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April 19, 2019

41 Wilf Shaw 4 - A last coffee - WW2 history - Interview

41 Wilf Shaw 4 - A last coffee - WW2 history - Interview

My final chat with WWII veteran the late Wilf Shaw

A final dose of fun and adventure with war hero Wilf Shaw.  Wilf spills the beans on some more of his pranks as he and his brave pal, Henry Jeffries, help win the war for Britain ... 

"We're done for" said Wilf's mate as a cloud of desert dust appeared on the horizon, signifying the approach of a very large force of enemy troops.

"One day, on board ship, they decided to run a Battalion boxing tournament and Sgt O'Grady asked the assembled company for volunteers - not a single hand was raised - until Jeff nudged me and said, 'I'll have a go Shaw if you will'.

More great unpublished history! World War 2

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Link to feedback/reviews at Apple Podcasts - Thank you.


Wilf posing for his last photo, taking the opportunity to have a last laugh, with the Exit arrow helpfully drawing attention to the sign of his beloved regiment, The Green Howards. Courtesy of Stuart Wood photographer


Interested in Bill Cheall's book? Link here for more information.

Fighting Through from Dunkirk to Hamburg, hardback, paperback and Kindle etc.


Pal, Henry Jeffries,  and below him, proud daughter Eve Jeffries.



Below: Bill Cheall's bayonet held by the Green Howards Museum, Richmond, Yorkshire.

"Arriving back from Dunkirk, it took us about six hours to reach our destination, which was Cardiff. We detrained, again being made most welcome by the people on the platform. On the road, outside of the station, was a fleet of coaches (strange, we didn’t march) which took us to a hutted camp about five miles from the city. There would be about twenty lads to a hut and each of us had a metal-framed

bed, with three biscuits (thin mattresses), three feet by two feet on each bed. The biscuits were three inches thick and made a good bed; we also had three grey army blankets each.

We soon settled in because the only kit we had was the webbing equipment we wore, our small pack, steel helmet and, of course, our rifle. Oh, and I had brought my bayonet back from Dunkirk, not many of the lads had done so. Many years later, I gave it to the Green Howards museum in Richmond."

Fighting Through Podcast - Episode 41 – A last coffee with Wilf Shaw



More great unpublished history!



One day, on board ship, they decided to run a Battalion boxing tournament and Sgt O'Grady asked the assembled company for volunteers - not a single hand was raised - until Jeff nudged me and said, "I'll have a go Shaw if you will".


Highly recommended to young people who don’t yet realize “Freedom Is Not Free” Georgiana Kennedy USA



Hello again and a very warm welcome.

Thank you to Georgiana from America for that great bit of feedback about the show – such a powerful message I thought I’d stick it in at the start for a change.

I’m Paul Cheall, son of Bill Cheall whose WW2 memoirs have been published by Pen and Sword – in FTFDTH.

My dad fought at Dunkirk, North Africa Sicily D-day and Germany.

The aim of the Fighting Through Podcast 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.

It’s got items of interest to pretty much all nationalities, particularly Brits, Americans, Aussies, New Zealanders, and really any country or any person who wants to learn more about the second world war. And if you’re one of the listeners who’s keeping my show in the top ten history podcasts in Malawi, thank you very much – do drop me an email sometime and say hello!

Anyway, whatever your origins it’s all great unpublished history!


I’ve got a brand new interview for you today, with the late Wilf Shaw.

And I have a great PS at the end which I’d highly recommend you stick around for. It’s some new stories about Wilf and WW2 and some great stories about one of his comrades, Henry Jeffries, whom I’ve not mentioned before.

There’s an even better PPS. And on this occasion the extra P stands for Poignant. Actually, given what Wilf came out with during the interview, the PPS is just ridiculous but I’m not saying any more right now.

There’s quite a lot of news in this episode, particularly about the 75th anniversary of D-Day which of course is on 6 June 2019. And if you’re listening in 2044, this’ll be the 100th anniversary of D-Day – gosh!


Feedback time

And as usual I’ve got all sorts of news and feedback to share with you.

But firstly, thank you very much to those of you who wrote in with condolences regarding my Mum’s passing. It was very touching indeed and I was feeling the love. Thank you


Moving on:


Thanks to Kelly Cole, email

It's so amazing to know the kind of men that died for the right cause.  


And I’m grateful for positive comments via Apple Podcasts from another lorry driver, Smudga-smiff – watcha Smudga!


