George Formby in France

When war was declared in 1939, George Formby was at the height of his fame. He was Britain’s number-one film star of all genres that year after a string of hit films and songs during the thirties, including the his famous 1937 track “Leaning on a Lamp Post“. It’s interesting to note that another of George’s songs, ‘With My Little Stick Of Blackpool Rock’ released that same year, was banned by the BBC because of its suggestive lyrics. His songs such as ‘When I’m Cleaning Windows’ were particularly popular during the Second World War.

It may surprise many people to learn that George was also the UK’s highest earner, thanks to his wife who tightly managed his career and had a somewhat fearsome reputation within show business. In 1934 George signed a contract to make a further 11 films with Associated Talking Pictures, earning him a then astronomical £100,000 per year.

Throughout World War 2, Formby remained a popular entertainment figure, entertaining troops with Entertainments National Service Association (ENSA) in Europe and North Africa during World War II. It is estimated that George Formby performed for three million allied service personnel during the war. For his service he was awarded an OBE in 1946.

In 1940, when this Pathé news reel was made, George and his wife,Beryl, were the first to arrive to entertain the British troops. The film has a light-hearted feel but the situation soon became very serious when the British and French lines collapsed. George and his wife were the last entertainers out as the British troops pulled back and were evacuated from Dunkirk.

 

Wartime Slingsby Exhibition: April 26th

Come and find out about Slingsby’s wartime associations; from the Wars of the Roses, the Civil War, and preparations for war in the village from the Napoleonic wars up until the second world war, when the village was a centre for troop training and munitions storage, and welcomed evacuees.

For more details about the Wartime Slingsby Exhibition taking place on April 26th CLICK HERE

The Bombardment of Scarborough, Whitby and Hartlepool

On 16 December 1914, three ships from the German Imperial Navy bombarded Scarborough, Whitby and Hartlepool. The attack resulted in 137 fatalities and 592 casualties, many of whom were civilians. The raid caused outrage throughout Britain towards the German navy for an attack against civilians, and against the Royal Navy for its failure to prevent the raid.

The German battlecruisers Seydlitz, Moltke and the armoured cruiser, Blücher, proceeded toward Hartlepool, while Derfflinger, Von der Tann and Kolberg approached Scarborough, opening fire on the town at 08:00. At 09:30, the bombardment stopped and the two battlecruisers moved on to nearby Whitby shelling the coastguard station there that also damaged the abbey and other parts of the town.

How Scarborough recovered after WW1 bombardment

453px-Scarborough,_North_Yorkshire_-_WWI_poster

British recruiting poster picturing damage from German naval artillery to a civilian house: “No 2 Wykeham Street, Scarborough

The Bombardment of Hartlepool in World War 1

The bombardment of Scarborough 1914

Raid on Scarborough, Hartlepool and Whitby, 1914

The German bombardment of scarborough in the First World War in 1914

 

Wartime Slingsby Exhibition: April 26th

Come and find out about Slingsby’s wartime associations; from the Wars of the Roses, the Civil War, and preparations for war in the village from the Napoleonic wars up until the second world war, when the village was a centre for troop training and munitions storage, and welcomed evacuees.

For more details about the Wartime Slingsby Exhibition taking place on April 26th CLICK HERE

War in the Air

Punch-Cartoon-1914

This Punch cartoon was remembered by the Triangle’s Keith Buck when the idea for the week of wartime posts was mentioned. It’s highly unlikely that the Slingsby Cricket team have ever had to deal with a marauding German fighter bomber but the cartoon does maybe show some of the unease of the time with the war coming to the skies above England.

The north of England remained out of range for WW1 German aircraft but the south of England was often attacked by fighter and bomber aircraft from the Luftstreitkräfte (Imperial German Air Service). The real bombing work, however, was done by the Zeppelins who attacked targets across the UK, often working in groups of up to five though the largest attack, launched on September 12th 1915, had a total of twelve Zeppelins take part. Airships made about 51 bombing raids on England during the war. These killed 557 and injured another 1,358 people. More than 5,000 bombs were dropped on towns across Britain, causing £1.5 million in damage. 84 airships took part, of which 30 were lost, either shot down by special anti-Zeppelin squadrons or lost in accidents.

