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O’Brien heaved something akin to a sigh of relief as the door closed on the last man of no.3 section.
"Well, it seems as though McCallion has a cast iron alibi on this matter," he said.
"Yes. But I will still have to interview him and I’ll have to tell the lad that his girl is dead. Not something I’m looking forward too," replied Broomfield.
"May I ask, what happened to her," stumbled O’Brien. "I mean, not to put too fine a point on it, how was she killed? If you can tell me …"
I came across these notes today. I jotted these down when reading Horne's ageless The Price of Verdun earlier this year and before the April visit. Unfortunately they only cover the period up to 6 March 1916, but they will be worth keeping and should turn out useful at some point in the future:
• After 1871 France (de Riviere) reorganised and modernised army and defensive ring of forts in preparation for the next war
• By 1915 half of French regular officer corps had either been killed or di
Amanda stroked McCallion’s bruised cheek softly.
"It’s alright love, I’ve been hit harder in my time," whispered Bert. He kissed the young Belgian girl on the forehead.
"Why fighting .. with chooms?" asked Amanda in her halting English. McCallion smiled at her pronunciation of chums. It was a pretty perfect imitation of the way the lads spoke in their northern dialect.
"Happen that when the drink is in, the wit is out," he replied.
Amanda looked puzzled.
McCallion hugged the girl
THE vast majority of murder investigations are swiftly solved. Most murders are carried out by a person who is well known to the victim, in the heat of the moment.
And when Broomfield was told that an estaminet girl had been murdered, his past experiences as a detective with the City of London Constabulary led him to suspect a plain and simple crime of passion.
It had taken the Belgian police only a few hours and a short interview with the other members of the Viljoen family to make a lin
Extract from 'As God is my witness - a nurse's war' (personal memoir by Matron Susan Light. First published 1931). In the author's collection.
"Sometimes, in the night, one would hear a soldier sobbing in the darkness. More often than not, the cry would be for mother, even from men who were well into middle-age.
"To this day, I still blink back tears when I hear a youngster calling 'Mam or Mammy' . For, in truth, I heard those words far too many times during my experiences in France and Bel
Stilleto had come up trumps.
The service papers he'd dug out for me from the vaults of the National Archive had answered one question right away.
Bertie McCallion's wounding at Messines explained why he had been unaware of Amanda's murder. The troops had been 'locked down' prior to the battle and he must have gone through the days before and after the attack blissfully unaware of her death.
With a magnifiying glass I deciphered the scrawl which passed for notes on the document. I was hop
At last we are off the ground and running.
Today was our fourth league game and with 3 losses behind us the lads came up trumps with a 2 - 1 victory. If the opponents goalie had not been so good we could have won by a larger majority but he did his job well.
Seb opened the score board with an excellant shot from the right, over the keepers head and in to the left side of the net.
He continued the game passing more and more balls to lads near the net but none could get them home.
"Two wounded, two dead Sir," reported Colour Nulty.
Hartley was studying the dead German, a cigarette between his lips.
"He was a game chap, Sarn't," he remarked casually. "Have to admire a fellow like that, eh?"
"Indeed you do Sir," replied Nulty softly.
"Tried to plug me with his dying breath you know," mused Hartley.
Nulty nodded. Case of 'too late chum' for the German, he thought.
"About the casulaties Sir. McCallion's got a flesh wound but Noble's taken a couple in the legs
"Christ," whispered Bertie McCallion as he watched the immense black cloud rise high over the ridge.
Rivulets of soil streamed down the side of the front line trench as the incredibly powerful shock wave reached the British lines.
"Fix ..." roared Colour Nulty. And the men poised for that split second so beloved of British army NCOs.
"BAYONETS," screamed Nulty. All within earshot snapped home their cold steel and gripped their rifles just a little bit more tightly.
The shrill squea
Account compiled from the personal papers of Lt. Col. Enoch Beard DSO; and "At Messine with the Muddies" an unpublished personal memoir by Captain William O'Brien MC (by kind permission of his estate); and various letters/accounts from the Mudcaster Observer (1917) with thanks to Mudcaster Local Studies Librarian, Terence Reeves MBE.
"Prior to the attack at Messines, I had been impressed by the thorough preparations for the assault. The men had enjoyed a period of much-needed rest before a sti
Command and Control by Niall Barr
NB outlined the problems associated with command and control in 1914:
• New strains on command as a result of static warfare
• Potential of new technology not fully understood
• Warfare on a much larger scale than ever before
• Basic communication – mainly by runner. This was haphazard at best and in some instances information was relatively out of date by the time it had been passed on. (Didn’t the Germans have a form of radio contact as early as 19
First Ypres by Ian Beckett
Sir John French thought by obtaining move to the northern sector for the BEF that he would be able to act independently of the French army. Whilst Joffre wanted the BEF under his own command so as to maximise their involvement.
