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Oct 042020
 

German Military Cemetery Staffordshire

Many of you will know I am quite interested history, especially military history.  While doing a little research I discovered  a German Military Cemetery in Staffordshire Britain. Not something I had ever considered but probably should have. All wars result in casualties on both sides and while there were no land battles in Britain, there was the war in the air and at sea, not mention Prisoners Of War.


My interest piqued I took a trip to Staffordshire to shoot some images at the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof.  The cemetery contains the graves of 2143 soldiers of the first world war and 2786 soldiers of the second world war. All the headstones are very similar but unlike British CWGC headstones they don’t seem to say, with any consistency, which branch of the armed forces the personnel served with or their unit, though they do indicate rank.

In 1959 the UK German government came to an agreement for the care of the graves of German nationals who lost their lives in the United Kingdom during the two World Wars. The result was the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Cannock Chase Staffordshire. This resulted in the transfer of all graves in the UK, not already effectively maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, to this central cemetery. This transfer of graves of German servicemen and civilian internees from both world wars was arranged by the German War Graves Commission (Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgraberfursorge).  The inauguration and dedication took place on the 10th June 1967 and is immaculately maintained by the CWGC.

A few notable graves to look out for amongst the photos for are….

Generalfeldmarschall Ernst Bernhard Wilhelm Busch

holder of the Pour le Merite (Blue Max) and Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves. He commanded troops during the invasion of Poland, the Battle of France and the invasion of Russia (Operation Barbarossa). His final command was Army Group Northwest. His task, to stop Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery’s advance into Germany. Busch surrendered to Monty on 3 May 1945 and died of heart failure in a prisoner of war camp in Aldershot, England.

SS-Obergruppenführer und General der Waffen-SS Maximilian Karl Otto von Herff.

Originally in the Wehrmacht Herff was promoted to lieutenant-colonel in 1939. He served with the German Afrika Korps, was then promoted to Colonel and commanded “Kampfgruppe von Herff”. In June 1941 was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross for his service in North Africa. He transferred to the Waffen-SS and joined the Nazi Party in 1942. From August 1942-1945 Von Herff was ‘Chef fur Personalhauptamt’. The man in charge of the office responsible maintaining the service records for all commissioned Waffen-SS and Allgemeine-SS personnel. Captured in 1945, and held at Grizedale POW camp he died in Conishead Priory Military Hospital as the result of a Stroke.

 

Four Graves Containing the Remains of Four Zeppelin Crews

Tablet marks the four graves containing the remains of Four Zeppelin crews Shot down during World war one with each Crew being buried together.

A small black and white photo at the bottom of the headstone marking the last resting place of Eugen Geyer and Franz Andele. Both were members of the German Luftwaffe


Cannock Chase War Cemetery Staffordshire

Before reaching the actual German Military Cemetery you will encounter Cannock Chase War Cemetery which is closer to the road. Cannock Chase War Cemetery contains 97 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, most of them New Zealanders, and 286 German burials. There are also three burials from the Second World War.

Images © Paul David Drabble
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Nov 082015
 


The people of Barnsley were out in force again this year along side Veterans organisations, cadets, military units and families take part in the Remembrance Sunday service in Barnsley South Yorkshire.

 

Jul 072015
 

A World War Two German Sd.Kfz 251 Halftrack named “Magda” that appeared in the new AA advert had to be towed away when one of its front wheels fell off in front of a packed audience at the “Yorkshire Wartime Experience” on Sunday Afternoon (5 June 2015). The event is billed as “The North’s Premier Military Vehicle & Re-enactment Event” and its venue at Hunsworth Lane Hunsworth West Yorkshire was also the location where the AA’s first new television commercial in almost ten years was filmed.
Weighing in at almost 8 Tons, the post war Halftrack, of the type that would have been used as German troop carrier, required a fellow collectors Scammell explorer, aptly named “Dooleys Dragster”, to drag the disabled armoured personnel carrier from the arena. When asked by the shows commentator about calling the AA vehicle owner Paul Hilditch replied “No I should have done” No one was hurt in the incident.

