Category Archives: site news

Portsmouth’s World War Two Heroes: the ‘tour’

If you look in my ‘talks’ page, you will notice that I have a couple of provisional bookings to give talks on my forthcoming book, ‘Portsmouth’s World War Two Heroes’.

Just a reminder that I am available to give talks to local history groups, at museums, or other institutions. All talks are fully illustrated, with either OHP’s or Powerpoint. For a list of my previous talks see my ‘talks’ page above: I have given many in the past few years.

Talks based on ‘Portsmouth’s World War Two Heroes’ are bookable any time from February 2012 onwards, but I can still give any of my other talks listed on my profile any time. I’m happy to do book signings, workshops, anything. Contact me to discuss!

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Portsmouth’s World War Two Heroes listed online!

I’m pleased to be able to tell you all that my first book, ‘Portsmouth’s World War Two Heroes’, is now listed for pre-order on all of the well-known online booksellers.

Amazon, Waterstones, WH Smith, Blackwells, and the Book Depository! It’s not actually due out until o1 February 2012, but on a couple of sites you can pre-order if you wish, or reserve a copy. Even though it won’t be out for over 6 months, one of the sites has even got it on offer – and I only handed in the manuscript a few weeks ago!

Obviously it’s great that it’s available to order already. If, on the other hand, anybody would like a signed copy, it might be an idea to hang fire for now and speak to me nearer the publication date and we’ll see if we can arrange something.

I’ve also managed to find out more information about the book. Its going to be a Paperback, will have 128 pages, will be 23.5cm by 16.5cm, and has an ISBN number of 9780752463513.

It’s pretty exciting to finally see that something you’ve worked on for years is finally coming to fruition, and is not only that much closer to being on the bookshelves, but is already on the online ones!

203 days to go!

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Update from James

Photo by Oxenhillshaw 02 Apr 2008 (UTC)

my new place. well, kinda (Image via Wikipedia)

Hi all, just a quick message to let you know that I’ve safely arrived at our new place in Chichester. I’m going to be without internet access at home for a few weeks at least, but I’ll try and check in at the pub via wifi.

In the meantime, if anyone – particularly my three regulars ;) – would like to make any guest posts, feel free to email them to me and I will upload.

In the meantime I’m keeping myself busy working on my Portsmouth WW1 dead database (next book!), and some interesting ideas for iPhone app audio walking tours of historic Portsmouth.

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Message from James

The market cross in Chichester, West Sussex, s...

The market cross in Chichester (Image via Wikipedia)

Hi all!

Just to let you know that I might not be online as much as usual for the next few weeks. On Saturday I’m moving to Chichester and will probably be without internet for a few weeks. although I will still try and get online when I can, obviously this might not be as often as usual, while I’m living out of boxes…

On a slightly more positive note, I have all but finished work on ‘Portsmouth’s World War Two Heroes’, and hope to get the manuscript and photos sent to the publisher well before the deadline. I’ve been out the past few nights taking some last minute photographs around Portsmouth, and I’m just waiting on a few pictures from one institution and then we’re all set to go down to the Post Office and give the USB stick some recorded-delivery treatment!

Now, most people would probably advise, after an intense six months writing 50,000 words, to take a good break. But much to Sarah’s dismay, I’ve resumed work on the World War One database! I’ve now entered all of the Portsmouth men who were killed in the Army, numbering 2,620. To put that number in context, 2,549 men and women from Portsmouth died between 1939 and 1947 in ALL services. Researching WW1 soldiers is much harder, as there seem to be plenty of names that just do not appear on the CWGC register, or from thre sheer number of names to wade through. Something tells me this is going to be a long-term project, but I hope to have it done by the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of war in 2014.

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History texbooks for sale

I’m finally getting round to getting rid of the mound of history textbooks that I have left over from my degree studies.

I’ve got a wide range of books on the following subjects – Early Modern European History, the Industrial Revolution, and modern European History. Also some textbooks on themes such as communism, class and social history.

