Discussion in 'Historiography' started by von Poop, Sep 5, 2006.
Well...Hitler playing the banjo was priceless
A blast from the past.
I'm still interested though...
Bit nostalgic even to see the names of some of the posters to this thread!
I was distracted by the rugby!
My Son was very bright and sailed through exams with very little effort. He absolutely hated subjects where he had to commit his own thoughts and views consequently some of his English essays were very terse, concise and only half a page long.
On one occasion he was allowed to write about WW2 tanks. It is like a tome full of well researched facts (hours in the library job then) presented in his very best handwriting. His interest never waned but as somebody has already mentioned it was overtaken by motorbikes, music, girls, marriage and family.
Airfix kits and soldiers
social history of the time
Woke up to the fact my Father was involved and started digging
Why WWII? In no particular order, because it's still in living memory (just), time to ask those who were there is quickly running out, mum and dad were both very involved as were several aunts and uncles......and it has shaped the World we currently live in and the legacy still affects us in more ways than you would initially think.
I can't say it was a conscious decision on my part to be interested in WW2.
While I sort of succumbed to its omnipresence within my family, the obsessive part in me found something about it to latch on to and my interest remains piqued mainly by small revelations from 'ordinary' chaps. (And even on my most off of days, routine keeps me logging in here just in case ...)
As someone who never showed the slightest inclination towards History as a subject when younger, WW2 is, simply put, the era of history that I'm most comfortable learning about.
All of which really doesn't do the thing itself justice, but there you go.
(Oh and I had an Action Man 'n' all, but mostly I concerned myself with keeping his kit ready for inspection - making matchbox drawers with split pin handles to keep it all in. His rifle kept its barrel and sling, was proudly displayed on the lid of a wooden box I kept him in (I still have that box), and his gripping hands kept all of their fingers. What few dolls I had ended up as casualties, missing the odd limb, covered in red enamel paint, but that wasn't me.)
What fascinates you about the Second War? Always interested since I was a child or at least since I can remember. Then the real obsession started after a crap battlefield tour to Dunkirk.
Why does it continue to do so? 75 years on Dunkirk IMO is still the least researched campaign of WW2, especially when you consider the casualties sustained in just 6 weeks, probably the highest casualty rate at any point during WW2. Significant discoveries are still being made and there is still so much not know with the answers to be found.
My obsession is probably due to the fact that I was a child during the war, and have many memories, especially of Dad going away. I think it left permanent psychological effects too.
Also more recently we lived for 10 years among many Jewish people, some survivors of the camps. So that started more research into that aspect.
One french/Jewish friend remembered her war years in a children's home in SW France - we came to look for it, found it, and ended up coming to live nearby. So many connections.
What fascinates you about the Second War? I'm a kid of the 70's and grew up with it all around me.
Why does it continue to do so? Because I'm still discovering stuff today that I didn't know yesterday and it attracts far less of the 'expert', condescending, know it all knobheads than the topic of the First World War.
Oh, and I very occasionally get paid for talking about it.
My dad was in the RAF.
A mate lent me a book (which I still have) called The Lonely Warrior by Jean Offenberg.
I proceeded to empty the village library and consume every book on the Battle of Britain.
Agree with VP that Merlins are great.
Why? Because so many risked their lives and fought heroic battles to regain freedom in Europe and The Far East.
Can's see that happening again, different kind of foes nowadays.
Gosh, yes, I didn't realise that until I was asked to do some work on a WW1 subject recently and while I've met some really decent and knowledgeable people, I have met more than my fair share of tossers, I must admit - I mean real desperadoes who seem to feel that the right to study/talk about the entire period (or weird, tiny parts of it, the more obscure the better) actually belongs to them. I wonder why that is?
I can't reall define my feelings about it but WW2 ended less than 20 years before I was born (1962) so it was still fresh in many people's memories. I also had the Action man, Commando comics, Airfix models etc experience.
Perhaps in my impression 'history' (or perhaps I should say accessible history) is something that happened before I was born but is still in human memory. Anything before that almost seems like 'ancient' history.
Whilst WW1 would obviously also qualify on those grounds, and there were a few WW1 veterans still around then, my interest in military history really developed when I was in my 40's. That meant that there were very few WW1 veterans still alive, but lots of WW2 veterans (although sadly now reducing).
I am in contact with a few WW2 veterans, one now 97 years old, and they reinforce my fascination with the subject. Members such as Joe Brown, Sapper and Tom Canning still amaze me with their recollections. Living memory.
That's all I can explain about my interest, apart from my own family research.
The subject of WW2 has been a big part of my life for over 45 years now and I can take a snippet from almost every post on this thread that applies to my own experience. WW2 was really a more prevalent subject in the 60's and 70's.
It may have begun with an interest in the Battle of Britain and then spread to all the other facets. Quentin Reynolds account is a very early memory. I know that after reading almost every title in the children's section of my local library I had to ask for special dispensation to get an early adult card.
Comic books, TV programs, movies, accessible war veterans, remembrance day ceremonies, Airfix models ($1 for 1/72 scale armour), finding a sten gun in the local scrapyard, our local RCAF base, my uncle's Bomber Command log book, family stories and a fascination with the Spitfire were all contributors to he obsession.
My interest has not diminished in any way over those years but it has certainly changed. In the beginning, it was that boyhood fantasy over the glory of war, waving the nationalist flag and a keen interest in the minutiae of the equipment, both aircraft and armour. Over time, that has changed to an increasing curiosity and respect for the men who fought the war and their experiences. At this point, I don't give a rats ass for how many rivets a Mk 3 Sherman has or which variant was used where (sorry Adam). My attention is focused on the incredible feats our veterans accomplished and how they dealt with the after effects.
About 20-odd years ago I was doing some (unrelated to WW2) work in the National Archives for a TV series and I had an afternoon 'free'. OK, it was Friday and I didn't want to schlep back into London and the office. I rang my dad and bet him a pint (always a good ploy) he couldn't remember his army number and unit. He rattled it off and I got the war diary of 77 Assault Squadron, Royal Engineers out. They had to chuck me out eventually and I was in bits for a while - something I rediscovered when the wonderful Michel Sabarly sent me after action reports with dad's name actually typed there. That really knocked me and my brothers for six - in a good way Michel and god bless him and all the other WW2 aficionados on here who keep this going.....I had the Action Man, Commando comic, Airfix models thing too, but thought I'd left it behind until that moment. Like a lot of people on here, I'm an inquisitive sort and I no longer took my dad's silence at face value. He's been dead a few years now and I'm still finding stuff out - and not just about him of course. In my research about Trooper Small, I'm fascinated with how much we can find out about people we never knew or met. With my dad it's about how little I know about someone who was around so much of my life.
Separate names with a comma.