Intro Passage 1
One winter's evening about 2 years before his death my Father Jack Stansfield was sitting at home in front of a coal fire and without any apparent reason started to talk calmly about his life as a prisoner of war during World War II. I was shocked.
Intro Passage 2
The group of about a dozen prisoners working on the farm were locked in a van each night. The local Polish blacksmith who had been ordered to install iron bars on the Windows managed to do so in such a way that they could be easily removed which meant the boys could escape to forage for food
Intro Passage 3
We marched into the town behind the Union flag and got a great reception from the senior Russian officer who insisted that we be giving the best billets for the night.
D Company 5th Green Howards 1939 - Jack Stansfield front far right.
POW graffiti on wall at Stalag XXA
POW accommodation Stalag XXA WWII
POW Farm work party incl Jack Stansfield and Tom Marquis
Michael and Jamie Stansfield at main gate to Oflag 64
Howard J. Biondi
I’m Paul Cheall, son of Bill Cheall whose WWII memoirs have been published by Pen and Sword – in FTFDTH.
The aim of this podcast is to give you the stories behind the story. You’ll hear memoirs, and interviews with veterans in all the countries and all the forces. I dare you to listen!
A great story of Jack Stansfield as a POW in Poland. Jack was with the Green Howards, same battalion as Dad, and was captured by the Germans during the Dunkirk campaign in 1940, a fate which Dad avoided by the skin of his teeth, as we’ll find out later. Also we’ve got a few family histories to share.
News Stan Perry
Firstly, I’ve got some sad news to share with you.
6 Oct 21 marked the passing of tank Capt Stanley Perry. Stan served with the Sherwood Rangers as a tank commander and fought his way across NW Europe, being wounded twice.
I was lucky enough to interview Stan a couple of years ago. And you can hear his memories in episodes 36/37 - Captain Stan Perry.
Stan regaled us with no end of jaw dropping as well as funny tales of his time in Normandy 1944 with the Sherwood Rangers and I don’t think I’ve ever heard quite so many scary stories in one go. And I know I’ve never met anyone carrying more injuries and shrapnel in his body! I’m now going to replay a few extracts from his interview with me.
There you go, if you want to catch up with all Stan’s exploits, listen to episodes 36 and 37 of the FTP.
Stan Perry, the last troop commander of the Sherwood Rangers. RIP Stan - You will be missed by all.
Feedback/F History 1 - Peter Douglas Creagh from Australia
Creagh is pronounced 'Cray'.
I discovered your podcasts earlier this year and I have been listening to the episodes on the bus to and from work. Occasionally, I'll listen when I am on the rack at the gym.
Like many Boomers (of which I just qualify) across the Commonwealth, I grew up in the shadow of the two world wars legacies. I have childhood memories of Airfix plastic models, Commando and Battle comics along with the annual attendance at the ANZAC Day parade. [I used to get the Hotspur and the Victor comics at various times and even today I’ve still got a good number of them in my loft, hand bound into like an annual – I can’t believe it but we hang onto these mementos don’t we? Every now and again I get one of those commando comics to read too. They always have a full colour picture on the front and I’ve started to pick up ones which cover my favourite parts of the war like Dunkirk and D-Day]
Two years ago I revisited the war memorial in Blackall in Central Queensland. The name 'A. Douglas' was inscribed on the southern side of the plinth. I was a little perplexed as I never noticed the name on previous visits to the town nor had it been pointed out by my mother's family.
As a boy, I had an insatiable interest in 'warrie' stuff, especially the Japanese mountain gun in the memorial park. There is a family history of Gallipoli, the Light Horse, Spitfires and Beaufort bombers on my father's side. Very little from my mother's side other than a little of my grandfather's WW2 service that included two weeks detention for going AWOL so he could attend my uncle's birth, to which the said uncle was late.
Old Joffre (nicknamed after the French general) had been a biscuit bomber crewman. I didn't appreciate that role until one day he mentioned 'seeing the men fighting on the ground' (literally he summed up his wartime service with those scant words).
I assume this sight would have been the muzzle flashes in the jungle and if he could see them, the Japanese could see his plane. I am not sure whom he hated more, the Japanese or the officers as both were bastards in his eyes. The latter was still hard felt as he didn't attend my brother's graduation from Royal Military College at Duntroon in 1984. Mind you, he was very proud to be photographed alongside of him as a young Major when my brother gave the ANZAC DAY address in Blackall some years later.
