PDA

View Full Version : Sex, fear and looting: survivors disclose untold stories of the Blitz
















Story
10-05-2006, 10:58 AM
Sex, fear and looting: survivors disclose untold stories of the Blitz

New history based on interviews gives unvarnished account of bombings and air battle

Maev Kennedy
Thursday October 5, 2006
The Guardian

The slackers, the looters, the promiscuous and the just plain terrified men and women of the Blitz are finally being heard, more than 60 years after the last bombs fell. The voices often edited out of the patriotic official version of Britain's finest hour resurface in a new history of the Blitz and the Battle of Britain, based on thousands of hours of recordings of survivors, held in the archives of the Imperial War Museum.

Article continues
Joshua Levine, who spent almost a year listening to the memories of sailors and civilians, many now dead, said: "History is never black and white. Instead it's many shades of grey.

"There was heroism, but there are stories of real people behaving badly under stress, lots of sexual activity, fiddling rations, looting, getting through it all as well as they could.

"This was a crucial time in the whole social structure of the country. All the barriers were down, people were eating the same food, wearing the same clothes, sheltering together. Poor city children were evacuated to much richer families. All the old rules were broken and could never be put back together again. For good or ill the origins of modern Britain lie in this period."

Interviews

The Imperial War Museum has built up the archive over the last 30 years, sending staff out to record deeply personal interviews, often capturing insights from elderly and frail people which would otherwise have been lost for ever with them. "This is history within living memory - just," Mr Levine said. "This is the last chance to hear these voices at first hand." He was particularly struck by an appalling account of the direct hit on the Cafe de Paris, whose underground ballroom was thought to be safe, recorded by the late Ballard Berkeley, the actor later to become famous as the major in Fawlty Towers.

Berkeley, a special constable, arrived to find a scene from hell, the bandleader Snakehips Johnson decapitated, and elegantly dressed people still sitting at tables without a mark on them, but stone dead. What shocked him more was the ransacking of the corpses: looters mingled with the fire crews and police, and cut the fingers from the dead to get at their rings.

At yesterday's launch Dame Joan Varley, then a bank clerk who went on to join the WRAF, vividly recalled spending the first night of the Blitz at her family home in Streatham, south London: "A stick of three bombs fell in the middle of our road; there was a moment - it seemed like an age but it was probably a second or two - of utter silence, and then there was a most unearthly wail, which added greatly to the terror of the moment. It was every dog and cat in the houses howling in terror - but they never did it again in any other bombing." After a few hours bolt upright on a deckchair in the Anderson shelter, in overcoat and trilby, her father declared: "I'm damned if that killer Hitler is going to keep me out of my bed." The family, worn out by his incessant grumbling, made no attempt to stop him - and after another few nights in the damp shelter concluded that if Hitler didn't get them, pneumonia would, and joined him back in the house.

Bam Bamberger, a Battle of Britain Spitfire pilot, recalled one particularly close shave, when "there was a lot of metal flying about, and lines of holes appearing in the sides" - not from enemy fire, he suspects to this day, but from his own squadron. The plane went into a spin towards the ground, he unbuckled his harness and prepared to jump, then remembered his training in an ancient biplane - and to his amazement the Spitfire pulled out of its dive. "I thought to myself, 'Bamberger, you are brilliant'." He managed to limp back to Hornchurch aerodrome, his ailerons disintegrating on landing. The ground crew greeted him with a sour "another bloody aircraft unserviceable".

Stan Poole, whose war began as a 14-year-old running messages for the fire service by day, and helping his mother wash the blood off her ambulance at night - "inside, and often outside as well, depending on where she'd been" - joined the D Day landings, much to his surprise. He reported for duty in west London and was told to get on the back of a lorry, which carried him to a landing craft at Tilbury, which took him to France. The journey was made almost unbearable because a shell shattered the thunder box, the toilet built on to the side of the craft, showering them with splinters and worse. "We didn't think we were winning the war, we tried not to think of it at all," he said. "We just tried to get on with it the best we could."

