What have you learned about WW2 recently?

Discussion in 'General' started by dbf, Oct 22, 2010.

  1. wtid45

    wtid45 Very Senior Member

    I am amazed how many people who were known for their deeds later in the war.......... were at Dunkirk.
    paulcheall likes this.
  2. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    We need to talk ;)
  3. canuck

    canuck Closed Account

    I've come to the realization recently that many veterans stayed silent after the war and said nothing of their experience for reasons that aren't widely acknowledged. It is accepted that the emotional trauma from the horrific events they lived was the primary reason. I've now read some frank accounts recently that make me think there were secrets to keep and individuals to protect, so better not to talk. These men were sent to perform some grisly work and I'm sure not all of them are proud of what they had to do. As someone said in another thread, "they weren't choir boys".
    None of this is meant to denigrate the veterans in any way. My respect for them is undiminished and I will never fully understand what they endured. Still, some events are best not discussed.
  4. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Canuck -
    There was another compelling reason for not telling any stories - if and when anyone even mentioned their part in the war - there arose a chorus of "here we go swinging the lamp" - didn't take long to get the message that it was not "Done",,,

    It's only in the past few years that it has become popular to discuss those events - primarily I think owing to the BBc series on archiving these same events where there are now some 47,000 stories from veterans cached since the middle 90's.

    I often suspected that the most vociferous in the swinging the lamp chorus
    were those who had no stories to tell...could be wrong of course !

    There are many unforgettable stories in that archive and is well worth a visit - there are tales there by people like Snowy Baines and his experience in Japanese POW camps - the Argyll captured at Tobruk's hilarious POW tales - the gunner from Wales whose daughter finally wrote of his experiences in the desert and Italy - Ron with his diary - PeterG's tale of his teen age in Northen Italy- Josephine nursing in Holland and Indonesia - many fascinating tales of derring do...and humour - always humour !
    Alisonmallen likes this.
  5. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    As if to reinforce my previous post I had a phone call from a WW2 RN veteran today asking if he could participate in our Remembrance Day parade this year (silly question really).
    Chatting to him it turns out he was an 18 year old DEMS gunner in 1942 and he has never taken part in a Remembrance Day parade or even worn his 6 medals!
    Now, at his Grandchildrens request, he wants to parade (in his wheelchair) with us.
    Now starting to research DEMS gunners in general and his own service and ships served in. I know a little about DEMS, but this will enlarge that knowledge.
    Another of those little projects I find fascinating. Will post results/ask questions here in a little while.

    Alisonmallen likes this.
  6. aldersdale

    aldersdale Senior Member

    What Surprises me is how ill equipped the BEF troops were, radios without chargers Tanks with just a Machine gun, the right hand never seem to know what the left hand was doing
  7. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    why are you surprised ? - we never caught up with the German innovations of war - but then - we didn't gear up until 1938/39 - they were at it from around 1933 consequently our main expenditures and budgets were not with the defence department - look at the Tank situation this was held back by the Cavalrymen who preferred smelly horses to smelly-oily bunches of steel - then the same cavalrymen were charging 88mm A/T guns in the desert like it was the Crimea again -until Monty could get rid of them at Medenine - that was in February 1943- we had been at it since 1939 without a decent Tank- the 17 pounder a/t gun came along at the back end of 1942 - well at least four of them - again at Medenine - we didn't have the back up of the "Cabrank" airforce until El Hamma - in March 1943 - no Cromwell - Comet Tanks until June 1944 - the 3.7 AA gun was converted into an A/T gun - when ? - battle of the Bulge - 1945 ! ...and you are surprised at the lack in the BEF of 1940 ......!

    I am reminded of Einstein's statement that WW4 will be using sticks and stones - THEN Britain might be ready..if they can keep their submarines off sandbanks for WW3

  8. Oldman

    Oldman Very Senior Member

    Since I became a member of this forum I realized really how little I knew about WW2, most people like myself keep their research to family members.
    The forum and its members have really broadened my horizion and like many other members I always try to logon at least once a day.

