Thursday, September 16, 2010

Travelling to Arnhem


My Dad turns 81 next month. He was nine when the Second World War broke out. For him, the war defined his who life. He was 15 when it ended. To this day he devours every programme he can watch about it. My parents' TV is permanently tuned to the History Channel or the Discovery Channel, much to my mother's chagrin.

Back in 1994 I took my father to visit the Normandy Beaches, a couple of weeks before the 50th anniversary of D Day. My friend Daniel from Washington joined us with his father, together with a couple of family friends. We rented a cottage about twenty miles inland. It was one of the best holidays of my life - full of emotion, some great banter with the French who seemed to want to thank us personally for what our countrymen had done to liberate them in 1944 and it was great to spend 5 days with my Dad, a man who normally hates holidays and hasn't got a lot of time for 'abroad'. If you'd like to see what we did, there's a set of pictures HERE on my Flickr pages.

A few months ago my mother rang to say that my Dad had got it into his head that he wanted to go on a battlefields tour to Arnhem, and would I go with him. He's got quite deaf and she didn't trust him on his own! So to cut a long story short, in half an hour's time we leave for Dover to meet up with a coach full of people from all over the country. Tonight we're staying in Eindhoven and then we have three nights in Arnhem, where we'll be visiting various sites associated with Operation Market Garden, which took place 66 years ago this week, including the famous Bridge at Arnhem. We're also travelling over the German border to visit a cemetary of German war dead - something I never thought I'd ever see my father do. He still refers to them as 'Jerries'!

Meanwhile, wish me luck on the channel ferry. I get terribly seasick. The first time I went across the channel was in 1977 when I was on a schol trip to Germany and we travelled from Harwich to the Hook of Holland in a force 9 gale. Everyone, literally everyone on the ferry was puking their guts up. I remember deciding to lie on the floor underneath two seats. My next memory was someone puking up right next to my head. Luckily I only suffered a bit of splashback. And since then, I just have to look at a ferry and I get that queasy feeling in my stomach. The only way to avoid it is to blindfold myself. I kid you not. If I can't see, somehow it seems to keep my stomach settled. So if you're on the 13.55 ferry to Calais and see someone with a blindfold, it's me.

All this is a roundabout way of saying that blogging will inevitably light over the next few days. I'll try to post when I can, and may tell you a bit about any memorable parts of the trip if you'll indulge me. I'm back on Monday.

40 comments:

Tcheuchter said...

Probably too late for you now, but I recommend Stugeron for the sea trip. Also have a good meal before you sail.

Good luck.

Slim Jim said...

I hope you and your Dad have a great time. I remember going to Germany many years ago with the Boys' Brigade, and we passed by the Bridge at Arnhem on the way. I must admit I would like to travel to the WW1 battlefields, and the Normandy beaches before I pass on. It is vitally important that we remember the great sacrifices made by so many people. Let's hope our children and grandchildren remember too. They shall never grow old.

Richard said...

I completely agree with Tcheuchter - if I ever feel queasy (which is rara; I'm quite a good sailor), a plate of greasy egg'n'chips is tghe answer. My wife recommends Stugeron every time.

Mt wife's uncle was killed in Market Garden and every time I pass near Arnhem I visit Oosterbeek and pay my respects. The way the Dutch look after the cemeteries there is humbling.

Albert said...

I may be a pedant here, but doesn't the Commonwealth War Graves Comission look after the cemeteries?

MikeyP said...

Ian. There are some good bars and restaurants in and around the Maarkt (Market Square)in Eindhoven, as anyone who has ever worked for or visited Philips can testify.

Hope the rest of the trip goes well. Arnhem is good for bars, too! :-)

MikeyP said...

Ian. There are some good bars and restaurants in and around the Maarkt (Market Square)in Eindhoven, as anyone who has ever worked for or visited Philips can testify.

Hope the rest of the trip goes well. Arnhem is good for bars, too! :-)

Stephen Wigmore said...

Have fun Iain. And Best Wishes to you Father. I hope you both enjoy your holiday.

Simon Harley said...

Out of interest, why was your father wearing a U.S. 9th Air Force emblem on his blazer? Enjoy your trip.

Unsworth said...

Nice pic. Oh, and station yourself midships - less movement there (possibly fewer movements, too).

trevorsden said...

Take your father to Amiens on the way back - it is the site of the battle that won WW1; 8 August 1918.