When Tweeted about the incident Edmund King President of the AA responded

Images and story Available for publication via Caters News Agency

Copyright Paul David Drabble


Mar 142012
 

Cpl Liam Riley of the 3rd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment is one of three local heroes who were honoured this morning (Monday 14 March 2011) with the unveiling of their statues at “The Portrait Bench in Killamarsh.

The centre figure is Cpl Riley who was Killed in Helmand Province Afghanistan on 1 February 2010. He was famously described by Prince Harry as “a legend”, the two had met during military training in Canada. Liams mum Cheryl and Sister Olivia were at this mornings event and paid tribute to Liam his mum saying
“it will be nice to be able to drive home and be welcomed by my son”

The second figure is the celebrated Sheffield boxer IBF, European & British light heavyweight champion and former Commonwealth champion at light heavyweight and super middleweight Clinton Woods.

The third statue is former Steelworker Colin Savage. Colin who has a love of walking has campaigned successfully for improved local paths giving improvised access to the countryside through lobbying fundraising and gerneral support.

The Portrait Bench is located at the Junction of Forge Lane and Sheffield Rd Killamarsh and is part of a new National collection of portraits in local communities of local figures chosen by the local community. Together the portrait bench collection will represent around 230 characters, some known out side their communities some not, which will have been chosen by thousands of people across the UK.

Nov 292011
 

The Funeral of Private Matthew Thornton, A Territorial Army Soldier from 4 Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (4 YORKS) was held at All Saints Church Darton in Barnsley on Tuesday Morning 29 October 2011.

Private Thornton was deployed to Afghanistan in October of 2011. As a member of the support Company for 1 Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (1 YORKS),  which is part of the The Queen’s Royal Hussars Battle Group, Matthew was based at the northern end of Lashkar Gah district  in the Babaji area, at Checkpoint Koorashan. On the 9 November 2011 Private Thornton was taking part in a patrol to the north of Checkpoint Loy Mandeh, the aim was to develop a better understanding of the local area and people.  During this Patrol his unit was attacked by an enemy using small arms fire and grenades, as Private Thornton was manoeuvring and returning fire an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) was detonated and the blast killed him.  Poignantly Matthew Thornton’s tragic death came less than a week after his 28th birthday and only 2 days before Remembrance Day (11 November).

Jul 122011
 

Weekend of the Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 of July found the Ponderosa  Centre in Heckmondwike was the scene of skirmishes and an pitched battles as once again they held “SPAM” the Ponderosa Wartime Weekend. The aim of SPAM is to transport visitors back to to the 1940’s, give them a taste of what life was like for the civilians and and soldiers of all nationalities who fought their way across Eastern and Western Europe.

Bigger and better than ever before gunfire could be heard though out the two days as  Allied and Axis reenactors who were  living in and around trenches, foxholes, dugouts, bunkers and a TV set style derelict village sent out patrols to reconnoitre and probe their enemies positions.

The weekend included a Spitfire flypast on Saturday while on both days military vehicles including three US tanks, a Hellcat,  Marder Tank-killer, British Daimler Dingos, US M3 Halftrack,  SdKfz 251 Ausf. C Halftrack, Wyllis Jeeps and Kubelwagen all owned by private collectors and members of the Northern World War 2 Association and Military Vehicles Trust were just some that could be seen on static display and in a drive by parade.

Many of the same vehicles also took part in the grand finale each day. A western front battle with TV quality pyrotechnics which pitted Germany’s Panzer Grenadier Division Großdeutschland, 21st Panzer Division and Infanterie Regiment 208 against the US 101st and British 6th Airborne, with the East Yorkshire Regiment. The end of scenario has Axis units prepare and launch a counter attack against advancing Allied forces, but the combined  British/US Armour and  infantry push them back with American tanks destroying the Germans fuel dump before finally over running the thier positions as the axis resistance collapses.

Below: The last stand of Großdeutschland. British 6th Airborne division accompanied by members of the French Resistance overrun and destroy one of Germany’s Elite units at the Ponderosa Heckmondwike.