All are in good condition, most were bought second hand but have not been used very much and are in good condition.

Far too many to list, but please take a look at my ebay account: Daly ebay

Please contact me for more information to discuss prices, payment and delivery etc.

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Kew re-visited

The National Archives

Image by Simon Clayson via Flickr

I’m at the National Archives in Kew for a few days last-minute research for my forthcoming book ‘Portsmouth’s Second World War Heroes’.

I’ve been going to Kew since 2004, when I was working on my undergraduate dissertation. Since then I’ve been back there working on Magazine articles, family history, journal articles and just random self-interest stuff. I’ve looked at Admiralty, War Office, Ministry of Defence, Air Ministry, Board of Trade, Treasury, Foreign Office and other Documents. Theres something pretty enigmatic about anywhere where you can walk in and choose from 11 million records and order one of them to read – many written in the vary hand of luminaries like Winston Churchill, Nelson or Monty.

Kew is an enigma all of its own. Its always had a nasty case of change-itis, and its obviously an insitutional thing. In the time I’ve been going there the registration desk has moved at least four times, the first floor help desk has been revamped three times, the restaurant about three times, the museum once, as well as the cyber cafe. Most Archives and Libraries could only dream about being able to change things so often. Whilst improvement is no doubt a good thing when its genuine, you can’t help but think that a lot of the changes at Kew are classic cases of ‘Emperors new clothes in a governmental setting’. And why oh why do they insist on having such a politically correct menu? The restaurant used to to great roasts, Lasagnes… food like that. Today, however, the most palatable thing I could find was Morrocan spicy meatballs and spaghettti. Which has played havoc with my stomach!

My first visit to Kew was to a rather sedate government archive repository, attended by professional researchers and the more serious family history enthusiasts. But since the Family Records Office at Islington closed and was merged with Kew, the TNA has become a mecca for family historians. Even more so with programmes like Who do you think you are?. Whilst I think its great that so many people are interested in history of any kind, it must be frustrating for the staff at Kew. From what I’ve seen more people seem to turn up at Kew without a clue than those who do. And then of course there are those who think they can just turn up and someone else will do all the donkey work for them… A lot of friends and family have mentioned going to Kew, but its the kind of place where you need to know exactly what you’re looking for before you go. And thanks to their online catalogue and research guides, its pretty easy to do so.

So wh0′s been getting the Kew treatment today? None other than Wing Commander John Buchanan, Flight Lieutenant Patrick McCarthy and the Venables Brothers – all of whose places in history should now be that much more in context thanks to the relevant RAF Operational records. Tomorrow I plan to finish off with Buchanan’s time leading a Squadron during the Siege of Malta, and then looking at Sapper Ernest Bailey and Operation Freshman, War Office casualties on the SS Portsdown, the Royal Navy’s policy on the sending of Boy Seamen to sea after the Royal Oak Disaster, and the Royal Marines Mobile Naval Base Defence Organisations.

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Message from James

Hi everyone!

Sorry there has been a distinct lack of posting recently. I have been very busy putting the finishing touches on my first book, which is due to be completed in a matter of weeks now – last minute research, writing, proof-reading, sourcing illustrations and thinking about forewords takes up a hell of a lot of time! I hope it will be worth it once it hits the shelves.

None the less, there are still some momentous events going on around the world – Libya, for one – and there has been plenty of discussion in military and defence circles about the Strategic Defence and Security Review. And how about us selling RAF Largs Bay to the Australians for around £50m? Built four or five years ago for £100m!

Rest assured I also have a pile of books awaiting reviewing as soon as my own is finished!

In the meantime, if anybody would like to ‘guest-post’ them please feel free to email me any stories or discussion papers you think might be suitable for posting here.

-James

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Portsmouth’s WW2 Heroes – The Book

Apologies for the lack of posts recently, I’ve been very busy recently either working,  seeing Zakk Wylde and Black Label Society twice in three days, or nursing a poorly Girlfriend whilst being ill myself!