And utility worker qestep8 USA – “By far the best podcast to listen to while I’m reading meters. Reminds me of an old George Formby song


Mark Mullins – email - Stan Perry is the most fantastic episode ANYONE could have made.

So, listener, take the hint from Mark and if you’ve not already done so, take a shufty at (PODCAST) Episode 36 Tank Commander Stan Perry. I dare you! Funny but I just re-listened to it myself and it really is joyous. I used part of it to enter the prestigious British Podcasting awards recently but sadly I didn’t get short listed – maybe next time folks!

On the tank front I might have a chance to meet a former German tank commander, later this year. He’s coming over to Europe from America and if I find out more I’ll let you know asap. But right now I can’t promise anything because these things don’t always bear fruit. But that would be great to interview Alfred. Watch this space.


As part of my occasional mention of other worthy podcasts to listen to, today I’d like to recommend a new historical podcast called Stories of the Second World War by Noah Tetzner and I’ve been thoroughly enjoying it.

Every episode features engaging discussions with military historians and leading experts as they provide insight into the many facets of the greatest conflict in human history.

My current favourite episode is about Winston Churchill which features the acclaimed Churchill biographer Andrew Roberts.

Then there’s the Big Week episode – the largest air battle of WWII - with BBC broadcaster James Holland – Oh my goodness – I’ve just listened to it and James has some fascinating stories to tell, including his opinion on when the war was lost by Germany – listen in to find out.

And there are many more great conversations. So that’s Stories of the Second World War.

You’ll find Stories of the Second World War at, guess where, or wherever you listen to podcasts!

There’s a link in my shownotes.



Continuing with feedback, Georgiana – Apple Podcasts

I cannot thank you enough for the amount of energy and determination you expended in this wonderful accounting of British Soldiers during the French and Italian Campaigns and beyond. Highly recommended especially to young people who don’t yet realize “Freedom Is Not Free”

Thanks for that comment Georgina –Freedom is not Free would be a great title for a future episode methinks.



In case you don’t already know, you can send me feedback by Facebook, Twitter, email or carrier pigeon. Links on my contact page at the FT web site.

Recently, someone left a message via Speakpipe, which is excellent because I’d live to get more voices on the show other than mine -  but on this occasion the message was very unclear so unfortunately I couldn’t reply – if that was you please feel free to get back to me again.


This year is the 40th anniversary of man’s landing on the moon and the 76th anniversary of the (WWII) battle of Wadi Akarit in Tunisia – that’s 6 April 1943 and I remember it because Dad had an horrific time there in North Africa.

It was the definitive battle that drove the enemy from the continent and dad had some good pals killed there, including Arthur Oxley and John Bousfield. I have Arthur’s shell-damaged cap badge amongst Dad’s souvenirs.

In his memoirs, Dad said that every year he remembered 6 April, so I’m doing that too as a tribute to all who fell. If you want to listen to three memoirs from the battle listen to episode 2, Wadi Akarit. And it includes a very fine account from an engineer blowing a tank ditch – such edge of the seat stuff – every bit as riveting as the moon landing!


Now news of a great D Day Veterans Photography Project – it’s called:




As 2019 àlso sees the 75th Anniversary of D Day, 6 June 1944, professional photographer Stuart Wood is announcing the completion of a very special and personal project photographing 29 D Day veterans.

Stuart’s invested his time and own money for expenses to photograph the veterans in locations all over England as well as Normandy.

There’s going to be a book and an exhibition and every penny raised will be going to a worthy cause.

So he’s determined to make it a success, and at the same time leave something lasting that will commemorate a group of people, the likes of which we will not see again.”

The full exhibition will be in Staffordshire, England, at the National Memorial Arboretum, from 30 May until 1 September 2019.

And it’s also going to figure at the Portsmouth D-Day Museum where a number of the photos will be displayed alongside D Day portraits from The Royal Collection. That’s 1 June – 1 Sept 2019.

Graphistudio, an Italian handmade album manufacturer, are printing the first 500 books free. Fluid Ideas, an award winning design agency, are designing both the book and exhibition for free too. And One Vision Imaging, are printing all the exhibition pictures free of charge.

And Chris Tarrant OBE has written some very moving words regarding his own father’s experiences of D-Day specifically for this project.

The Sunday Express Magazine, are going to run an article on the project and will also be selling the book via their online bookshop.

