8 December 2016

Returning WW2 photos to families - can you help?

This is a slightly different post than normal, as it isn't about a book. But I do need some help!

Last year I purchased a group of photos from an auction site. They were all photos of men who served in the Second World War, labelled with their names. This is very unusual, as most photos I've purchased from flea markets and auctions don't have a name, so I was pleased to obtain these as I thought I'd be able to do some research on them.

Once I received them, I started examining them. It became clear to me that they had been labelled together, presumably for an exhibition. It also became clear that these photos should have been returned to their owners once the exhibition was completed, and that didn't happen.

So, I thought that I'd try and return them.

I deduced that the photos all seemed to be from the same area - Fleetwood in Lancashire, England. I did some searches of the names and did find a couple of leads, including a dramatic story relating to one of them men. I sent a few emails to contacts I found. I didn't get any replies.

So I tried another approach, and posted to a couple of Forums - WW2 Talk and Rootschat. From these posts, things started to progress. I was contacted by Diane Everett, an ex-resident of Fleetwood who now lives in Cape Town, South Africa. Diane is a member of the Fleetwoods Past Facebook group, and she posted a request to that group. This elicited a number of responses, and three photos were returned to family members.

At the same time I contacted Fleetwood Weekly News. They kindly put out two stories, which resulted in a number of responses and four more photographs were claimed by families.

An exciting response was received from David Swarbrick. One of the photos was of his father, Fred, and he was still alive. Living in Fleetwood, Mr Swarbrick served with the Army in India during the war. The Fleetwood paper later did a feature which included a photo of Mr Swarbrick with the returned photograph, which was fantastic.

Fred Swarbrick with the returned photo of himself taken during the Second World War, Fleetwood 2015
(photo courtesy of David Swarbrick)

Thanks to a recent post by Diane to Fleetwoods Past, I've recently been able to return another photo to the son of Stephen Ligo. His father served in the Army during the war, and was posted to Egypt at the end of the conflict.

In total, 8 photos have been returned to the families of the men. I would like to particularly thank Diane who has been instrumental in returning many of the photos so far.

So why am I posting this now? 

Because I still have 15 photos which are waiting for family members to claim them, and I am running out of leads. If anyone recognises any of the following men, please do get in contact. I would be very happy to reunite these with the families of the men - and perhaps even return them to the men in the photo themselves.

*** Update 12th January 2017 ***

The photo of Alan Hardern has now been returned to his family!


*** Update 16th February 2017 ***

The photo of Frank Fielding has now now been returned to his family!
 
******************************




Here are the photos. If any additional information is known about the men I have include it below. 

Bill Parkinson - RAF Dental Corps

Gordon Ward - Army

Charles Thompson - Army
1925 - 2013


Ralph Leadbetter - Army

Alan Hardern - Parachute Regiment

RETURNED TO FAMILY
January 2017

Bill Hudson - Duke of Lancaster's Regiment

Cedric Spivey - Royal Engineers

Cyril Paley - RAF
1915-2011
Shot down and escaped from Switzerland

Frank Fielding - Royal Artillery

RETURNED TO FAMILY

January 2017

Harold Colley - RAF

John Dickinson,
C Troop - 350/137th Field Regiment,

Royal Artillery

Leonard Moon - Merchant Navy

Richard Snape - RAF

Teddy Dickson - Royal Artillery

Ronald Stansfield - Army


If anyone recognises these men as family members, or can provide any information, please either contact me or leave a comment below - thank you!


Thanks to:
Diane Everett
Peter Moran
Fleetwood Weekly News / Blackpool Gazette
David Swarbrick and all the Families who have been in contact
WW2talk
Rootschat
Fleetwoods Past

6 December 2016

Sketches of a Black Cat

Howard Miner never expected to contract the first documented case of the mumps in Guadalcanal history.

As a Navy Black Cat, he took his share of chances during the ten-hour, night long flights in darkened PBYs painted entirely black, searching the seas for enemy ships and downed fliers ~ the original stealth aircrafts. But wartime was unpredictable, and whether landing on an exotic tropical isle where the women he saw from the air turned out to be topless, or dropping wing tanks containing a strange new substance called “Napalm,” this was clearly a very different world than he had known as a college student in Indiana.

Sketches of a Black Cat follows Ron Milner's father’s journey through Corpus Christie and San Diego training facilities to the Solomon Islands for two tours of duty as a seaplane pilot in the South Pacific. Through his eyes, artwork, and first hand accounts, we are treated to a behind the scenes look at the idiosyncrasies of the military ~ the humor, the friendships made, the cultures discovered, and the very real dangers that characterized life during our struggle in the war with Japan.

The Black Cat Squadrons flew at night without lights in lumbering PBY Catalinas. The Cats operated out of the limelight as well, lacking the notoriety and glamour of the Navy’s fighters and bombers. These amphibious planes were used for most anything the Navy could dream up for them, from patrol and torpedo bombing to rescue and attack plane escort. PBYs played crucial roles in many pivotal moments during the war including the Battle of Midway and the search for the Bismark. They could also be found packed stem to stern with cases of beer, sometimes with a piano under one wing and a refrigerator under the other. Their missions were long, frequently 10-12 hours, and time between missions provided an opportunity for rest, Navy mischief, and in Howard Milner’s case, sketching.

Ron first saw his father's artwork as a young boy. One day his father casually slipped open a file cabinet, withdrew an old tattered folder, and pulled from it wonderful sketches and watercolors of planes, soldiers, and jungles ~ exciting images for a kid. After Howard Milners death a few years ago, his family were going through his things and discovered not only his artwork, but many boxes of writing, photographs, first hand accounts, and memorabilia, much of it almost seventy years old and virtually unknown to the family.

Sketches of a Black Cat is a unique portrayal of the War, using the collection of artwork, photos, and other materials to handsomely complement the storyline. It is at heart, a memoir ~ casual, first person, and more like a novel than historical text. Ron Milner's father’s story digs into the details and the life and times of the Cats.

Hear Ron Miner discuss the life and experiences of his father Howard Miner, a Black Cat during WWII:



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