The Channel Islands Monthly Review

Channel Islands Review cover 001When, with the expected takeover of the German troops during the beginning of the Second World War, much of the population of the Channels Islands was evacuated to mainland Britain, Channel Island Societies were established here to serve the needs of the exiles. In time, the Channel Island Monthly Review was established, making it possible for both the exiled and the stay-at-home Islanders to communicate with each other.

Published by the Stockport and District Channel Islands Society from 1940, this A5 sized digest of news proved a godsend, especially to the evacuees. It reported events in the Islands, the activities (whist drives, outings, and talks) of all the various Channel Island Societies in the UK, letters from those who stayed behind, and lists of those Islanders who had been deported to German internment camps. The magazine also carried Births, Marriages and Death notices, adverts and personal enquiries.

For instance, the issue for May 1943 carried a feature describing the still unresolved difficulties faced by the exiles, who were:

‘…struggling under financial or domestic anxieties; the husband without the wife; the wife without the husband ; the mothers with their young children, just existing on the Unemployed Assistance Board allowance; the billeted relying entirely on the goodwill of their billetors; the children, now over school age, who are seeking employment; and the school children themselves…’ Continue reading

Frances Mundy-Castle: a neglected poet

Democrats Chapbook cover 001The identity of the ‘ quiet woman‘ who wrote A Democrat’s Chapbook (1942), a hundred page long commentary in free verse on the events of the Second World War up to the time when America joined the Allied forces, was only revealed when Anne Powell included two passages from it in her anthology of female war poetry, Shadows of War (1999 ). However, those who had read her volume of Georgian verse entitled Songs from the Sussex Downs ( 1915), a copy of which was found in the collection of Wilfred Owen, might have recognised the style as that of ‘Peggy Whitehouse’, whose Mary By the Sea also appeared under this name in 1946. All three books were the work of Mrs Frances Mundy –Castle (1875 – 1959).

Thanks to her son Alistair, we now know a little more about Mrs Mundy-Castle. We know, for instance, that she came from a wealthy family and that at the age of sixteen she published a volume of her poems. She then married Mr Mundy-Castle, who managed a local brickworks, and the family settled down at Cage Farm, an early eighteenth century house on the eastern outskirts of Tonbridge. Here she seems to have held a sort of salon for local writers and artists, among whom was the cult artist and writer Denton Welch, who lived a mile or so away and was friends with her daughter Rosemary. In his later years, according to his biographer, she was ‘a frequent target of his malicious humour ‘, despite the fact that it was she who had given him the idea of writing his first book. Continue reading

George Sims and espionage

img_2750Found in a thriller by George Sims (1923 -1999) an interesting letter about the book. Sims was a successful and much admired dealer in rare books, something of a poet and a novelist with several of his books being about the book trade (bibliomysteries.) This book Who is Cato? (Macmillan, London 1981) actually has an art dealer, one William Marshall (rich but disillusioned), as its hero. He becomes involved in espionage through his connection to  ‘Intelligence’ in WW2 and finds himself working against the KGB many years later while on holiday in Majorca…

The letter from Sims to a woman friend, who ran a bookshop, is on headed notepaper from his cottage ‘Peacocks’ in Hurst, Berkshire. It reads:

Many thanks for your helpful cheering letter. I was glad to have it. Probably I’ve told you that when Cato was published we were in America and our daughter phoned to say that there had been a mysterious burglary at our cottage in which nothing was taken. When I came back I was puzzled as to how an entry was made into our cottage and my office; nothing was missing not even some £10 notes in the office drawer… exactly like the burglary which took place at William Marshall’s cottage near Hambleden!!

Obviously someone thought I knew more than I did. I was to blame as I had signed the official secrets document when I was at the SCU, and there was quite a deal of fact mixed with the fiction. Love George.

