‘INVICTUS’ Resilient Wounded Warriors

The Invictus Games LONDON. Opening Ceremony 10th September 20141410376506029_wps_65_LONDON_ENGLAND_SEPTEMBER_ WHO INVICTUS EXISTS FOR: Invictus Games competitors are the men and women who have come face-to-face with the reality of making a sacrifice for their country. They are the mothers, fathers, husbands and wives who put their lives on the line and suffered life-changing injuries. These people are the embodiment of everything the Invictus Games stands for. They have been tested and challenged, but they have not been overcome. They have proven they cannot be defeated. They have the willpower to persevere and conquer new heights.8385661905_fe24151ff6_o-1024x682

The Invictus Games are about survival in the face of adversity and the strength of the human spirit. They will send a positive message about life beyond disability. Over 400 competitors from 13 nations will take part in the Invictus Games, an international sporting event for wounded, injured and sick Servicemen and women. Teams will come from the Armed Forces of nations that have served alongside each other. The Games will use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation, and generate a wider understanding and respect of those who serve their country.

The event, which is championed by Prince Harry, will be a celebration of resilience and passion. The Games will shine a spotlight on Armed Forces personnel and veterans who have put their lives on the line for their country demonstrating how they and their families are valued, respected and supported. For competitors, it will offer a memorable, inspiring and energising experience in their journey of recovery.1410378342713_Image_galleryImage_LONDON_ENGLAND_SEPTEMBER_

‘Their stories are as amazing as they are unique’ Prince Harry’s speech in full…

‘Over the past eight years, I have witnessed the whole cycle of life changing injury; evacuating soldiers and local Afghans to hospital; flying home from Afghanistan with some of those critically injured; meeting others in hospital coming to terms with life changing injuries; and finally trying to keep up with 12 wounded veterans on our way to the South Pole. ‘I can only begin to imagine how challenging the journey of recovery is, but the admiration I have for these men and women, to move beyond their injuries, is limitless. ‘Last year, through The Royal Foundation, I visited the Warrior Games in the United States.Prince Harry

‘Seeing people who, only months earlier, had been told they’d never walk again, now winning medals in front of their family and friends was breathtaking. ‘I knew that anyone would be inspired by what these men and women had achieved, not just other servicemen and women, but all those adjusting to life post injury. ‘Each of them have come such a long way; even making it to the start line is a huge achievement. Their stories are as amazing, as they are unique. ‘However, they all share one thing – sport. Sport has been the vehicle for their recovery, allowing them to channel their passion into what can be achieved, rather than what can’t. ‘No longer are these inspirational men and women defined by their injury but as athletes, competitors and team mates. ‘Over the next four days we will see some truly remarkable achievements.

For some of those taking part, this will be a stepping stone to elite sport but for others it will mark the end of a chapter in their recovery, and the beginning of a new one. ‘Either way, you can be sure that, everyone who takes to the track, pool or field of play will be giving it their all. ‘I have no doubt that lives will be changed this weekend. ‘It gives me great pleasure to welcome the 13 nations to London and to say how delighted I am that many of you are joined by your families, recognising the vital party they play in your recovery. ‘The British public’s support for our servicemen and women has been exceptional; I know they will show you the same over the coming days. ‘Finally, I would like to thank you for the tremendous example you set. Your stories move, inspire and humble us. You prove that anything is possible, if you have the will. ‘Welcome to the Games. Welcome to Invictus.’

* More than 400 competitors
* A total of 13 countries represented – alongside the UK team will be competitors from the US, Denmark, Estonia, France, Italy, Canada, Netherlands, Australia, Afghanistan, Georgia, New Zealand and Germany.
* Four days of competition.
* Competitions are taking place in nine adaptive sports: athletics, swimming, power-lifting, indoor rowing, sitting volleyball, road cycling, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby and archery.
* Five venues, including those used during the 2012 London Olympic Games
* An audience of 5,000 is expected for Wednesday’s opening ceremony at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Parkhttp://invictusgames.org


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Henley 1875team-hill

This man is the epitome of a wounded warrior. “Reconnaissance Marine Corporal Todd Love – wounded in Afghanistan, proceeds to skydive, surf and run the spartan race with a gas mask, no legs and one hand.”  They say that ‘the greatest casualty is being forgotten.’ Let us never forget their sacrifice…  Yours Aye.

B.Z. Prince Harry – done and dusted in six months…

Inspirational Gunny…

article-2679195-1F59F83100000578-429_470x423USMC Bomb Disposal Technician who has ALWAYS kept a smile on his face – even after he lost both limbs in an Afghan IED blast. USMC Gunnery Sergeant Brian Meyer was deployed as a bomb technician in Afghanistan in 2011 when the device he was defusing exploded prematurely. The then 29-year-old Marine was ripped apart by the blast. He lost his right leg above the knee, his right hand above the wrist and three fingers of his left hand.

article-2679195-1F59FA5300000578-320_470x423While still receiving treatment on the battlefield, G/Sgt Meyer, fearful of the impact his injuries would have on his squad, ordered Eric Lunson to take his photograph. Forcing a smile through the pain, Sgt Meyer, raised what would have earlier been a thumbs’ up as the shutter clicked. The photograph, Sgt Meyer hoped, would provide inspiration for his men as he began his own battle with recovery. USMC Gunnery Sgt Brian Meyer smiling through pain. 

