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Dame Judi Dench on "Who Do You Think You Are" tonight.


seaJane
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"Dame Judi Dench begins her journey by trying to find out how her father won his gallantry medals during the First World War."

2100 (9 pm) BBC1 Tues 19 Oct 2021.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0010st7

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Thank you for the reminder. I had noted that the episode was coming up.

RM

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I've got to admit that I fell out of love with this programme sometime ago, however, I like Dame Judi and so I will give it a look tonight.

Thanks for the post seaJane.

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Would the French farmer on the Somme look as well? :P

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Judy discovered...... nothing.

Archivists etc uncovered bits and bobs for Judy and the audience to lap up in a highly packaged presentation. Surprised there wasn't a trip to Rome for the "Italian Beefeater" connection.

The magnifying glass on the miniature medals was a joy to behold as full size medals lay on the table.

His medical board doc states he was injured in May 1916 in Fermoy. So he's in Ireland at the time of the Easter Rising, likely to have been with No 7 Officer Cadet Bn and busy at the time; zilch mentioned while sitting in the Irish Defence Forces archives (looking at a doc that would have come from London).

Good to hear about the MC and bar. Sad to see a family who knew nothing about them.

Definitely not a fan of the programme.

 

 

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10 hours ago, doyle3 said:

Judy discovered...... nothing.

Archivists etc uncovered bits and bobs for Judy and the audience to lap up in a highly packaged presentation. Surprised there wasn't a trip to Rome for the "Italian Beefeater" connection.

The magnifying glass on the miniature medals was a joy to behold as full size medals lay on the table.

His medical board doc states he was injured in May 1916 in Fermoy. So he's in Ireland at the time of the Easter Rising, likely to have been with No 7 Officer Cadet Bn and busy at the time; zilch mentioned while sitting in the Irish Defence Forces archives (looking at a doc that would have come from London).

Good to hear about the MC and bar. Sad to see a family who knew nothing about them.

Definitely not a fan of the programme.

 

 

She used a magnifying glass as she has exceptionally bad eye sight and seems to be going blind.

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6 minutes ago, healdav said:

She used a magnifying glass as she has exceptionally bad eye sight and seems to be going blind.

Here's the daughter using the magnifying glass to look at the miniature with the full size on the table a very short distance away. Minor point but just struck as a little daft.

The programme could have done a bit better here to explain the medals and what to look for on them.

daughterGlass.png

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there is a lot of negativity about the programme, but many men did not talk about their experiences , so families did not know any history and were probably not interested as nothing significant told.

All I knew about my maternal grandfather was his head wound, after mother died, father told me her father was cantancerous (probably why she was same way, "his words"). two of my cousins did some research on him and came up with 4 brothers. Only last year , Ive established one was a cousin not a brother, but there were a total of 6 other brothers involved and since joining Facebok have contacted a further relation who has the cousins medals and scroll and they and their siblings knew nothing of why and what for. Meanwhile one of the remaining cousins that originally researched also had the wrong and incomplete information, and Ive yet to inform him and show him the three groups Ive got to their relations;.

as for eye sight, since having neck and thyroid cancer and subsequant treatment, I have to use magnifying glasses to read rim details as my glasses dont always show clearly, yet before I could read easily.

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FWIW, I think the programme was mainly focused around her Danish ancestors. It turns out that the family tree has contact within it, at significant places described by Shakespeare, as she is a lifetime famous Shakespearean actress; then this would make sense. Making for an entertaining exploration of certain characters and places within Shakespearean plays, especially as the main character associated with Stratford appears possibly to have been in Denmark at around the time and indeed may have been seen by Dame Judy's ancestors. The WW1 angle was dealt with admirably by Peter Barton but this was a, whilst entertaining story, wasn't as important to the narrative as the Steelle connection and its own connection to the Danish monarchy and nobility. As with most of these programmes a lot is packed into a short space, so it does sometimes appear rushed and not all of the threads are explored adequately but hey...it's made for entertainment not as a documentary, I enjoyed it but took it for what it was...