'It's all right for people in authority - but we were there'

Marie Price, civilian in Liverpool:
"Churchill was telling us how brave we all were and that we would never surrender. I tell you something - the people of Liverpool would have surrendered overnight if they could have. It's all right for people in authority, down in their steel-lined dugouts, but we were there and it was just too awful."

Sapper George Ingram, 22 Bomb Disposal and 89 Bomb Disposal Companies, Royal Engineers:
"I remember one sapper who was an absolute nervous wreck. He was courting and she was a very nice young woman, but he committed suicide by putting his head in a gas oven."

Alison Hancock, Women's Auxiliary Air Force:
"I was at a station where you had to suck up to the sergeant because he'd decide where you were going to be posted. I remember sitting on a bench and letting him kiss me because I wanted to go to Fighter Command to be a plotter."

Dorothy West, constable with Metropolitan police:
"If we saw a couple on the floor under a blanket - 'Hey! Hey!' We turfed them out. We couldn't have things like that going on, could we?"

Hugh Varah, Auxiliary Fire Service, Hull:
"If I close my eyes, I can still see his head come bowling back up the slope, like a hairy football."

Sylvia Clark, post office worker in London:
"I remember watching firemen attending to a building that was on fire, coming back down the ladders wearing mink coats, mink capes and fur hats. They were singing like mad as the bombers were still coming over."

William Heard, conscientious objector imprisoned in Feltham borstal:
"There were quite a few people who committed crimes in order to end up in prison rather than serve in the armed forces."

Private Herbert Anderson, Pioneer Corps:
"I remember specially a big factory that had been bombed - Hartley's - which was quite well known as makers of marmalade and jam. And the situation there was indescribable, because the dead were covered in marmalade."

Christabel Leighton-Porter, model for Daily Mirror cartoon pinup Jane:
"When the war was ending, a lot of old people were terribly distressed, wondering what they were going to do with their evenings. They'd enjoyed their nights down the tube stations."

? Forgotten Voices of the Blitz and the Battle for Britain, Ebury Press and the Imperial War Museum.

Hondo
10-05-2006, 11:43 AM
The Blitz, I never knew of this. The horrors of war from all survivors every where. I recall stories of Russians coming into Germany, Berlin at the end of WWII, the Russians committed rape, looting while drunk, and American and British troops simply turned looked away. No one cared, pure Madness!!!

Twitch
10-05-2006, 11:48 AM
Made me think of the French Resistance for some reason. While its popularized as to make us imagine every Frenchy was assissting somehow the truth was less than 10% at any given time were involved at all.

Haversack
10-05-2006, 12:04 PM
During the past two years leading up to the centennial this past April, accounts of the looting which took place and of how many actually died in the 1906 San Francisco Firequake have been coming out. There was a concerted effort immediatly after the Fire to downplay the ugliness and tragedy in order to speed rebuilding. And of course people prefer to remember the good over the bad so myths get built and reinforced over the years.

Haversack

Marc Chevalier
10-05-2006, 12:32 PM
"War is all hell."

-- General William Tecumseh Sherman (who knew)

.

Archie Goodwin
10-05-2006, 12:40 PM
Reading those stories gives me a new perspective on the Blitz, and what happned here in New Olreans after Katrina. The stress, the terror, and the adrenaline seemed to bring out the best and the worst in people. Only, the worst seems to get better ratings. I am not trying to be in any way political, but I do wonder what our perception from today would be on events like the Blitz if there had been television teams with unrestricted access? Would we see the heroism or the villiany?

Curt Chiarelli
10-05-2006, 12:51 PM
Actually, none of this surprises me one bit. It's all consistent with what we know about human behaviour. Do I have any less respect for the English now that the real truth is known (as opposed to the officially censored/sanitized version which held sway for 60 years)? Absolutely not. They were average people placed under unbearable stress and privation during a time of national crisis.

An ancient Chinese proverb says that trying to supress the truth is similar to trying to hold down a bubble of air at the bottom of a pool. Eventually it will rise to the surface and break. Regarding the Blitz (or anything else, for that matter), it was just a matter of time before the whole truth surfaced.

Tomasso
10-05-2006, 01:05 PM
..........even as the towers were falling. And, not only by civilians.:(

Marc Chevalier
10-05-2006, 02:23 PM
Interesting ...