The S.CU. ‘Special Communications Units’ were outstations of S.I.S (‘Special Intelligence Services’) involved mostly with radio communications. They were disbanded in 1946. Sims, known to be irascible, appears quite philosophic about this incident. His books are collected, especially the bibliomysteries, also his excellent and still mouthwatering catalogues

Guernsey – a WW2 Press Diary

img_2725Found – a small  44-page wire-stitched newsprint pamphlet (no date or printer specified) entitled “PRESS” DIARY of Island Life during the German Occupation 1940-1945. Probably printed in Guernsey in late 1945. It records life under German occupation  in Guernsey through short news items. It is much concerned with the many changing rules and proclamations by the Germans regarding cars, tobacco, potatoes, curfews,  penalties for plunder of unoccupied premises (death) also it  records local crime, entertainment and privations. Cigarette rations were down to 20 cigarettes a week and 2 oz of tobacco. Many notices are brief – ‘’Rat Destruction committee advertise for dogs and ferrets.’  ‘Owners of private cars ordered to report.’ ‘Potato Board report that shortage of potatoes is due to hoarding.’ ‘First case against cyclists for riding abreast. Fined 2/6 each.’ ‘Germans order collections of old bicycle tyres, and tubes, rags, old paper, feathers, rubber, bones, leather and unbroken glass bottles’ ‘Appeal for old felt hats for making into slippers.’

Ships arriving with supplies are noted including  the one ton of delicacies- milk, chocolate, cheese and sweets donated to the island’s children by the Swiss International Red Cross in April 1941. The  Guille-Allès Library of Guernsey allowed residents 2 books at a time (raised from one.) There were many burglaries and break-ins reported and several profiteers and black marketers arrested and fined. One man arrested for breaking into a house and stealing and assaulting a woman received 12 strokes of the whip and 5 years in prison, a few were summarily shot. Continue reading

The Land Girl

IMG_1510Found at the London 2016 May Ephemera Fair – an issue of this magazine – THE LAND GIRL. (NO. 7. VOLUME 2, OCTOBER 1941.) This was issued by the Women’s Land Army The first article  is an encouraging piece aimed at the new Land Girl, who possibly for the first time, will be meeting other girls from far flung parts of Britain and  the British Commonwealth.

On Being Strange.

At this time of year many members of the Land Army are working far from their  homes. In particular, girls who are threshing and potato lifting have come long distances, and many others have undertaken particular jobs in counties they have never visited before.

This offers a grand opportunity to break down prejudices which have survived from the times (little more than a hundred years ago) when it took many days of laborious travel to traverse this island and the vast majority of people never left their own county throughout their lives. But prejudice dies hard, and in many counties people who have lived in them for less than ten years are still called “foreigners.”

It is the right spirit which makes girls volunteer to go where they are most needed – once they have got there it is very important that they should stay, for they are needed, and a failure to stick it out means a great deal of trouble and wasted time and money, neither of which can be afforded nowadays. Home-sickness is almost inevitable, but it does not last, and a determination to be interested in new places and different people will help it to pass quickly. Continue reading

Group Captain F.C. “Griff” Griffiths and the Maquis

71wD8UA294LFound loosely inserted in his book Winged Hours this account by Group Captain F.C. “Griff” Griffiths (1913-1996) of his time in France with the Maquis and his attempts after the war to trace members of the French Resistance who had helped him escape. In April 1943, Frank Griffiths, then a Squadron Leader, was posted to No. 138 Special Duty Squadron to take part in SOE ‘drops’ taking men and supplies to resistance organisations in occupied Europe. On the night of the 14/15 August 1943 his Halifax aircraft serial JD180 was brought down when flying low over Annecy (near the French/Swiss border) by small arms fire from an Italian Alpini corporal. He was one of two survivors and escaped his Italian captors and was subsequently sheltered by the Maquis and eventually escaped over the border to Switzerland, returning to England around Christmas 1943. The problem with tracing his brave saviours after the war was that none of them had used their real names…

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One of the sad things about Escaping/Evading experiences is that to protect our helpers we did not wish to know their real names or to remember addresses. We thus failed to make contact with many of them after the war.

For over 43 years I endeavoured to trace a helper with whom I had formed a strong rapport. All I knew of him was that his name was “Antoine” (obviously a nom de guerre) and that his French was difficult to understand because he was a Catalan.