Robert said...

Dutch people of your father's generation hate the Germans for the winter of starvation that followed the allied defeat at Arnhem. A Dutch friend of mine described how his family had to eat the wallpaper of the walls to fill their empty bellies.

It is one reason perhaps that the football matches between the Dutch and the Germans, for the Dutch, takes on a significance that is beyond sport.

As you are getting off the ferry you might care to be reminded that Airey Neave was captured in Calais in May 1940. He escaped famously from Colditz. Most of those captured with him spent the rest of the war in captivity.

jane said...

travel sickness is to do with your middle ear's relationship with the horizon, so if you deprive yourself of sensory awareness of the horizon early enough you will not feel sick. I can read on a long-distance coach without feeling sick if it has those blackout curtains and I pull them straight away.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

What a marvellous trip. It is heart-warming to see you still have your priorities right. Have a great time with your dad. Say hello to Hughie and Bill for me.

Henry_Tree said...

I looked through your set of pictures of your 1994 visit. Your photo of the memorial to the U.S. Ranger Commandoes who took Pointe Du Hoc set me searching through my WWII library again for "The Boys Of Pointe Du Hoc". Written by Douglas Brinkley, it not only covers the storming of the 100 foot high cliffs but also how President Ronald Reagan on the 40th D-Day Anniversary gave probably his second greatest speech to honour the remaining heroes of that attack and their fallen comrades. "The Great Communicator", indeed!

Well worth reading to anyone who is interested in WWII *and* Ronald Reagan.

Furor Teutonicus said...

Get as close to the waterline and as midships as possible.

Having said that 30 years at sea, on and off, mostly in the arctic, never been sea sick, my Great Grandfather, 53 years at sea, and the only time he was sea sick was on the Mersey ferry, with the Mersey flat as a bloody mirror!

Gordon Brown said...

Who is that young man in the picture? anyone know?

Manfarang said...

I remember years ago watching the WW2 movie 'Objective Burma' with my father on the telly.It's about a group of Allied soldiers that attack and destroy a Japanese radar station.
After the movie was over my father(a Burma Star man) turned to me and said,"Actually the Japanese didn't have radar".

Furor Teutonicus said...

Manfarang said...

After the movie was over my father(a Burma Star man) turned to me and said,"Actually the Japanese didn't have radar".


He may have had a Burma star, but, as is often proved, just because "I was there" does NOT make you a bloody expert;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Japanese_World_War_II_radar

norman said...

I envy you and your dad. You had been to Normandy and now to Arnhem.
I want to see these two places and am unable to do so far. As a young
teenager I read Cornelius Ryan books-the Longest Day and the Bridge Too Far and later saw those two films. Please enjoy your trips.

ulric said...

Monty's autobiography doesnt mention much about market garden on the basis that so much had been written about it elsewhere. Even great leaders let themselves get carried away with their own hype when they have been so succesful prior to that.

Manfarang said...

Furor
Since my father was an RAF radar technician I think he does know whether the Japanese were using radar in Burma.He was there, you weren't.
If you know so much can you tell me where the RAF conducted radar training during WW2?

Demetrius said...

On Monday 21 September 2009 I posted on Arnhem and Market Garden, A Risk Worth Taking, saying that it was a high risk operation that was necessary and not as too often alleged. I had the advantage of rather later serving with Hackett who had commanded 3 Parachute Brigade.

trevorsden said...

One thing we should remember about D-day is that virtually everything went wrong.

The basic strategy went right - we caught the Germans by surprise - but thereafter all went wrong. Fortunately the German response went wrong as well.

We should remember this when talking about modern military operations. Nothing ever goes to plan

Appropriately bearing this in mind Mr Dale is visiting Arnhem, though we should remember the success of the airborn drop on the Rhine in 1945.

shelagh said...

You must take your Father to Ypres at 8p.m. any day. Awesome!

Brian said...

Iain, Hope this Dutch website listing war graves in the Netherlands proves interesting and useful. Please try to find time to visit some of the graves of Bomber Command aircrew shot down over the Netherlands. Most of their comrades have no known graves and are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.
Operation Varsity was an extremely expensive success for the Glider Pilot Regiment:20-30% casualties, out of 416 gliders in 6 Airborne Division only about 90 weren't hit by groundfire. That was due to the landings being made in daylight: German light AA was excellent to the war's end.
Remedy for seasickness: sit under an apple tree until symptoms subside.

killemallletgodsortemout said...