.

MrBern
10-05-2006, 03:03 PM
this is what gets me:

Christabel Leighton-Porter, model for Daily Mirror cartoon pinup Jane:
"When the war was ending, a lot of old people were terribly distressed, wondering what they were going to do with their evenings. They'd enjoyed their nights down the tube stations."

Only because I've previously read of british survivors relating what a good time they had during the war. The intimacy, the comradery, the partying....

BigSleep
10-05-2006, 04:15 PM
The Blitz, I never knew of this. The horrors of war from all survivors every where. I recall stories of Russians coming into Germany, Berlin at the end of WWII, the Russians committed rape, looting while drunk, and American and British troops simply turned looked away. No one cared, pure Madness!!!

Not that it wasn't pure madness but I think they looked at it like revenge for what the Germans had done in Russia.

Zemke Fan
10-05-2006, 05:19 PM
Ground zero was looted..... even as the towers were falling. And, not only by civilians.
Do you have a source to cite on that?

Tomasso
10-05-2006, 05:29 PM
Do you have a source to cite on that?

Here. (http://www.wnbc.com/News/1406989/detail.html)

Hondo
10-05-2006, 05:41 PM
Not that it wasn't pure madness but I think they looked at it like revenge for what the Germans had done in Russia.

Well it may not be "pure" madness but madness just the same, I do agree that Russia did take revenge, but ordinary citizens didnt know what the SS or Nazis did in occupied countries, still the Russians killed indiscriminating numbers of men, women, and children. U.S. and British turned a blind eye.

I have to add: The area where most of the killings, looting was mostly occupied by the Russians or Russian sector, as Berlin divided into three sectors, the Americans and British really couldnt do anything unless they wanted to continue the war with the Russians. Having Russia as an allied was almost like a pack made with the devil, in this case Stalin.

Brevet
10-09-2006, 01:38 AM
Interesting to read some of those stories; I have to say that I welcome the 'honest' approach to recent history, so at least we may have a chance to understand. There is always a danger that the official history can sweep aside uncomfortable and unpleasant truths.

Hamandbacon
10-09-2006, 11:19 AM
I appreciate your post, Story. I have always enjoyed reading and hearing stories born from individuals' accounts of historical moments. Too often, those of us who weren't there, compile and digest a much more innocent and sweetened version of how such things really were.

Jeff

Alan Eardley
10-09-2006, 02:45 PM
Actually, none of this surprises me one bit. It's all consistent with what we know about human behaviour. Do I have any less respect for the English now that the real truth is known (as opposed to the officially censored/sanitized version which held sway for 60 years)? Absolutely not. They were average people placed under unbearable stress and privation during a time of national crisis.

An ancient Chinese proverb says that trying to supress the truth is similar to trying to hold down a bubble of air at the bottom of a pool. Eventually it will rise to the surface and break. Regarding the Blitz (or anything else, for that matter), it was just a matter of time before the whole truth surfaced.

With respect, you say, 'the real truth is known (as opposed to the officially censored/sanitized version...)' and, 'it was just a matter of time before the whole truth surfaced'. In fact, anyone who was in Britain during World War 2 (not just during the Blitz) has stories such as are described above. It was widely known that there was panic, looting, black marketeering and other symptoms of the breakdown of law and order. This has happened the world over since war began - why would it be any different for Britain in 1939-45?

As far as I can see, as an amateur historian growing up just after WW2 people talked of such matters freely. They were not widely reported at the time in newspapers and radio news so as not to give 'succour to the enemy' who would have seen any major lack of public order as an indication of success of its bombing policy. That's not sinister supression - it's an obvious policy. Many history books written since the war have mentioned the good as well as the bad of public behaviour under the stress of war in Britain. For instance, the rape, riots and looting carried out (or not) by Commonwealth troops during the fall of Singapore have been well discussed 'for and against'.

Here's a little known fact. In the English Midlands in 1944, there were race riots between white US soldiers who were training for D-Day and black US GIs based at a big local supply depot, with local people siding with the black troops. Local special police (my father was one) were issued weapons and ordered to fire on the (white) US troops if things got too far out of hand before the 'snowdrops' (US Military Police) arrived to restore order. Now, how would that have been reported at the time if the situation had reached its logical conclusion?

