One Man's War
The District Society was taken back to the days of the second world war on 14th May when local historian and member Anne Grimshaw gave a talk entitled One Man’s War.
Anne recounted the attempts she had made to find out as much as possible about her father’s involvement in the conflict. In 1972 Anne decided to delve more deeply as apart from knowing that father, Max, had served in N. Africa and Italy little else was apparent and family recollections were not very detailed. Her father had died in 1965 so it was difficult to know where to start. Anne began by contacting the Ministry of Defence but only the dates of enlistment and discharge came from that source. In 1987 she had the opportunity to visit the National Archives where her researches were much more fruitful and over the subsequent years a picture emerged of her father volunteering for the Royal Artillery before he was called up.
It was evident that he had a great interest in gunnery and in keeping maps and notebooks. In 1942 he was accepted into the Officer Training Corps of the Royal Army Service Corps and after training Second Lieutenant Max Grimshaw landed in Algiers - to be immediately admitted into hospital for two weeks, the reason for which Anne has never been able to discover. His work in N.Africa in organising the distribution of supplies and the continuance of this in the Salerno district of Italy, his promotion to captain -and for a while to acting major – and his attachment to an Italian unit had all been revealed by Anne’s diligent research.
Local newspapers had been used to make contact with some of his old colleagues and Anne had visited many of the places where her father had served so that postcards he had sent home could be compared with later photographs. Anne’s fascinating talk was a clear demonstration of how patience and persistence can be used to fill in the gaps from the sketchiest of beginnings and, on behalf of 14 members present, Chairman Alan Fitch expressed warm thanks.
Details were given of a visit to be made to Halstead on Saturday afternoon, 13th July, to look at the industrial heritage of the town. The next meeting will be on Tuesday, 11th June at 7.30pm, to the gravestones at Pentlow Church.