A real hero in the true sense of the word. One of thousands that we should all be proud of. B.Z. Gunny…     Yours Aye.

Apache’s on the warpath

1404215307925_Image_galleryImage_BNPS_co_uk_01202_558833_PDaring pilot who flew his Apache helicopter into a Taliban fort sells his medals for £100,000 to start new life as a civilian. A British Army Air Corps pilot who performed one of the most daring rescues of the Afghanistan war is selling his gallantry medal to raise £100,000. Captain Tom O’Malley flew his Apache gunship into a Taliban stronghold with two Royal Marines strapped to the side in an extraordinary bid to save a wounded Marine. Daring pilot who flew his Apache helicopter into a Taliban fort sells his medals  1404215070741_Image_galleryImage_BNPS_co_uk_01202_558833_PThe story at the time made aviation history as it was the first time an Apache gunship was used in such a way carrying external pax into a hostile environment. Not wishing to deflect the bravery of those involved, but; another hero that day was WOI Ed Macy. Army Air Corps; who received the Military Cross for his courage during the Jugroom Fort rescue.

ed-macy-apache‘APACHE’ THE MAN. THE MACHINE. THE MISSION. Describes Ed Macy’s tour, as well as the hastily planned mission ‘he’ put together to rescue Marine Matthew Christopher Ford.

‘Ed Macy is an elite pilot, one of the few men qualified to fly Apache helicopters, the world’s deadliest fighting machines. This is his account of a fearless mission behind enemy lines in Afghanistan.’

‘After a brutal accident forced him out of the Paras, Ed Macy refused to go down quietly. He bent every rule to sign up for the Army’s gruelling Apache helicopter programme and was one of the handful to pass the nightmare selection process. Dispatched to Afghanistan’s notorious Helmand Province in 2006, his squadron were on hand when a Marine went MIA behind enemy lines – and they knew they were his only hope.’

‘From the cockpit of the mighty Apache helicopter comes this incredible true story of a rescue mission so dangerous they said it couldn’t be done, and of the man who dared to disagree.’ I would urge those of you who enjoy a bloody good read without any ‘gung-ho bull s**t’ to beg, borrow, steal, or purchase the same book. You will not be disappointed. Yours Aye.                APACHE is dedicated to Marine Mathew Christopher Ford.

Maurice Roe – Obituary

Maurice Roe – Obituary. Maurice Roe was a Special Operations Executive agent who once found himself billeted in a French chateau alongside a German officer.Maurice-Roe_2954630c

Maurice Roe, who has died aged 96, served variously as a Commando, as well as an SOE and “Jedburgh” agent; he was awarded a Military Medal in 1945. On the night of July 8 1944, wearing ill-fitting civilian clothes, Roe was parachuted into France near Pel-et-Der, in the Aube, attached to an SOE French Section Mission which aimed to revive the “Pedlar” circuit in the Marne. Roe and his team were driven away as soon as they landed, but the Germans reacted quickly and two members of the Resistance were killed. After he had moved to a camp in the woods near Montier-en-Der, there were several skirmishes with the Germans; but Roe, as one of the two wireless operators in the team, was considered too valuable to risk on patrolling. The local Resistance group lacked leaders and weapons. As a former Commando, Roe instructed the Maquis in guerrilla operations, selected landing strips for the delivery or dispatch of SOE agents and called down air drops.

At Wassy, he was given a billet in the château of a prominent local family. There he found that the family, uncertain which side was going to win the war, was hedging its bets by also playing host to a German colonel in charge of guarding the aerodrome at Saint-Dizier. Roe, who spoke good French, was able to pass himself off without problem, and enjoyed having his shoes polished by the colonel’s batman and receiving a salute from the sentry on the gate. Even better, the garden proved large enough for him to make his wireless transmissions without danger of interference. His cover story, had he been captured, was to claim that he had taken part in the St Nazaire raid but had escaped and gone to ground. In October 1944 he returned to England. He was subsequently awarded an MM.Maurice-Roe2_2954628bHerbert Maurice Roe, the son of a shopkeeper, was born on June 4 1917 at Ealing, west London, and educated at Ealing Grammar School. He had ambitions to become a missionary and, after leaving school, studied Philosophy in Belgium and Algeria. At the outbreak of war he had a clerical job with Cerebos Salt. He had joined the Queen’s Westminster’s Territorial Army in 1938 and he enlisted with their parent regiment, the King’s Royal Rifle Corps.