Should this leave you wondering what the Ponderosa Wartime Weekend looked like from  reenactors point of view here are a couple of shots

A reenactors view, of the Battlefield, at the Spam Wartime Weekend Heckmondwike 10th July 2011. Images © Paul David Drabble (Paul David Drabble)

A reenactors view, from the living history, of the Spam Wartime Weekend Heckmondwike 9th July 2011. Images © Paul David Drabble (Paul David Drabble)

Apr 162011
 

Some of you may have noticed that I have an interest in most all things military, I also have an interest in the 1940’s, more specifically the second world war. This has led me to invest in a “new” camera, well new to me. Its actually a 38 year old Kiev range finder, a postwar Russian copy of the famed German Contax range finders which were introduced around 1933 and were once the main competitor for Leica.

I intended to buy one of these Russian Contax or Leica clones as a display piece but attempts to find a good looking non working display camera for under a fiver soon evolved into a little bit of a quest to find a reasonable working camera and preferably a Keiv. I wasn’t actually worried about the age of the camera but I did want it to work on 1940’s technology. Then thanks to eBay a Kiev 4, a Contax IIIa copy, arrived along with a very odd desire to put a roll of film through it.

I think I actually imagined I was going to stick a roll of film in this 1940s vintage piece of technology and instantly be able to use it just like my Nikon equipment. However to give you an idea of the differences between this camera and any modern digital SLR or compact I thought about writing a short list of what you don’t get with a Kiev but forget the list. If your camera has the word “auto, automatic, program, mode or electronic before one of its features take it as read the Kiev doesn’t have it. It does have a built in light meter but its not very reliable and you have to read it, work out the exposure settings then manually enter those settings on the camera. Its design requires the camera to be held in a specific way, known as the Contax hold, so the fingers of your right hand don’t block the range finder window and make focusing impossible.

To swap from my Nikon D700 to the all mechanical and manual Keiv for a couple of days was to say the least a culture shock. I am used to knowing my Nikons so well that I pick them up and work them, almost without thought, leaving me free to concentrate on creating images. With the Keiv I was forced into a much slower pre planned, less instant, pace of photography. Not just less instant in the sense you don’t get to see the result straight away but you suddenly realise you have to move the camera away from your eye to set the shutter speed and aperture then again to wind the film on. You are forced to think much more about the image you are about to shoot or want to shoot and makes the grab shot so much more valuable. It has also left me wondering how famed war photographer and Magnum founder member Robert Capa managed the images he did from a pair of Contax II cameras. Despite the totally different way of working forced on me when using the Kiev I think I may just be looking for a Zorki or Fed Leica copy now to sit alongside my Keiv or maybe Ill look for a Kiev clone of Capa’s Contax II.

Nov 012010
 

07:00 hrs ,as the military call it, is an early morning start at St Dunstan’s in Sheffield, this morning Im  covering the beginning of a fund raising challenge 10 squaddies 10-marathons 5 days.  Ten soldiers, (or Squaddies) from 39 Engineer Regiment Cambridge, and their support team. The team totalling around 14 are undertaking  10 Squaddies, 10 Marathons, 5 Days challenge to raise funds for the only charity to provide direct support, rehabilitation  and training to service personnel and veterans blinded in conflict.

If  the challenge of 10 Marathons in 5 days wasn’t “hardcore” enough for these members of the British Army,  “just to make it a little more interesting” they will be also carrying 40lb Bergen’s and wearing combat boots” on a gruelling test of endurance. Thirty-four year old Staff Sergeant  Jim Offord (the man  behind the fund raiser) and nine fellow soldiers will complete a marathon every six hours,  day and night, followed by six hours recovery time as they tab from St Dunstan’s Rehab & Training centre in Sheffield on the 1st of November  to finish at St Dunstan’s centre near Brighton in East Sussex on the 5th of November.

“I created the 10 Soldiers, 10 Marathons in 5 Days to support St Dunstan’s as we want to give something back to a charity that helps fellow soldiers. I threw in the idea of wearing our Bergen’s filled to weigh 40lbs, plus combat boots to keep it interesting and opted to do 10 Marathons in 5 Days as I couldn’t find a record that it had been done before. Said Jim.

