The Anonymous Widower

Getting Emotional

I can sometimes get very emotional and start crying quietly. I did this morning in Carluccio’s in Islington. I’ve talked of this before.  All I was doing as reading the colour magazine in The Times and especially the piece about some of the people who had won medals at the 1948 Games after suffering badly in the war.

The star of those Games was the Dutch female athlete, Fanny Blankers-Koen, who won four gold medals.  The Dutch presented her with a new bicycle.

One other competitor I’d heard of was the Hungarian marksman,  Karoly Takacs, who after losing his right hand to a grenade accident, learned to shoot left handed and won gold. He also won gold four years later in Helsinki.

One amazing tale concerns Jim Halliday, who fought in the retreat from Dunkirk and later was captured by the Japanese in 1942. On release from the his POW camp, he weighed just  27 Kg. He then won silver or bronze, depending on the source,  in the wrestling. Sadly he died in 2007, so won’t be able to present any medals.  Perhaps, he has a son or daughter, who can be asked!

And people moan about, VAT on pies and pasties. They don’t know they’re alive.

To me though, the crying may also be about my eyes telling me that they have now wetted up and are not as bone dry as they have been in recent months. Two years ago, a nurse treated them and said they were the driest eyes she’d ever seen. She gave me some artificial tears, but I can’t put anything in my eyes.

It’s not as if this day is anything significant in my life, as my son died on the 23rd, not the 30th.

Perhaps, I’m just one of those people, who needs to cry!

March 31, 2012 Posted by | Sport | , , , | 1 Comment

Remembering M.R.D. Foot

M. R. D. Foot, who has recently died, was an historian, whose wartime exploits and subsequent researches led him to be a leading authority on the Special Operations Executive.

I seem to have come across him first, as he had written one of C’s books for her History and Politics course at Liverpool. But I remember him most for his book that he wrote in conjunction with Jimmy Langley, MI9: Escape and Evasion in 1939-1945. In there he relates how the first two British servicemen to make a Home Run from Germany were two Sikh sergeants in the Pioneer Corps.

It is a tale that has fascinated me and no-one seems to have any more knowledge than that one line in the book.

Hopefully, one day the tale will fully surface.

February 21, 2012 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

An Obituary For an Unknown in the Fight Against Capital Punishment in the UK

I have said before that C used to visit prisoners in Holloway Prison in the early 1970s.

Yesterday, the Times and other papers carried reports of the death or full obituaries of the death of Stella Cunliffe.

Here is the report of her death on the Surrey Today website.

I have a feeling that C used to visit Holloway prison in a group, which involved this formidable lady. She seems to have provided the statistical evidence for the abolishment of capital punishment in parts or all of the UK.  The obituaries vary.

There’s more here on Wikipedia, which states she was one of the first civilians to go into Belsen.

I think I met her a couple of times in about 1970 and we never knew what she did.  Her male friend and they were just that, was a senior hospital manager and one of the best practical jokers that I’ve ever come across. I have to admit to stealing one of his best jokes.

February 1, 2012 Posted by | News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Farewell Ronald Searle

Ronald Searle was one of the greatest cartoonists this country has ever produced.

He is remembered most for St. Trinians. But I saw his wartime drawings from the Burma Railway in the sixties and they left a deep impression about the horrors of war and man’s inhumanity to man. All are part of a legacy of a great artist, who is mainly remembered for just one small part of his work.

He deserves to have a proper retrospective exhibition at a major gallery in the UK.

I noticed that Ronald Searle had the initials, RDI,  after his name. The initials stand for Royal Designers for Industry. It is is a distinction established by the Royal Society of Arts  in 1936, to encourage a high standard of industrial design and enhance the status of designers.

January 4, 2012 Posted by | News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Liverpool Parish Church

Liverpool parish church is St. Nick’s by the Pierhead or the Church of Our Lady and St. Nicholas to name it correctly.

The pictures show the church and the surrounding gardens.

Like St. Luke’s church, it was seriously damaged in the Second World War.

September 12, 2011 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

P.G. Wodehouse Was A Traitor

My father hated P.G. Wodehouse with a vengeance because of his broadcasts for the Nazis in the Second World War. We didn’t have any of his books in the house.