In August 1940 he volunteered for the Special Forces and, after joining 2 Commando, underwent rigorous training in Scotland. In March 1942 he was called to the War Office for an interview and missed the St Nazaire raid. Every man in his section was killed on the operation. After being posted to the Small Scale Raiding Force, he took part in raids on the coast of France and on the Channel Island of Herm. He then moved to Fawley Court, near Henley-on-Thames, where he trained to become a wireless operator. Only five feet tall, he was known as “Knee-high”. The work was very tedious and, in classes, he use to bawl: “I’m not mad! Lemme out!” This was followed by a posting to Milton Hall, near Peterborough, where he joined the “Jedburghs”, a band of men prepared to drop into Occupied zones in three-man sabotage teams.    Commando Memorial Spean Bridge5765484891_af4bd8e60d_bAfter his return from France in October 1944, Roe was informed that SOE agents were needed in the Far East, and he volunteered to join their Force 136. The voyage to India proved tedious and he used to bellow at regular intervals: “Asia for the Asiatics! Turn the boat round!” In March 1945 he was dropped into southern Burma. The object of his mission was to recruit Karen tribesmen and train them to harass the retreating Japanese. A post-operations report stated that “he was resourceful, never defeated, popular with the Karens and a continual source of merriment and fun”. He was mentioned in despatches .

Roe was demobilised early in 1946 in the rank of colour sergeant and joined Customs and Excise. He retired to live at Poole in Dorset. Maurice Roe married, in 1953, Winifred (Wyn) Heyes. She predeceased him and he is survived by their two daughters and three sons. Maurice Roe, born June 4 1917, died May 6 2014

Standing at 5 feet tall this man must have had the heart of a lion, and the constitution of an ox to enable him to pass through such arduous training. Stand Easy Maurice Roe, you are one of thousands of your generation who stepped up to be counted, and I for one am eternally grateful.             Yours Aye.                                     The Telegraph Obituaries

The measure of a brave decent man

Britain’s Schindler: Sir Nicholas Winton. MBE, 105, who saved Jewish children by organising ‘Kindertransports’ to UK set to receive highest Czech honour. images(Sir Nicholas George Winton, MBE is a British humanitarian who organized the rescue of 669 mostly Jewish children from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia on the eve of the Second World War, in an operation later known as the Czech Kindertransport.)

A British humanitarian who saved Jews in occupied Prague from almost certain death in Nazi concentration camps is to be awarded the Czech Republic’s highest honour. Sir Nicholas Winton, who saved more than 650 mostly Jewish children from the Holocaust by organising the ‘Kindertransports’ to the UK, will receive the Order of the White Lion. 200px-Orde_van_de_Witte_Leeuw_1936His exploits just before the outbreak of total war in Europe made him a hero to the Czechs and have earned him the nickname ‘Britain’s Schindler’. The award, confirmed this week, will be given to the 105-year-old at an official ceremony on October 28, the anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia.

Sir Nicholas recently celebrated his 105th birthday at the Czech embassy in London where most of the guests were the offspring of the children rescued by him. Taking into the account the children of those he saved, there are estimated to be around 6,000 people in the world today who owe him their lives. To this day they call themselves ‘Nicky’s children’. It was late in December 1938 when Sir Nicholas from Hampstead, then a stockbroker, cancelled a holiday and instead went to Prague to see what was happening to refugees. Horrified by the treatment of the Jews under the Nazi occupation, he set about organising eight evacuations of the threatened children on the Czech Kindertransport train. He advertised in newspapers for foster homes, organised residency permits from the immigration office in the UK, and persuaded the Germans to let the children go. Britain’s Schindler: Sir Nicholas Winton. MBE, 105, who saved Jewish children organising Kindertransports

A true humanitarian who has continued to assist others throughout his entire life. The following link contains a couple of clips that show the measure of a very brave  man, who never sought recognition over his worthy acts.  Sir Nicholas Winton. MBE, ‘Nicky’s children… Yours Aye.

The Great Escape

article-2650882-1E889F9F00000578-521_306x490‘I loved every minute and I’d do it again tomorrow!’ Great Escape’ D-Day veteran, 89, who sneaked off from his care home to go to 70th anniversary commemorations in Normandy returns to Portsmouth but says his trip ‘meant the world’ to him.

Mr. Bernard Jordan 89-year-old D-Day veteran who sneaked out of his care home to travel to Normandy returned to a hero’s welcome and declared: ‘I would do it again tomorrow.’ Hiding his war medals under a raincoat, Mr. Jordan told staff he was going for a walk before boarding a coach to France for the 70th anniversary – sparking a frantic missing person search.article-2650882-1E889F9F00000578-503_306x490

The former Royal Navy officer arrived into Portsmouth on a cross-channel ferry this morning, where he said: ‘I expect I will be in some trouble with the care home, but it was worth it.’ Mr Jordan summoned the spirit and determination of June 6, 1944, when he hatched his cunning plan to join old comrades and world leaders in remembering the assault that cost more than 4,000 Allied lives. By the time staff at the care home in Hove realised he was missing on Thursday evening, the veteran had already checked into a hotel in Ouistreham, Normandy.

The alarm was raised at 7.15pm and police began searching the area around The Pines care home, checking with hospitals, bus firms and taxi companies. Eventually the care home breathed a sigh of relief when they received a phone call from another veteran, who said he had met the former Mayor of Hove on the coach – and he would come home when he was ready. Today the Royal Navy veteran, who staff treated as the guest of honour on a ferry from Caen, said it ‘meant the world’ to be part of the anniversary. D-Day veteran 89 reported missing from his care home travelled to Normandy France for the D-Day Commemorations U-110-captured-whaler-boat-595x234HMS Bulldog’s boarding party led by Sub-Lieutenant David Balme approaches U-110…… The bulldog spirit of the ‘Senior Service.’ What has just been revealed at lunchtime today is that ‘Lieutenant’ Jordan R.N. served aboard HMS Bulldog, one of the ships that engaged and went into action against the German Submarine U-110. The U-boat was eventually captured and seized by a boarding party from HMS Bulldog on 9th May 1941 The result of which saw the capture of its code books as well as the first Top-Secret Enigma machine.   B.Z. Lt Jordan, and the veteran’s of D-Day.            Yours Aye.