Have a great trip, and take care of your Father.

There are 6 billion people in the world, but there is only one man that you can call "Dad".

thehoatzin said...

My father was a Lancaster Pilot in 1944, shot down, two mates killed, on the run, captured, interrogated, seven months in a POW camp including a forced march to Berlin and a couple of unpleasant incidents at the war's end.

He never fancied going back. Once was enough. I'm sure I will visit a few of the places from his past one day though.

Good luck with your trip Iain

Furor Teutonicus said...

At September 16, 2010 3:52 PM , Manfarang said...

Furor
Since my father was an RAF radar technician I think he does know whether the Japanese were using radar in Burma.He was there, you weren't.

AND, if you do not like Wiki;

http://www.vectorsite.net/ttwiz_12.html#m7

[8.5] JAPANESE RADAR TECHNOLOGY AT WAR

* At the end of 1941, the Japanese began a wide-ranging offensive that swept through the colonial possessions of the British, Americans, and Dutch in the western Pacific, reaching as far southeast as the north coast of New Guinea to threaten Australia. Among the benefits of this spectacular wave of conquest was the fact that the Japanese obtained a number of British GL-type sets in Singapore, as well as a US SCR-268 set and a damaged US SCR-270 set on Corregidor.

The IJA put a modified version of the GL into production as the "IJA Tachi 3". It operated on a band around 3.75 meters (80 MHz), had a pulse width of one to two microseconds, a peak power of 50 kW, a PRF of 1,000 or 2,000 Hz, and a maximum range of about 40 kilometers (25 miles). About 150 were built by Sumitomo, with the type going into service in early 1944. The Tachi 3 set was the first Japanese set to incorporate Yagi antennas, which was a great irony, since such antennas were the invention of Hidetsugu Yagi, a Japanese electronics researcher of global stature. To add to the irony, Dr. Yagi had been involved in the development of the IJA Type A interference detector.

On their part, the IJN recognized the SCR-268 as a good piece of gear and put a derivative of it into production as the "IJN Mark IV Model 1". It operated in a band around 1.5 meters (200 MHz), had a pulse width of 3 microseconds, a peak power of 30 kW, a PRF of 2,000 Hz. and a maximum range of about 48 kilometers (30 miles). It was followed by the improved "IJN Mark IV Model 2", which had basically the same general specifications except that the PRF was reduced to 1,000 Hz. The Japanese built a few hundred of these radars in all.

The IJA also tried to build derivatives of the SCR-268 in the form of the "IJA Tachi 1", "IJA Tachi 2", and "IJA Tachi 4", all operating on the 1.5 meter (200 MHz) band used by the SCR-268, but these radars did not prove satisfactory and were only built in small numbers. Late in the war, the IJA did introduce a much more workable derivative of the Tachi 4, the "IJA Tachi 31", also operating at 1.5 meters (200 MHz), with 70 built.

http://www.vectorsite.net/ttwiz_08.html#m5

As I said, "Being there, does NOT make the expert."

Obviously the saying is proved in YOUR case.

Furor Teutonicus said...

At September 16, 2010 3:52 PM , Manfarang said...

Furor
Since my father was an RAF radar technician I think he does know whether the Japanese were using radar in Burma.He was there, you weren't.


The proof is in the link.

AQND, if you do not like WIKI;

http://www.vectorsite.net/ttwiz_12.html#m7

[8.5] JAPANESE RADAR TECHNOLOGY AT WAR

* At the end of 1941, the Japanese began a wide-ranging offensive that swept through the colonial possessions of the British, Americans, and Dutch in the western Pacific, reaching as far southeast as the north coast of New Guinea to threaten Australia. Among the benefits of this spectacular wave of conquest was the fact that the Japanese obtained a number of British GL-type sets in Singapore, as well as a US SCR-268 set and a damaged US SCR-270 set on Corregidor.

The IJA put a modified version of the GL into production as the "IJA Tachi 3". It operated on a band around 3.75 meters (80 MHz), had a pulse width of one to two microseconds, a peak power of 50 kW, a PRF of 1,000 or 2,000 Hz, and a maximum range of about 40 kilometers (25 miles). About 150 were built by Sumitomo, with the type going into service in early 1944. The Tachi 3 set was the first Japanese set to incorporate Yagi antennas, which was a great irony, since such antennas were the invention of Hidetsugu Yagi, a Japanese electronics researcher of global stature. To add to the irony, Dr. Yagi had been involved in the development of the IJA Type A interference detector.