On a brighter note, I’m very happy to announce that on Monday I received a formal contract from The History Press to write my first book, entitled ‘Portsmouth’s World War Two Heroes’. My part of the work should be completed by June this year. I’ve been working on the project itself for a couple of years now, and writing the book itself since before Christmas. Most of the research is done, apart from a few trips I need to make to The National Archives at Kew, and then writing up the rest of the work and deciding on illustrations.

I would like to thank everyone who has helped me though this process, particularly as its my first time dealing with a publisher and contracts and all that jazz! My Family and my Girlfriend Sarah for encouraging me (and telling me to relax when I’m working too hard!), Jay at The History Press, my friends and colleagues, and especially my brother Scott and John Erickson for proof-reading for me.

Keep an eye out for further bulletins!

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two landmarks in one day

We’ve had two landmarks in one day here at DalyHistory. Sometime this morning my humble little blog passed the 100,000 hit mark. Incredible, I would never have thought I would ever get 1,000 hits, let alone 100,000! And later this evening the 2,000th comment was posted. So doing the maths, if that means that ever 50th hit results in a comment, then surely thats not such a bad ratio at all ;)

I’m currently off work this week to focus on researching and writing up the naval chapter of my forthcoming ‘Portsmouth’s Second World War Heroes’. Today was spent looking at secondary sources on the Royal Oak, Hood and Barham. I also found some great source books on Submarines, including a catalogue of all decorations made to submariners in WW2. Tomorrow’s plan is to finish off some books on submarines, and then go onto the mircrofilm to take a look at the Portsmouth Evening News of the days following the sinkings to see what reaction there was locally, and to see if I can find any pictures or obituaries of men who were lost. Later in the week I plan focus on Boy Seamen, and a Destroyer Captain’s antics in the Mediterranean.

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2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 73,000 times in 2010. If it were an exhibit at The Louvre Museum, it would take 3 days for that many people to see it.

In 2010, there were 436 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 694 posts. There were 74 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 32mb. That’s about 1 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was November 11th with 463 views. The most popular post that day was Arnhem: Tour of Duty on Channel 5.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were newwars.wordpress.com, ww2talk.com, savetheroyalnavy.org, thinkdefence.co.uk, and twitter.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for atlantic conveyor, type 45 destroyer problems, daly history blog, navy days 2010, and saladin.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Arnhem: Tour of Duty on Channel 5 November 2010
10 comments

2

‘The Sinking of the Laconia’ to hit our screens soon February 2010
61 comments

3

About me July 2009
30 comments

4

Gallery November 2009
2 comments

5

Book Reviews November 2009

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Review of the year 2010

Well what a difference a year makes! We started 2010 with a Labour Government, a Royal Navy with aircraft carriers and harriers, Pompey were (just) in the Pemieriship, this blog was getting 2,000 hits a month, and I was about as single as those things that appear in the top 40!!!

In military terms the biggest story has been the brutal cuts of the Strategic Defence and Security Review. Put bluntly, the Army did OK thanks to the prominence of Afghanistan and the lobbying of people such as Richard Dannatt, the RAF did its usual slick string-pulling exercise to keep its Ferraris going, and the Navy got hammered. On a brighter note Navy Days in Portsmouth was a real highlight – in hindsight ‘enjoy it while you can’ might have been an apt slogan for the event.

In the general election people voted ‘for change’, without thinking that change can also take you backwards as well as forwards. Sadly over the next 12 months many people who currently have jobs may find themselves with a lot more time on their hands.

On a personal level, this blog has gone from strength to strength – only the other day we received our 80,000th visitor since we began back in July 2009. On 11 November – Remembrance Day, fittingly – we had our highest ever number of visitors, 439 in one day. A big thank you to everyone who has visited, and particularly those of you who have stuck around and contributed.