Note to the Hollywood directors and writers responsible for the ‘bilge’ film U-571. The US declared war on Germany on 11th Dec 1941, seven months after the true event took place.

An example of an honourable man

‘Any fault is mine alone': How General Eisenhower planned to take full blame if D-Day had FAILED (and it could teach today’s politicians a thing or two!) This is the historic speech the free world did not want to hear – and, thankfully, didn’t. Hastily scribbled on piece of paper, Allied supremo General Dwight D. Eisenhower jotted down what he planned to say had D-Day, 70 years ago today, been a disaster. 

The little-known document, known as ‘In Case of Failure’, was quickly drafted by the commander of Operation Overlord in the event of the landings ending in bloody failure. The 66-word script reveals the U.S. general and Britain’s Prime Minister Winston Churchill would have withdrawn the thousands of troops from the Normandy beaches rather than let them fight to the death.  The chilling speech Allied supremo General Dwight Eisenhower planned to make had D-Day turned into Doomsday, scribbled down on a notearticle-0-1E7C11DF00000578-523_634x996It also shows Eisenhower, who went on to become president in 1953, would have accepted the full blame for the unimaginable defeat at the hands of the Nazis. In the event, the Normandy landings were a success and ultimately led to the beginning of the end of the Second World War. Eisenhower gave the note to his adjutant officer five weeks after D-Day and it is has been held by the Eisenhower Presidential Library for the last 30 years. A copy of it has now been published by the British military online archive Forces War Records to mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day. Tom Bennington, of Forces War Records, said: ‘It is a very simple document but one that is very chilling given what was at stake. ‘While Operation Overlord went down in history as a success and gave the Allies a foothold in Europe, this piece of paper almost shows how easily it could have gone the other way.’article-0-1E7709F000000578-652_306x423

The note certainly paints a picture of Eisenhower, while confident of success on D-Day, preparing for the worst case scenario as 150,000 men were preparing to land on the beaches. ‘Had he had to use these notes on D-Day it would have meant that there would have been thousands of Allied casualties lying on the beaches of Normandy. ‘It would have meant defeat for the Allies in the west and left Germany to focus all their efforts on the Russians on the Eastern Front, giving the Second World War a very different outcome. Dwight D. Eisenhower, who became President in 1953, would have carried the can if D-Day in 1944 had been a failure ‘It also would have ended Eisenhower’s career as Supreme Allied Commander and probably the end Winston Churchill’s government.’ Eisenhower was going to read the message out either to reporters or over the radio had D-Day ended in defeat.images

The text, scribbled on a scrap of paper measuring 6ins by 4ins, reads: ‘Our landings in the Cherbourg-Haver area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. ‘My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. ‘The troops, the air, and the navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt, it is mine alone.’ The message is dated ‘July’ 5, 1944 – it is thought that he wrote the wrong month in error due to exhaustion.5356b89076871It is said that before D-Day the Allied high command considered a successful landing would cost 10,000 dead. In the event, the number of deaths were about 5,000. The majority of those were on Omaha Beach which was in the American sector. Tim Rives, the deputy director of the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Kansas, US, said: ‘To think that Eisenhower was willing to take the full blame should D-Day fail is quite telling of his character. ‘It is an example of an honourable man taking responsibility. ‘Winston Churchill’s chief concern on D-Day was a bloodbath on the beaches and Eisenhower clearly felt the same as the plan was to withdraw rather than fight to the end.’ Eisenhower’s adjutant officer was Captain Harry Butcher. About a month after D-Day Eisenhower pulled this note out of his wallet and showed it to Butcher who kept it. It was donated to the library in the 1980s by his family.

Todays politicians could not hold a candle next to those of the WWII era, who were true men of honour.      Yours Aye.

D-1 The day before the invasion

article-2649518-1E7F101C00000578-938_636x382More than 650 ex-servicemen are said to have travelled to the beaches of Normandy to commemorate the invasion which changed history. A Lancaster Bomber and Spitfire performed flyovers, while current troops in vintage jeeps rode over Pegasus Bridge, the first place to be taken during the military operation which signalled the end of the Second World War. The Prince of Wales, accompanied by the Duchess of Cornwall, met veterans at Cafe Gondree, the first building to be liberated by Allied forces in Nazi-occupied France. The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh arrived in Paris by Eurostar ahead of tomorrow’s events, where she will be joined by Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin. Former soldiers visiting Bayeux Cemetery were overcome with emotion as they remembered their fallen comrades.  A Lancaster Bomber and a Spitfire soar over the Peagusus Bridge in Benouville, Normandy, France, as part of the 70th anniversary D-Day commemorations on both sides of the English Channel.article-0-1E7DBCAB00000578-169_964x631 A salute to the fallen men and women who liberated France. Part of the commemorations marking the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings 6th June 1944

Today 70-years ago on the day referred to as D-1, commemorations begin on both sides of the English Channel. The same day that was planned as the original date for the beach landings; postponed due to bad weather for 24-hours. A case of ‘hurry up and wait’ for the poor souls who were to land from the sea, many of which would not even make it to the beach on D-Day.             Yours Aye.