There’s going to be a Gala Celebration of the project in London where Stuart  will do his very best to give the veterans a wonderful and memorable evening where they will each be presented with a complimentary copy of the book.

“As a photographer”, Stuart said, “it is the very best way that I can say simply thank you for my freedom”.


So, that’s six.six. forty-four the book and exhibition.

I’ve actually seen a preview of the book and I have to say it’s superb. Not only has it got photos of a variety of veterans from many quarters of the war, but there’s also a short story from each of them about their experience. And guess what? It only includes a story from our very own favourite veteran the late Wilf Shaw!

Here’s a couple of examples:

The first is Elizabeth Nelson who was Operating Officer for Fighter Command:


And here’s another from Bernard Morgan who came ashore on D-Day:


If you want to know what Wilf said – you’ll have to buy the book1

I’ve put the info about all this in the show notes, along with a couple of preview photos from the book - At FT podcast … but the book itself is not yet on sale so details to follow on that.

So, that’s six.six. forty-four the book and exhibition.



Normandy visit – 75

In conjunction with the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings, this June will see a number of commemorative events take place, I suspect, across the world but notably in France, where all the fighting action took place. I’m going to France myself with Dad’s old regiment, the Green Howards, so I hope to be doing a bit of video and audio recording whilst I’m there, in which case I’ll be reporting back to the show.

I’m going to pick this subject up in an episode in the near future but in the meantime anyone planning a trip to Europe this year could take a listen to Dan Snow’s History Hit 15 minute episode dated 28 March, Europe Remembers. There’s a web site you can go to for advice about events so could be worth a look.


Just recently I went to Richmond in Yorkshire, the former location of the Green Howards headquarters and a place that Dad was stationed in 1941. I went to visit the newly refurbished and modernised Green Howards museum and what a stunner it is, set in such a lovely old Yorkshire town.

I stayed overnight at the Holly Hill Inn which I’d thoroughly recommend if you want a nice room overlooking the countryside, a scorching hot breakfast, wi-fi that works and a healthy 15 minute walk down and up the hill to the cobbled streets of the market town, crossing the scenic river as you go.

I had an appointment at the museum to see Steve Erskine, the curator, who’d dug out Dad’s old bayonet that he’d brought back from Dunkirk. Dad donated the bayonet to the museum years ago and how nice it was to see it. Great old thing it was and I would not have fancied being stood at the pointy end of it during battle.

I recall Dad showing it to me in the attic at home when I were just a young lad. And I asked him if he’d ever killed any Germans. He said they were usually too far away to know. But I think there was an element of fatherly protection in Dad’s reply because I now know he certainly killed some Italians at close quarters at the battle of Wadi Akarit.

While I was looking at Dad’s bayonet handle I discovered a mysterious inscription on it … I’ll reveal all in a second …

But I just want to say right now, and it’s been on my mind a while – all this killing and fighting with the enemy – if you’re a youngster – please remember that we no longer think of Germans as the enemy. Despite all that sometimes goes on with politics, soccer and sometimes beach towels – we’re actually very good friends with our former adversaries.

The world wars are now history, with actions not to be forgotten, but certainly to be forgiven. Western Europe lives in peace for the most part. And today I actually like the Italians and Germans and I’m pretty sure they like us Brits - even though, as with most nationalities, we do sometimes take the mickey out of each other something rotten!

Back to Dad’s bayonet handle. There is absolutely no doubt this was Dad’s bayonet – yet it had the initials LM carved on the hilt. So it looks like it was owned by someone else before Dad was issued with it.

The label on it made out by the museum staff says:

“1907 Lee Enfield Mk 1 Pattern 1907 sword bayonet used by British troops in World War One”

I can’t find any names with those initials in Dad’s records so I can only think it was pre-owned by a different soldier, probably in the first world war,

I have been told Dad’s Green Howards cap badge was first world war vintage.

And we’ve heard before on this show how ill-equipped the (WWII) British army was when the war started, for example how officers only had access to binoculars if they’d brought their own.

So we shouldn’t be too surprised to be reminded of yet another example of army stocks from previous campaigns being repurposed before any new equipment was commissioned

But I’d love to know what action that bayonet saw before it was issued to Dad – how good would that be? Maybe in a few years with total digitisation of records and a splash of artificial intelligence, we might be able to ask our voice assistant for more info but for now, no chance. Just to prove it:




The Green Howards museum has got the history of many world conflicts and the Green Howards have been involved in most of them, so there are items on display which illustrate the stories very well, and there’s a fabulous display of medals including the Victoria Cross won by Stan Hollis on D-Day – the only one awarded by the British army on that day.

