The stories behind the story
FT Podcast Ep 32 - Women at War, WW2 history podcast
Great unpublished history!
In case you’re in any doubt this is episode 32 of the FT Podcast, starring Anne Cheall, namely my Mum.
I’m Paul Cheall, son of Bill Cheall whose WW2 memoirs have been published by Pen and Sword – in FTFDTH.
The aim of these podcasts is to give you the stories behind the story. You’ll hear memoirs and memories of veterans connected to Dad’s war in some way – and much more.
You’ve just been listening to some extracts from interviews with my Mum Anne Cheall about her war years. And I’d like to thank my Mum for sportingly recording the intro to this episode.
My Mum was born in Darwen, Lancashire – near Blackpool, England not all that far from Manchester, and was 17 when war was declared, so it wasn’t long before she had to join the armed forces or to be ordered to take up some other pursuit,
but she certainly wouldn’t be allowed to stay working in a wallpaper factory!
You’re going to hear commentary on how she staved off the threat of hunger, the dangers of working in a bomb factory,
the humour from working for a German boss, and how Mum stood in as a surrogate agony aunt for one of her friends who thought she was pregnant.
Plus the amazing adventures that one of Mum’s men friends had flying and trying to sink the German battleship the Bismark!
Before I get into the nitty gritty. I’ve got a load of feedback and My Relative stories for you. There is quite a lot but there are some really interesting stories so I do feel they’re all worth the hearing.
Here’s a great comment from someone deeply affected by the Queen Mary episode:
I just wanted to say thanks for the Queen Mary episode. A little uncanny because I have only just started listening to your podcast and I’ve only recently begun to research my grandfather's military experience. My grandfather, Albert Robert Beale died in the sinking of the Curacoa.
He was a leading seaman in the Royal Fleet Reserve which he joined at the end of ww1.
I’ve sent you the only photos I have of him. He was from a family of 15 brothers and sisters. His wife, my grandmother, was very special to me. She came to live with us in Australia when I was about 9yrs old.
She loved him so much that she never remarried. Consequently she didn't speak about him much as it was too upsetting.
Thanks for reading those couple of journal entries. A bit weird but it gave me some emotional connection to a man I know little about but have always wondered about.
Thanks for sharing that Rob – nice – you know that kind of comment is undoubtedly one of the reasons I do this show:
Facebook likes etc
Thank you to the numerous people who have liked my Facebook page, ftfdth. I’m trying to deliver interesting stuff to the page without deluging people so take a shufty if you get a minute during tiffin!
I’d like to give a shout out to the following people who’ve been in touch:
Andy Dryden Somerset UK
My grandad was in the Royal Engineers in WW2 but I can’t find any history on him, he got hurt in 1944 and I think that was his war over. He was Cpl Tom Dryden of 284 Assault Sqn Royal Engineers: I’m still tracking down where he actually served. Listener I’ve directed Andy to take a shufty at the WW2Talk.com web site to start his search but if anyone listening has any info about 284 Assault Sqd RE give me a shout
I’ve listened to your episodes over and over, it feels a little like my own history let alone our grandads / fathers.
I served with lads from Newcastle, Barnsley, Durham, Yorkshire, Cornwall and Somerset in the 1st Battalion The Light Infantry - now The 5th Rifles. Andy I bet you could have had a great chat, comparing notes, with Wilf Shaw RIP. Add a lad from Gateshead to that list and you’d have been in clover with him.
Andy continues - I served in N-Ireland, Africa, and Scotland Duties at Edinburgh castle. Your podcast makes me feel proud to be British
Please send my best to all who served in the 1st Battalion The Light Infantry from 1998 to 2001 - who served from Northern Ireland to Sierra Leone.
Andy a big thanks for all you wrote and even more thanks to the service you gave to your country. Well done that man.
And briefly here’s list of people who’ve kindly taken the trouble to write in and say how much they enjoy the show, some have even bought Dad’s book and thank you for that – we’ll get to reprint yet!
Niall O’Connell Ireland
Donald from Sweden - 31 episodes in just a week.
Randolphus from Canada.
Mark N4CC from USA
Over to Chris Lammy Lake
My Uncle’s father was a desert rat with Monty’s 8th army however he died 6 years before I was born. Thanks to your podcast and your father’s memoirs I can now picture the stories he might have told me and I can’t tell you how much that means to me.
My Grandad Frank Lake was in the Lincolnshire Regiment and he never served abroad due to a health issue but he was stationed in London during the blitz and at one point guarded Rudolf Hess.
Chris – GOSH – I know you’re now carrying on with your research so if you come up with anything I’d love to hear more from you in the future.
Daniel LaRose, Facebook, Minneapolis, Minnesota
… I love what you're doing. My fiancee just bought your dad's book for me, and I cannot wait to read it and then one day share it with my son when he’s older. I think it's so important to share the history of our world especially when it comes from those that helped to shape it. Your father and Wilf are heroes.