Bob Noody D-Day Veteran ready to go again

D-Day veteran from the real Band of Brothers returns to his wartime billet In England during trip to his former embarkation point, and on to his battlegrounds.1401380877153_Image_galleryImage_Mandatory_Credit_Photo_byBob Noody in the Blue Boar pub of Aldbourne, where he was stationed before D-Day 1401380679035_Image_galleryImage_Mandatory_Credit_Photo_byA former American soldier who took part in the D-Day landings has returned to Europe for the last time to visit the English village where he was stationed before the historic mission. Bob Noody was captured in a historic photograph on his way to the front in Normandy, showing him as a young man overburdened with armour and weaponry. Now the 90-year-old is set to return to the beaches of northern France to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day. Mr Noody has spent this week in the village of Aldbourne in Wiltshire, where he was stationed with Fox Company, part of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. D-Day-Veteran-real-Band-of-Brothers-Bob Noody-returns-to-visit-wartime-billet

Bob Noody we owe a great debt of gratitude to you and yours. You also look as though your up for it once more; fighting fit and looking good with a pint pot in your hand.       Yours Aye.

From Shakespeare’s Henry V, 1598: One of the well-known lines from his St. Crispin’s Day Speech.

‘This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember’d;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.’

Lance/Sgt John D. Baskeyfield V.C.

article-2588890-1C8CB46600000578-517_306x423A betrayal too far: Lance Sergeant. John Baskeyfield V.C. (22 years-old) died holding off German tanks single-handedly at Arnhem. 70 years on the school named in his honour have ‘re-branded the schools name’ to end ‘the schools legacy of failure’. A primary school named in honour of a Second World War hero killed in action is facing criticism after changing its name to shake off its ‘association with failure’. John Baskeyfield V.C. Primary School in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, was placed in special measures in 2012 and has since been renamed Saint Nathaniel’s Academy. Trustees at the school have said they decided on the rebrand because they believed the school’s name was associated with ‘a legacy of failure’. But angry parents, historians and relatives of the gallant soldier – who sacrificed his life for his country aged just 22 – have hit out at the move and branded it an insult to his memory. MORE HERE: Utter betrayal of Lance/ Sgt John Baskeyfield V.C.The_British_Airborne_Division_at_Arnhem_and_Oosterbeek_in_Holland_BU1091Above: Men of the 2nd Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment (1st Airborne Division) advance toward Arnhem, towing a 6 pounder anti–tank gun, 18 September 1944. Below: Operation Market Garden. In the Oosterbeek pocket, a six-pounder anti-tank gun of 1st Battalion Border Regiment knocks out an attacking German tank, 20 September 1944.largeThe full citation for Lance Sergeant Baskeyfield’s Victoria Cross appeared in a supplement to the London Gazette on 23 November 1944, reading:

War Office, 23rd November, 1944.

The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the posthumous award of the VICTORIA CROSS to: –

No. 5057916 Lance-Sergeant John Daniel Baskeyfield, The South Staffordshire- Regiment (1st Airborne Division) (Stoke-on-Trent).

On 20th September, 1944, during the battle of Arnhem, Lance-Sergeant Baskeyfield was the N.C.O. in charge of a 6-pounder anti-tank gun at Oosterbeek. The enemy developed a major attack on this sector with infantry, tanks and self-propelled guns with the obvious intent to break into and overrun the Battalion position. During the early stage of the action the crew commanded by this N.C.O. was responsible for the destruction of two Tiger tanks and at least one self propelled gun, thanks to the coolness and daring of this N.C.O., who, with complete disregard for his own safety, allowed each tank to come well within 100 yards of his gun before opening fire.

In the course of this preliminary engagement Lance-Sergeant Baskeyfield was badly wounded in the leg and the remainder of his crew were either killed or badly wounded. During the brief respite after this engagement Lance-Sergeant Baskeyfield refused to be carried to the Regimental Aid Post and spent his time attending to his gun and shouting encouragement to his comrades in neighbouring trenches.

After a short interval the enemy renewed the attack with even greater ferocity than before, under cover of intense mortar and shell fire. Manning his gun quite alone Lance-Sergeant Baskeyfield continued to fire round after round at the enemy until his gun was put out of action. By this time his activity was the main factor in keeping the enemy tanks at bay. The fact that the surviving men in his vicinity were held together and kept in action was undoubtedly due to his magnificent example and outstanding courage. Time after time enemy attacks were launched and driven off. Finally, when his gun was knocked out, Lance Sergeant Baskeyfield crawled under intense enemy fire to another 6-pounder gun nearby, the crew of which had been killed, and proceeded to man it single-handed. With this gun he engaged an enemy self propelled gun which was approaching to attack. Another soldier crawled across the open ground to assist him but was killed almost at once. Lance-Sergeant Baskeyfield succeeded in firing two rounds at the self propelled gun, scoring one direct hit which rendered it ineffective. Whilst preparing to fire a third shot, however, he was killed by a shell from a supporting enemy tank.