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The A.A. Gunner’s creed

A.A. RAF team in Normandy.
Many thanks Histomil
Found in The Journal of the Royal Air Force Volume 15, no. 2 Autumn, 1935. pp 229-230 The A.A. Gunner's Creed, by H. W. H. The journal preface the creed by stating "…the origin of this creed is unknown, and the Editor publishes it hoping that he is not infringing any copyright" - a sentiment we also echo. HWH shows considerable wit and was probably a formidable gunner. A.A., as every WWII buff knows, stands for 'Anti-Aircraft.'

Whosoever will be saved: before all things it is necessary to hold the A.A. Faith.

Which Faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled: without doubt he shall miss the target everlastingly.

And the A.A. Faith is this: that we worship Calibration and the Mean of Three Height Readings.

Neither confounding the Height-takers: nor cavilling at their marvellous discrepancies.

For there is one Height of the Mirror, another of the Altimeter: and another of the U.B.2.

And yet there are not three Heights; but one Height.

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Hiroshima and Nagasaki seventy years on–a naval officer’s visit to Japan in 1946/1947

To mark the terrible events of seventy years ago in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, here are some postcards bought by my late father while visiting Japan, late in 1946 or early in 1947, as a commander in the Royal Navy. They were found interleaved in the first volume of a two volume guide book entitled We Japanese, first published in December 1934 and June 1937,by H.S.K Yamaguchi, the managing director of the exclusive Fujiya Hotel at Miyanoshita, situated in the mountainous region of Hakone, eighty miles SW of Tokyo.

The first and second volumes of this four hundred page guide to ‘many of the customs, manners, ceremonies, festivals, arts and crafts of the Japanese’ were reprinted in October and December respectively. A third and final volume appeared in 1949. My father probably bought his copies while staying at the hotel, which was established in 1878 by a member of the Yamaguchi family, and today advertises itself as the oldest ‘Western-style’ hotel in Japan. He wouldn’t have met the guide’s author, who had made great improvements to his hotel in the thirties, because he had died in 1944, but he might have rubbed shoulders with some of its famous guests. During the war one of these was the loathsome ‘Butcher of Warsaw’, Joseph Meisinger, but he had been captured by the Allies in September 1945. At other times celebrities staying at this exclusive hotel included Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Charlie Chaplin, and the Emperor of Japan himself. In 1978 Yoko Ono took John Lennon here.

Today, at £133 pp per night, the Fujiya Hotel no doubt trades on its exclusive reputation, but it is still cheaper than a less famous rival nearby. If you do decide to visit it, the receptionist may let you consult the final issue (1950) of the guide to Japan that my father bought nearly seventy years ago. [RMH]

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Salvage (1942)

A piece of  ephemera from Dad's Army days in Kent during WW2 (1942). A sheet of mimeographed paper typed both sides from the Tenterden 'Salvage Officer,' one G.D. Forder. Possibly such leaflets were from a national template, although no record of this leaflet is forthcoming. Bones were much wanted (even if gnawed by a dog) - these could be used in making glycerine (for high explosives) also candles and soap.
 Salvage has now become recycling and generally they don't refuse bones but no longer solicit them.

Tenterden Rural District Council

Hillside
5 East Hill
Tenterden Kent.
6th May, 1942.

G. D. Forder,
Salvage
Officer.

Dear Sir or Madam,

Salvage.

Salvage is vitally important.
Shipping is limited an many supplies formally drawn from the Far East and other countries have been cut off. So we must utilise to the utmost every bit of material which can possibly be got at home.

Local Authorities everywhere have been urged to arrange for its collection. Their resources of man power and equipment are fully taxed, and other overtaxed, and need to be supplemented by voluntary help.

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Japanese Rupees in Burma 1944

Fell out of a book - this curious souvenir of what is now known as The Burma Campaign - which raged from 1941 to 1945 with the Japanese in the ascendant much of this time. The tide was turned (with heavy losses on both sides) in early 1945 and Mountbatten staged an elaborate victory parade, at which he took the salute in Rangoon on 15 June of that year. This took place despite the fact that thousands of Japanese were still fighting hard behind British lines - as they tried desperately to escape across the Sittang river into Thailand, losing heavily as they went. This 100 Rupee note printed by the Japanese was issued under their 'puppet government' lead by Dr Ba Maw in early 1944.

