Archive for the ‘war’ Category

Théodule Charles Cornu

November 11, 2018

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My grand-father went to war in 1916 when he was 18. Yes, my own grand-father.

His name was Théodule Charles Cornu. He was handsome, member of Lyon Bourgeoisie.

The day he had to go to war, his father brought him to the train station.

When they left the house, his father checked the mailbox.

There was a letter in it. His father took the letter, without showing it to his son. Then they walked together to the station. My great grand father put his son inside the train and said goodbye. Without saying anything about the letter. The envelope had a black bandstripe. It was the death certificate of his other son, the eldest.

Théodule was injured in 1917 and had to go back to war after a stay at the hospital.

My grandfather came back from war in 1919, traumatized, injured, decorated #croixdeguerre

He was over 45 when he met my grand-mother.

All his letters start with « I am well ». He never complains.

————-

Mon grand-père est parti à la guerre en 1916 à l’âge de 18 ans. Oui mon propre grand-père.

Il s’appelait Théodule Cornu. C’était un jeune homme intelligent et beau, issu d’une famille bourgeoise lyonnaise.

Le jour de son départ, son père l’a accompagné à la gare.
En partant à la gare, son père a regardé la boite aux lettres et y a vu une lettre. Il l’a prise et mise dans sa poche sans la montrer à son fils.

Puis ils ont fait le trajet ensemble jusqu’à la gare, mon arrière grand père a installé mon grand-père dans le train et lui a dit au revoir. Sans rien dire de cette lettre.

Elle avait une bande noire. C’était l’avis de décès de son fils aîné.

——

Sur toutes ses lettres à ses parents il commence par « je vais bien ». Il ne se plaint jamais.

Revenu de la guerre en 1919, blessé, décoré #croixdeguerre, traumatisé.

A plus de 45 ans, il a rencontré ma grand-mere.

Alice Audouin

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St Mark’s Church Armistice Day Vigil

November 10, 2018

I had looked in St Mark’s Church earlier on in the day for a World War One window which had been restored.

I could not find.

Passing by a few hours later, now dark, a light on, the church still open.

St Mark’s Church open, a vigil to mark Armistice Day.

I quietly walked around the church. I still could not find the window.

I remained a little while in silent contemplation. I thought of the horror of those souls who died in the trenches.

I wished to walk back down the side aisle to light a candle, but reluctant to disturb those in the church.

The First World War did not end at eleven o’clock on 11 November 1918 one hundred years ago. That was when an Armistice was agreed, a ceasefire, the day the guns fell silent.

Peace was not agreed until the following year.

Exacting reparations were imposed on Germany. Keynes warned against but he was ignored. This led to the Second World War.

What we see today in Europe, in the Middle East, is unfinished business from WWI.

No lessons have been learnt.

Greece dared challenge the EU. A vassal state for daring to challenge the EU is being destroyed to serve as a warning to other vassal states.

WWI was the first democratised war, no family was left untouched, unlike the Boer War. It was the first industrialised war. Cavalry charges of little use against machines guns and barbed wire, the first use of tanks.

How it affected communities was brought home to me this summer in a church in Arundel. In the pews, silhouettes of the fallen.

New injuries. In the Boer war, wounds did not become infected. In the mud of the trenches, wounds became infected

Not all who died died in action. Many were unfairly executed for cowardice.

There are no survivors left from WWI. Soon their children will also be lost to us.

Memories fade.

BBC, in a ground breaking work, collected the living memories of those who lived through WWI for a series marking 50 years since WWI.

My grandfather served in the trenches in France but he never talked about it, other than to complain it destroyed his health.

Did the veterans not talk about their experience because of the horrors it brought back, or because no one wished to listen?

Uncle Albert of the Trotter family in Only Fools and Horses told to shut up each time he tried to recount his wartime experience.

International Bomber Command Centre, in a race against time, has recorded and archived memories of veterans of WWII Bomber Command.

British are obsessed with the two world wars. Eighty per cent of the books on the two world wars are in English.