“The superb gallantry of this N.C.O. is beyond praise. During the remaining days at Arnhem stories of his valour were a constant inspiration to all ranks. He spurned danger, ignored pain and, by his supreme fighting spirit, infected all who witnessed his conduct with the same aggressiveness and dogged devotion to duty which characterised his actions throughout.”

The ‘School Trust’ as well as the principle of the school should all hang their heads in shame. It beggars belief that the school holding such a proud name was placed into ‘special measures,’ as it allowed itself to drop below the required educational standard in the first place. I accuse the ‘trust’ as well as the school ‘principal’ of being cowardly snivelling wretches who should have fought on; just as 22 year-old Lance Sergeant. John Baskeyfield V.C. did 70-years-ago when he made the ultimate sacrifice. “Each betrayal begins with trust.” In this case the term refers to the trustees of the Schools Trust!            Yours Aye.

‘Billie Boy … One of the very best.’

article-2583029-1C5C3E3700000578-517_634x633A first class posting for teenage hero of the Somme: Private who lied about his age to join up before being killed in action is commemorated on stamp bearing his image Private William ‘Billie’ Tickle was just 15 when he signed up, convincing recruiters he was 18. Two years later he died at the Battle of the Somme while charging enemy lines.They never found his body in the cloying, blood-drenched mud of the Somme. But nearly a century after a young soldier died fighting for king and country, he is about to see service again. Private William Tickle, who lied about his age to join the Army at just 15, is to be immortalised on a Royal Mail stamp bearing his image. His photograph will form part of a five-year commemoration of the First World War, honouring the millions of ordinary people who gave their lives for freedom or answered the patriotic call. The stamp – first class, of course – is one of a series being issued ahead of the centenary of the outbreak of war this summer. It uses a portrait of the private in uniform, donated decades ago by his proud mother to the Imperial War Museum so he would not be forgotten.  The original photograph  of ‘Billie Boy’ with his Mothers written note.Billie TickleThe picture was taken a few days before he was killed and originally bore her poignant, handwritten note beneath: ‘Billie Boy … One of the very best.’ Had she not labelled it so, few would surely remember the name of a young man whose sacrifice echoed that made by so many in ‘the war to end all wars’. William Cecil Tickle was only 15 when he signed up, convincing recruiting officers he was 18. He lived with his family in Hornsey, Middlesex, and joined the Essex Regiment in September 1914. By the time the 9th Battalion was mobilised in France the following spring, the keen young infantryman would have found himself in the company of countless ‘boy soldiers’ who signed up as teenagers.bildeThey landed in Boulogne on May 31 and instantly found themselves thrust into battle. After three months they would also fight in the Battle of Loos, among the biggest confrontations of the campaign, in which 16,000 died and 25,000 were wounded among British troops alone. The regiment fought heroically in the Somme, a landscape stripped bare by artillery,  and ferocious fighting. Perhaps unsurprisingly for a British ‘Tommy’ named Tickle, the private still managed a smile. In the last photograph of him, sent home to his mother, he is beaming with pride. Shortly after she received it, in July 1916, Private 13510 Tickle was killed in a charge against German lines at Ovillers. Like scores of others, his body was swallowed by the mud and never traced.wwi-mudElizabeth Tickle never got over the loss of her beloved son but was determined he should be remembered. In 1920 she answered an appeal for photographs of the fallen and it eventually became part of an exhibition in honour of the dead. ‘I should like to feel I can tell my friends that he is there with all his comrades,’ she wrote at the time. ‘He was only a boy but, God love him, he well did his duty.’ Now his image will appear next to the Queen’s head in a series that will also include stamps to commemorate war artists, and the role of women and civilians, among others. The stamps will be issued each year to 2018, starting in July.FWWboy1Theipeville memorial








Private 13510 William C. Tickle is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial in France, which stands for soldiers with no known grave. ‘Billie’ was one of 250,000 boy soldiers who lied about their age and volunteered to fight for King and Country. Well done ‘Billie Boy’ you will always be remembered.      Yours Aye.

Irving Milchberg Sep 15 1927 ~ January 26 2014

Irving Milchberg – obituary. Irving Milchberg was a cigarette seller in Warsaw who smuggled arms to the Jewish resistance to aid the Ghetto uprising

Irving Milchberg, who has died aged 86, was the wartime leader of the “Cigarette sellers of Three Crosses Square”, a gaggle of Jewish youths who sold smokes to German officers in wartime Warsaw while covertly spiriting food into the city’s ghetto and smuggling arms to the resistance.                                                               Irving Milchberg in 1944


For four years Milchberg’s survival, along with approximately 20 other youngsters, relied on a balancing act of “extreme fear and extreme hubris”. By hiding in plain sight they went unnoticed even to the hawkish SS who were garrisoned at the heart of their trading patch. In occupied territory a Jewish surname could be a death sentence, so Milchberg adopted the gentile name “Henrik Rozowski” and later the nickname “Bull”. His friends were safely known by the Polish versions of Toothy, Hoppy, Conky, Baldy, Whitey, Carrot Top and Chopper. Like the Baker Street Irregulars, this gang of street urchins “bargained, haggled and under sold each other eagerly” while helping others in need.

