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April 2014
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The Piper of 1 Bn RIF, Tunisia, 78th Div – 8th Army.

Posted By on April 20, 2014

The Piper of 1 Bn RIF, Tunisia, 78th Div – 8th Army.

A Thousand Stars Away

Posted By on December 1, 2013

Talbot House, Poperinge, Belgium.

Talbot House, Poperinge, Belgium.

Visiting Talbot House 2013 

Sometimes it is worthwhile letting some time pass by. It’s an opportunity for better reflection and gathering those thoughts that have laced their way through our day until this moment when at long last it is time to sit down and put virtual type to virtual paper.

The most memorable visit on our recent sojourn to France and Flanders was a stop at Talbot House, Poperinge, Belgium. It was here that soldiers of the Great War were able to get away, even if momentarily, from the harsh realities of the frontlines in the Ypres Salient.

As I stand at the front of the building I look upwards to the sign dated 1915 – ? The last time I was here the building was covered with scaffolding but this time we are told of a side entrance whereby we gain entry into this wonderful site. It is filled, from the outset, with the hearts and souls of those who have passed through here from 1915 – 1918. It was here that soldiers gathered for a bit…and then returned to the scorched and twisted landscape…some never to pass this way again.



I was immediately taken with the house and its furnishings and signs. It is here that the Great War is at peace today. I remember climbing about the stairs, looking at the rooms and then to the stairs leading to the loft. The stairs were rather pitched and narrow, but still we managed to climb into the loft where church services continue to be performed.  After having watched, in another part of the building, a short film on Talbot House troop entertainments, we settled onto some chairs and it was here that our guide brought her words to us, creating an even greater sense of this place. “Twenty years ago there were veterans here. Their eyes, a thousand stars away. They don’t see you. They see other things”. (Annette, Camalou Tours) These words continue to remind me what Talbot House meant to those who visited during the Great War, and how their experiences have shaped some of us fortunate to have met a few of those witnesses to the war to end all wars.

Holier Ground Than Any. The loft at Talbot House.

Holier Ground Than Any. The loft at Talbot House.

Private Harry Patch died July 25, 2009 at the age of 111 years, 1 month, 1 week and 1 day. During the Great War he served with the 7th Battalion, Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry as an assistant gunner with the Lewis Gun section. Harry Patch was wounded September 22, 1917 at Passcehendale, during the Third Battle of Ypres.

Final Mural

Posted By on September 16, 2013

Heres a look at the final mural

In this version:

• Changed Metcalf’s socks to regimental tartan.
• Swapped the regimental and WW1 Canadian flag postions (Thank you 2Lt Shaw)
• Revised Jimmy’s upper body: Matched photo reference for shoulder width and head/upper body proportion
• Revised Jimmy’s face: Matched shadow color and value to other three VC winners.

Whew. I hope this is done!



FINAL BANNER_v7_09-16-2013_SM_72DPI

Pipes and Piping (If the Cap Fits)

Posted By on August 10, 2013

Local Defence Volunteers. The original name of the British Home Guard (Dad's Army).

Local Defence Volunteers. The original name of the British Home Guard (Dad’s Army).

Dad’s Army: Part II

After posting the last blog and sitting back and allowing the little grey cells to wander it occurred to me that Dad’s Army must have explored the bagpipes. Sure enough with a little bit of searching we have managed to find the clip from If the Cap Fits included here for your viewing enjoyment. An easy path of discovery this time around but not always so with some projects. Some work (actually much work) is required to pull research projects together. Each sentence in a story or book takes an hour or more of searching and writing, checking and rechecking.

Thoughts on Research with Banzai Pipeline and Paper Clip Analogies

These wanderings of the grey cells however, are always fun and they remind me to keep digging and searching. It reminds me, as well, to encourage others to keep ferreting about, to think of new ways to find information. What we seek is the key that unlocks the door to our discoveries and sometimes these doors are not always obvious. My quest for discovery is always around the corner, or the next corner. One more thought, one more striking of the enter key and where will I wind up? Try thinking of different ways to ask the same question. What combination of words takes me to where I need to go?  (And don’t forget to search out old reference books hidden in the mezzanines of your local libraries, archives and other repositories.)

There is one project that I have worked on for many years, and as it started before the home computer and the internet, the gathering of information was, at one time, few and far between. Now, and at least a few times a year, I run the soldier’s names and units of my project through the pantheon of search engines and databases in a continual surfing of the web that has become my Banzai Pipeline. It is the challenge I enjoy and after all this time I still must remind myself “What was the Google search that got me here?” Still it is fun to ride the tube and see what comes out at the end. If only I could actually have that picture of me within the water’s curl!