When veterans of Bomber Command turn up at an event people wish to talk to them, ask for their books to be signed, even though they are not the authors.

£45 million is raised by Poppy Day Appeal. To what end?

Those homeless on the street with serious mental problems are too often ex-service men who can no longer cope with modern life. Do we commemorate the dead and ignore the living? This was raised by Aaron Bastani, who was then condemned for doing so.

The First World War was called The Great War, the war to end all wars. By the 1930s this was being questioned, as the nation prepared for yet another war. 

In 1939 there was no commemoration of Armistice Day.

UK is built on a war economy. Weapons are supplied to the world’s most repressive regimes.

UK arms and provides military support to Saudi Arabia. A corrupt Islamic regime no different to ISIS, that is carrying out genocide in Yemen, that degrades women, that beheads its critics, that killed and cut up a journalist who walked into a Saudi Embassy in Turkey.

Tommies fought in the mud of the trenches. Donald Trump could not be bothered to attend a ceremony at an American War Graves Cemetery because of a little drizzle.

Did the fallen die for nothing?

On Armistice Day our thoughts turn to those who died in two world wars to liberate Europe from tyranny.

A decade ago, 60% of countries across the world were democracies. That figure is down to 40%.

Two weeks ago Greeks marked Oxi Day, the day at the start of WWII when they said no to Fascism. They paid a very heavy price. Two years ago they voted Oxi in a referendum, to then be be betrayed by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

We have a Europe in chains, vassal states of the EU.

Across Europe we have a rise of Fascism as a direct response to the EU.

Armistice Day should never be about poppies, red or white, or even solemn reflection on those who died, and in the wars and conflicts of today, those who die are not only soldiers, combatants, they are civilians, innocent civilians who are not even party to the conflict.

We must question the wars, even more important question who is profiteering from the wars.

It is sickening that British Legion partners with war profiteers British Aerospace.

Bastion of the Air

September 4, 2018

The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit in our lifetime. — Sir Edward Grey, Foreign Secretary, 3 August 1914

An exhibition at The Collection, an arts cum museum complex, looking at Lincoln in World War One.

England was vulnerable, airships launched by the German Navy, dropping bombs on England, were untouchable, at too high an altitude to be reached by the existing British warplanes.

The next generation of planes could fly at higher altitude, and used incendiary bullets.

British aircraft were operated by the Army and the Navy. These were amalgamated to create the Royal Air Force.

Lincoln had three manufacturing plants, these were crucial to the war effort, and Lincoln became one of the centres of not only aircraft manufacture, but also of the engines and the bombs.

Lincoln was where at Fosters, the WWI tank was developed and built.

These engineering factories have long gone, in their place sheds on the inner-bypass selling worthless consumer junk, tacky chain coffee shops. Where once there was highly skilled well paid jobs, now temporary, part time, zero hours work.

Within the exhibition clothes, black and white film of the period, paintings (though no date or information on the artists), medals (including the Victoria Cross and German Iron Cross).

The first VC to be awarded was to a pilot William Leef Robinson for shooting down a Zeppelin airship.

Surprising no mention of the airship disaster at Washingborough. An airship was spotted, passengers rushed to one side of the Washingborough Ferry crossing the River Witham causing it to collapse.

The night before, a Zeppelin bombed Washingborough, mistaking for Lincoln. The Zeppelin was following a train, and may have thought it was Lincoln when the train stopped.

St John’s Church in Washingborough has unique Zeppelin Memorial Window put in by the Rector William Burland.

Note: No pictures thanks to copyright mafia.

If visiting the exhibition, visit the Tourist Information Centre in Castle Hill at the top of Steep Hill and pick up a 20% off voucher.

Also worth a visit, International Bomber Command Centre and the Museum of Lincolnshire Life.

Coffee at Stokes at The Collection is not recommended. There are better coffee shops nearby, Base Camp on Steep Hill, Madame Waffle in the High Street and Coffee Aroma in Guildhall (through The Stonebow), all within a few minutes walk.