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Fascists “Uppish” Again (Tom Driberg)

Found - this cutting from the Oxford Mail - Thursday 4th February 1943 detailing an incident straight out of Foyle's War. While World War II was raging, back in England pro-Nazi 'hooligans' were getting 'uppish.' A good demonstration of fair play and free speech - but 'much to be deplored.' Tom Driberg, now the subject of several biographies, was an openly gay, Communist sympathiser and a lifetime opponent of fascism. Churchill said 'he is the sort of person who gives sodomy a bad name..' Peter Wright of Spycatcher fame said he was a double agent...

Tom Driberg

Fascists "Uppish" Again - M. P.

Mr. Driberg (Ind., Maldon) asked the Home Secretary in the Commons today if he was aware that an organisation which advocated peace by negotiation with Hilter, and distributes pro-Nazi, anti-parliamentary and anti-Semitic propaganda, was proposing to hold a public meeting at a London theatre in the near future, and whether he would take steps to prevent the holding of such a meeting as likely to provoke a breach of the peace.

Mr. Morrison said that while watch was being kept on the activities of this organisation, his present information did not suggest that this meeting was likely to attract so much public interest that serious disorder was to be apprehended, and it would be premature for him to decide at this early date whether there were ground to prohibit the meeting, under Regulation 39E.

Mr. Driberg: Will you bear in mind that only last night there was a deplorable exhibition of hooliganism at Finsbury, where a memorial of Lenin was broken up and tarred and placarded with Fascist slogans?
Will you bear in mind that these people do seem to be getting rather uppish again and require a sharp check?

Mr. Morrison: I will certainly look into that incident to which you refer. If true, it is much to be deplored.

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Antonia Kelly World War 2 poet

Found - an album of poems among books and ephemera from the St. Clair Erskine family - sons of Lord Rosslyn (1869-1939) whose Calcot Park and Hunger Hill visitors book we covered recently. These were written by Antonia Mary Kelly (1920? - 1965) of Irish descent and the daughter of Admiral Sir John Donald Kelly. She married David Simon St. Clair-Erskine in 1948 and divorced him in 1958. They had one son. There is  a small amount information about her online, mostly garnered from gossip columns and peerage sites. In 1938 at the age of 18 she launched a warship (destroyer) called 'The Kelly' and she seems, on the evidence of these poems, to have worked at the Foreign Office during World War 2. There is a photo of her (below) on her wedding day in The Sketch 1948; she wore hyacinths in her hair, the best man was the Hon W.K. Davison and the priest was Father J. Bevan (indicating a Roman Catholic service) at the Brompton Oratory.

Her poems written between 1933 and 1947 are mostly highly competent, some are passionate love poems. Many are amusing or satirical and some quite worldly for a young woman of the time - at 16 she wrote these 'Lines Written during a Meagre & Modernist Dinner Party' :

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Artists as foreign spies

It is a fact that many signposts were temporarily removed, especially in rural areas, during the Second World War, and that countrymen were advised to report sightings of suspicious foreign looking and foreign sounding individuals in their district. What is not generally known, I suspect, is that an artist plying his or her trade as a landscape painter could have come under the gaze of local busybodies, including members of the Home Guard, who may have reported them to the authorities.

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World War 2 free book campaign

Found - a stamp in the front of a book reading: 'Dear Friend, This book comes to you with every good wish from the people of Leicester. May it help you to spend happily some of your hours off duty. GOOD LUCK. From The City of Leicester.'

It was in a copy of Brahms and Simon's A Bullet in the Ballet (Joseph, London 1937.) This was probably part of  a campaign to give off-duty service men and women a free book to read in the latter days of World War 2 - and also to welcome them to towns near their bases. There is slight evidence from online research that this was a British Council initiative. Possibly it was aimed at American troops...