I’m going to do a special VC episode on the show some time so I’m not going to talk about Stan Hollis now, but if you want a sneak preview visit my youTube channel or the videos page in my show notes at

You’ll see a video and commentary, by me, located at the new statue of Stan Hollis in his home town of Middlesbrough. And what a great statue it is!

So there you go – Richmond in the morning, Middlesbrough half an hour away in the afternoon. Then maybe back to Richmond for some more sight seeing in this picturesque town, with ancient castle and all.


Many thanks to Sean McElwain for his very kind support for my work through Patreon. Cheers Sean! If anyone would like to sponsor my work through a kind donation, there are links to Pay Pal and Patreon from the home page at FT Podcast, WWII.


Danny Fontenot from the USA recently commented on Facebook - I can't tell you Paul how much I enjoyed your interviews with Wilf. Those such as Wilf are known as the "Greatest Generation" here in the States, and the likes of which who remain are held to us by the thinnest of mortal threads.

Thinking about Wilf's sense of humor, which is very pronounced even at his late age, reminds me of my WW II serving grandfather and great-uncles who were just the same until the end - my beloved grandfather served in the Pacific Theatre and died recently at age 99. Do you think that after surviving the War, they saw the rest of their lives as a gift and a somewhat extended lark?


Thanks Danny - Well I certainly enjoyed them too and I still do on occasion. I don't know about the sense of humour thing. I think we're all born with it to some degree and I guess some like Wilf have channelled it more than others as a result of the war.

Same as the ones who wrote memoirs did a great job because they were the ones who were able to do it well.

Anyway, I’m going to let you the listener ponder on this subject whilst you listen to yet another, and sadly the final, helping of Wilf. You may have heard one or two of these stories before but who am I to stop an old soldier honouring us with his greatest memories.

But I promise you these are mostly new stories you won’t have heard before.

I’ll apologise in advance for any sound issues you experience.You know digging this recording out felt like discovering some long lost tape of a famous   what I was going to hear!

Anyway, it wasn’t a famous pop group, but famous Wilf!

Wilf Shaw, of Oldham, England, over several meetings, has provided us with a bucketful of war photos and memories. He was at Alamein, Tobruk, Wadi Akarit in North Africa, Sicily, Normandy, Holland and more. He was wounded twice and still returned to battle. There are three previous interviews with him, all available in this podcast, plus a tribute episode I produced to mark the very sad passing of Wilf.

So it’s with the greatest pleasure that I introduce my fourth and final interview with Private Shaw W, 6th Battalion, Green Howards.

So Wilf Shaw

Called up on 13 June 1940

Born in 1920, Died 21 March 2018, Aged 98

Wilf always had a great sense of humour, and an occasionally dark one in that he always referred to his continued presence on the planet as 'still trespassing'.

Well, wherever you are now, I hope you’re still trespassing and causing mischief in your own way.

Over to you Wilf in a slightly noisy but comfy café somewhere in Manchester … With us was Wilf’s very good friend Lesley Littlewood







In a minute I’m going to read you a few more stories that Wilf left behind but I’m just going to delve briefly into a new section for the podcast for miscellaneous bits and pieces – just items of interest that people send in or maybe I stumble across in my travels:

I’m calling it:

War Stuff


Jim Ballantyne on the excellent Dunkirk and Flanders Facebook page, said recently:

One of my colleagues has vivid memories of the trains running back from the south coast after dunkirk. The line ran along the bottom of her parents garden. Trains were backing up running signal to signal. Of course as a young girl she got waved at a lot; but one young soldier waving madly at her caught her eye.

He was the boy friend of her best friend and up to that moment she didnt know what had happened to him. My colleague ran as fast as she could to her friend’s home and together they ran to the next signal where briefly the couple were "reunited" even if it was just an exchange of waves.


Then a Richard Drew commented

My Dad remembered this happening all along their journey. Rum was handed out once and then somebody else walked along and said "have you had any rum yet" of course they all said NO!! And got even more on their empty stomachs!



Hello from Hamilton in Canada

I have really enjoyed your podcast: especially because you deliver the extraordinary exploits of the ordinary men who were caught up in World War 2.