Back to 'A. Douglas' on the war memorial. I asked my mother about the name and she told me Arthur was my great grandfather's brother and he had run away from home as a teenager. He had grown tired of his strict father and the floggings. Mum told me, according to Gran, that Arthur had been a Lewis machine gunner. Not much more to be said, a reflection of the family's stoicism, ignore the pain and it will fade away.
I have since learned Arthur was a member of the 52 Battalion, 1st AIF and he was killed in action during the Battle of Villiers Bretenoux. Maybe, had I known he was a gunner, I might have been more keen to carry one as a young digger but the machine guns are heavy and a mongrel of a thing to haul around an obstacle course.
During the short Brisbin lockdown and following the 10 kilometre local exercise directive, I took to walking the dogs in the Toowong Cemetery. There are many Commonwealth War Commission headstones in the cemetery. Most of these are the broken and ruined blokes who died young. Profoundly sad reminders of those who grew older but not that old. I have gleaned some basic information from the records. You can tie some of the men to the actions of Arthur's battalion on 24 April 2018.
One, a gunshot wound to the lower jaw and another, a shrapnel wound to the face resulting in an eye excision. Ernest Junger wrote about the terrible nature of a jaw wound in his book Storm of Steel. Dreadful stuff.
No family member has ever visited Arthur's grave and I intend to be the first when my wife and I travel to the UK in the future. I'll take some red earth from Kuungari country and place it on his plot.
I know you have received many comments about the strangeness of 'enjoying' the pod casts. Well, I do enjoy and appreciate the stories of the men who could be those unnamed faces in wartime photography and film.
Kudos to you for keeping your Dad's and his generation's legacy alive.
Peter Douglas Creagh
- Mate, a bit of strine pronunciation. Brisbin, Mellbin, Canbrah :)
Ah - says me - so it’s not Brisbain Melbourne and Canberra?!
And, ignore my sledge about pronunciation. I do not recall which British actor made the claim but he said that one can only master the Australian accent by speaking as if your mouth is full of barbed wire.
Good on yer mite!
I think I sounded more like Brit Janet Street Porter than Aussie folk hero Barry McKenzie but there yer go!
Buy me a coffee 1 Greg Guiffri
Patreon - Greg Guiffri?
Buy me a coffee 2
Hi Paul, I just finished episode 72 and just wanted to say the show is ageing like a fine wine, just excellent. The Christmas episode last year, 2020, was very moving (especially the German choir as mentioned in your dad's book) so the bar is now set high Mr Cheall.
Thanks Jamie and you’ve prompted me to remind everyone about sending in any family history stories about Christmas, indeed any Christmas at war story provided I can read it – I’m curating a nice number already but none as yet from a listener. Apart from a lovely story and much more, sent in by American Rainy Horvath about her pilot father who flew military transport over the Himalayan mountains on the so-called China-Burma-India route. That’ll be coming soon to a podcast near you.
Which podcast is that, Paul?
The Fighting Through Podcast of course!
You know I’m beginning to burst with pending interviews and memoirs, I’ve got so much stuff queuing up it’s untrue – and some people have been waiting quite a while for all sorts but I promise I’ll get through everything. If you’re listening, you’ll know who you are!
Greg Parfitt – keep up the good work, it ain't broke so don't fix it. Thanks Greg – I think evolution rather than revolution is the watchword based on that comment. WW2 Podcast.
Feedback 2 George Guiver on the Seabees
Wonderful episode. Sometimes these Seabees are forgotten and how much they contributed to the Allied victory. I was anxious to see his paintings and drawings. Did not disappoint.
George Guiver on Facebook
Family stories 1 – Todd Kehoe USA
Todd is totally enjoying the American Ranger series atm, PFC Morris Prince – ep 56 Omaha
He said “My grandfather was PFC Franklyn McCaffrey - He was certified as a sharpshooter with an M1 in the infantry. And he fought on Omaha in Normandy for nine days before he got wounded via an MG-42 – had a leg wound the rest of his life.
Todd sent me a photo of his overloaded bookshelf, which displayed a copy of Dad’s book. Todd added:
You know you’re afflicted (As Al Murray would say) when your Second World War bookshelf is in chronological order covering firstly memoirs & then strategic/tactical books. I would highly recommend the Ian W. Toll trilogy on the Pacific campaign. And Todd, I think I’d recommend paracetamol and personal counseling! But thanks you for the recommendation and the family story.
Thanks for getting in touch Todd!