Lancaster Skies

August 25, 2018

A private showing of Lancaster Skies to veterans of Bomber Command and their guests at International Bomber Command Centre overlooking Lincoln Cathedral.

IBCC officially opened earlier this year, a centre, a digital archive, exhibitions and the Memorial Spire.

An appropriate setting for a private screening of Lancaster Skies.

A brief introduction by the producer, the film follows the lives of a Lancaster crew after they lost their skipper, a homagae to war films of the 1940s and 1950,

The film starts with a Lancaster being attacked by German night fighters, on landing they discover their skipper has been fatally wounded.

The crew are dysfunctional, can barely cope, they then have to cope with a new capatin, a rather aloof former fighter pilot.

The new capatin is keen to be in the air, take the fight to the Germans, the crew on the other hand are happy to remain grounded and send their time down the pub.

They are given a mission, in the same aircraft they last flew in now patched up. On their return they are again attacked.

The film is in black and white, the focus is on the crew.

The genre is less of the war films, more that of a series of working class films that were released in the 1960s, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, A Taste of Honey all from the same film studio, Woodfall Films.

Whilst the film was being shown, a runner ran from IBCC to RAF Scampton and back.

Lancaster Skies will be shown in selected cinemas. Please lobby local cinemas if wish to see.

 

Kings of the Sky

May 6, 2018

Celebrating 100 years of military flying.

May Day Bank Holiday Weekend, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, a three day event at Lincoln Castle to mark 100 years of the RAF.

An Avro Lancaster aircrew, Special Operations Executive, music from WWII, a replica biplane, a replica Spitfire, and much more.

Hot and sunny clear blues skies.

Towards the end of Sunday, a flypast by a Dakota, which then circled around. Excellent vantage point for those on the castle walls.

Three days of clear blue sky, each day hotter than the preceding day.

Bank Holiday Monday, 28.7 C outside of London.

Around the City of Lincoln, 100 Voices celebrating 100 Years of the Royal Airforce.

Official opening of International Bomber Command Centre

April 12, 2018

To coincide with 100th Anniversary of the founding of the Royal Air Force today saw the official opening of International Bomber Command Centre.

Veterans of Bomber Command were invited from all over the world. Some like the Poles and other Europeans, had escaped with their lives from occupied Europe to then put their lives on the line to serve in Bomber Command to help defeat Nazi Germany and liberate Europe from German occupation.

Invited they came, from as far afield as Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The Australian government met the expenses of their veterans who came. Three hundred veterans, the youngest 92 the oldest 100.

Military personnel too, from US, Canada and Australia milling around.

The surrounding roads were closed, causing a long diversion.

Parking in an adjacent field, even for the veterans. Those in wheelchairs somehow managing not to get stuck in the mud.

A guard of honour mounted by RAF personnel, all in dress uniform, bedecked with their medals.

Once in the marquee, reserved for veterans only, would you like sir tea or coffee, from an airman.

Wandering around, the site shrouded in mist, the trees on the site vanished in mist, not even possible to see the South Common, let alone Lincoln Cathedral the other side of the valley.

The site has special significance. It overlooks Lincoln, it overlooks Lincoln Cathedral. A spire that is the tallest war memorial in the country, the height the width of a Lancaster wing span. For the airmen who flew on a bombing raid, Lincoln Cathedral was the last sight of what they called home, on return if they made it back, the first sight they saw. Many did not make it back. Their names, over 57,000, their names are cut in the panels. They may not have made it back, but they live on in spirit, with their laser cut names. The average age of the aircrew, 23 years old.

Also on site the Chadwick Centre named after Sir Roy Chadwick who designed both the Lancaster and the Vulcan.

The Chadwich Centre houses an interactive museum, in conjunction with Lincoln University, a digital archive, which is hoped to go on-line in the summer.

Between the Chadwick Centre and the Memorial Spire, a path alongside are tablets with a dedications to those who lost their lives.

All too soon, everyone was herded out of the warmth of the marquee, where lunch was to be served later, out into the misty cold, for the opening ceremony.

And cold it was. Survival blankets had to be handed out to keep people warm.