One of your podcasts suggested that there is nowhere in the world where a member of the public can actually fly in a Lancaster. I am writing to let you know that there is a museum near my home in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada that has a Lancaster bomber that flies regularly.

They offer flights on the Lancaster bomber, a Mitchell B-25 and other planes from World War II.

Both planes fly over my home almost every Saturday during the summer.

The Canadian Warplane Heritage  Museum has a really large collection of planes.  I have visited it several times and was impressed that they have an amazing volunteer staff of Canadian airforce veterans who act as guides and historical interpreters.

I thought some of your listeners might be interested in knowing about the flights.  (I do not have any connection to the museum.)

Mark Welch -

The website is: There’s a link in the show notes

Thank you Mark. I’ll add that there are opportunities to fly in WW2 planes at the Duxford War Museum near Cambridge, England and though there’s a Lancaster and Concord on display I don’t believe you can fly in either of them.

But you can fly a Spitfire and Hurricane amongst plenty of others or you can even do what I did which was to sit with a picnic on the grass on a sunny afternoon whilst watching the world fly by. Great stuff.


I do hope to go again some time because I suspect veteran Captain Stan Perry’s famed tank is on display there with the word AKILLA painted on the side!



The French authorities have recently given final approval for a memorial to the 22,000 British servicemen who died in the D-Day landings and the Battle of Normandy in 1944.

Theresa May and President Macron should be inaugurating the monument overlooking Gold beach on June 6, the 75th anniversary of D-Day. They will unveil a fabulous bronze sculpture of three British soldiers landing on the beach by David Williams-Ellis. The memorial will be set in 47 acres of garden in the village of Ver-sur-Mer, which I would add also has an excellent Gold Beach museum well worth the visit.

One display that stood out for me when I went to the museum was a captured German map marked up with planned bombing campaigns in England and chillingly, my own Dad’s Yorkshire home town was slap bang in the middle of one of those raids! Luckily the raid never took place.

Apparently this new Normandy Memorial is a  £20 million project and the monument will be engraved with the names of all who died during three months of fighting.

I’ve just heard that US President Trump is going to visit France some time in June and will attend some of the ceremonies. I haven’t seen any mention of him visiting this new memorial but I suspect he won’t as it’s British only. If he’s never been, he should go and visit Omaha beach if he can because I think it’s very good indeed. Anyway, no doubt we’ll find out.





Wilf's personal war diary anecdotes and stories

Many years ago, Wilf typed his WW2 memoirs into a diary and I’m hoping to bring it out as an audio book sometime. And today I’m going to give you a cheeky preview of just a few of the many stories that will be in the diary – never been heard or published before.

The prelim to these tales is a photo of Wilf with some of his early army pals.

Wilf starts off saying - I come from near Oldham. Most of the lads in the Battalion were from the North East, but not entirely. There were lads from South Yorkshire, Scots lads, Cockneys, Welsh, Irish - and at various times I shared a dugout with a Welshman, a Scotsman, a lad from Gateshead and a Jew".

Now that first photo is from when he first joined up and was being trained in Somerset, England, November 1940


Just some of the soldiers are:

Tommy parker, Middlesbrough.

Henry Jefferies, from Bethnall Green, a good bit to tell you about him in due course.

James (Jimmy) Wilson from St Helens, Lancs - Killed in action on the 6th of April 1943 at the battle of Wadi Akarit.

Morris Hancock - Taken prisoner near Mersa Matruh in the retreat to the El Alamein line from Gazala 1942.

Bill Wright, Worsborough Bridge, Barnsley - came through it all.


Wilf’s caption "All bloody good lads - Bless 'em all!

There others you can see in the show notes, but the one I want to focus upon this episode is:

Henry Jeffries,

better known to the rest of us as Jeff, seemed to be a part of my life from call up to demobilization. We were called up on the same date in 1940, 13 June, and his army number was within a few digits of my own - 4753850. We both opted to volunteer for specialist training as signallers

- we both moved up to Richmond, Yorkshire, on 8 0ctober l940 where we then met up with the other eight who ultimately joined the 6th Battalion, the Green Howards at Marston House, near Frome in Somerset.


We were both in Z Coy together when we went abroad – both put into C Coy (Rifle Coy) together, and at the battle of El Alamein we were both in A Coy together.