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Was the full size MC there ? I didn’t see it 

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19 minutes ago, Coldstreamer said:

Was the full size MC there ? I didn’t see it 

Not that I saw. Just the miniature which was a pity.

 

There was no need to keep referring to her eyesight issues. The film crew should have managed this better.

The Irish Defence Forces archives in Dublin are fantastic but it is not where you would go to get the service record of an officer in the British Army. Utterly contrived setup.

What I did see on the medical report  was that the knee injury was reported to have happened in Fermoy, Co Cork in May 1916. This would likely place him in No 7 Officer Cadet Training Bn and possibly involved in the post Easter Rising activities

http://johnny-doyle.blogspot.com/2013/09/no-7-officer-training-battalion.html

The marriage cert for the parents shows that the mother's address was 29 Northumberland Road, Dublin.

This address appears in the 1916 Rebellion Handbook as one of the addresses where members of the Irish Association of Volunteer Training Corps (IAVTC)  took refuge on the first day of the Easter Rising having been ambushed by the 3rd Bn,  DublinBrigade, Irish Volunteers in  25 Northumberland Rd.  Irish Rugby Football Union president Frank Browning killed during the ambush.

http://johnny-doyle.blogspot.com/2016/04/sherwood-foresters-killed-and-wounded.html

The only prisoner taken by the 3rd Bn was another member of No 7 Officer Cadet Training Bn. (some links on the page are old and broken sadly - Lar Joye, who appeared in the programme, was involved in setting up the bit re MacKay in the National Museum in Dublin)

http://johnny-doyle.blogspot.com/2013/08/cadet-g-f-mackay.html

By coincidence, the medals of the officer commanding the Dublin University OTC (who led the IAVTC men on the first day of the Easter Rising) are up for sale at the moment

https://www.the-saleroom.com/en-gb/auction-catalogues/dixnoonanwebb/catalogue-id-dix-no10171/lot-c3cf18a1-2eee-4d50-8a1b-adc901530d4d

 

The Danish angle was interesting. It was surprising that they didn't jet off to Italy to follow up on the "Italian Beefeater" connection.

 

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Can anyone remember the date that all the officers in the regiment got wounded killed etc ?

I ask because I have a group to a man transferred to the regiment and wondered if this was the reason why

cheers 

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1 hour ago, Coldstreamer said:

Can anyone remember the date that all the officers in the regiment got wounded killed etc ?

I ask because I have a group to a man transferred to the regiment and wondered if this was the reason why

cheers 

March 1918, the Kaiser offensive. 
 

Edit:. The programme didn’t actually say what unit he was with at the time. It did say he was with the 7th Leinsters originally. But the 7th were disbanded in the Army re-org prior to March 1918 - Most men going to the 2/Leinsters. I am assuming he was with the 2/Leinsters - who were destroyed in March 1918. But I don’t recall reading all the officers were casualties. 

Edited by Jervis
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I see from this link R. A. Dench, he was transferred to the 2/Leinsters. But it appears as though he only served for a short time with them. 

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1 hour ago, Jervis said:

I see from this link R. A. Dench, he was transferred to the 2/Leinsters. But it appears as though he only served for a short time with them. 

I think if you rewatch the portion with Peter Barton, you see that he had an operation in 1916 to remove cartilage from his knee, so missing the Somme offensives and was sent back to England in early 1918 in time to miss the Spring Offensive, which explains his short service time on the Western Front. The WW1 thread was incidental, it was the Shakespearean connection that was more interesting because of her connection.

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1 hour ago, exXIX said:

I think if you rewatch the portion with Peter Barton, you see that he had an operation in 1916 to remove cartilage from his knee, so missing the Somme offensives and was sent back to England in early 1918 in time to miss the Spring Offensive, which explains his short service time on the Western Front. The WW1 thread was incidental, it was the Shakespearean connection that was more interesting because of her connection.

