to this message:2
    Attached documents may be listed at the beginning or end of this email

    Katherine Phillips
    PLEASE DO NOT USE THE REPLY FUNCTION TO RESPOND TO THIS EMAIL - only the hyperlinks provided below should be used to contact us. If you use the reply function, your response will be lost.

    Click here if you would like to comment on the service you received.
    Comment on our service

    Click here if you have a new enquiry.
    Ask New Question

    Thank you for using our service.

    Collections Enquiry Service
    IWM

    The Imperial War Museum is a charity and relies on individual support to help us provide increased access to our collections and to continue to develop our wide range of learning programmes, events and exhibitions. If you would like to support our work, please click here Support the Collections.

    The Museum does not accept credit or debit card information by email as it is unable to guarantee the security of the email.


    The information provided in this response has been provided to you by our service in good faith. However the information should not be relied upon without establishing its accuracy for yourself.

    Please note that information goes out of date and, in particular, URL's that we might provide you may not continue to be available. The provision of a URL by this service does not constitute endorsement of that site and any fees or charges for using the site will be your responsibility. Downloading of images and/or text without the permission of the copyright owner may breach international copyright laws.




    The information provided in this response has been provided to you by our service in good faith. However the information should not be relied upon without establishing its accuracy for yourself.

    Please note that information goes out of date and, in particular, URL's that we might provide you may not continue to be available. The provision of a URL by this service does not constitute endorsement of that site and any fees or charges for using the site will be your responsibility. Downloading of images and/or text without the permission of the copyright owner may breach international copyright laws.
     
  17. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    I had an almost identical response to a similar question just after they pulled them after they first put them up, then realised the copyright issue... voice/audio has some rather complex legal issues...
     
  18. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    I've just been re-listening to parts of this--it really is brilliant and covers so many subjects of interest.

    Apparently some Japanese propaganda encouraging surrender was found at White City and Calvert--in self-consciously melodramatic mode said that there would be no surrender under any circumstances and parroted the old line about fighting 'to the last man and the last round'.

    At the end of the meeting he asked for questions and one junior signals officer thoughtfully inquired whether if you turn out to be the last man, and have already fired the last round, were you then permitted to surrender?
     
    bamboo43 likes this.
  19. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Thanks for reminding me that I have this squirrelled away on disc CF. I will give one or two reels a listen and pick up some quotes for the Chindits Society newsletter. These could go alongside a new photo I was given of Calvert.
     
  20. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Part that may be of particular interest to you is when he discusses the reputation of the Chindits immediately post-war. In his opinion, in addition to the criticism that the commanders of conventional troops do not like to emphasise the role of special operations/forces in case it appears to denigrate the contributions of the bulk of the army, he lays some of the blame at Slim's Defeat Into Victory. At a time when Slim's stock was very high, his book was somewhat lukewarm in its discussion of Wingate despite his having written of him and his soldiering warmly after his death. The culprit, Calvert believes is one of Slim's former intelligence officers (Michael Roberts) who penned the Official History and ghostwrote portions of Slim's book (under supervision). This man apparently had a grudge against Wingate (reason unknown) and Slim himself mentioned to Calvert after the war that he was too busy and a few undesirable passages slipped into the final manuscript.

    He also contrasts the situation with the British to that with other armies in Europe who were comparatively eager to here the whys and wherefores of the Chindit operations--notably the Russians. He suggests that some officers obfuscated their involvement with Wingate in order to get on in their careers.

    All Reels 18-19.
     

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