My trip in the UK, March 2019

Discussion in 'The Barracks' started by Chris C, Mar 4, 2019.

  1. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    Hello all,

    If anyone actually feels like it, I am going to try to post on my infrequently-updated personal blog each day of my trip. Today at the Tank Museum was pretty good, especially chatting with an army officer who came in to do research.

    The short version would be, terrible replacement bus going west from Southhampton (2 hours to reach Bournemouth), slept a little over 10 hours, very good day at the museum archives, legs quite tired as I walked to and from Wool. I discovered that I had not been into the Cold War room at the museum and badly wanted to take photos of the Conqueror, but the light was streaming through the window and messing things up so I will try again tomorrow morning. It is wonderful being able to look through the museum with barely anyone else there.

    Also on the book front, I noticed not one but TWO charity shops selling used books as well as a Works so I might pop into those if I have time. If I bring back 50 pounds of used books I will blame the members of this forum ;)

    ALSO, the officer I met recommended two books to me. "The Battalion" by Borthwick, and "So Few Got Through". Thoughts on those?

    Chris' Blog
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  2. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    Hi Chris, they are both excellent immediate post war accounts. “Battalion” covers its unit from Alamein to Germany and is more of a traditional regimental history. “So Few got Through” is a more personal account from an officer who joined his regiment at the end of the battle in Normandy and then led it through to end of the campaign. Both well worth acquiring in my opinion. Informative and moving in places, with a leavening of humour when the going gets tough.

    Regards and good hunting,

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  3. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Glad to hear it's got off to a good start. Do try and leave some books for us natives...
    Chris C likes this.
  4. Oldman

    Oldman Very Senior Member

    Pleased your road trip got off to a good start, Bovington is always a good day out.
    When we went for the tiger event I enquired about the lighting to a museum staff member and got the its not my area of responsability reply.
  5. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    Oh dear Oldman, that's not very good!

    The lighting problem I had with the Conqueror was actually, simply, that it was late in the day, and those few tanks are just in front of a very large window. I do not know all the good digital camera tricks and the light coming from the west was just making things very difficult. So it was not really the fault of the museum.

    Today I spent entirely in the archive reading room. I photographed some documents that I had overlooked yesterday, such as a 1945 Archer gun drill manual. I wasn't going to take pictures of it - 80 pages - but I glanced inside and saw that it identified the roles of the Number 1, 2, 3, and 4 in firing and I think in other ways as well. That is really valuable for me so I decided to get the whole manual.

    Looking at a LOT of delivery squadron records did not yield an enormous amount of information, but the WD for HQ 2 Armoured Replacement Group looks like it has a few nuggets of information I really did want, so that was good. I've posted more details on my blog (link up in the first post). And I got some information about the organization of delivery units in both Italy and NWE to share with the previous discussion and I'm happy to have found that.

    Tomorrow the only thing I might do in the reading room is look again the binder of Archer photos, if I want to try to pick out which photos I'd really want to include in my book. Assuming I actually produce a book. :) Otherwise I will have the day free to look at tanks.
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  6. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    Don't forget that as well as a digital camera, some archives also have scanners so you could take a USB memory stick and copy direct to the USB, might be of use? Can be a lot quicker than individual framing each page......
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  7. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    Fortunately it was a booklet, so once I thought of it, I took one photo for each pair of pages.

    I think they must have a scanner for photos, but one was not on offer for documents.
  8. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Not ashamed to say I love Conqueror a little bit. (Rob griffin's book probably one of the best tank books I own.)
    Bov's is in the Tamiya hall, isn't it? I know the light issue there, but it can be OK, & it's... quite large... to move about.
    Duxford's example is either outside or in Stygian gloom. Their Land warfare hall can be a bugger for taking pictures.