My comment was actually in reference to the time he spent with the second battalion of the Leinster Regiment in Feb-Mar 1918.  (approx.  4 weeks). He had of course served much longer on the Western front with the 7th battalion of the Leinster Regiment from 1916 to 1918. The show did not mention Dench’s transfer of unit. 

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23 hours ago, Jervis said:

My comment was actually in reference to the time he spent with the second battalion of the Leinster Regiment in Feb-Mar 1918.  (approx.  4 weeks). He had of course served much longer on the Western front with the 7th battalion of the Leinster Regiment from 1916 to 1918. The show did not mention Dench’s transfer of unit. 

He didn't transfer by the way the narrative was explained, he was sent back to England for treatment to his knee that he had injured during basic training. The point was made that without the injury suffered in 1915, he could have either died in the Somme offensives, or the German spring offensive but due to his injury both times he was in hospital, so fortunately missed both events. I think Dame Judie said that explained why he never said anything about his MC's as he was probably showing signs of what we now call 'Survivors Guilt'...

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1 hour ago, exXIX said:

He didn't transfer by the way the narrative was explained, he was sent back to England for treatment to …

It may not have made the tv show, but he transferred from 7/Leinsters to 2/Leinsters prior to return to England  

7E940C54-BF2E-4A07-847F-E85EEEB24B23.jpeg

Edited by Jervis
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46 minutes ago, kenf48 said:

Chris Baker researched the officer for the production company

https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/dame-judi-denchs-who-do-you-think-you-are-and-captain-reginald-arthur-dench-mc/

so other issues aside I think you can be confident of that research

This is the work, I am quoting from. Obviously only a fraction of the detail was used in the programme itself. 

Edited by Jervis
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I saw the Judi Dench edition of Who Do You think You are, and did find it to be of interest vis a vis the WW1 content, as well as in relation to the Elsinore angle, though it is now clear to me that it omitted or glossed over much of the finer detail of Captain Dench’s service as set out in Chris Baker’s fuller account on the LLT.

It helped that the episode was about Judi Dench, who I think comes as close as any actor to having attained the status of “national treasure”.

Also, a couple of things that the programme covered struck a chord with me in relation to my exploration of my own grandfather’s experience of WW1.

One was Captain Dench’s good fortune in being absent from some of the fiercest battles owing to an injury to his knee – an injury that would not normally be regarded as “good” fortune. My grandfather similarly escaped some engagements in which his life would have been put at risk, for example by being appointed as Acting Battalion Quartermaster as a result of the regular Quartermaster being seriously injured, by contracting trench fever, and by breaking his ankle. Such events as these took him out of harm’s way for much of the time from September 1917 onwards, including during the German Spring Offensive in 1918, and the subsequent advance by the Allies. His being as appointed Acting Quartermaster in September 1917 was particularly fortunate from his point of view as, as a result, he was absent from the attack on Borry, Beck House, and Iberian Farms on the Fresenberg Ridge in which 3 of the 5 officers of his company were killed. In reading my grandfather’s diaries and other first-hand accounts I have come to appreciate that pretty well every soldier who survived the First World War must have been able to tell of several occasions where they might easily have been killed if things had been slightly different, but were not.

The other thing that struck a chord with me in the Judi Dench programme was the shock that registered on her face when she discovered that her father had shot a man dead (actually more than one). For those on this Forum who have a military background, it may seem naïve to feel shock at an event which would have been commonplace in WW1, but I can say from my own experience (not having a military background) that it is indeed quite shocking to learn that a man on whose knee you have sat as a child has – or may have - deliberately killed another human being at close quarters. Intellectually we know that it had to be done, and that it was a case of “Kill or be killed”, but it still takes a bit of coming to terms with. My grandfather describes firing at close quarters at a German only twice in his diaries; on the first occasion he tells us that he does not know whether the shot was fatal, on the second he does not say in so many words that he killed the man, though it seems quite likely. Maybe he chose not to know for certain, or, if he did know, preferred not to write it down in black and white, especially as, by the time he was writing, hostilities were over.

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