Two related sites

I have been pleased to contribute to help others with similar material to get moving. Harry's blog and book has certainly stimulated several other similar websites particularly Dieter Finzen's  "mirror image" German soldier's WW1 blog, Erich Rochlitzer's German WW 2 Blog and Sam Avery's WW1 "doughboy" blog. I am very proud to have initiated a new and exciting use for the internet. My one good, maybe great, idea.

This week two new publications been brought to my attention. Both are concerned with World War2 and, coincidentally, both concerned with life, not at the front, but back home in England during that war.

The first is a book and blog, "E.J. Rudsdale's Journals of wartime Colchester", edited by Cathy Pearson. E.J. referred to the futility of the slaughter in the war that ended 20 years earlier, on which to base his decision not to join up and fight. I can understand his viewpoint.

The second is May Hill's diary and poetry  ;"The Casualties were Small" edited by Tom and Margaret Ambridge which was published as a book and now is being "blogged". 
May Hill lived in Lincolnshire ('Bomber County'), in a close-knit family and community which suffered the losses in action of several young men during that war. A recurrent theme in May's writing was 'waiting for news'.

World War 1 from Above

A follower from the U.S. has informed me that the "World War 1 from Above" programme is available on YouTube and is well worth a look. In the supporting material, there is a very good account of the "Messines Ridge" battle that was part of Harry's war. The programme (it is English so I'm allowed the "correct" spelling) is split into four 15 minute sections and is of a good quality. Click on the links to view.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Insight into Harry's World - TV Programme

The BBC showed ""World War One from above" on Sunday. It's still available on-line but probably only in the U.K. (Note the consequent careful spelling of programme - with 2 "m"s and an "e") .

A French aviator filmed the Western front battlefields from a balloon, shortly after the war ended. That filming was  linked to well researched background material, with a particularly good account of the Messines Ridge battle, which Harry took part in. (Chapter 4 of the book - June 1917 in the blog).

The programme suggested that the Messines mines were set off sequentially, working to the south - that the Germans in the southernmost trenches watched with increasing horror as a vision of Armageddon approached. All accounts I've read indicated that the mines were fired simultaneously at precisely 3 am. ( I don't see any significant military benefit in a sequential system - with only seconds between detonations.) Does anyone have any more information?

Update. I'm reading Nicholas Rankin's excellent book "Churchill's Wizards". In it he describes "a rolling sequence that lasted an appalling 28 seconds". I don't know if that was the intention or the result of imprecise timings. Access to the orders for the attack, at army level, may be able to answer that one. 

Two sources may appear conclusive, but only if the two are independent.

I found the whole programme to be excellent. Particularly chilling were the views of the water filled shell holes across the Passchendaele battlefield. Not just a few, the whole battlefield completely covered with, what looked from the air like puddles, but which were actually small lakes that would easily drown a man laden with military equipment.

This week, the blog should pass another milestone with the three millionth pageload. There are still over a thousand visitors a day with a steady flow of positive and rewarding comments.