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

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. Read more...

Published

09 June 2016

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

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. Read more...

Published

18 May 2016

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

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. An audio version is available here. 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 Read more...

Published

19 August 2015

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

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. Read more...

Published

12 May 2015

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

In around 2013 I was 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. Since then, I have researched a fair bit and here is what I think I know, or can reasonably guess at.... Update: December 2017 brought a new hypothesis that Broschek of Hamburg may have produced the book (see below). Read more...

Published

17 October 2014

Hobo’s 79th Armoured Division insignia

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 For more on this story, see below... Read more...

Published

28 August 2014

Stanley North WW1 “Child’s ABC”, 1914

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… Read more...

Published

25 August 2014

79th Armoured Div souvenir, 1945

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.... Read more...

Published

25 August 2014

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

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. Read more...

Published

09 August 2014

1940: Poetic fighter pilots

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. Read more...

Published

22 February 2014
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