Of course some ideas come to me quicker than others. Occasionally one becomes lost for words, these vowels and consonants becoming twisted paper clips with no purpose and no hope of regaining their form. So today’s ramblings are a tribute to the quest and discovery, the words that come from the references we have found and to the analogies that help us propel our ideas forward providing colour and imagination to our world of knowledge.

Dad’s Army: The Man (Men) and the Hour

Posted By on July 27, 2013

The cast of Dad's Army. Arthur Lowe, John Le Mesurier, Clive Dunn, John Laurie, Arnold Ridley, Ian Lavender and James Beck.

The cast of Dad’s Army (left to right) : Arthur Lowe, John Le Mesurier, Clive Dunn, John Laurie, Arnold Ridley, Ian Lavender and James Beck.

What Black and White Film Can Do!

Dad’s Army the well-known British Home Guard sitcom played from 1968 – 1977  with the first two series, of nine, being filmed in black and white. Recently I sat down and watched Series 1 Episode 1, The Man and the Hour, and chuckled my way through the dialogue. I wonder how, when I watched the series years earlier, had I grasped many of the jokes? Now, after years of study and interest, as well as having developed a great appreciation for British humour, I find much wit that was unlikely to have occurred to me years earlier. As I watched Dad’s Army I became curious about the actual actors who played senior soldiers in the sitcom. Did any of the cast have prior service, especially during the Great War?

Home Guard tunic on exhibit at the IWM. 2010.

City of London Home Guard tunic on exhibit at the IWM. 2010.

The Second World War Veterans of the Cast

Arthur Lowe (Captain Mainwaring) was born in 1915 and served with the Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry in the Middle East; John Le Mesurier (Sergeant Wilson) was born in 1912 and served in the Royal Tank Regiment. The much beribboned character played by Clive Dunn O.B.E. (Lance Corporal Jones) was not born until after the Great War, being one of the first boomers of that era arriving January 9, 1920. Dunn served with the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars, and was captured in Greece spending four years of the war in captivity.

The Great War Veterans of the Cast

John Laurie (Private Frazer) experiences in the trenches and on the fields of battle haunted him for the remainder of his days. Arnold Ridley O.B.E. (Private Godfrey) enlisted in the Somerset Light Infantry in 1915 and suffered several injuries during the Great War. Ridley’s left hand was very badly injured on the Somme rendering it almost useless., He was also riddled with shrapnel, received a bayonet wound to the groin and suffered from blackouts due to having been rifle-butted by the enemy. Ridley received a medical discharge but, during the Second World War, was commissioned and served in France. However his health issues continued and Ridley was discharged whereupon he joined the Home Guard, formerly the Local Defence Volunteers (LDV) nicknamed Dad’s Army and also known as Look, Duck and Vanish!  Connotations of the popular perceived view of Dad’s Army abound with that nickname!

The Youngsters of the Cast

Ian Lavender (Private Pike) was the youngest of the seven main characters being born in 1946 and gained much knowledge of the acting world playing with such veteran actors. James Beck (Private Walker) was born in 1929 and served in the British Army on National Service.

And now the Segue is Complete

After watching that first episode it is the black and white film that today takes me to other places. Somehow the show brings home to me the news reels of the day, those informative visual messages played before the main feature. That Dad’s Army is a story, a historical comedy, about Great Britain under serious threat of invasion, the blitz, the endless possibilities of what might occur is ceaseless in capturing the spirit of the time. “You shall not pass” comes to mind as the British prepared for the onslaught.

The Blitz. Exhibit detail from the IWM, 2010.

The Blitz. Exhibit detail from the IWM, 2010.

As I reminisce about my wandering about the old Imperial War Museum (old because I await its reopening with new exhibitions) I often recall walking into the Homefront exhibition and the 1940s House with their artefacts, documents and images of that time. “Run, Rabbit Run” plays in the background of the traditional exhibit area, there is a large image of the German bombers over the Thames, a UXB, Fire Service, Air Raid Precautions, rationing and yes Dad’s Army – the British Home Guard.

As I wander upstairs to the Victoria Cross exhibition, The Ashcroft Gallery, I wander about and discover footage of the making of the Victoria Cross, a black and white newsreel shot during the Second World War. How I wish I could find that clip; and as if Dad’s Army leads the way, somehow the footage appears this week after endless attempts searching and much time having passed, thanks to Dad’s Army, the men and the hour.