Two books appear in online libraries bearing  this stamp. The first is Lord Raglan's The Science of Peace (Methuen, London 1933) with a similarly stamp but from 'Tunton' (probably a misprint for Taunton). This was at  the Royal Anthropological Institute. The other was a 'Bacon-wrote-Shakespeare'  book that had made its way to the Kirov Order of Honour Universal Regional Scientific Library in Russia. The stamp there is from the Borough of Dagenham. The book was Sir Edwin Duhring-Lawrence's Bacon is Shakespeare (Gay & Hancock, London 1910). Good reading for the war weary soldier...

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Air Raid Precautions. Hints for Housewives..

A wealth of practical information from a Mrs Creswick Atkinson. This 1941 booklet was aimed at housewives in World War II. In the case of an air raid or the possibility of such you either went to to your own air raid shelter (often an Anderson shelter), a public shelter or 'a table indoor shelter' or refuge room. If sheltering under a table you had to be sure it was the bottom floor or basement. The booklet is good on children and pets (although a child is often referred to as 'it') and says several times that they should be sent to the country, something not always possible. There is advice on gas attacks, incendiary bombs and even what to do if being machine gunned by an enemy plane:

Do not run away from the plane. Throw yourself down on your face at once. If you have to run, run towards the plane, not from it. 

In case your house is bombed:

1. Pack a suitcase of spare clothing and keep it at a friend's house in another part of town.
2. Arrange with a friend at the opposite end of your street or in another part of the town to give you hospitality for a short time in case of need.
3. Arrange with a relative to take you in until you can return to your house or find other quarters.

There is the usual advice about not spreading rumours and to 'keep cheerful yourself, and keep others cheerful too. A long face does not help anyone, but a cheerful face always makes the day seem brighter.' In fact 'Keep Calm and Carry on!'

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Wartime codebreaking—the professorial connection

This article in the January 1986 issue of Cryptologia by leading expert  Ralph Erskine reveals how code-breakers were recruited just before WW2 broke out. In the summer of 1939, due to the fact that throughout the 1930s the Government Code & Cypher School (GCCS) had been starved of funds, there were hardly any cryptologists who could rise to the challenge of deciphering the German codes. So when, in early September 1939, war was looming, the Director of the GCCS, Commander Alastair Denniston, was forced to recruit an emergency team of supposedly large brained cryptologists. Denniston wanted 'men of the Professor type' , which in 1939,  social and intellectual snobbery being what it was, meant academics likely to possess degrees in German, mathematics or classics from Oxford or Cambridge.

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A thought for Holocaust Memorial Day–The Kitchener Camp, Richborough

Sent in by top jotter Robin Healey who asked me to post this on Holocaust Memorial Day.

Dilapidated training buildings left over from the First World War, on a site just outside Sandwich in Kent, were requisitioned early in 1939 to accommodate thousands of Jewish male refugees fleeing from Hitler. The operation, financed by the Balfour Fund, was designed to give these refugees—who ranged from skilled manual workers to University professors—the chance to train for a new life outside continental Europe. Within a few weeks of the camp opening for business, a magazine, the Kitchener Camp Review had been established to publish the opinions, life stories and impressions of these refugees from Nazi oppression.

I own a full run (nine issues) of this exceedingly  scarce publication, which rarely ran to more than eighteen, sometimes very feint, pages, which were mimeographed on good quality foolscap, and stapled to a printed cover of light crimson coloured paper. Although almost all inmates were German speakers, the journal was published in English, principally because the editor, Phineas L.May, wanted to encourage the refugees to be fluent in the language. So, he either published a translation of the contributions, or occasionally invited those with good English to write in the language of their adopted country without editorial intervention. When we consider how good the language skills were of a refugee like Nikolaus Pevsner, who had fled Germany years before, we should assume that the English of some of his fellow, highly educated, Jewish compatriots at the Camp, probably needed very little correcting. Indeed many of those who wrote for the Review, had previously held high academic posts in Germany, and after the War went on, like Pevsner himself,  to pursue  illustrious careers in the English speaking world. Indeed, I have reasons to suspect that one of these academics, a geophysicist, was the father of an old girlfriend of mine.

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