Story
10-09-2006, 03:03 PM
Here's a little known fact. In the English Midlands in 1944, there were race riots between white US soldiers who were training for D-Day and black US GIs based at a big local supply depot, with local people siding with the black troops. Local special police (my father was one) were issued weapons and ordered to fire on the (white) US troops if things got too far out of hand before the 'snowdrops' (US Military Police) arrived to restore order. Now, how would that have been reported at the time if the situation had reached its logical conclusion?

The powers-that-be would probably have slapped a "SECRET" label on any and all reports related to the matter. Remember the torpedoing of the troopship practicing landings, just prior to D-Day?

I'd once read an article that claimed there were around 10,000 deserters (US/UK and German) and mailingerers in northern France, in the second half of 1944. They made a practice of hijacking supplies from the Red Ball Express.

nightandthecity
10-10-2006, 07:56 AM
It was my elderly great-aunt who first alerted me to this other side of the Home Front. It was in the 70s when there was one of those periodic scares about street crime, and she casually mentioned that she had been mugged during the war. When I pressed her further she said it was during the black out, that it used to happen a lot, and that the perpetrators were often deserters - she explained that they were particularly after ration books (without one it was hard to live of course).

It was even earlier (in the 60s) I first heard about race riots between black and white GIs. Even though Britain was itself full of racial tensions in the 60s the story tellers always took pride in the fact that the local people had supported the black GIs. Several people told me the old wartime joke these yanks are OK, but I dont like those white bastards theyve brought with them.

Desertion in WW2 is a whole subject in itself really. Ive read bits about the gangs in France (and the UK, and Germany). In Europe they were sometimes very mixed, with former Axis and Allied Troops working together. Nor were they always purely criminal: Axis deserters played a minor but real part in the European resistance movements.

Anyone interested in this stuff, some of the same issues are touched upon in this current thread too..

http://www.thefedoralounge.com/showthread.php?t=12732

Salv
10-10-2006, 08:04 AM
Another interesting book is To The Victor The Spoils (http://arrisbooks.com/product_info.php?cPath=5&products_id=37) "focusing on the day-to-day experiences of the British and Canadian troops involved in the campaign to liberate Europe." From the publishers blurb:


This is a new and controversial study of the Second World War, covering the period between D-Day and VE Day and focusing on the day-to-day experiences of the British and Canadian troops involved in the campaign to liberate Europe. It is not an orthodox history of strategy, pivotal battles and the grand sweep of troop movements; instead the author looks at everyday life, seeing soldiers as individuals and illustrating their behaviour and experiences in a way that is both honest and shocking. It is the first time many issues - such as soldiers' sex lives - have been fully examined from a British perspective.
The book is for anyone interested in social history as well as readers of military history. This is history written from an alternative, challenging perspective. The author has not been afraid to confront controversial issues. Coverage includes chapters dealing with:

The crime wave unleashed on Europe by British and Canadian soldiers.

The prevalence of indiscipline including the murder of unpopular officers.

Revenge and the widespread killing of German prisoners by Commonwealth troops.

The VD epidemic, the use of brothels and fraternisation with German women.

The looting of property from both the enemy and liberated civilians together with widespread vandalism.

But the book puts all this in the context of the daily trials of the average tommy with fascinating and often humorous accounts of how the troops dealt with fear and battle fatigue, how they satisfied their craving for alcohol and supplemented their army rations, and how the lucky ones managed to survive and even snatch some recreation.


I read it a while ago, and I seem to remember it had a whole chapter on deserters - I'll get it off the shelf when I get home from work today and confirm that.

Salv
10-10-2006, 08:06 AM
Several people told me the old wartime joke “these yanks are OK, but I don’t like those white bastards they’ve brought with them”.

<snorts coffee over keyboard...>

John in Covina
10-10-2006, 10:28 AM
Supply and demand at it best or worst, the black market versus rationing.