    Most importantly: Are you enjoying yourself, Chris?
    Sounds like it.
    Oldman likes this.
  9. Oldman

    Oldman Very Senior Member

    Love Duxford it is a great museum especially the American Air Force building, don't even try to take photo's in the land warfare hall I find it impossible to get any decent results even with a strong flash gun
  10. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    I am definitely enjoying myself, thanks! I admit to shaking my head at myself as I went through those delivery related records but it was worth it to find the needles in the haystack.

    It looks like Bov has one Conqueror outside but on the base side where you can't get to it, and I don't know if it's called the Tamiya Hall, but I think it was described as the Cold War room where there some tables and play things for children, I think, the TOG, Conqueror, Shiel, Centurion, and something else.
  11. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    That said tomorrow I have nothing planned except book shopping and travelling to Portsmouth and I will probably put my feet up a bit. After being cooped up this winter I am unused to the amount of walking I have been doing. On the plus side I think that walking has helped contribute to a general feeling of well-being.
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  12. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    Chris walking is good ,hope you have a great time
    Chris C likes this.
  13. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    Had another very good day today. Met more people (I confess that I haven't mentioned that I've been making some contacts which is very encouraging). Will write more later.

    The tank museum archives has so many photographs. Jonathan Holt dug out a binder with pages of very small contact images of Bishop and Archer, but that same binder also had images of the Crusader 5.5" prototype that I haven't seen, the Valentine 6-pounder SP prototype, the FV 4005--all kinds of odd and wonderful things.

    I could probably spend hours there just flipping through those binders.
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  14. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    Hello again,

    vP - fully agree with you about Rob Griffin's book. It was not precisely inexpensive but I was very happy to get it.

    I see a strand of thought that connects Archer to Conqueror - no, stop laughing. In the post-war 40s the idea was floated to transfer anti-tank duties from the RA to the RAC. Eventually, I believe due to budget constraints, that happened. I've read of one RAC unit in Libya which got assigned as a divisional anti-tank unit and seem to recall them expressing themselves as happier when they returned to the UK less than a year later and got out of that job. And the final link in my chain of thought is that as Griffin describes, the RAC never really developed a doctrine of use for the Conqueror. If the RA had retained their AT duties I feel like they would have been a bit more comfortable with Conqueror, except they would probably have wanted something different and shorter- perhaps a casemate tank destroyer or one with a gun at the back with limited traverse.

    Anyways, it was great to see one of those great beasts up close, although the light again made it difficult to take photos. I'll post a link to those later.

    I wrote about my third day at the Tank Museum here: Chris' Blog
    You can read more about some of the connections I made, including becoming someone's proofreader! If the introduction and chapter I have read of this forthcoming book on 8th Army is any indication, I think it will be pretty good, with something new to say.
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  15. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    Day 4 is up, but I'm not sure if there will be much to interest you lot, except that I talk a bit about the chapter I proofread; also the author has said he's happy if I can get the word out.

    So forgive me if this is a bit of a plug. I have only read the introduction and one chapter, but based on those I do think it will be one to look out for.

    It has the working title Fighting Rommel: The Learning Curve of the British Army. The author is James Colvin, who says it was inspired by bits of conversations he had with his father, uncle, and cousin, who were all there in North Africa. It's going to come out from Helion in 2020 and the focus is - why did it take so long for 8th Army to learn to fight well? "It examines the background and training of both British and German armies of the time, in particular the learning process during the campaign, the lessons each side drew from events, and how they built on experience."
  16. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    Chris I like the blog keep going
    One interesting thing you have proved is there are plenty of anoraks out there and long may it continue.
  17. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Pheasant and pigeon.

    Top stuff--one wonders what they did to ruin what should be fine eating.
  18. idler

    idler GeneralList

    It was redeemed by the chocolate moose he had for afters...
  19. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    I prefer not to think of us as anoraks, thank you very much :D

    I would more positively say that it has been great to meet people who share the same interests.
    CL1 likes this.
  20. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    Chocolate moose takes a lot of work to make!


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