An address by someone from the Lottery, who provided some of the funding (the majority was donated by the public), Lord Howe defence minister in the Lords and Nicky Barr chief executive of IBCC whose hard work, plus her army of volunteers, has made everything possible.

There was to have been a Lancaster flypast, but to the disappointment of everyone, not possible.

No official bigwig, Royal Family or RAF Top Brass. Instead, which was a nice touch, the veterans cut the ribbon. A long ribbon unravelled across where the veterans were sat, scissors handed out, and the ribbon cut.

The Last Post, then everyone, no one sure what to do, headed back to warmth. The opening ceremony had not finished, there was more music, drama, but the cold was too much.

In the open reception area of the Chadwick Centre, on sale books, tea, coffee, craft beer.

At the entrance, complimentary copies of Lincolnshire Life featuring IBCC.

Back in the marquee lunch served for the veterans their guests had to make do with the various food stalls parked outside. A choice of burger, burger or burger, one stall had noodles, and another cakes.

The lunch, three sausages one assumes Lincolnshire sausages, served on a bed of potatoes, carrots and peas. The serving staff volunteers from a local college catering school.

BBC Look North excellent live coverage in the evening by Peter Levy and the Look North team, a pity about the crass comments from the weatherman which were uncalled for, and unfortunate cut short by five minutes by a party political broadcast.

One of life’s ironies, as the opening took place, high level meetings in London, the US and across Europe on whether or not to bomb Syria for its use of chemical weapons on civililians.

In the evening a concert.

On Saturday, world premier of the digitally remastered Dambusters.

Evening Thursday 24 May 2018, RAF 100 Centenary Concert in Lincoln Cathedral will also mark 75th Anniversary of the Dambusters Raid.

Cappuccino at International Bomber Command Centre

February 11, 2018

Last visits to the International Bomber Command Centre were a couple of weeks ago when not yet open to the public, press day and a preview for veterans, I was curious what it was like now open to the public, what better way to find out than to drop in for a cappuccino.

Sunday roast dinner at the Butcher and Beast at Heighington, then on to the International Bomber Command Centre for a cappuccino.

I was pleasantly surprised on arrival to find how many cars parked in the car park, almost full.

Shocked to find have to pay £3 to park. This was a planning condition imposed by the local council. The money will go to the centre, but only I assume after covering the cost of the parking machines.

How to access by public transport I do not know.

There needs to be access from South Common, otherwise quite a trek if on foot.

Speaking with the Director, previous weekend, the first weekend open to the public,  was even busier, I think she said 1100 visitors.

Excellent news, as they need visitor numbers to make the centre viable and provide cash flow.

On entering the open plan reception area, I noticed cabinets arranged corralling a central area, books on sale, souvenirs, including bags of coffee and tea.

The range of books quite limited. I assume not long open, hopefully a wider selection in the near future.

My cappuccino, too hot, weak and insipid. Classic mistake to serve piping hot.

The coffee served, Bomber Command blend, is a blend from Brazil, supplied by Stokes, exclusive to IBCC.

The Bomber Command beans are on sale, but already ground. For freshness, beans have to be whole, ground on demand. Also essential when supply beans, the roast date, best by or use by is meaningless.

Information on the bag about a Bomber Command pilot from Brazil, but nothing about the beans, where sourced from in Brazil, Q grade, not even if Arabica or heaven forbid Robusta.

Also on sale Bomber Command tea, again exclusive to IBCC supplied by Stokes. Disappointingly, in tea bags, not loose leaf tea.

The Westminster Collection

February 7, 2018

Latest scam from The Westminster Collection is the RAF 100 commemorative coin.

Delivered in an official looking envelope, with accompanying sob story of two WWII aircrew, and what better way to commemorate these brave aircrew than buying a worthless commemorative coin.

Not only that, you have even been specially selected for a discounted special offer, you and every other mug who has received the letter, fools and their money easily parted.

Veterans appear to have been targeted. Has a veteran organisation handed over details? Worrying and depressing if that be the case. But equally could be on a scam list.