After the establishment of the Warsaw Ghetto in November 1940 the Jewish community, approximately 30 per cent of the city’s population, had been jemmied into a district representing less than three per cent of the city’s space. Three Crosses Square sat in the Aryan area in the Central District, where a triumvirate of crosses capped St Alexander’s Church and two facing columns. It had been a major thoroughfare from the 18th century and during the occupation became a hub for the Nazi machine. The SS, German gendarmerie and Gestapo were all stationed in its vicinity. Yet Three Crosses Sqaure was something of a haven from the horrors of war and the nearby ghetto. According to Joseph Ziemian, in his memoir The Cigarette Sellers of Three Crosses Square (1970), life there was “relatively normal”; and Milchberg and the crew bartered packets of cigarettes and theatre tickets. Even so, it was a dangerous business. Milchberg was careful and resourceful, acquiring a work permit for the Ostbahn railway yard, where he unloaded coal trucks. Three Crosses SquareIrvingMilchbergsqu_2838040c

The Ostbahn workers became a channel to resistance units within the ghetto. Using a network of contacts, including an uncle and a tram-conductor , Milchberg smuggled in small arms hidden in hollowed-out loaves (the only food allowed through the barricades). The weapons added to the cache used by the Jewish fighters in the Warsaw Uprising of April and May 1943. To the other boys and girls he was a natural chief. “In their eyes he was grown-up and experienced,” wrote Ziemian. “Bull had authority.” Milchberg, however, took a practical view of his wartime bravery. “To tell you the truth, I never thought much,” he said last year. “If I had to do something, I did it. I didn’t have time to analyse it.”

Ignac Milchberg (later known as Irving) was born in Warsaw on September 15 1927 into a merchant family which traded in household goods. His upbringing was a happy and relatively affluent one. “Warsaw was once the centre of my universe,” recalled Milchberg late in life. After the invasion his family was rounded up and placed in the segregated quarter, crammed into a single room above a grocery. His father “appraised the situation correctly early on and was among the first of the ‘outside’ workers” – those allowed beyond the walls to work in the lumber yards. This kept the family in food. “The very idea of going to a favourite football field only five blocks away was like going to the moon,” Irving later recalled.  Below: Whitey, far right, and two other cigarette sellers during the warBook - The Cigarette Sellers of Three Crosses Square

Milchberg lost his entire immediate family in the war. His father was executed in 1942 by a German gendarme after attempting to smuggle a packet of saccharine into the Ghetto. The sentry told him to run and then shot him in the back. “At this tragic moment, although only 15 years old, Bull showed a surprising energy and ability to cope. He established contact with other outside workers and through them exchanged clothes and other articles for food,” noted Ziemian. In the wake of his father’s murder Milchberg was detained, but he managed to escape in the swirling crowds in the Umschlagplatz, which had become a holding pen for the Treblinka trains. On returning to the family’s room he found the door wide open – a bad sign. Inside, however, nothing had been touched. He cried out for his family, but there was no response. His mother and three sisters had been sent to Treblinka where they all perished. From 1940 to 1943, more than 400,000 of Warsaw’s Jews died in the walled Ghetto or in the camps.

Milchberg escaped two further deportation attempts, finding safety in the kindness of strangers: he was taken on as an apprentice to a cobbler then as assistant to an ice cream maker. The threat of death hung over all parties. While being chased in the street by anti-Semitic Poles he fell and seriously injured his leg. The cobbler, once again, hid him (this time in his attic) against the objections of his terrified wife, before delivering him to a sympathetic doctor. Milchberg and ‘Conky’Milchbergandconky_2838164c

After the war Milchberg relocated to Canada, where he settled in Niagara Falls and opened a jewellery store. It was there, in 1953, that he met his wife, Renee, a visiting tourist. Renee’s war had been similarly dramatic, as she had managed to survive for years in a Russian labour camp. In 1993 Milchberg travelled to Warsaw, in the company of his daughter Anne, for the first time since emigrating. He was accompanied by a Canadian film crew. In Return To The Warsaw Ghetto, an hour-long documentary celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Uprising, he was left visibly shaken by the ghosts of his wartime youth. Hoppy (Josef Szindler) and Frenchy (Kazik Gelblum) were just two of the cigarette boys killed by the Germans. “You handle it by having a family, by creating a new life for yourself,” he declared in defiance. “We need to show those murderers that we survived, in spite of them.” He is survived by his wife Renee, along with a son and a daughter. Irving Milchberg, born September 15 1927, died January 26 2014


“It is a stunning book, not only for the subject matter, but for its testament to the human spirit. These children didn’t just survive. They lived.”
We should never forget any of those poor souls who suffered in such a way.            Yours Aye.

