May 162011
 

On May 14th and 15th the Northern World War 2 Association, or NWW2A, held their “Private Battle Weekend”. Established in 2005 with the aim of recreating, and reenacting the Second World War period as authentically as possible, association members spend most of their reenacting time  providing Allied and Axis living history displays and large scale battle reenactments at events across Northern of England. The Private Battle is a chance for the reenactors to don their 1940’s persona’s and spend one or two days war-gaming on a large expanse land, somewhere in Yorkshire, away from the gaze of the public. I spent one day with the Elite Panzergrenadier Division Großdeutschland of the NWW2A to see what life was like as a member of their Kriegsberichter Zug (war correspondent platoon).  I chose to shoot on my modern digital Nikon D700 DSLR camera rather than my old Kiev film rangefinder. I wanted the best quality pictures. I have chosen to reproduce the photographs in black and white in an attempt to put back some of the atmosphere lost by not using film.

Unteroffizier “Wolfgang Spengler” in command of the Eight  man squad plus one “Kreigsberichter” of the Panzergrenadier Division Großdeutschland somewhere in NorthYorkshire

Point man “Stefan Kollers”

Above: From a gulley on the tree line  Feldwebel “Otto Henning”  looks for any unexpected movement as two of the squad move forward across open ground to the wreck of an old tank. Below: Having safely made it to cover Gefreiter “Hans Altmann” looks back as his comrade checks for enemy movement to the front, before calling up the rest of the men.

The remainder of the squad wait anxiously for the signal to make their way across the open ground and into cover.

 

Having made it into woodland without being ambushed the men of Panzergrenadier Division Großdeutschland take a breather. Above Right: Using an Esbit stove and German mess kit Gefreiter “Johann Rechenmacher” and other members of the patrol share a coffee while others (Above Left and Below) rest or chat quietly so as not to give their position away.

Below: The Großdeutschland squad anxiously wait for the return of point man “Stephan Kollers” who has been sent ahead to investigate gunfire.

Unteroffizier “Wolfgang Spengler” orders  his men into position as they advance on an “enemy position” that is already involved in a fire-fight with other elements of  Panzergrenadier Division Großdeutschland, 21st Panzer Division and 1st Fallschirmjäger.

One  Panzergrenadier attempts to work his way towards the strongpoint and find an effective firing position. Below: Feldwebel Otto Henning has already spotted one target.

While attempting to get around and flank the allied strong point, with Grenadiers “Stefan Kollers” and “Hans Muller”, our battle was cut short by fusillade of well placed rounds from element’s of Fox Commando Royal Navy and US 101 Airborne  (below).

 

Above; The long walk back to the camp at the end of day one. Left to right:  Fallschirmjäger from the NWW2A, Grenadier “Hans Muller”,  Grenadier “Stefan Kollers” and Unteroffizier “Wolfgang Spengler”

NWW2A consists of a number of different groups or“units” ranging from the US and British Airborne troops, French Resistance, British and Soviet infantry, German 21st Panzer Division, Infantry, Luftwaffe and Fallschirmjäger and the Panzergrenadier Division Großdeutschland. Moving away from  front-lines units there’s the German Field Police, Deutches Rotes Kreuz , Ensa Moonlight Seranaders and 40’s Civilians & Home Front Auxiliaries.

Apr 092011
 

Its been an interesting start to April, a sudden influx of jobs bucking the trend of the past 12 months or more. Its still a long way from business as usual but it would be nice if things carried on the way they have over the last ten days. The month started with call to cover the Spots vs Stripes challenge for Cadburys in Meadowhall then it was a shoot for a company who has sold their  500,000 curry which we shot at Chef Hallam. Job number three came in via email requesting coverage of the Torvill & Dean  Dancing on Ice 2011 tour photo call at Sheffield Motorpoint Arena.

From there it was a quick drive back to the office to get the photos edited captioned and out to the client and off to celebrity shoot number two. Lookers the new Alfa Romeo dealership on Saville Street Sheffield had celebrity chef  Mr Aldo Zilli on hand to help them celebrate their opening with an evening of “fine Italian food and wine”. Had he not made it as a chef I think he would have made pretty good Comedian. Having got the images required from the Aldo Zilli shoot its back in the car and back to the office to get a few images out from the evening so they would be waiting for the client when they get in on Friday morning then off to bed just before midnight.

Friday was an office day finishing the edit, post production, captioning and distribution of the Aldo Zilli Photographs while fielding calls, emails and taking delivery of a new camera and getting invoices out. Saturday was back to Meadowhall for celebrity shoot three and oddly enough another Italian celebrity chef this time it was Gino D’Acampo who was doing a cooking up a storm and by the look of it he certainly managed to get one ladies heart racing when he asked her to check if his pasta was al dente.

Some where in amongst all this I actually found time to buy myself and take delivery of a new toy, a Kiev 4 range-finder film camera. Cosmetically its in very nice condition with original leather case and 5cm F2 Jupiter lens.  Everything seems to be in working order I just need to put a film through it. If it all works as it should I have a feeling that it could end up as a blog for another day.

Jan 302011
 

I bought my partner Black Diamonds for Christmas. Not  the ‘Black Star of Africa’ or ‘Table of Islam’ type, she isn’t that lucky because I’m not that rich, it’s one of the downsides of being a professional photographer. What I did buy her was the book “Black Diamonds: The Rise and Fall of an English Dynasty” by Catherine Bailey. It tells the epic and stranger than fiction story of the Fitzwilliams, who claim descent from William the Conqueror and once owned what was, in fact still is, the largest privately owned house in Britain, Wentworth Woodhouse.