I have written in my memoirs how, at El Alamein, Jeff (who always swore that he would throw his arms up in surrender at the first sight of the enemy) helped me carry a badly wounded comrade to relative safety in spite of the fact that his back was fully exposed to the direction of enemy fire little more than 50 yards away. I think about that every time Jeff comes to mind - he seemed to bear a charmed life - and he went through it all without so much as a physical scratch.


Wilf carries on with further tales of his pal:

Sgt Jerry O'GRADY of Z Coy had a short list of men to whom he was not particularly well disposed. Henry Jefferies and I must have formed a fairly prominent part of that list, as our names seemed to be stuck permanently on the tip of his tongue - we seemed to get all the dirty jobs when fatigues had to be done.

Exactly why he had this down on us, we never quite found out - perhaps the fact that we were surplus to requirements in the Signal Platoon and had been put into Z Coy as replacement rifle men made us a little bit Bolshie {Snarky?}, which didn't go unnoticed by the Sgt Major.

One day, on board the New Mauritania, they decided to run a Battalion boxing tournament and O'Grady asked the assembled Coy one morning for volunteers - not a single hand was raised, until Jeff nudged me and said, "I'll have a go Shaw if you will".

The Sgt Major stared in disbelief when we put up our hands. After just 2 minutes in the ring Jeff had his eyebrow ripped open. I lasted a little longer but think I was knocked all round the ship before they stopped it. I don't think Jeff and I did a single fatigue after that – O'Grady treated us like heroes!



Now then, if you think that is the end of the PS and you’re thinking ‘Ah what a couple of nice stories to finish on’ then you’d be right but wrong at the same time, because there’s one more thing I need to tell you about. And this is going to knock your blocks off really.

So this is a PS special – a PPS if you like. From now on PPS’s are going to be reserved for very special twists in a tale or for special news.

This news is special and Wilf, if you’re listening, it’s gonna knock your tin helmet off. Just about three months ago I had an email from someone and this is what she said …

Hi Paul

My name's Eve and i was deighted to discover your wonderful collection of war reminiscinses courtesy of your father and Wilf Shaw.

My father was a soldier who joined up the same time and became friends with Wilf Shaw.  His name was Henry Jeffries.


Can you help me, Paul? I’m sure there is a story concerning my dad that Wilf tells, but I can’t find it.

I have listened to the interviews with yourself and Will Shaw, but it isnt there..?

Kindest regards, Eve (Yvonne Jeffries)


Well, after I’d picked my chin up off the floor, and peeled my eyebrows off the ceiling, I sent Eve some of the links and info I have about Wilf. She replied:

Hi Paul, and thank you for the links, so interesting. I’m incredibly sad I didnt find your web site a year or two ago, and been able to meet Wilf.

I would’ve given him an enormous hug, he sounds such a lovely man, and the fact he was friends with my dad made him special to me. Sadly my dad passed in 1977 with heart disease, he would be 99yrs old today.  

I have his army records, he went AWOL a lot, did a lot of time in detention, and had fights at dances!

Dad and his five sisters and brother were orphaned when he was eight, and he was put in a home. He went from orphanage pretty much straight into the army, so I understand his defiance - he was sick of being told when to go to bed and when to get up.

He used to sneak out of the barracks at night - probably to meet women, he was a ladies' man in his youth. I suspect the punch-ups at army dances were over a woman!

My mum didn’t like hearing about the war, so little was said at home. Living in london she witnessed lots of air raids and saw houses getting bombed, so I can hardly blame her.

But Dad did mention coming back from battle to find a soldier writing his name on a cross - wrongly assuming my father had been killed in battle. He tapped the guy on the shoulder and said 'not yet, mate'.   I suspect he had been dallying with some young lady!

I’m afraid photos of my dad are sparse, he came from a poor east end of London family, so photos weren’t high on the agenda. The pic I’m sending is of him during his time in the army.  

Mum and dad met not long after he was demobbed, he had spent all his back pay on gambling, much to her chagrin!


Listener, there’s only one thing I can say about Eve Jeffries’ email and you probably know what I’m going to say, so whether you’re hauling horses, driving, gardening, reading meters, or relaxing, you might like to join me in a chorus of …

HOW GOOD IS THAT?! This has just been so heartwarming Eve.

Thank you so much for getting in touch and telling us about your Dad. The timing was of course impeccable and it’s such a wonderful way to underline Wilf’s stories and end this podcast – (on WW2 history).