Story
10-10-2006, 12:16 PM
Anyone interested in this stuff, some of the same issues are touched upon in this current thread too..

http://www.thefedoralounge.com/showthread.php?t=12732

From your link, I also found
Their Darkest Hour: The Hidden History of the Home Front 1939-1945 (Paperback)
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Their-Darkest-Hour-History-1939-1945/dp/0750932244/ref=pd_sbs_b_1/026-7981960-3298014?ie=UTF8

Katt in Hat
10-10-2006, 01:14 PM
"War is all hell."

-- General William Tecumseh Sherman (who knew)

.

lao
tsze
certainly told
him,and general
(yes

mam)
sherman;

e.e. cummings excerpt from (plato told)

Salv
10-10-2006, 02:00 PM
I've had a flick through To The Victor The Spoils, and while it doesn't, as I thought, have a full chapter on deserters, there are several references. Firstly it talks about the soldiers who deserted under fire and just wanted to get away from the front out of fear for their lives. No great surprise there.

The more interesting aspect of desertion is those soldies who deserted and turned to crime to survive. The book mentions rumours of a Deserters Transit Camp, based near the Normandy beaches and set up by two NCOs who sold fake passsports to men wanting to travel home. They supposedly drew rations using fake requisition forms and collected the food in stolen lorries. It was never established if this was true, and nobody ever admitted to having been there - it was always a 'friend of a friend'. While this may not have been true there were certainly gangs of deserters living out in the Normandy countryside, stealing army rations. They would go on to form criminal gangs that plagued the liberated areas.

All the deserters who went uncaught, and therefore ended up in military prisons, had to steal to survive, and the deserters who had a criminal past were the most succesful. The Navy and RAF both refused to take conscripts with criminal records, so they all ended up in the army. By the time France was liberated the gangs of deserters were well set up, and they had a lucrative business smuggling between France and Belgium. Champagne and cognac went one way, and cigarettes went the other way. Investigations by the authorities showed that Brussels was the epicentre of what became a crime wave. In December 1944 the Brussels garrison's Provost Company reported that "Some...are forming themselves into armed gangs and are living mostly in the small brothel cafes in the area east and west of the Gare du Nord."

Gang members were often arrested, but one gang started producing counterfeit passes which they validated with stolen stamps. In November 1944 322 deserters were arrested, 43 of them in a single raid on the Cafe Blighty.

In Ostend in December 1944 a gang posing as a Field Security Unit was arrested, all with forged ID papers that appeared legitimate, and all dressed as senior NCOs or officers.

Vehicles of all description were a constant target for the gangs, as was petrol to fuel them, and thousands of gallons of stolen petrol were retrived in various raids in Belgium and France.

The scale of the problem became so great that in February 1945 Operation Blanket was launced in an attempt to round up as many deserters as possible. In a single day 450 men were arrested, although only 5% were found to be long-term deserters, the rest having absconded only within the last few days.

Story
10-11-2006, 10:32 AM
My High School French teacher proudly admitted to having gone AWOL 13 times, between landing at Omaha Beach and reaching Berlin. His rifle company was continually put out in front and since he had a native's command of French, he was frequently tasked to accompany recon patrols (which can be more even more draining).

Stephen Ambrose's writing on the topic -
http://www.worldwar2history.info/Army/deserters.html

Alan Eardley
10-11-2006, 03:15 PM
[QUOTE=Story]The powers-that-be would probably have slapped a "SECRET" label on any and all reports related to the matter. Remember the torpedoing of the troopship practicing landings, just prior to D-Day?
QUOTE]

Yes, they would. That's what the military does in war time and the civil service does in peace time. It means the document is restricted, but it doesn't necessarly mean that the incident described in not known to ordinary people. The incident you describe (Operation Tiger) should have been relatively easy to cover up as parts of Lyme Bay were off-limits to civilians as Slapton was being used for invasion training with live ammunition but that didn't stop large numbers of local people knowing about it as it was witnessed by fishermen , some of whom took part in the rescue. And yet I have seen it described as 'the best kept secret of WW2'. A secret known to hundreds, possibly thousands of people...strange secret!