I have lived in South Yorkshire all my life, I have heard of the Fiztwilliams, Wentworth House and that there was something special about the place but as is often the case with things you grow up around I hadn’t really given it that much thought. Even when one of my first assignments as full-time professional press photographer was to cover the wedding of  Wensley Haydon-Baillie, one time owner of Wentworth Woodhouse who married at Wentworth’s “new” Victorian Church with Prince Michael of Kent reportedly as his best man, I didn’t really think beyond that immediate story.

Above left: Former owner Wensley Haydon-Baillie and his new bride are congratulated by a local as they walk the footpath back to Wentworth Woodhouse from the Fitzwilliam family Church. Above right: Prince Michael of Kent attends Haydon-Baillie’s wedding in Wnentworth.

Below: Commissioned by the 6th Earl of Fitzwilliam in 1872  at a cost of around £25,000 in memory of his parents, with a spire of almost 200 feet tall Wentorth Church is visible for miles around. Dedicated to the Holy Trinity it was designed in Gothic revival style by leading Victorian church architect James Loughborough Pearson who later designed Truro Cathedral.

Wentworth Woodhouse, the size of the building is breathtaking.  Built by Thomas Watson-Wentworth, 1st Marquess of Rockingham, added to by his heir, in the nineteenth century it was  inherited  and became the family seat of the Earls Fitzwilliam. It took a Scots Lass Born in Glasgow, who strangely enough can trace her ancestral linage back to one of  William the Conqueror’s Noblemen to pique my interest in the place enough to try and capture the grandeur of its East façade. This is really the only shot that can be taken of the house as it is a privately owned house and not open to the public.

You really do have to stand in front of this Grade I listed country house in Wentworth, South Yorkshire to fully appreciate its size. The East Front, 606 feet (185 meters) long, it is the longest country house façade in Europe. With 365 rooms the house covers an area of over 2.5 acres (10,000 square Meters).  Currently it is owned by a retired architect in his 80s called Clifford James Newbold who, if what I have read is to be believed….

  • Paid in excess of £1.5 Million pounds for Wentworth Woodhouse.
  • Paid £1.5 Million pounds for Wentorth Woodhouse
  • Moved from a “family sized home” in Highgate to Wentworth Woodhouse.
  • Lives there alone.
  • Is a recluse
  • planned to convert it into three homes for his family.
  • Is is progressing with a defined programme of renovation/restoration.

I’m only guessing here but I think its probably fair to say some of the things written about Mr Newbold may not be quite accurate.

  • What seems fairly certain is in 1998 he was Master of the Guild of Freemen of the City of London.
  • In May of 2010 the guild held three events
  • Thursday 13 May 2010 – Weekend Visit to Wentworth Woodhouse
  • Thursday 13 May 2010 – Reception & Gala Dinner – Wentworth Woodhouse
  • Friday 14  May 2010 – Day Visit to Wentworth Woodhouse

If Britannia Historical Attractions are to be believed when the house went up for sale for £1.5 Million pounds it would “require ten times that to restore”  and  “In Early May 1999, Wentworth Woodhouse was purchased for a figure substantially in excess of the guide of £1.5m”

While I haven’t seen them apparently Country Life Magazine published evidence of the restoration and renovations in issues dated 17 February and 24 February 2010.

Its seems as though some people are always willing to believe the worst, something borne by the graffiti on the sign at the entrance to Wentworth House. Surrounded by a 150 acre (0.6 km²) park the numerous “Private”  and  “Keep off the Grass” signs gave me the feeling that my presence was being  suffered because it is a public right of way rather than welcomed. If like me the mysteriousness of Mr Clifford James Newbold has raised your curiosity levels a photograph of the present owner can be found here under the heading “Presentation to the Guild 27 February 2008”

Nov 072010
 

www.pauldaviddrabble.co.uk

Saint Mary’s Church Ecclesfield also Known as “The Minster of The Moors” is the final resting place of Rev. Alexander John Scott, Chaplain and close personal friend of Admiral Lord Nelson. It was to Rev. Alexander John Scott that Nelson spoke his last words  “God and my country.”  below decks of the Flagship HMS victory at the Battle of Trafalgar. Nelson died at 16:35 on the 21 October 1805. His friend Scott lived to the age of 72 and died in 1840.

Its odd that Scott should have  been buried in Ecclesfield. He was not born in the area and didn’t live in the area. He was in Ecclesfield visiting his daughter Margaret, a well known writer of the time  who was married to the then Vicar of Ecclesfield Alfred Gatty, when he was taken ill and subsequently died. What is stranger is travel five miles  by road and under what is now a Tesco car park is where the Walker Iron Works of Masbrough was. They cast about 80 of the 105 guns carried by HMS Victory into Battle at Trafalgar. Closer still is the village of Grenoside, only two and a half miles away, where Samuel and Aaron Walker began to manufacture Iron in the early 1740s before relocating and starting in 1746 as Walker Iron Works of Masbrough.

Photographers Technical info

  • Camera Nikon D700
  • Lens Nikon 50mm f1.8
  • ISO 200
  • Aperture F8
  • Shutter 1/200