A Question For All Veterans From All Wars - Passage of Information

Discussion in 'Postwar' started by Drew5233, Feb 12, 2011.

  1. Nevil

    Nevil WW2 Veteran/Royal Signals WW2 Veteran

    Hi Andy...you asked me to respond and I regret I cannot locate your specific message to respond to, so here it is:
    I can speak only of WW2, specifically my own experience in Royal Signals. As far as the general conduct of the war was concerned I think we were kept well informed, as security permitted, from radio and national newspapers.
    For operations on active service I would separate the war for me into two parts: my time in France in 1940 as a Signals DR which was mercifully fairly short and was total confusion as far as knowing what was supposed to happen and what was actually happening. On return to the UK we had instructions to not talk about our experiences to other troops on the home front for fear of damaging morale. I think morale was damaged anyway because we had a huge shortage of necessary equipmen and everone knew of the disaster in France.
    From November 1943 to VE Day I served as a Royal Signals officer in a combined British-US Signals unit (SHAEF Signals) that provided communications for Eisenhower's HQ for the Normandy invasion and beyond. As such we were kept very well informed as to what was happening on all European fronts except Italy and later South of France, which were not our immediate concern.
    To answer the question asked, I did not do any reading for this, one got the information in the official way or received it by osmosis from colleagues.

    Hope this info meets your requirements.

    dbf likes this.
  2. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Many thanks Nevil
  3. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Courtesy of Mr Goldstein today:

    The battle for Sicily Carlo d’Este
    Monte Cassino Mathew Parker
    The Campaign in Italy Eric Linklater
    The battles for Cassino E.D.Smith
    Sicily, whose victory ? Martin Blumenson
    The Jewish Brigade Morris Beckman
    Battleaxe Division Ken Ford

    And so many more on all aspects of the war but in other areas of combat and, of course, much on the RAF Bomber command and the Holocaust.

  4. Driver Op,

    Guns of Normandy and Guns of Victory(Geo Blackburn) re your post. Read these as one huge volume a few years ago after Dad had finished it and his only words were something along the lines of ...that was what it was like...

    Found it very moving/harrowing in its intensity at times and also un put-downable.
    Will put it on the to read again list.

  5. DoctorD

    DoctorD WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Hi Andy. Haven't been on for a while, so just picked up your request for a response.
    We got no gen whatsoever, apart from "Muff-it" Moffitt on the American Forces Network and, eventually, BBC's BFN; although a detachment of our Unit, that was serving in the "British" Sector of Normandy, shared "quarters" (tents in the same orchard!) with BBC War Correspondents Frank Gillard and Winford Vaughan Thomas. I was interviewed by these worthies, for my "take" on events in the American Sector, when I was given the map reference to re-establish contact with our detachment.

    I should explain that our Unit had been split into 3 Echelons, pre-embarkation, each of which was planned to land, many weeks apart, on different beaches for deployment in separate locations before eventually being reunited shortly before the liberation of Brussels.

    It never seems to have occurred to us to discuss our mutual experiences and it is only in the past four years that I have taken any interest in events at that time. But being associated with very hush-hush Radar and evesdropping operations, there don't seem to be many official records of RAF mobile signals/radar units available - even the Operational Record Books of my unit aren't available at PRO. So I rely on the 86 yr-old grey matter, accepting that the chronology of certain events has sometimes proved wanting.

    Hope this helps!

  6. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    It sometimes makes you think how we won the flaming battles, when you consider how little we were told!

    In many cases we went into action with no information of what we were aiming at, or even what the target was.

    Looking back: we went into action totally ignorant of our aims. (men died not knowing what they weer doing)

    Best regards to all the Vets, both young and old. Despite not knowing what you were doing, you still did a wonderful job
  7. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Good morning Brian !

    What a lovely day for the Grand National :)

    In the past I've alway maintained that no one in authority ever told us anything and in the main, I still think that's perfectly true.

    However, I was just looking at some old diary entries and up popped this one, dated yesterday, but 66 years ago:
    Sunday 8th. April 1945
    Colonel gave A & B squadrons griff talk for this 'final' campaign. Packed tank sheet and covered my bed with Honey canopy.

    It appears from that entry that we were being given some info. but it must have been on a very broad level and, if my memory serves me rightly, dealt mainly with "this is the battle that will finish the war in Italy and I know I can rely on all of you to do your best for King and Country"

    Having a bet on the National ?

    I'm strictly a once a year punter and always have a modest bet on the favourite and two outsiders just so that I have an interest when watching the race on TV.