I do hope one of those stories Wilf told is the one you were thinking of, Eve. I’m going to put all these notes on the FT Podcast website along with your Dad’s photo, next to the pics of my Dad’s bayonet and all sorts of stuff – take a shufty – and see my video of the statue of Stan Hollis VC! FT Podcast


Next episode

According to Wikipedia, HMS Exeter was the second and last York-class heavy cruiser built for the Royal Navy during the late 1920s. She was one of three British cruisers that fought the German pocket battleship, the Admiral Graf Spee, in the Battle of the River Plate. In 1942 she was sunk by Japanese ships at the beginning of March in the Second Battle of the Java Sea.

Most of her crewmen survived the sinking and were rescued by the Japanese. About a quarter of them died during Japanese captivity.

Listener Cole Gill has sent me a recording of his grandfather’s tale of survival through all this – afloat in shark infested waters and captivity as a POW – RAY FITCHET – DON’T MISS IT! And I’ve received a few other listener contributions recently, so there’s going to be lots to hear.


Ok, Show notes, contributions and contact links for everything at FT (WW2 and WWII).

Action point for this month to support me? Please subscribe for free to the show and if you can, please phone a friend about your favourite WW2 podcast. If you would kindly get just one person to tune in, you’ll double my listenership overnight and to that I’d say … well,  just … as my Dad used to say – Goodo!

For now, thank you so much for listening, and thanks you for your time – I really do appreciate the all likes, comments and feedback from you.

Please do hear me next time in the shark infested waters of the Pacific – and much more.

I'm Paul Cheall saying

Bye bye now!



Wilf Shaw Profile Photo

Wilf Shaw

"Still Trespassing" in Wilf's own words.

The late Wilf Shaw was in 6th Green Howards Battalion, British Army. He had a very full war and fought as a signaller with the Green Howards, 50th infantry division. He fought in many campaigns including fighting for Monty’s 8th army in Alamein, Wadi Akarit in Tunisia, Sicily and of course Normandy. He was wounded twice and still returned to battle! In recent years Wilf was awarded the Legion D'honneur by the people of France for his services in WWII Normandy in 1944.

I’m very sorry to say that Wilf Shaw passed away recently, at the age of 98. That’s the Wilf Shaw who has regaled and entertained us with so many tales of WWII.
So this is beyond doubt going to be the most difficult episode to the show that I’ve ever produced. And I just hope I can do Wilf justice.
I’m going to let his very good friend Lesley Littlewood explain the circumstances, just as she wrote in the forum:

“It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I have to report the passing of Wilf Shaw, aged 98, my dear friend and Veteran of 6th Green Howards. His family have told me he passed away very peacefully in the early hours of this morning, Wednesday 21st March 2018 in hospital.
He had enjoyed exceptional health for his age until a few weeks ago, when the breathing difficulties he had had trouble with during the past eighteen months worsened quite dramatically.

I visited him at home in Oldham just less than two weeks ago, and even though he was quite unwell, he still managed to have a cheerful smile and a warm welcome for me; as usual we chatted and laughed and tried to put the world 'to rights' and he never lost his sense of humour.

He first contacted me through the forum around the Autumn of 2012. I don't know why he messaged me in particular; maybe he had been browsing the forum as he was a lurker, not a poster; but probably wanted to make contact with someone whose father had served in WW2 also. We messaged and e-mailed regularly and finally met at his home in February 2013, just before his 93rd birthday.

Wilf was a true gentleman, with a very dry sense of humour and I always enjoyed the stories he told me; he could recall most things - names of men he served with and the places he visited. We didn't always talk about his war years, in fact we often discussed the latest news, and politics - he was an avid reader of books and newspapers and had always something to talk about, so I think in the 5 years I knew him we were never short of conversation.

Wilf was always very generous with his time. Regular forum members will recall our few meetings with Paul Cheall at the cafe in Debenhams in Manchester. He never seemed to tire of Paul's questions and queries about his time in the Green Howards and the stories Wilf told were always told with some little funny anecdotes which had Paul and I in stitches and I do often wonder what the staff in the cafe thought we were getting up to for the hours we sat in there!

There are so many things I could say but cannot put into words right now about the wonderful gentleman Wilf was, but I feel privileged to have met such a kind man and I am proud to have called him my friend.

RIP My old, soldier friend. I shall miss you very much