The Princess Di coin scam, Falkland War coin scam and many others form what is known as the mint scam.

These are not the only scams. Vital Nature and associated companies pills and potions scam.

These worthless commemorative coins forms only part of the commemorative mint scam. The next part, if foolishly part with money, will be supplied unsolicited coins, billed if not send them back at your expense.

Send a polite letter, have not ordered unsolicited goods, will be kept for ten days then disposed of, onus on the mint to arrange collection at their expense.

The Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 state that unsolicited goods which have not been ordered and are sent ‘out of the blue’ can be treated as an unconditional gift; in other words, you can keep them or dispose of them as you wish. The Regulations make it a criminal offence to demand payment or threaten legal action to obtain payment for unsolicited goods or services.

If as has been reported RAF Association has endorsed this coin, the trustees should resign for legitimising a scam.

If wish to commemorate aircrew from WWII, visit International Bomber Command Centre, give them a donation.

Please warn veterans of this scam.

Veterans preview International Bomber Command Centre

January 19, 2018

Excluding a couple of days ago, my last visit to International Bomber Command Centre last summer, muddy approach, portakabins, diggers, trucks, shell of a building, hard hat, steel-tipped boots, hi-vis vests for access.

Today, a loose gravel approach to the finished building.

Not yet officially open, today was to give the veterans a glimpse.

Inside, an open plan reception.

As pass through the entrance, a bust of Roy Chadwick, the man who designed the Avro Lancaster, the four-engine heavy bomber on which the RAF relied for its bombing raids.

Roy Chadwick also designed the Vulcan, a V-bomber powered by jet engines.

An auditorium houses a large screen, static and interactive displays, a timeline showing a bombing raid and a separate screen with a four part depiction of all aspects of aerial warfare.

Bombing started with bombs being dropped from airships. It was thought that air warfare would lead to fewer casualties, fewer causalities than trench warfare.

At the end of the First World War, Germany was in ruins, the victors exacted a very heavy price, even though warned by Keynes not to.

The result was the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Second World War.

Have no lessons been learnt? Is 2008 our 1929? The Wall Street Crash led to the Great Depression, rise of Fascism across Europe, the Second World War. Banking crisis in 2008, economic crisis, geo-political crisis, the economy has not recovered, a rise of Fascism across Europe, Fascist governments in Poland, Hungary and now Spain and Austria, Angela Merkel fears holding an election for fear Fascists will gain more seats, Greece occupied by the EU, the country destroyed to serve as a punishment for the Greeks daring to challenge the EU, banks used instead of tanks. UK threatened with punishment for leaving to serve as a warning to others, even though it will harm Europe and turn southern Europe into a wasteland.

The bombing of Guernica by Franco and Spanish Fascists woke the world to total destruction of a city.

At first Britain was poorly prepared for war, war production was ramped up, bombing raids were not accurate, change targets to cities,  would hit something, terrorise and demoralise the civilian population.

Around the perimeter of the auditorium a timeline of a bombing raid.

Static displays of playing cards, flying boots, a lamp.

The playing cards, on each card, hand written account of a bombing raid.

Interactive with actors playing the part recounting first hand accounts. These narrations collected from first hand accounts. A race against time to collect these stories, as already a third of those who contributed are sadly no longer with us.

Dominating the room a large display.

On the large screen, bombing targets lit up. At first I thought, not many, that was until I noticed a scrolling bar. What was being shown was nightly raids, night by night.

A warning, a film was to be shown, almost like warning of an air raid.

Was this a warning to evacuate the room? Maybe.

Too loud.

Then I could see why so loud, when an Avro Lancaster took off, then the bombs dropped, then a building on fire, then footage from the air of the destroyed buildings, presumably taken by the Germans, then the lost people wandering the streets.

Quite an emotive experience watching the screen.

Upstairs, on the first floor, a gallery with more display panels.

Themes covered the impact on civilians, war production in the factories, French Resistance.

And not forgetting Knight of the Skies, one of the Lincoln Knights who now keeps watch.

