Imperial War Museum

Discussion in 'Research Material' started by Noel Burgess, Aug 6, 2010.

  1. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    Great when it works.

    I was at Duxford, the IWM real world site this afternoon at about 1715 when control tower announces a fly past of a Chinook helicopter coming from west over Royston. Joined circuit from north over officers' mess and Junction 9 of M11 and proceeded east west north of runway line doing a slow rocking left right left motion. Rear door open as it passed. Proceeded south and climbed away, probably eventually going round to east again as it faded into the distance.

    Only spectator, apart from control tower, appeared to be yours truly, who gave a jolly wave. Sorry, no camera. Lovely deep sound. Good of the crew to think of Duxford visitors.
  2. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    A brace of Chinook often pass overhead at work. Magnificent sound and vision, but possibly not if you are about to be on the wrong end of a visit.
  3. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Anyone else frustrated by the quality of the 'interviewing' on IWM?

    (I know one shouldn't really look a gift horse in the mouth, but to quote TomC's oft-used exclamation - Sheesh!)

    A list of questions to get through more like: barely a follow-up on interesting remarks; specific details not invited; a good bit unit narrative but not enough of the truly personal which I thought might have been the point. IMO the best ones are thanks to the interviewee's personality, not interviewer's technique. I even got a distinct impression that one chap was reading his account off a page at some point in the proceedings, going by his dactylic delivery.

    Something is always better than nothing, but have been left feeling disappointed at missed opportunities.
  4. DPas

    DPas Member

    I have found the many of the interviews great but yes some are not so good and mainly down to which interviewer they used. Some of the ones I have listened to gloss over key details but others really go in depth with follow-up questions on very specific aspects. Have a search around for others from the same regiment and I am sure you will find something better than what you are currently looking at.

    Overall, it is a fantastic collection of work between photographs, film and interviews.
    dbf likes this.
  5. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Hi Dave
    Thanks for you thoughts.
    Thing is - I have searched around, listened to many, some not within my sphere of research, which is why I felt sufficiently confident to post. After a time of listening some, despite each offering a unique perspective, began to sound very similar and, to put it bluntly, not terribly enlightening. Better questioning techniques should've been applied.

    I find it frustrating when something of quite obvious import is left hanging in the ether, and particularly when the interviewer can't even bring themselves to sound interested. Not many are asked about their comrades or their officers, about structure, methods etc, or for their opinions even. Open questions were also lacking: one reel I listened to comprised in the main of one word answers or very short responses.

    A narrative of sorts we can get from WDs or from Regtl Histories, and ones which are relatively contemporary. It's made clear in a couple I heard that the subjects had even brought along their books etc, which leads to the old question how much of their memories were influenced by later publications and collective input. There are always one or two details in eg a History which, in the opinion of the veteran who has read it, are not correct or are slightly misleading ... I've never heard this touched upon.

    A shame really. As you say a few are great, but I'm left a little saddened about the ones which weren't. Every one had a story that just had to be teased out a little.
    4jonboy likes this.
  6. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Listening to the account given by the sole survivor of my grandfather's Chindit dispersal unit, I found myself constantly shouting out, "ask him who, why, where" etc.

    Some of the veterans clearly decided before they sat down that they would not name names, either respecting family sensitivities or simply finding it hard to speak about mates, but as you say the guidance/prompting from the interviewer on these audios can be poor to say the least.

    I recently listened to all 21 reels given by Mike Calvert, they were always of interest because of his knowledge and personality, others I've listened to have been tedious, bordering on being pointless.

    Does anyone speak Gurkhali, there are two audios from Gurkha Rifles on there, but they are delivered in their mother tongue. :)
    dbf likes this.
  7. Swiper

    Swiper Resident Sospan

    The most irritating interview I found on there was with Tasker Watkins, most are good - certain interviewers are dire. For TW they set up the mic too far away from him so you only really hear the interviewer, deeply, deeply frustrating especially as TW speaks at length about the merits of Battle School...
  8. hutchie

    hutchie Dont tell him Pike!!

    found an interesting file about a reme craftsman attached to the SLI in algeria north africa :)
  9. zahonado

    zahonado Well-Known Member

    Saw on Jedburghs site something about this but don't seem able to link it. Worth finding out more to those who spend some of your research time there.
    brithm likes this.
  10. Swiper

    Swiper Resident Sospan

  11. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    I am always slightly wary of these petitions.

    As I read it there is a proposal to cut £4Million from the IWM budget but Prospect are suggesting this might result in the library closure and job losses.

    If this is in fact true then I will be signing the petition but I will wait for some confirmation of the Museum's intentions first.
    brithm likes this.
  12. Swiper

    Swiper Resident Sospan

    Equally I'd argue this stems from gross mismanagement of funds and incompetence worthy of a full enquiry.
  13. Jedburgh22

    Jedburgh22 Very Senior Member


    I just signed the petition "Rt Hon George Osborne MP: Urgently reverse current and future cuts to the UK Imperial War Museum's annual operating grant in aid so that it can maintain services and preserve its standing as an international centre for study, research and education." on

    It's important. Will you sign it too? Here's the link:


    brithm likes this.
  14. Would this include access to the archive papers at the reading room in London?

    Rather than the cuts proposed how about a small charge for using the services? Regimental Museums do this and it would be better than losing the service.


  15. Jedburgh22

    Jedburgh22 Very Senior Member

    To judge by past events this is the thin end of the wedge caused by Government Cuts without consideration to the knock on effects.
    The Arts Council cut the grants to many small niche magazines some years ago forcing closure of many now it seems as though research will be dumbed down and donations to the IWM not being seen by interested researchers
  16. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    Just signed

  17. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    How much did their recent refurbishment cost? c.£40m?
    Not read many too good reviews of that from sources I'd trust, though I'd always usually plump for the excellent Duxford & Cosford branches.
    Possibly a bit hard to claim lack of resources after such an outlay. (Though I appreciate the running & rebuilding budgets are probably completely different entities, it must make for a PR difficulty.)

    Anyone been to the New model IWM? Considering taking the sprogs as not been for a long while but would spend more time in the NMA or Hendon if it's a bit weak.
    Just another London tourist attraction or still a serious museum?
  18. Jedburgh22

    Jedburgh22 Very Senior Member

    I think the danger for the IWM is that there are lots of bright young things working on PR etc and they forget or do not realize that a world class institution needs to promote meaningful research as well as footfall to the exhibition galleries - let us hope that sanity prevails
    von Poop likes this.
  19. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic Patron


    My son has visited and he was disappointed. I guess you need to go though in any case just to make sure :)
    von Poop likes this.
  20. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    I have to be honest, this was my first concern when I read Jedburgh22's post. I don't visit the IWM that often, but would hate to lose this resource.

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