On their part, the IJN recognized the SCR-268 as a good piece of gear and put a derivative of it into production as the "IJN Mark IV Model 1". It operated in a band around 1.5 meters (200 MHz), had a pulse width of 3 microseconds, a peak power of 30 kW, a PRF of 2,000 Hz. and a maximum range of about 48 kilometers (30 miles). It was followed by the improved "IJN Mark IV Model 2", which had basically the same general specifications except that the PRF was reduced to 1,000 Hz. The Japanese built a few hundred of these radars in all.

http://www.vectorsite.net/ttwiz_08.html#m5

Which just goes to prove the saying "Being there does NOT make you an expert".

Janramzon said...

Travelling with parents is often stressful, but, by jove, you've lost weight....

Richard said...

@Albert 11:09 - Commonwealth War Graves Commission: they certainly have responsibility for maintaining the cemeteries, but whenever I have been there, it has been (usually elderly) Dutch volunteers who are actually tending the flowers and making sure the headstones are in good order. I have spoken to many of them, and their appreciation for the British effort is touching, even today.

Hamish said...

You look very dapper in the photograph Iain. Who is the scruffy chap beside you?

Seriously, I hope you both have a rewarding trip.
I share Richard's admiration for the way the Dutch show their continuing gratitude for our help in turning back the Nazi menace.

Steve Smith said...

Iain, as an admittedly rather conservative leftie, can I politely suggest that you plan to wear something a little smarter this time?

Unsworth said...

@ Furor Teutonicus

Any mention of the theatres of deployment? Burma, for example?

Ellee Seymour said...

Hi Iain, I hope you and your father are having a great time. I wonder if your father has visited this amazing barn in Bedfordshire which I stumbled on during a walk with the ramblers and was used by special agents during WW2, including Violette Szarbo and Francois Mitterand. There are lots of pics on a slideshow with the post which he can view. I assume he has been to Bletchley Park.

Manfarang said...

Furor
Yes the Japanese were behind in their research and development of radar in WW2 as your sources state.
By 1944 the date you mention as the start of production, the Japanese were in retreat in Burma and their supply lines were disrupted by the fact the Japanese Airforce had been shot out of the sky over Burma and most of the cargo ships coming from Japan sunk.
It is unlikely the Japanese ever set up ground based radar stations in BURMA.My father heard of no mention of them and he was trained to work on radar so someone somewhere would have told him about any captured equipment.
The movie 'Objective Burma' is a work of fiction not based on any facts at all.No lesser person than Winston Churchill strongly objected to it and it was not show in Britain until 1952.

Rush-is-Right said...

Hamish, the Belgians are just as grateful. And of course we liberated them twice as often as we did the Dutch!

I lived in Antwerp for a while and occasionally a ship of the (British) Royal Navy would pay a courtesy visit. There was always a good turnout by the locals to welcome them.

Furor Teutonicus said...

September 17, 2010 10:28 AM , Manfarang said...

The movie 'Objective Burma' is a work of fiction not based on any facts at all.No lesser person than Winston Churchill strongly objected to it and it was not show in Britain until 1952.


THAT I can imagine. However the Japanese were NOT "radarlos".

I had an Uncle in the Chindits out there.

(My family served on both sides, German (mostly), and British.

trevorsden said...

There were a great many movies about WW2 (and indeed made during WW2) which were works of fiction.

Objective Burma starred Errol Flynn who was considered something of a 'conchie' for staying in Holywood (unlike Jimmy Stewart, David Niven and others - not wholly fair as he was rejected on health grounds apparently).
It was also a Holywood film and gave the impression the US won the war in Burma which did not go down well.
In '52 when it was finally shown it had a more favourable prologue to set the record straight.

It is in fact a very fine film (the 'radar station' is just the maguffin) and Flynn was very very good in it.

Manfarang said...

Furor
The Germans had a U Boat base at Penang in Malaya but I expect you have heard of it.
The conflict in Burma never really came to an end.Various ethnic groups have been fighting the central government and the Karens who were promised independence for their support of the British during WW2 are still fighting to this day.