    My horses today ?

    The Midnight Club, Tidal Bay & State of play.

    Congratulations or Commiserations may be placed here after the race :)

  8. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Hi Ron.
    It has been like midsummer here, with crowds of people and even folks swimming.
    To all our Vets...Driver op Etc, have a lovely summer... You are all getting on a bit, and you never know if its your last .......Great Big Grin... :)
  9. RemeDesertRat

    RemeDesertRat Very Senior Member

    Just having a browse and came across this thread,now, looking at a war diary for 4 royal artillery in 1942, there seems to be a lot of info about the 'big picture' and events in other theatres of war and even the footie scores and racing results, I wonder if this info was passed on to other ranks? seems a lot of trouble went into compiling this info, but doesn't seem to have been 'passed on'.
  10. leccy

    leccy Senior Member

    Passage of info was always dependant on which unit I was attached to.

    In a field troop (RE) mostly we knew our section task and maybe that of the other 2 or three sections, sometimes we did Troop tasks or Squadron tasks that gave us more info on the Squadron.

    In the Squadron CV we tended to be well informed up to Brigade level, knowing what the various Battle Groups were doing generally but not always what the other squadrons in my Regiment were doing in the other Brigades.

    Moving up to HQ ARRC all the info was there for the whole theatre but we seldom saw any or were rarely briefed on anything, just caught glimpses that you tried to piece together if you were interested.

    The RAF tended to keep us informed with daily flight briefings and results of any ops but not much on the ground situation.
  11. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

    Out of this I have learned something new! Longparish a village that at one time I lived near was the family home of Major General Guy Payan Dawnay and family from 1919 - 1989, Kit Dawnay who was Montgomery's Aide, retired as Colonel of Coldstream Guards. Reading here of a Brigadier David Dawnay (later Major General) - looking this name up I find a cavalryman - North Irish Horse commander 21st Tank Bde- DSO Citation under D Dawnay North Irish Horse. Decorations now with the Royal Hussars. The dawnay family looks to be large yet I have not found a direct link between David and Kit - yet! The Home Guard at Longparish were inspected by Montgomery - I imagine Colonel Kit Dawnay got the general for that.
  12. zahonado

    zahonado Well-Known Member

    Returning to the original post: Surely in war as in many other things there is no absolute truth,it depends which side you are on, how it affects you and others known to you and how much those in power want you to know, on a global as well as a more local scale, and the core beliefs of those giving and receiving information. It strikes me that very few people really understood the issues (eg in WW2) except for preventing the "other" from getting closer.... ok for colonialists etc to occupy other countries. It is very sad so many die and are killed for causes which may be "noble" but of which they have little understanding. I guess it is lucky that most younger people see things in black and white...makes it easier to swallow it all without too many questions.
  13. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Surprising how limited our knowledge or of where we were at times. I had an old banjo that I scribbled the names of places we were at....Lost it when I was wounded.

    Although we were told very little about where we were heading, we always knew what our next task would be, if only an hour before hand
  14. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron


    Just been reading this old thread and was amused at your latest mention of scribbling place names on your old banjo.

    I also had a ukelele at Cassino but never used it for that purpose :)

    What I did do, however, was to write, in 1946, on Page 87 of my eponymous Army Album all the places I could remember staying at over the past four chaotic years.

    Trust you are OK and, don't forget, keep taking the tablets :lol:


    Attached Files:

  15. rockape252

    rockape252 Senior Member

    Hi Drew,

    When the first RAF Regiment Squadron deployed to Salalah airstrip in the Dhofar region of Oman in 1969 we were told that the "Counter Insurgency" operations we were operating on were classed by the British Gov as an exercise.

    This "exercise" ran until 1975 and there where British casualties.

    See http://britains-smallwars.com/Desert_song/index.htm

    The Royal Navy, British Army and RAF all took casualties which were reported as "Road Traffic Accidents".

    News reporting had a "D" Notice slapped on it. But some news about incidents and casualties was published.

    The briefing we received was simple, "Your on a Field Firing Exercise". Don't tell anyone at home what is really happening.

    After one incident when one of our Mortar teams in "Hedgehog Bravo" took casualties an investigative Team came out from the UK and the first question asked was

    "Where was the safety supervisor standing ?" even the team from Warminster didn't know the facts.

    I received my Clasp "Dhofar" for my General Service Medal (GSM) in 1977.

    Regards, Mick D.
    dbf likes this.

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