Daily Archives: 20 July, 2010

Portsmouth WW2 dead research – the next step? Thoughts please!

So i’ve finished posting up my analysis of the men and women from Portsmouth who died during the Second World War. And over previous months I have posted up thousands of stories, of medal winners, brothers, special forces, senior officers, men involved in famous battles, and other historical points of interest.

But… what next?

Having spent about 9 months researching these 2,000+ names, I’m inspired even more by their stories, their experiences and their sacrifices. And there are so many stories to tell – even the ones that are, on the surface, unglamorous – they are still stories of a life lost, a family bereaved. I think they deserve to be told, and compiled properly so people can access them, and find out about their ancestors, or even add information where I may have dropped off! And not only that, but it gives a unique insight into life and society in wartime Portsmouth.

I’m thinking along a couple of lines…

1) Writing up a selection of interesting stories, based on the blog posts that I have made, about medal winners, commanders, interesting stories, and in broader terms about specific battles. The idea would be to pick a handful of men and women, whose stories would represent their peers.

2) A full reference book containing all of the names, along with their details from my database. I’m not sure if this has been done elsewhere, but its an interesting concept and would be like the National roll of WW1, but more detailed. Maybe its even something that could be rolled out to other cities too?

3) An online, searchable database, that could contain photographs, links, references, etc… almost like a wiki

All of these ideas are very much at the thinking stage, and all depend on time, funds, feasability, and not to mention whether any publishers would take on the book ideas, and if my technical skills can reach to web design!

But I would be very interested to know what you guys, my readers, think – especially those of you who know much more about writing, publishing, web design etc than I do!

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Filed under portsmouth heroes, site news, World War Two

HMS Cumberland added to Navy Days

The Type 22 Frigate HMS Cumberland has been confirmed to appear at the Navy Days event in Portsmouth at the end of the month. Cumberland is normally based in Plymouth, so it will be a rare opportunity to take a look round a Type 22 Frigate in Portsmouth. It also goes some way to bolstering what is a rather weak-looking line-up.

Despite this new announcement the line-up for Navy Days is still looking decidedly anaemic. HMS Ark Royal, HMS Ocean, HMS Albion, HMS Liverpool, HMS Sutherland, RFA Fort George and RFA Largs Bay are all off the east coast of the US for the AURIGA deployment and are obviously unavailable. HMS Invincible is rusting in 3 Basin and in no condition to be on display, and HMS Illustrious is in deep refit at Rosyth. HMS Bulwark is in refit in Plymouth. As Portsmouth is the home port of the Type 42 Destroyers at least one of those should be on display, but perhaps the Navy is keen to emphasise the future where Destroyers are concerned. The survey ship HMS Echo is currently undergoing operational sea training and might be available, or how about the other survey ship, HMS Scott? Navy Days might also be an ideal opportunity for the Royal Navy to show off the new Astute submarine – even if visitors could not go onboard, it would be a PR coup to even be able to see her tied up alongside, and with some suitable displays about her next door.

There have been noticeably few announcements about foreign warships too. Apart from the French fishery patrol ship FS Cormoran Navy Days is looking like a solely British affair. The last Navy Days in Portsmouth had French, Danish, Chilean and Japanese ships on display. Hopefully we’ll get some announcements in the next couple of weeks – there was talk at one stage of an Italian warship, which would be great if it turned out to be one of the Italian Navy’s new Destroyers, which are almost identical to the Type 45’s and would make for an interesting comparison.

The Royal Navy has never been good at PR, even its own senior officers have dubbed it the ‘silent service’. Its not difficult to work out that poor PR makes you vulnerable when it comes to cuts, as politicians, civil servants and the public at large will be poorly-informed about who you are and what you do. The RAF, on the other hand, has a strong heritage of promoting itself – it has always had to, right from its early days. You can be it will not be wasting a single opportunity to emphasise what it does in these critical days while the Strategic Defence Review is ongoing.

Officials will cite ‘operational commitments’ for the poor showing at Navy Days, but in the case of exercises such as AURIGA would it not have been possible to either move the dates of Navy Days or scale down our involvement so at least one major ship might have been available? Of course it must be nice for Admirals to go on flag-waving exercises and to practice the rarity of fixed-wing flying on a UK Aircraft Carrier, but with bad PR this might end up being a thing of the past entirely.

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Filed under defence, Dockyard, event, Navy