The_red_baronMention the air war of World War one, however, one name will always come up – Baron Manfred Von Richthofen. Originally Von Richthofen started the war as a Prussian cavalry officer but the stalemate of trench warfare limited the use of horses on the battlefield so he decided to become an observer in the German air force. Later he became a pilot and seems, right from the start, to have had a talent for flying. Quickly his reputation grew and he came to be known as the red baron due to his aircraft’s bright red paint scheme. By the end of Von Richthofen’s life in April 1918, the infamous ace would have a score of 80 aircraft (during World War 2, another German flyer, Major Erich Hartmann, accounted for 352).

For many years it was believed that Captain Roy Brown had shot the German ace (the British Royal Flying Corps used the rather showbiz term of ‘star turns’ rather than the word ‘ace’) down but current research now points to the fact that Manfred  Von Richthofen was most likely brought down by ground fire from an Australian machine gun crew rather than the guns of Roy Brown’s aircraft.

While Germany wholeheartedly embraced the idea of the flying ace, the British preferred to encourage the idea of team play within a squadron rather than focus on one individual flyer. The Royal Flying Corp did have its aces though with pilots like Major James McCudden, Major Edward Mannock, Captain Albert Ball and Major John Inglis Gilmour.

A rather good BBC Timewatch documentary about Mannock and McCudden can be viewed HERE

 

Wartime Slingsby Exhibition: April 26th

Come and find out about Slingsby’s wartime associations; from the Wars of the Roses, the Civil War, and preparations for war in the village from the Napoleonic wars up until the second world war, when the village was a centre for troop training and munitions storage, and welcomed evacuees.

For more details about the Wartime Slingsby Exhibition taking place on April 26th CLICK HERE

British Pathé News

We live in a twenty four hour TV news world these days but during World War Two, over a decade before television really started to make an impact, it was British Pathé news reels, like the one above, that provided the cinema going public with newsreels, cinemagazines, and documentaries for over sixty years. The UK newsreels stopped in 1970, however, French Pathé News continued until 1980.

While radio was the popular source for regular news updates, the newsreel provided the visual content and a general overview of the war. Often they were as much about raising morale as they were about informing the public, as this Battle of Dunkirk newsreel demonstrates.

The British Pathé collection of news film and movies has been fully digitised, archived and made available online at https://www.britishpathe.com/ 

The British Pathé archive now holds over 3,500 hours of filmed history, 90,000 individual items and 12 million stills.

 

Wartime Slingsby Exhibition: April 26th

Come and find out about Slingsby’s wartime associations; from the Wars of the Roses, the Civil War, and preparations for war in the village from the Napoleonic wars up until the second world war, when the village was a centre for troop training and munitions storage, and welcomed evacuees.

For more details about the Wartime Slingsby Exhibition taking place on April 26th CLICK HERE

Easter on the Home Front

A Pathe Gazette News reel from Easter 1941

 

Wartime Slingsby Exhibition: April 26th

Come and find out about Slingsby’s wartime associations; from the Wars of the Roses, the Civil War, and preparations for war in the village from the Napoleonic wars up until the second world war, when the village was a centre for troop training and munitions storage, and welcomed evacuees.

For more details about the Wartime Slingsby Exhibition taking place on April 26th CLICK HERE

Voices from the First World War

Kitchener-Britons Next weekend sees the Wartime Slingsby exhibition take place and everyday, over the next week, the Slingsby Village website will be publishing a war related post to set the mood and provide an overview of the two World Wars.

We start with the Imperial War museums excellent podcast ‘Voices of the First World War’ which is a collection of audio recordings made with World War One veterans where they detail their memories and experiences.

There are 41 podcasts in the collection, each one lasting around twenty minutes or so, detailing aspects of the war from joining up through to the daily routines of trench life, the war in the air, Zeppelin raids, women’s war services and more.

Find out why your tea, brewed in the trenches, often tasted of petrol and why you should never bayonet a trench rat.

The Imperial War Museums ‘Voices of the First World War’ podcast collection can be listened to at 

For more details about the Wartime Slingsby Exhibition taking place on April 26th CLICK HERE