‘fight to the last man and the last round’

article-2566096-1BC27C3900000578-845_634x421The last soldier to fire on advancing German troops in one of the Second World War’s most important battles has died aged 94. Ray Ellis, who died in Nottingham, was also the last surviving veteran of the famous ‘Battle of Knightsbridge’ in 1942. The battle – one of the most celebrated acts of bravery in the Royal Artillery’s history – saw the 107th Regiment of the South Nottinghamshire Hussars virtually wiped out. Former Hussar Captain Gil Aldridge hailed Mr Ellis as the last soldier to fire on the Germans at the end of the battle. Ordered to ‘fight to the last man and the last round’, they stuck to their guns as their comrades fell around them. For three days, the band of Desert Rats suffered relentless Panzer attacks and mounting casualties as they held the line in North Africa from German Field Marshal Erwin ‘Desert Fox’ Rommel’s advancing tanks. Their heroism during one of the bloodiest battles of the Second World War was later immortalised on canvas.             Click on image to enlargeKnightsbridgeMr Ellis was captured and taken to a prisoner of war camp, but launched a daring escape and found shelter with a sympathetic family. He was shipped from Libya to the camp in Italy but escaped by marching out of the main gate as if on a work party and hid in the mountains for a year. A young girl discovered him and led him to the farming family who sheltered him. Mr Ellis named one of his daughters, Nerina, after her, and has returned regularly to the hill village of Massa Fermana, near Ancona, to visit the family who kept him alive.               The last round fired, Sergeant Ellis. Royal Horse Artillery article-2566096-18FD562A000005DC-243_634x356Describing the events of the last day of the battle on June 6, 1942, Mr Ellis told how he remained at his 25-pounder gun and witnessed the death of the shirtless comrade beside him. He said: ‘My regiment had been given the order to fight to the last man and the last round and not to retire, and this painting shows our position after a long day’s battle. I fought in that battle. ‘The regiment was almost wiped out – but by some miracle, I was the last man virtually, and I fired the last round. That round, which was at about six o’clock at night, hit a Mark IV tank. More HereLast soldier to fire on advancing Nazi troops during WWII Battle of Knightsbridge dies aged 94

Yet another great man has crossed the bar, a humble modest man whose action in 1942 is remembered and traditionally celebrated annually by the Royal Horse Artillery. Rest In Peace Sgt Ray Ellis RHA.      Yours Aye.

Righting a wrong

article-2565490-1BBC41F900000578-642_636x382Vietnam war hero Melvin Morris, 72, will receive a Medal of Honor more than 40 years after he was passed over because he was African-American. The Floridian is among 24 Hispanic, Jewish and African-American recipients who were initially overlooked because of their ethnicity. The ceremony comes after a decade-long congressionally mandated review of minorities who may have been passed over for the U.S. military’s highest honor because of long-held prejudices. The Special Forces hero who will get the Medal of Honor more than 40 years after he was ‘passed over because he was black’

Thankfully times have changed for the better. Sadly the review has taken a decade, which means some medals will now be issued posthumously. Well deserved Staff Melvin Sergeant Morris, I for one look forward to reading your Citation.       Yours Aye.

One of the Greatest Generation

article-2564838-1BB53B1100000578-579_634x529The last of the living Medal of Honor recipients that stormed Omaha Beach on D-Day has crossed the bar. Staff Sergeant Walter Ehlers, 92, of Buena Park, CA., earned the nation’s highest honor and multiple other medals for his heroic actions during the taking of the small sliver of French beach from German soldiers. He also received three purple hearts and a silver star. One of the Greatest Generation.


CitationFor conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty on 9-10 June 1944, near Goville, France. S/Sgt. Ehlers, always acting as the spearhead of the attack, repeatedly led his men against heavily defended enemy strong points exposing himself to deadly hostile fire whenever the situation required heroic and courageous leadership. Without waiting for an order, S/Sgt. Ehlers, far ahead of his men, led his squad against a strongly defended enemy strong point, personally killing 4 of an enemy patrol who attacked him en route. Then crawling forward under withering machine-gun fire, he pounced upon the gun crew and put it out of action. Turning his attention to 2 mortars protected by the crossfire of 2 machineguns, S/Sgt. Ehlers led his men through this hail of bullets to kill or put to flight the enemy of the mortar section, killing 3 men himself. After mopping up the mortar positions, he again advanced on a machine-gun, his progress effectively covered by his squad. When he was almost on top of the gun he leaped to his feet and, although greatly outnumbered, he knocked out the position single-handed. The next day, having advanced deep into enemy territory, the platoon of which S/Sgt. Ehlers was a member, finding itself in an untenable position as the enemy brought increased mortar, machine-gun, and small arms fire to bear on it, was ordered to withdraw. S/Sgt. Ehlers, after his squad had covered the withdrawal of the remainder of the platoon, stood up and by continuous fire at the semicircle of enemy placements, diverted the bulk of the heavy hostile fire on himself, thus permitting the members of his own squad to withdraw. At this point, though wounded himself, he carried his wounded automatic rifleman to safety and then returned fearlessly over the shell-swept field to retrieve the automatic rifle which he was unable to carry previously. After having his wound treated, he refused to be evacuated, and returned to lead his squad. The intrepid leadership, indomitable courage, and fearless aggressiveness displayed by S/Sgt. Ehlers in the face of overwhelming enemy forces serve as an inspiration to others. The last Medal of Honor recipient to have stormed Omaha Beach on D-Day dies at 92

Rest In Peace Staff Sergeant Walter Ehlers, Your Duty is Done.                Yours Aye.