Another disaster which has been called 'best kept secret of WW2' (and which was probably known to even more people at the time) was the Fauld explosion of November 1944 when the bomb dump at RAF 21 MU blew up. This was the fourth largest non-nuclear blast in history (not counting volcanic explosions) at an estimated 3 kilotonne. The shock was heard and felt up to fifty miles away and debris was seen to fall between two and three miles from the site. An area of several square miles was covered with dust, giving the appearance of Winter snow, windows were shattered ten miles away and many buildings (including a whole village) were reduced to rubble. The resulting crater is about 100 feet deep and over 3 hundred yards across (see below). And yet it was officially classified as 'secret'! Hundreds of people were affected by it and tens of thousand of people knew about it and discussed it openly. Events in the area, such as dances and sporting events were cancelled out of respect. Another strange 'secret'!

http://i14.photobucket.com/albums/a317/dralaneardley/fauld.jpg


BTW, the IWM project which is the subject of the first postings of this thread is a long running project to record and archive the voices and war time experiences of ordinary people, who are dying out. I don't think it would claim to have uncovered any 'hidden secrets' or 'shocking revelations'. The Guardian report quoted is journalistic sensationalism.

The 'lawless deserters' in Belgium and France is another example of something that was much discussed at the time by homecoming troops but is little known nowadays. And while we're at it ... how about the German resistance movement fighting occupation forces long after the surrender on Luneberg Heath? And the Russians firing on RAF planes dropping much-needed food supplies in Poland...

Harp
10-11-2006, 04:53 PM
I remember a newspaper story from a dozen years ago that
accounted the disappearance of Glenn Miller's plane over the
English Channel. A RAF veteran claimed his bomber group; while enroute
back to England, jettisoned live ordinance over the Channel the day
Miller's plane disappeared. RAF Command concluded that Miller's low flying
DC3 had been accidentally struck, and decided to secret this least
Yank GIs would overreact against RAF crews. If true, Miller died from
"friendly fire."

Micawber
10-28-2006, 07:26 AM
Interesting thread. Being of an age where I grew up surrounded by people who were involved in both world wars both on the home front and in service I can very much relate to how the experiences of the individuals often differ to the accepted official line.

As an aside my paternal Grandfather had several retail premises in London from just after WWI to the mid 1960's. During WWII he went about his very respectable business, did his stints at fire-watching, put in a claim when bombs damaged his premises - all in all an average civilian going about his ostensibly unremarkable daily life.

However, once or twice after a large lunch where perhaps the drink had flowed, I remember him making vague references to incidents including what he called shoot outs in the docks he was personally involved in that sounded very much out of character from the respectable elderly gentleman I knew. After he died in the late 60s we obviously had to go through his private papers and in doing so discovered a mass of pocket notebooks and scraps of paper containing obviously hastily scribbled hand written notes. These were accompanied by more formally written and typed up accounts describing the movements of individuals, police officers, service personnel, dock workers, vehicles etc, there were also addresses, descriptions of police raids and other obscure goings on many centred around the East End. Also in this hoard were receipts for payments to my Grandfather from what turned out to be government sources and pistol hidden amongst the hollowed out pages of a large law book - all very intriguing. His funeral was not only attended by many of his friends and business acquaintances but also by a number of people whos identity was unknown to the family.

To cut a long story short it turns out that the old boy was not only keeping tabs on black market gangs and their networks who were obtaining large quantities of goods and commodities directly from the ships in the docks and the warehouses. Not only this he was also carrying out surveillance on members of the police and others who were also involved and profiteering. Apparently my Grandfather was part of a small network of people engaged by a well-known barrister at the time who reported directly to government and paid by them to do so.

His reluctance to talk about much of this was perhaps understandable when one bears in mind that this was not too long after the end of the war and some of those involved back then were now rather large players in the criminal underworld.

All of his papers pertaining to this period are now lodged with the IWM.

carebear
10-28-2006, 12:08 PM
Many journalists consider themselves generally knowledgeable, so when they find something they didn't know, they assume no one else must know it either and then present it as some amazing discovery or lost secret.

A little research would correct the problem, but that would force them to face their ignorance and reporting "secrets" is more notable than just reporting facts without the pizzazz.