Thanks Daniel, And listener, Thank YOU for listening, I do appreciate it. And for anyone who’s tuning in with an Android phone - as I speak, the Google Podcasts app has just gone live so a warm welcome to you if you’re using it.
And a really big shout out for a young lady fresh on the block, Axela, I won’t call her real name out loud for fear of setting numerous devices tripping off all over the world. But I’ve recently got an Amazon Echo and despite my expectations I’m finding Axela pretty good. I’m working on getting a proper Axela skill set up but in the meantime you can hear the show by saying AXELA PLAY THE FIGHTING THROUGH PODCAST.
Let me know what you think and if anyone can work out how to rename the thing to Winston or Monty and record it playing a bit of the FightingThroughPodcast with Axela or any similar listening device, send it in so I can play it on the show. There’s a free signed copy of Dads book in it for you if you’re the first to be drawn out of THE LATE Wilf Shaw’s old helmet.
And I’ll get my Mum to sign it too.
I’ll throw in a few runners up prizes of signed souvenir photos from Dad’s book which make nice book marks. I’ll run this until the end of September 2018 but after that date if you manage to do anything else fancy with Axela or simlar, send em in, I’d love to hear it. As usual, contact details on FTP.co.uk website
All great ww2 and wwii history.
The following guys have all volunteered a regular monthly subscription to the podcast which helps me a lot with the ongoing expenses of running things. If you’re in a position to do the same, please click on the donate button on www.FTP.co.uk WW2.
Many, many thanks to
Jon Fromm from Seattle, USA
Jay Diemert, Alberta, Canada
Ken Milligan, Indiana, USA
I wanted to let you know my Grandad Herzhal Milligan was active on DDay in the Army. Then he went through the Korean War and finished in Vietnam ... he enlisted at 16 as a Private and retired a Captain. He was the Company Intelligence Chief and communications Officer so all he would say was ..”. I was a soldier and good at it “
I asked him once if he met Patton, and he said you “know the scene in the movie when he’s directing traffic, I was in that caravan and 10 feet away from him!”
Grandad’s military Exit package, was full of awards and citations ... I wish I could have known him better!
He once told me in a phone call that in 1939 he and his best pal decided they were going to be pilots so went down to the air field – they took one look at the equipment and decided to keep their feet on the ground.
I hated to hear of the passing of Wilf Shaw... a true lost hero, same as your dad.
Ken, thanks for all that. You might wonder how your Grandad managed to stay alive with all those wars, same as I wonder how I’m here today.
You sent me his obituary, which I’m putting in the show notes and he actually served his country over 30 years, retiring in 1969 with Honors in a ceremony and parade at Fort Knox, KY! And I reckon that gets this month’s “How Good is that” award”
Obituary of Herzhal Milligan
Herzhal A. "Hirsch" Milligan, older son of Elmer D. and Minnie Mary Jessica (McPherson) Milligan was born August 6, 1920 on a farm in Cave in Rock, IL. Hirsh entered the U.S. Army at Fort Knox, KY on December 24, 1937, and he was to serve 30 years 6 months and nine days of honorable service with a one year break in service from June 20, 1945 to July 12, 1946. He served in World War II, the invasion forces at Inchon, Korea. After a 19 month stint of duty stateside, Hirsch returned to Korea. Hirsch returned to Fort Knox, KY where he taught electronics and electronic maintenance before returning to Germany, serving as the Intelligence Chief and Communications officer. He returned to Fort Knox, KY where he taught electronic maintenance for 10 years before volunteering to serve in Vietnam from March 1968-March 1969. Hirsch retired on July 31, 1969 with Honors in a ceremony and parade at Fort Knox, KY !
Mum’s WWII recordings – Start of this WW2 podcast interview
Please do bear in mind that the following recordings were made at many different times and circumstances so do forgive me on some occasions when the sound quality is not so good.
The recordings were made over the last few years and Mum has just turned 96. I can’t wait for her to be able to listen back to all these memories.
But this has turned out to be a real history of a young civilian girl’s war, 1939-45
Brief notes on some of the content:
•Breakout of war WW2 1939
•Sirens – Air raid sirens went off
•Social activities with friend Eileen. Dancing, church socials
•As soon as 18, had to do war work or fight. Worked in ordnance factory assembling clocks.
•Boyfriend Brian Reilly
•Rationing – never felt hungry all six years. Wartime recipes. Carrot and cheese flan. Christmas cake.
