The History Girls: The writer, the spies and leaf-mould memories by Deborah Burrows

I first visited the museum at Bletchley Park, near Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire, UK in 2014, and went again last month. It is a fascinating museum, in many ways representing the triumph of eccentricity over evil. At Bletchley a group of dedicated men and women – many of them amateurs with a gift for …

Source: The History Girls: The writer, the spies and leaf-mould memories by Deborah Burrows

The Brits Who Fought For Hitler.

Crimescribe

Insignia of the ‘British Free Corps’, former prisoners-of-war who enlisted in the infamous Waffen SS.

The SS motto – ‘My honour is loyalty.’

As a freelance scribbler and long-time student of military history I love finding the more overlooked or forgotten aspects of the subject. For instance, the popular narrative of the Second World War holds that the British people pulled together, fighting as one for a common cause.

Erm, not exactly.

While British troops and the vast majority of the British public did rally round, a tiny handful didn’t. Some turned traitor for money. The notorious ‘£18 traitor’ Duncan Scott-Ford (not one of Plymouth’s favourite sons), was hanged at Wandsworth Prison in November, 1942 for selling convoy information to German Intelligence at a bargain discount. For others the shift was ideological. They were in it for the cause, such as Wiliam Joyce (AKA ‘Lord HAW Haw’ and star of…

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The History Girls: Women of the Warsaw Uprising, by Clare Mulley

Gravestone of a female resistance fighter,
Powąnski Cemetery, Warsaw.
(Copyright Clare Mulley)

This month marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the Warsaw Uprising. By the summer of 1944 the tide of the Second World War had turned. The Soviets, now Allies, had reversed the German advance, and France was fighting towards liberation. Sensing change, the Polish government-in-exile authorized their highly organised resistance ‘Home Army’ to rise up against the extremely brutal Nazi forces occupying their capital.

On the 1st August thousands of Polish men, women and children launched a coordinated attack. The Poles had faced invasion on two fronts at the start of the war, and were well aware of the dual threat to their independence. Their aim now was to liberate Warsaw from the Nazis so that they could welcome the advancing Soviet Army as free, or at least fighting, citizens. Moscow radio had appealed to the Poles to take action, but the Red Army then deliberately waited within hearing distance for the ensuing conflict to decimate the Polish resistance before making their own entry. The Warsaw Uprising is remembered as one of the most courageous resistance actions of the Second World War, but also…

Continue: The History Girls: Women of the Warsaw Uprising, by Clare Mulley.

Siegfried Sassoon, Hopelessness and Iraq

Critical Dispatches

Sassoon

Snooping around the charity shops of West London a week past, I spied a copy of Siegfried Sassoon’s fictionalized autobiography, Memoirs of an Infantry Officer, on sale for £1. The discovery of a such a volume came as a revelation as although I had been aware of and enjoyed Sassoon’s poetic work (along with Wilfred Owen, he is my hero as far as political poetry is concerned) since I was a preteen– as I am sure anyone born in the North West of England is bred into – I had no idea that he also published prose. At a quid, I would have been the worst sort of miser not to pick it up.

The scale of the whole thing – the de-humaning conditions, the destruction of human life, the sheer hopelessness of it all – is nothing less than horrifying. I remember reading in Savage Continent, Keith Lowe’s brilliant…

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