The trend of reporting as if everyone is stupid or ill-read has gotten worse. Smoking is bad for you! Water is wet! Kids are posting pictures on the internet! News at eleven!

Every local hack wants to be Woodward and Bernstein.

Lord Jagged
10-28-2006, 01:00 PM
I think we all like to focus on the good in people and its too easy to forget the bad things in our history. Lets hope that one day people are better and wars are a thing of a past that can be forgotten.

dr greg
10-29-2006, 01:33 PM
There were several full scale riots between Australians and US troops stationed here in WW2 such as the famous Battle of Brisbane
http://www.diggerhistory.info/pages-battles/ww2/battle-brisbane.htm
and lots of stories about white troops and MP's murdering negro troops with impunity, which upset the locals quite a lot. I have, as some of you might know, fictionalised such an incident in a book. The Negro troops were very popular in this country, and I personally would have loved to have seen the famous Dr Carver Club, a dance hall set up in Brisbane for the black GI's to avoid the trouble that was always brewing when white GI's saw white women talking to them.
Very few accounts of it survive, and there are few references online, but I have seen photos and it looked pretty natty.

Alan Eardley
10-29-2006, 04:31 PM
[QUOTE=dr greg]There were several full scale riots between Australians and US troops stationed here in WW2 such as the famous Battle of Brisbane <snip>
and lots of stories about white troops and MP's murdering negro troops with impunity, which upset the locals quite a lot. The Negro troops were very popular in this country <snip>QUOTE]

Half a world away, but this almost exactly mirrors the experiences my father related to me as an Auxiliary PC in England in 1943-44. The black US QM troops in Burton-on-Trent were so popular with the local ladies that it became known as the 'brown baby capital of England'!

Alan

Alan Eardley
10-29-2006, 04:38 PM
Many journalists consider themselves generally knowledgeable, so when they find something they didn't know, they assume no one else must know it either and then present it as some amazing discovery or lost secret.

A little research would correct the problem, but that would force them to face their ignorance and reporting "secrets" is more notable than just reporting facts without the pizzazz.
<snip>
Every local hack wants to be Woodward and Bernstein.

Well put. You can't blame them too much - they often suffer from being young...
The so-called Glenn Miller mystery referred to in the posting above is a classic example of this. Some of the theories in this case make even alien abduction cases look plausible, and some of the facts of the 'RAF bombing cover up' (e.g. the relative timing) are just plain wrong! However, nobody seems to care. People who think some of the things in the Da Vinci Code are the truth (which many people do) will believe anything.

Alan

carebear
10-29-2006, 04:51 PM
You can't blame them too much - they often suffer from being young...
The so-called Glenn Miller mystery referred to in the posting above is a classic example of this. Some of the theories in this case make even alien abduction cases look plausible, and some of the facts of the 'RAF bombing cover up' (e.g. the relative timing) are just plain wrong! However, nobody seems to care. People who thing many things in the Da Vinci Code are the truth (which many people do) will believe anything.

Alan

It's not so much that they are foolish enough to believe they're true, what bothers me is they are credulous enough to believe they're new.

The Gnostic stuff contained in the DaVinci Code and the "Gospel of Judas" was old hat (and addressed by the Apostles) in 35 AD.

That things like WWII race riots, Miller's death or the explosion of an Allied munitions ship containing mustard gas in an Italian harbor during the war get reported as "newly discovered secrets" gives these "old hat" facts, and the conspiracies that resulted, new credibility.

Tourbillion
10-29-2006, 10:10 PM
I am currently reading "Life of the Party" a biography of Pamela Digby. During WWII she was married to Randolph Churchhill, the son of the PM. It is an interesting story.

As for the sex going on during the Blitz, it appears that most of it was with Mrs. Pamela Churchhill, while her husband was out fighting (they didn't get along anyway). She is described as being the single most informed civillian in the UK during the war in her biography. I am still reading it, but it seems her sources were her American "friends" and of course her father in law.

It is simply astonishing.

My father only told funny war stories for the most part, he didn't like to discuss the loss of many of his closest friends during the war. He did discuss the liberation of Paris though, wild times.