The original aim of the this mammoth effort was to raise £4,800 for St Dunstan’s but that target has already been smashed and the Engineers have reached £10,000 more than double their initial figure.

Staff Sgt Jim Offord, (front) and team members from 39 Engineer Regiment , Lance Corporal Dean Howard, Corporal Dave Little, Sapper Darren Pallatina, Lance Corporal Rich Holmes, Corporal Mark Cammock, Sapper Garry Scott, Lance Corporal Dave Hopkins, SSgt Darren King, Sapper James Payze, Captain Jo Miles, Sgt Steve Bedford and, Lance Corporal Lee Melia with support team members Ami Offord paramedic and Arlene Howard sports physio. Who will be working to complete the 10 Squaddies, 10 Marathons, 5 Days Challenge carrying 40lb Bergens. The team aimed to raise £4800 for St Dunstan’s Charity for blind ex-Service men and women but the figure now stands £10,000 raised…1 November 2010 .Images © Paul David Drabble

Rough Guide to the route……..

Monday 1 November The team left St Dunstan’s Sheffield around 8am aiming to arrive at Chetwynd Barracks, Chilwell, near Nottingham at 4pm. From there they will head for Loughbourgh University arriving on Tuesday 2 November. The second day sees the group tab to Nuneaton via Leicester before heading for Staverton Park Hotel Daventry where they will arrive on Wednesday 3 November. They will leave Staverton Park Hotel heading for Milton Keynes TA Centre and from there to Sportspace, Hemel Hempstead, Herts. Which they will reach on Thursday 4 November They will leave Sportspace at 12 noon  and march into London along the Edgware Road at 2.30pm on Thursday 4 November to visit St Dunstan’s HQ in Marylebone, where they will be greeted by soldiers the charity works with, ex-Service men and women, staff and supporters. They will leave St Dunstan’s HQ at 8pm to tab to the TA Centre, Northgate, Crawley arriving on Friday 5 November. The team start at 8am to tab the final marathon, through Brighton, arriving at St Dunstan’s Rehab & Training Centre, Greenaways, Ovingdean, east Sussex. Where they will cross the finish line to massive cheers from the soldiers the charity works with, staff and supporters and the people who have followed them through the streets of Brighton.

Aug 262010
 

Lytham held the first of what could turn out to be a very good annual event on the weekend of 21st and 22nd August 2010. The 1940s war weekend was a celebration to mark the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and to help raise funds for a memorial to the members of the RAFs Fighter and Bomber Command which, when erected, will stand on Lytham Green where the event took place. The weekend which kicked of on Friday evening with a 1940s dance held in the park pavilion, included Re-enactors from The Northern World War Two Association who put on excellent living history displays and a battle re-enactment. There was also full size replica spitfire complete with aircrew waiting for the call to scramble, period military vehicles including a German Sd.Kfz. 251 Auf C half-track and a mini assault course for the kids.  The  period atmosphere was helped along by re-enactors from the North West Military Colletors group,  live 1940s music and dancing all in period costume during the Saturday and Sunday bringing in crowds of sightseers. The whole weekend was topped by a flypast on the Saturday by a Dakota of the type that would have dropped allied paratroops into France on D-day and Arnhem later in the war. Sundays fly past was by the last Hurricane ever built, PZ865 was finished in summer 1944, there were 14,533 of them built throughout the war. She bares the inscription ‘The Last of the Many’ on her port and starboard sides.

There is also a video report here from the weekend from Blackpool TV

Aug 052010
 

Covering the recent funeral of Trooper James Leverett, at Sheffield Cathedral last week,  reminded me that back in February of 2010 I was invited to Salisbury Plain military training area to attend the 4th Mechanised Brigades press  day. The day was held to demonstrate some of the training and equipment the unit would employ during their forth coming deployment to Helmand Province which was to be in April of 2010. Amongst the troops who put on the display for us were members of the Royal Dragoon Guards. Below is a slide show of images I shot on the day…