Classic paperbacks#2: The Bridge on the River Kwai

The Bridge on the River Kwai
The Bridge on the River Kwai

The Bridge on the River Kwai was first published in 1952.

Its writer, French-born Pierre Boulle, had been a prisoner of the Japanese during WW2. He used his experiences as a background to the book.

Interestingly, the original English translation of the French title of the book was The Bridge over the River Kwai. This appears to have been changed after the appearance of the David Lean film.

A week of classic paperbacks: The Dam Busters #1

The Dam Busters
             The Dam Busters

Celebrating great books and their covers.

These are the classic paperbacks many of us grew up with.

I used to scour second hand book shops for them. I’d often end up with two or three versions of the same book.

Kicking off seven days of classic books – all with a WW2 flavour – here is The Dam Busters by Paul Brickhill. 

It was originally published in 1951 and was the first of dozens, if not hundreds, of books about the raid on the Ruhr dams.

Brickhill had been a fighter pilot, who had been shot down and imprisoned in Stalag Luft III. His first book, The Great Escape, was about events at that camp.

Japanese Eye Witness Account

Fascinating.
“I was horrified at the destruction that had been wrought in a matter of seconds.”

Pacific Paratrooper

Captain Mitsuo Fuschida Captain Mitsuo Fuschida

Capt. Mitsuo Fuschida, Imperial Japanese Navy, pilot

Fuchida was the first pilot to fly over Pearl Harbor when the attack of 7 December occurred – here he describes his view of the Battle of Midway from the deck of the IJN Akagi;

“The first enemy [U.S.] carrier planes to attack were 15 torpedo bombers.  When first spotted by our screening ships and combat air patrol, they were still not visible from the carriers, but they soon appeared as tiny dark specks in the blue sky, a little above the horizon, on Akagi’s starboard bow.  The distant wings flashed in the sun.  Occasionally one of the specks burst into a spark of flame and trailed black smoke as it fell into the water.  Our fighters were on the job and the enemy again seemed to be without fighter protection.

IJN Akagi IJN Akagi

“Presently a report came in from a Zero…

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The heroes of the raid on St Nazaire

Raid on St Nazaire
Raid on St Nazaire

A ceremony has been held to remember the heroes of the raid on St Nazaire.

In March 1942, more than 600 men left Falmouth in Cornwall in a flotilla of three destroyers and 16 smaller boats.

The special fleet included HMS Campbeltown, which was packed with explosives and was used to to ram into the gates of the docks in the French port.

HMS Campbeltown being converted for the raid
HMS Campbeltown being converted for the raid

St Nazaire was targeted because the loss of its dry dock would force any large German warship in need of repairs, such as the Tirpitz, to return to home waters rather than having a safe haven available on the Atlantic coast.

HMS Campbeltown wedged in the dock gates
HMS Campbeltown wedged in the dock gates

The raid put the dry dock out of commission until the end of the war – but success came at a cost. Of the 622 men of the Royal Navy and Commandos who took part in the raid, only 228 men returned to England.

Heroes as prisoners
Heroes as prisoners

One hundred and sixty-nine men were killed and another 215 became prisoners of war. The fallen British raiders were buried at the Escoublac-la-Baule cemetery, near St Nazaire, with military honors.

Commandos under prison escort
Commandos under prison escort

Five of the raiders escaped overland via Spain.

Eighty-nine awards and medals were bestowed for the raid, including five Victoria Crosses.

The organiser of this weekend’s event in Falmouth, Eric Dawkins, stated:  “The destruction of the dock meant those facilities were no longer able to be used. Falmouth played a major part.

“I’ve known these veterans [who took part], including those few who are still remaining, for 30-odd years and know their tales.”

 

For St David’s Day: the Welsh National War Memorial

Welsh National War Memorial
Welsh National War Memorial

The sun shines on the Welsh National War Memorial in Cardiff.

It commemorates the servicemen who died during the First World War. A plaque to those who died during the Second World War was added in 1949.

The memorial takes the form of a circular colonnade surrounding a sunken court and was unveiled in June 1928 by the then Prince of Wales.

It features inscriptions in Welsh and in English, and was designed by Sir Ninian Comper, the Scottish architect who mostly worked on designs for churches.

At the centre of the court is a group of bronze sculptures by Alfred Bertram Pegram, arranged around a stone pylon.

Around the base stand three figures, a soldier, sailor and airman, holding wreaths aloft.

CATHAYS PARK 2

It is situated in Alexandra Gardens, Cathays Park, and is made from the same stone as the civic buildings which surround the gardens.

Un reggimento che va sottoterra

Fascinating piece of antiwar art.

Some WW1 Photographs...

Un reggimento che va sottoterra (A regiment which goes underground), a work by Italian artist Paolo Ventura (2014), is probably one of the most interesting and well done works presented in the “La guerra che verrà / Non è la prima” exhibition held at the MART Museum in Rovereto.

foto 1

It’s quite simple: paper soldiers (created from modern pictures of Austro-Hungarian and Italian soldiers) are presented together. They’re heading towards the same direction and little by little, are disappearing into the earth

foto 3

Such a scene reminds the journey of soldiers from communication trenches to the front lines and simbolically show their disappearance.

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