Away from the blog, I enjoyed giving four talks on ‘what my family did during the war’. I am in the advanced stages of talks with a publisher to get ‘Portsmouth’s Second World War Heroes’ published. Most of the research is done, and I’m now in the process of writing it up. If all goes to plan, hopefully it will materialise sometime late in 2011.

And now, time for a few awards…

Best WW2 Book I have read this year

Danger UXB by James Owen… honourable mentions for Mother Country by Stephen Bourne; The Battle for Burma by Roy Conyers Nesbit; UXB Malta by S.A.M. Hudson

Best WW1 Book I have read this year

Mud Blood and Bullets by Edward Rowbotham… honourable mentions for The Great Western Railway in the First World War by Sandra Gittins and Kut: Courage and Failure in Iraq 1916 by Patrick Crowley.

Best ‘other’ History book I have read this year

A Long Long War by Ken Wharton… honourable mentions for Bloody Belfast by Ken Wharton and Crimson Snow by Jules Stewart

Best Fiction I have read this year

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks… honourable mentions for New York by Edward Rutherfurd and All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque.

… and finally, I would like to thank you all for your support and encouragement, and I hope you all have a great 2011.

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Site News

Sorry about the lack of posts recently guys, I’m just shaking off a nasty chest infection. Bear with me, hopefully I’ll have plenty of opportunity over Christmas – and with the girlfriend away for three weeks :( – to make up for lost time.

Has anyone got any requests or suggestions for a Christmas series, like last year’s popular ‘Falklands: Then and Now’ set of articles? Think like the Open University Xmas lectures, just without the courdroys and less facial hair (unless I can’t be bothered to shave over christmas!)

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Another Day, Another Landmark

A few days ago hits on Daly History went through the 50,000 barrier… it seems like only a few days ago that we notched up our first 10,000!

Just a quick post to everyone who has visited to say thank you for your support – a blog is nothing without the people who visit it. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it. Its incredible to think that the ramblings of a history nerd can be so popular.

Heres to the next 50,000!

~James

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Happy 1st Birthday to me!!!

Its a year ago today that I made my first post here on Daly History. I started out simply as a way of airing my thoughts, I never imagined that it would take off like it has. Apart from a few snobby comments in some quarters – which you are always going to get! – it seems that there is a demand for relating the past to the present, and the future.

I would like to thank everyone who has visited, whether its just to have a quick browse or to get involved. In particular I would like to thank my friends and family for their support, and some of the friends I have made through my blog – Mike Burleson at New Wars for kindly promoting my work, Pen and Sword, The History Press, Ospey and Little, Brown for allowing me to review their books, the guys at WW2talk for their input and interest, savetheroyalnavy, thinkdefence, and basically anyone and everyone who has helped kick this project along!

553 posts… 624 comments… 34,464 hits from 139 Countries!

The most popular posts have been:

652 The Sinking of the Laconia
534 Falklands Then and Now: Aircraft Carriers
474 Trawlers, Drifters and Tugs: The Small ships of WW2
451 Type 45 Destroyers face further worries
438 Refighting the Falklands War?

The highest rated posts have been:

Treblinka Survivor by Mark S. Smith (6 *****)
The Sinking of the Laconia to hit our screens soon (5 *****)
Escape from Arnhem by Godfrey Freeman (5 *****)

I’ve really enjoyed writing the ‘Refighting the Falklands War’, Arnhem 65 years on, Victoria Cross Heroes, Portsmouth Heroes and 70 years on from 1940 series. Writing about the Shoreham airshow, touring HMS Daring, the Solent Overlord Show at Horndean and about my talks has been great fun too.

There should be plenty more to write about over the next 12 months too, with a Strategic Defence Review due to be completed soon, and events such as Navy Days coming soon. On a personal level, I’ve got plenty of talks booked, and a number of exciting projects on the drawing board.

As ever, if anyone has any comments, suggestions or feedback I would be more than glad to hear from you -after all, a blog is nothing without the people who visit it!

Thanks again for all your support,

James

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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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