German forces were also moving north in strength with objective to secure Antwerp. However the German army around Ypres (“The Innocents”) generally lacked teh required instruction and training and can be regarded as poor quality troops.
Conjecture and circumstantial ‘evidence’ .. it was all I had to show for my three days in Belgium.
On the flight home, I’d racked my brains for a source of information which might prove my theory. Contemplation is good for the soul but it can also be damaging to the ego.
A guy called Simpson spoke for all us idiots worldwide when he enunciated our stupidity with a multi-lingual ‘doh’.
Call me Homer.
It was back to the National Archives .. again. That’s where you get the service recor
Just a last few entries and the first part of the WO364 Missorts will be ready.
I am surprised about the amount of RAF/RFC Service Records that are contained in the files including one for a guy from New York who was serving in the RAF (Canada). Is this a forerunner to the RCAF I wonder?
I have searched the MIC's and some of the names/numbers could not be found. This may take a little more research but could be Service Records for men who did not serve overseas.
Back at the Talmer’s house that evening, I kicked off my shoes and stretched out on the bed. To be honest, I was plain tired.
But I knew I would have to take a tip from Bert Viljoen and adopt the Sherlock Holmes approach. With a groan, I sat up and reached out for the documents which the Belgian had given me.
Going by the postmarks, the last letter sent by ‘Erbert to Amanda had been on May 12th. Two days later, the Mudshires had been relieved from the trenches and sent back for a three-da
Account compiled from letters/contemporary documents provided by the Viljoen family of Ieper, Belgium.
Vincent Platteuw wiped his hands on his apron and picked up the huge cauldron of freshly cut chips.
"Amanda," he called. "These are ready for frying girl! You can dream about your Tommy sweetheart in your own time. Hurry now, the English will soon be after their ‘eggs an’ chips twice’."
Vincent’s was a typical estaminet in the salient.
On a typical night it would be packed with sold
Two thirds through Hart's The Somme and very impressed. Also have Sheldon The German Army on the Somme to fit in quite soon but I flicked through a copy of Prior and Wilson's latest offering and it looked quite good.
Noticed on the inside cover that "responsibility for tactical mistakes actually belonged to the High Command and the civilian War Committee. Field-Marshall Haig, the records show, was repeatedly deficient in strategy, tactics, command, and organization" and it would be good to ge
I was downing my second coffee and complimenting Lesley Talmer on her superb breakfast spread when the telephone rang. Brian answered it between mouthfuls of croissant.
He held out the handset and indicated with a nod of his head that I was required.
"Des?" said Aurel. "I have someone you will want to talk to. Can you meet us at the Menin Gate in an hour?"
Bert Viljoen’s grandmother, it seemed, had been the sister of Amanda Viljoen, the first victim mentioned in Mackay’s briefing.
The RFC in 1914 – Simon Moody
SM gave some background information:
• Observation from the air was not a new concept. The first example of a balloon being used for military observation was at Fleurus in August 1794. The first time a balloon was used by the British army was at Bechuanland in 1874.
• Aviation – first controlled manned-flight in 1904.
• S.F. Cody (with Capper?) had been developing aviation under a Government contract at Farnborough. However the W.O. were not greatly int
Haig the Corps Commander – Gary Sheffield
At the outbreak of war Haig was of the opinion that the BEF should not be sent to France until they were fully prepared and provisioned and Haig believed a delay of 3 months was optimum. Haig subsequently changed his view and GS used this as evidence of Haig’s flexibility – an important component of Battlefield Leadership.
Haig was junior to Smith-Dorrien and thus “not even the most senior Corps Commander in 1914”. From memory this was a suggestion
"Richard Mackay .. doesn't sound like a local name?" I said shaking hands with the tall figure, who rose from behind the desk.
He laughed: "I see Aurel has not told you? My great-grandfather was a Scottish soldier who came back here after the war as a gardener for the cemeteries. I still have many relatives in Stranraer where he came from."
Aurel settled into one of the three chairs which surrounded a glass topped coffee table.
"Please, sit down. You are here as a researcher, so Aurel h
It was raining. Surprise, surprise. I was in Belgium after all.
The Talmer's B&B on the outskirts of Ypres was pretty famous on the forum. They'd moved over to Belgium in the late 1980s when property prices were rather more inviting than they are today. The Euro seems to have made quite an impact on the cost of living on the continent.
Brian Talmer greeted me at the door: "Glad to meet you at last. I'm just glad you were able to follow my directions OK. Let's get you in and settled down