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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Pigeons in War

From Pigeons in World War II edited by W H Osman (London 1950) two stories of amazing feats by army pigeons from this thorough record of WWII pigeon services. A few pigeons received the highest award - the Dickin Medal. No names, no pack drill..

1.Army pigeon 8790 DD 43 Q Bred by Australian Pigeon Section whilst attached to the United States 6th Army

During the fight for Manus Island (1945) the United States Marines sent a reconnaissance patrol to the strategic village of Dravito. The patrol was strongly attacked by Japs whilst returning with the information that a strong counter attack was in preparation The patrol's radio was rendered inoperative during the action so two pigeons were released warning the Headquarters of the impending attack. These pigeons were shot down immediately as the Japanese intensified their efforts to annihilate the patrol. This left one pigeon (8790 DD 43 Q)…the sole remaining means of contact  they were released leaving Army pigeon 8790 DD 43 Q as the sole remaining means of contact with Headquarters. It was released during a lull in the fighting and despite heavy fire directed at it reached Headquarters thirty miles in difficult country in 46 minutes. As a result Dravito was heavily bombed and the patrol extricated from its perilous position.

2.Army pigeon 3863 DD 44

Bred by Australian Pigeon Service. Trained by 1st by Australian Pigeon Section (operating with the first Australian Water Transport Group.)

In July 1945 during the operations on Bougainville an Infantry Company of the 3rd Australian Division was pinned down and surrounded by a superior enemy forces. The Japanese had cut off or destroyed all means of communication to Battalion Headquarters except two pigeons carried by the Company. Army pigeon 3863 DD 44 was despatched with an urgent call for reinforcements and artillery support in order that the position could be relieved by nightfall. Despite heavy tropical rain and the fact that this bird was fired on by 60-70 Japanese immediately on release (which wounded the pigeon) Army pigeon 3863 DD 44 flew the 22 miles in 3 hours arriving at the loft in a state of complete exhaustion. As a result of this gallant effort artillery support was given and the Company with its wounded was withdrawn safely before dark.

Aluminium / Aluminum

We did a posting on our old site Bookride on Chick Marrs Quinn's unfindable book The Aluminium Trail a self published and much wanted book about US aerial operations in the Pacific Area in WW2  The book is dedicated to 1st Lt. Loyal Stuart Marrs, Jr., Chick's husband who was killed February 27, 1945.  The 'aluminum trail' title refers to the pattern of air crashes in the difficult Indo-China regions, especially the Himalayas. People who lost relations and loved ones flying so far from home eagerly want this rare book and not a few libraries. Amazon sometimes has it at bearable prices.  As for Aluminum (or Aluminium as it is known in Britain) Everybody's Book of Facts (1940s) reveals this:

 The youngest child of the great family of metals is aluminium, which 50 years ago was as expensive as silver, just as silver was once more precious than gold, and iron more valuable than either. The first to isolate it was the German chemist Friedrich Wohler in 1827. Napoleon the Third used an aluminium spoon at state banquets, and had a set of buttons for his uniform of the same substance. It then cost about £109 a pound. In 1880 only 70 pounds were produced annually; in 1885 13 tons; in 1926 some 200,000 tons; now even cooking vessels are made of aluminium.

The metal is never found by itself but always in combination with other elements, including clay. The United Staes is the chief producer, although it is believed that aluminium worth about £288 million is available in the Gold Coast colony. The largest night sign in the world is made of this metal. It  graces the RCA building in Rockefeller Centre, New York, is 24 feet high and outlined in  neon lighting.

Communist attack on Cliveden Set 1938

Found in the Chips Channon collection a pamphlet produced by the Communist Party of Great Britain attacking his friends in the Cliveden set. Produced in an edition of 10000 in March 1938 it also has much on the Spanish Civil war - they demanded 'immediate assistance for Spain...the withdrawal of Hitler and Mussolini's armies and airplanes..protection of all shipping in Spanish Republican ports.' Channon himself is attacked along with Lennox Boyd 'open pro-Fascists who got ministerial posts.' The first page reads:

Cliveden House at Taplow, Buckinghamshire, country home of Lord and Lady Astor, meeting-place of powerful secret diplomats. Week-end parties at Cliveden House have made and broken British Cabinet Ministers. Decisions taken there have brought Europe to the verge of war. Friends of Hitler and enemies of the people are welcome there. Many of the “National” Government’s betrayals of peace have begun with a Cliveden week-end party. The Cliveden set  . . . their power reaches through British banking, transport, journalism- through Britain’s Parliament, across the seas to International Fascism. But their power can be broken. . . .

'The Astors are a very wealthy American family..'

Cliveden was, of course, to be back in the news 24 years later with the breaking of the Profumo scandal in 1962.