•Study – Evening classes for cookery for 3 years 39-41
•Rationing – coupons for clothes and shoes
•The Blackout, radio, Blitz
•WW2, WWII, Podcast
•Blackpool Tower Ballroom
•Restwell Spring works, Mr May Mr Meigh
•Crown Wallpaper, Mr Ratley
•Miss Catlow at youth employment exchange
•Friends Mary Townsend, Iris Kenyon, Dorothy Cross, Betty Lazarus, WW2, WWII
•Brook Williams, son of Emlyn Williams playright, Bryn Owen, Gwyn Owen
•Street Parties, VE Day
•Selling matches. No jobs
Leave on Ze moment:
At the outbreak of war there were around 80,000 potential enemy aliens in Britain and all Germans and Austrians over 16 were called before special tribunals and were divided into one of three groups:
•'A' - high security risks, numbering just under 600, who were immediately interned;
•'B' - 'doubtful cases', numbering around 6,500, who were supervised and subject to restrictions;
•'C' - 'no security risk', numbering around 64,000, who were left at liberty. More than 55,000 of category 'C' were recognised as refugees from Nazi oppression. The vast majority of these were Jewish.
820 Naval Air Squadron
Listener I never cease to be amazed at the curious coincidences thrown up by this WW2 podcast. I’ve got a couple of Christmas cards of mums, one with a photo of a bulbous looking seaplane and the other a ship (which I’ve put on the web site by the way).
The front of each card is denoted 820 Naval Air Squadron, so I looked it up on Wikipedia and blow me what an amazing war history is hidden behind these innocent looking cards,
According to Wiki During the course of the war, seaborne aircraft were used in fleet actions at sea
Brian was in the 820 Naval air squadron – it was an aircraft carrier based air squadron
Pre-war, carried out spotter-reconnaissance duties for the aircraft carrier HMS Courageous. So even before war was declared, stuff was going on that the general public probably didn’t know about,
I’ve put a Wikipedia link to all this stuff in the shownotes.
Through to 1940 the squadron was assigned to aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal on anti-submarine duties in the Atlantic, and later as surface search and torpedo-attack aircraft.
By April 1940 they were supporting Allied operations during the Norwegian campaign, where they bombed airfields.
Aircraft from 820 squadron were involved in attacking the French fleet in French West Africa.
They were also active in the Med during the Battle of Cape Spartivento, with the Italians, as well as covering convoys to Malta.
Their next major engagement was the hunt for the German battleship Bismarck. Aircraft from the Squadron were able to disable Bismarck’s steering gear with a torpedo hit, allowing Bismarck to be engaged and sunk.
They embarked aboard HMS Formidable in February 1942, and sailed in the Indian Ocean. The squadron was then active in the Battle of Madagascar, followed by Operation Torch, the Allied landings in North Africa.
During these operations, aircraft from the squadron sank U-331, which had earlier sunk the battleship HMS Barham. They remained in the Mediterranean to provide support for the Allied landings at Sicily and Salerno.
They were assigned to HMS Indefatigable in June 1944 and saw action as part of Operation Mascot on 17 July and Operations Goodwood in August, the attempts to sink the German battleship Tirpitz in Norway
After that they saw action in the Far East.
… I’m sitting here with my jaw on my desk and my eyebrows touching the ceiling. I cannot believe all this action exists and that Brian, Mum’s Sunday School friend, could have been involved in many of these actions, in some cases supporting my father, such as when he landed at Sicily in July 1943 in WWII!
How good is that?
Mum thinks Brian got married, so he may have had a family. If you know of Brian Reilly, or Really, and have photos of him or an inkling of what he did in the war, please do get in touch. We know Brian had a Brother some 15 or more years younger, probably in your 70’s now so bruv, if you’re out there and listening, do get in touch!
Or maybe you have a relative who served in 820 Squadron in WW2? Please do get in touch. I’d love to hear from you.
We’re nearly at the end of this episode but stick around for the usual postscript.
We’re nearly at the end of this episode but stick around for the usual postscript.
Thank you to my dear Mum anne, Thank you so much if you’ve stayed to the end of the show. You’ve been listening to the FT Podcast, Episode 32, Women at War, please do hear me next time, soon!
I’ve got a few more short clips for the PS, then I’m going to let my Mum close the show, bless her. And if you’re waiting to hear how mum became a surrogate agony aunt, keep listening …
Note from Jimmy Miletta Jr to your Facebook Page Fighting Through
Bill, I have been listening to your podcast for over a year now! Keep up the great work!! Celebrating Independence Day from
Lake Geneva Wisconsin USA
God Bless all Veterans
Listener, we’re just about finished now so I’ll just thank my dear Mum, Anne Cheall, for her patience in letting me record her multiple times over the last few years. I’ll say bye bye now from me but I’ll leave Mum to end the show with a lovely little anecdote about the one job she didn’t talk about during the war when, ahead of her time for a brief spell, she became an agony aunt! Vanessa Feltz eat yer heart out!
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