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Posts under ‘Military Covenant’

Western publics are usually supposed to admire their military forces. This admiration may not be as strong as is often supposed, and it certainly doesn’t extend to military campaigns.

The Battle of Jutland – getting the history right

Posted by RDN under Military Covenant / Mind & body / On TV & Radio on 9 June 2016. 3 comments.

This is an account of some issues surrounding the historiography of the Battle Jutland, including a critique of a BBC documentary on this enormous naval engagement. It refers especially to two important written sources dated 1921 (and 1986) and 1998. More »

Poem: Sir Percy “Hobo” Hobart, a 3-parter (audio version)

Posted by RDN under Military Covenant / RDN's poems on 18 May 2016. No comments.

These are recordings of my reading of three linked poems on the British Army WW2 General, Sir Percy Hobart . They were written to be spoken. The work is, I hope, in the rather straightforward narrative tradition of English poetry. It is certainly not high-flown poetry. But I hope people will feel that it certainly isn’t prose either. The Trilogy is in text form in the RDN site’s Poems category.

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Poem: Sir Percy “Hobo” Hobart, a 3-parter (text)

Posted by RDN under Military Covenant / RDN's poems on 19 August 2015. No comments.

This long poem is in three parts. All of them are long, and intended to flow one from another, but each to make sense on its own. They have been written with an eye (or ear) to being read aloud briskly.

Sir Percy Hobart (1885 – 1957) was a great man: he was crucial to the formation and training of Britain’s WW2 tank units, but he was also creative and – in effect – a military publisher.

Sir Percy Hobart, Part 1
Hobo, the man and commander

Sir Percy Hobart, Part 2
Hobo the man of design and fabric

Sir Percy Hobart, Part 3
The Hobo, his generation and their books

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Eye-witness: Billy Filson-Young’s death, May ’45

Posted by RDN under Military Covenant on 12 May 2015. One comment.

I have set myself to commemorate the life and death of Wing Commander Billy Filson-Young, and – more broadly – his family. My father Paul North, Billy’s half-brother, in 1990 gathered new material about his brothers and here is an eye-witness account written around then. More »

Unique 1945 Hamburg book: the 79th and “Hobart’s Funnies”

Posted by RDN under Military Covenant / Mind & body / On art on 17 October 2014. 28 comments.

I have been given a unique, beautiful book, The Story of 79th Armoured Division: October 1942 – June 1945, published  by the unit’s officers and men in July 1945 in the ruins of Hamburg, which they had just helped liberate. I long to know more about the circumstances of this astonishing piece of work…. More »

Hobo’s 79th Armoured Division insignia

Posted by RDN under Military Covenant / On art / On books on 28 August 2014. No comments.

This is the famous insignia of the 79th Armoured Division. It seems very likely that, like the 79th itself, it was designed by General Percy Hobart (Sir Percy, as he became). If so, he was as creative with a pencil as with his military planning. He was certainly close friends with writers and artists, including Eric Kennington, one of the best war artists of WW1 and WW2.

The Bull's Head insignia of the 79th Armoured Division

The Bull’s Head insignia of the 79th Armoured Division

For more on this story, see below…

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Stanley North WW1 “Child’s ABC”, 1914

Posted by RDN under Military Covenant / On art / On books on 25 August 2014. No comments.

Sometime during the autumn of 1914 (I am presuming), my grandfather, Stanley North produced these marvellous images to illustrate Geoffrey Whitworth’s “Child’s ABC of the War”. It was in the spirit of much of the artistic and literary response to the declaration of war.

Here is a gallery of the complete work…

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79th Armoured Div souvenir, 1945

Posted by RDN under Military Covenant / On art on 25 August 2014. No comments.

Gillian Parnell came across this remarkable cigarette box, presumably made in Hamburg in 1945 by or for the 79th Armoured Division. As of 25 August 2014, she has it on sale at eBay. Pix below…. More »

Selsey’s fine homage to “Journey’s End”

Posted by RDN under Military Covenant / On theatre / Politics & campaigns on 9 August 2014. No comments.

Last evening I saw the very moving show, The End of the Journey, A promenade performance about WW1. It was staged in the same, small Pavilion Theatre in Selsey High Street where R C Sherriff took a keen interest in a late 1933 amateur production of his play, Journey’s End, the hugely successful and influential West End hit of 1929. More »

1940: Poetic fighter pilots

Posted by RDN under Military Covenant / On books on 22 February 2014. No comments.

I am working on portraits of various modern warriors, starting with memoirs by people who fought in WW1 or WW2, or – importantly – both. Two such strike me as breath-taking. They are accounts of the young pilots of the beginning of WW2. More »

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