photo credit: Imperial War Museum
my favorite photo: a RAF pilot reading
John Buchan’s Greenmantle while getting a haircut
(I see the book, my son sees the Spitfire!)
Sniffing around our public library, I found The Second World War in Color a companion book to a documentary by the same name. Initially, I thought I’d just flip through the book and return it to the library. The pictures, however, were compelling. Respect demanded more than a flip-through. Then the diary entries hooked me; soon I started on the title page and read through the book.
As in this blog entry, the photographs and the diary entries in the book have no relation to one another.
The diary entries and official announcements come from combatants and civilians from most of the nations involved in WWII. A Russian surgeon writes:
A British pilot, killed on his first flight:
The notes of Theodor Morell (condensed here), Adolf Hitler’s personal physician on 20.7.44, the day of the explosion set by Lt. Col. von Stauffenberg which killed four officers, interested me so soon after watching the movie Valkyrie. Hitler went on the radio later explaning that his survival was ‘a confirmation of my assignment from Providence to carry on my life’s goal as I have done hitherto’.
Blister, burns, contusions, open flesh wounds
Ivor Rowberry’s letter to his mother, written in the event of his death, won the Best Letter Written by a Member of the Armed Forces during the Second World War contest. Oh. My. Heart. Yet the wry humor about grammatical tenses! It begins:
Usually when I write a letter it is very much overdue, and I make every effort to get it away quickly. This letter, however, is different. It is a letter that I hoped you would never recieve, as it is verification of that terse, black-edged card which you received some time ago, and which has caused you so much grief. It is because of this grief that I wrote this letter, and by the time you have finished reading it I hope that it has done some good, and that I have not written it in vain. It is very difficult to write now of future things in the past tense, so I am returning to the present.
I particularly liked the glimpse of community (perhaps membership, à la Wendell Berry…in microcosm?) between British liberator and the liberated people of Belgium in this letter dated 9-29-1944
Because of this book, I learned of the Imperial War Museum Collections, another place to visit if I ever make it to London.