Family stories 2 – Canadian Doug Lecinski -
Heard your episodes on the Seabees and the great interview recording from 2003 with John Serra?
It spurred my memory – back in 2017 I picked up a foot locker which was for sale in Fort Erie, Ontario,
And when I chatted to the lady who was selling it she says it was her fathers and she said he was in the US Army during WWII. She didn’t have much more info but said she’d send me an interview that was done with him in 2002. Which she did!
The most amazing part is that she casually commented that he would be happy to get the money from the sale of the locker - I was curious and said “He’s still alive?” He was! I believe maybe 97 years old in an old age home and doing well apparently. Of course I didn’t pry to go visit him but maybe should have!
Anyways his interview is some good unpublished history - he was in the US 496th anti aircraft battalion - mainly out in New Guinea then I believe Philipines. His accounts particularly on the troops living conditions in the islands - I found fascinating. Hopefully you can use it!
Although from Buffalo NY he must’ve come across the border / or possibly his daughter settled across the border on the Canadian side. Not sure!
Howard J. Biondi
War: World War, 1939-1945
Unit: 496th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion
Service Location: United States; New Guinea; Philippines
Rank: Technician Four
War stuff 1 The King’s Choice
I’ve just been watching a very suspenseful and educational drama based on Norway’s Involvement in the Second World War. All about the choices faced by the king and democratic government of Norway following the invasion of the country by Germany under the pretence of protecting them against British invasion!
It’s a new production, I understand, and it’s available through BBC Four, hopefully on a TV channel near you.
And I noticed in the credits what I thought was quite an evocative dedication and message for today’s generation.
For our children-and for you, the generation about to take over.
Understand, remember and pass it all on.
War stuff 2 Point du Hoc Michael Stapleton
Hi Paul doing a bit of research on Normandy for my trip next year and I’ve come across a German position I’ve never even heard of, it’s just off of Pointe Du Hoc, called Maisy it seems the Germans let the allies know all about the pointe but this position you can literally see the pointe from, but it wasn’t actually attacked until the 9th June so for 3 days it was basically left alone to bomb and harass the landing of troops - but it’s not been reported on history reports only an after action report from when the rangers advanced on the 9th.. might be something you can shine a bit of light on?
Anyone got any more info on the Maisy defence position near Pointe du Hoc?
War stuff 3 – James Holland interview
BBC History extra 6 Oct
“Courage under fire”
Interview with James
And if anyone wants a real insight into the terrifying war fought by the likes of the late Stan Perry in the Sherwood rangers you should listen to this. The odds were not good at all for the tankers. Seriously great history!
Back story Jack Stansfield
I mentioned several of Dad’s missing comrades in previous episodes, some of whom were captured at Dunkirk and I’ve always wondered what happened to them.
This is the backdrop from Dad’s book regarding these comrades and it involves the fighting at Gravelines, not far from Dunkirk in May 1940.
“During the early hours of the next morning, we were defending a bridge at
Gravelines when four tanks approached us from the direction of Calais and we fired
upon them causing them to withdraw out of sight. Very soon afterwards, the same
tanks came towards us yet again, but this time flying red white and blue streamers
and they turned out to be British tanks which had been cut off during a tank battle
outside of Calais – they immediately joined us in the defence of Gravelines.
We lost some good boys here because apart from the bombing by the Stukas,
we were being shelled by the 88mm guns. The enemy infantry tried yet again to
attack us, causing casualties to both sides and, not realizing how near we were to the
enemy, some of our other ranks were taken prisoner, as were Captain Kidd, Captain
Foster and Second Lieutenant Farrand, the latter being already wounded. All the
inhabitants must either have fled or were hiding in cellars because we didn’t see a
Considering our strength, we had put up a good show against a very forceful
enemy who knew that he had the upper hand and that it was only a matter of time
before their victory was assured.
For the action we fought at Gravelines, several officers received decorations
and we were mentioned by name in the despatches of Lord Gort.
I have had no more insight as to their fate, UNTIL recently when I have come across an article in The Green Howard magazine which I subscribe to as a fellow of the Green Howard museum. The article was written by Michael and Jamie Stansfield, the son and grandson of Jack Stansfield.
Jack Stansfield was a Green Howard, same as Dad, except Jack was in the 5th Battalion and Dad was in the 6th.
Thank you so very much for your support and for making the time to listen to me.
And please - write, like, rate, review or share the show - howsoever it pleases you. Above all – enjoy. Please do hear me next time.
There’s a PS coming up about
First, news of the Next episode