    Long may it continue
  9. aldersdale

    aldersdale Senior Member


    I fairly new at this so reading the stuff about the BEF etc and their equipment comes as a bit of a surprise to a newbie
  10. Jaeger

    Jaeger Senior Member

    I have been dipping into the life of tankies of late. What is so fantastic about this forum is that I can read about Ken Tout on Monday, think about it on Tuesday and post my take on it, come Wednesday I get to chat with real tankies on the forum.
  11. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    I found out last night there is another wreck on the Dunkirk Coast (Bray Dunes) called the Empress that can be seen at low tide. I'll be visiting her early next year with a cross and cable ties.
  12. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer Pearl Harbor Myth Buster

  13. Jedburgh22

    Jedburgh22 Very Senior Member

    Blues and Royals Horses were offloaded in France en-route to Palestine - many ended up working for the Wehrmacht.
  14. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    When was that ?
  15. Jedburgh22

    Jedburgh22 Very Senior Member

    I'll get back to you with the dates - it's mentioned in David Smiley's biography
  16. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    From Spears Assignment to Catastrophe that the RAF still had 11 Squadrons in France after Op Dynamo had finished: 6 Bomber Squadrons and 5 Fighter Squadrons.
  17. Packhow75

    Packhow75 Senior Member

    Members of XXI Independent Parachute Company carried No77 Phosphorous (Smoke) grenades in socks tied to their webbing... never in their webbing, or in their smock pocket. This so that in the event the grenade accidentally ignited they could cut it away easily.
  18. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA Patron

    Hello again,

    Several posters commented on the BEFs equipment but when Jedberg mentioned the horses off loaded in France it reminded me of Derek Robinson's wonderful book called "Invasion, 1940 : The truth about the Battle of Britain and what stopped Hitler"

    I don't have the book for reference but I remember how he talked about the huge number of horses that the Germans planned to use to tow their equipment. From poking around the net it looks like approximately 4000 in the first wave with many more thousands to follow along with hundreds of thousands of tons of hay.

    Remember that half of these animals would be on flat rafts and half would be on river barges and most of them would have been at sea for at least 24 hours and many for two or three days since they had to be staged at every port available. Now you get to the point of demarcation. The tugs have to anchor under fire and off load the horses over the side by crane.
    Horses don't like unfamiliar circumstances, by the way and I'm guessing none had made an open sea journey in a small craft before. So, now you have at irritable 1000 pound horses who might also be sea sick, panic stricken or gravely injured from falling over in tightly packed quarters with other beasts mad with terror.

    Then it would start to get difficult. When a RN destroyer swepts by at 30 knots the wake would sink many of the barges and rafts without firing a shot.
  19. 17thDYRCH

    17thDYRCH Senior Member

    I agree....highly addictive. I am on this wonderful forum 5 times daily.

    And, to answer the question....Italian Campaign, thanks to one Mr. Tom Canning.
    Canadian Commandos in 1941...Researcher1941 for having opened what could be a great can of worms.

  20. Ednamay

    Ednamay wanderer

    I knew my father had been seconded from naval service to army coastal defence in 1940, but only recently, from here, gained the background. My father was a retired naval gunnery instructor, recalled after the Munich Crisis in 1938 and put 'on call' - told to notify his employer he would have to report to his station should there be a declaration of war. The navy doing some forward thinking. He was put on shorebased security duties in 1939, being too old for sea service.

    After Dunkirk, there were innumerable problems:
    Personnel had been lost, captured, injured;
    Equipment had been lost or destroyed, left behind;
    Transport, etc. had also been lost, destroyed ....

    The powers that be thought that the German forces would follow up their initiative and invade, so we needed coastal defences, of which there were too few, so we needed mobile units to monitor south coast and east coast beaches - but there was no transport and no guns.

    After Dunkrk, in June 1940, a goodly number of retired/recalled naval gunnery instructors (including my father) were seconded to the army, together with naval lorries and naval mobile guns, to lead (and instruct) mobile gun crews, with mixed crews, some (?recalled) naval personnel and some army (?) trainees. His crew were moved around after messages from couriers, or at his choice, moving nearly every day and watching for ships / boats / aircraft by night. He finally booked them into HMS Ganges at Shotley for a night's break, half of them being navy, although they were all wearing army uniform.

    Unfortunately, these groups don't appear in army or navy archives, so for detail I am relying on what my father said on weekends at home, and after the war. I am still hunting biographies, journals and what-have-you for 'official' details but from the horse's mouth ...............


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