More has just been released from MI5 files as reported here in the Guardian.

I would follow my father and have nothing to do with any of Wodehouse’s books and can’t even say now, I’d go out of my way to watch a film, play or TV series of any of his books.

Remember my father was very involved with anti-Fascism protests before the war and active on the left wing of the Conservative party. He was also present at the Battle of Cable Street, when the East End stopped Mosley from marching.

My father could also do a mean impersonation of Lord Haw-Haw. But then I’ve never met anybody who didn’t feel that he wasn’t one of the funniest things of the war.

August 26, 2011 Posted by | World | , | 1 Comment

The Amazing Story of Rudolf Brazda

I’d never heard of Rudolf Brazda, until I saw his obituary today, but it gives deep insight into how the Nazis just didn’t persecute Jews, but a lot of others as well. Brazda was gay and somehow kept himself alive amongst the horrors of Buchenwald.

August 11, 2011 Posted by | News | , , , , | 1 Comment

Two Bombed Out Churches

In the UK, we have several bombed-out churches from the Second World War. I have post about St. Luke in Liverpool before, which is generally known in the city as the bombed-out church. 

On my weekend trip to Plymouth and Bristol, I came across two more.  First was the Charles Church in Plymouth

Charles Church, Plymouth

If ever there a badly situated ruin, that is a monument to the excesses of town-planning it is this. Surely, they could at least given pedestrians access, but it seems to be unfortunately left in the wrong place by the bombing of the Second World War. 

In some ways, this church sums up Plymouth.  Very disappointing!

And then there was St. Peter’s in Bristol.

St. Peter's Church, Bristol

The surroundings have been left to show it off properly as a monument to those who died. It also had an information board.

Information on St. Peter's Church, Bristol

Plymouth could learn a lot from Bristol.

August 7, 2011 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

The Museum of London Docklands

I ended up here yesterday by accident, as I’d gone to Docklands to have lunch and got caught in the rain. So as it was free I went inside.

Museum of London Docklands

It was definitely worth a visit. I should say that it is very comprehensive and it will take at least three or four hours to see everything.

I particularly liked the section on some of the technology we used to invade Europe on D-Day.  It’s the first place I’ve seen a detailed display about PLUTO (Pipe Line Under The Ocean), which supplied fuel to the invading forces using undersea pipelines. The museum also has a large display about the Mulberry Harbours, that were created to land Allied forces in Normandy. Some of the giant Phoenix caissons were actually built in the drained West India Docks, where Canary Wharf has now been developed. I have actually been inside the four Phoenix breakwaters, which were used to bridge the gaps in the dykes in the Netherlands after the terrible floods of 1955 and now form the Watersnoodmuseum.

It covers London Docklasnds from Roman times to the present and all of the important figures like the Brunels and Bazalgette are properly documernted.

During the Olympics, the Museum will become the German House.  I wonder what some of them will make of the wartime section!

July 18, 2011 Posted by | World | , , | 1 Comment

Ball Bearings, The Mosquito Airliner and The Gay Viking

This story from Coast last night was fascinating, as it told the story of how the British ran the German blockade of Sweden during the Second World War to obtain essential supplies of ball bearings and other advanced technology.

I have been fascinated by the Mosquito, de Havilland’s Wooden Wonder, since I was a child and after reading the definitive book on the aircraft about thirty years ago, I realised just what a superb aircraft it was. Last night, they showed rare film of Mosquito airliners of BOAC, running the blockade to Sweden to obtain the ball bearings.

But they could not carry very much, although they were successful despite being unarmed.The airliners had a pressurised cabin, so they could go very high and remember that at the time the Mosquito was one of the fastest aircraft in the world. So they relied on height and speed for defence.

This was where the Gay Viking and her siblings came in. They were fast motor gun boats, built by Camper and Nicholsons, who are more well-known for their yachts for the rich and famous. They could bring in forty tons of cargo. The trips are described on Gay Viking’s page in Wikipedia.

July 18, 2011 Posted by | World | , , | 6 Comments


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