A gathering of eighty-nine veterans of Bomber Command, their guests, staff and volunteers, crew of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

I regret not chatting with the veterans, as this will probably be the last time they will all be gathered together. They included the last survivor of the Dambusters Raid, a prisoner of war from Stalag 13.

A good spread of food laid on, but many missed out. This was not due to failure of the catering. It was unfortunate that a lot of greedy people, piled their plates high, then left uneaten. More food was served later, no one went hungry.

The dining room was packed. When open, will be serving a special blend of coffee for the centre, but not today as it would have taken too long to serve coffee from an espresso machine.  It was though a pity the coffee beans were not on sale, as will be when the Centre opens to the public, as would probably have sold out. There will also be a special blend of tea. Both supplied by Stokes.

The site is in two parts. The Chadwick Building and the Memorial Spire surrounded by concentric rusting steel panels into which have been cut the names of those who died.

The path connecting the two, has stone tablets with more details of some who died.

Either side of the path, trees have been planted to represent each of the airfield. A plaque by each tree records the squadrons based there and the number who died.

The site looks across the Witham Valley to Lincoln Cathedral the other side.

Why Lincoln? Lincolnshire was known as Bomber County.

The Centre is not only a visitor centre, it will also be a research centre with archive material.

The Centre tells the story from all sides, the crew on the ground, the aircrew, and the Germans who were bombed.

What is the point some may say.

Syria. Look what Assad has done to Syria, bombed-out buildings, the only way he can retain control of Syria is to kill his own people, aided and abetted by Vladimir Putin.

Yemen. Corrupt House of Saud carrying out genocide in Yemen, weapons supplied courtesy of British arms companies.

Press preview International Bomber Command Centre

January 17, 2018

My last visit to International Bomber Command Centre, muddy approach, shell of a building, hard hat, steel-tipped boots, hi-vis vests for access.

Today, a loose gravel approach to the finished building.

Not yet officially open, today was to give the media a glimpse.

Walking in, after passing through an open plan reception, a large auditorium, large screen, various interactive and static displays.

The interactive displays, students dressed the part, speaking what it was like, based upon recorded first hand accounts.

The interactive displays in the prison cells in the old Victorian Prison in Lincoln Castle give an idea of what to expect.

For the Centre, to collect these first hand accounts, was literally a race against time.

Since the first hand accounts were collected, of people in their nineties, a third of those who gave these first hand accounts are sadly no longer with us.

The static displays, a pair of flying boots, a lamp, playing cards.

The playing cards, on each card, hand written account of a bombing raid.

Dominating the room a large display.

On the large screen, bombing targets lit up. At first I thought, not many, that was until I noticed a scrolling bar. What was being shown was nightly raids, night by night.

A warning, a film was to be shown, almost like warning of an air raid.

Was this a warning to evacuate the room? Maybe.

Too loud.

Then I could see why so loud, when an Avro Lancaster took off, then the bombs dropped, then a building on fire, then footage from the air of the destroyed buildings, presumably taken by the Germans, then the lost people wandering the streets.

I was privileged to be able to watch this in a room on my own, well almost on my own, a BBC film crew and one veteran of WWII Bomber Command.

The impact would not have been the same in a room full of people.

To describe as emotional would be an understatement.

I later congratulated the Centre Director Nicky Barr and said she should she be very proud of what she has created.

She said that even though she had created, the first time she watched, it was a very emotive experience.

There are other smaller rooms, including dining room, with coffee, San Remo espresso machine and associated kitchen.

Not today, but when up and running, will be serving a special blend of coffee and tea created for the Centre by Stokes. They will also have on sale bags of the coffee and tea.

The Centre is not only a visitor centre, it will also be a research centre with archive material.

The Centre tells the story from all sides, the crew on the ground, the aircrew, and the Germans who were bombed.

What is the point some may say.

Syria. Look what Assad has done to Syria, bombed-out buildings, the only way he can retain control of Syria is to kill his own people, aided and abetted by Vladimir Putin.

Yemen. Corrupt House of Saud carrying out genocide in Yemen, weapons supplied courtesy of British arms companies.