A real find
The excellent article on Operation Anthropoid (MHM October/November 2021) brought back memories of my son-in-law’s stag weekend in Prague, which had an unusual military history twist. On a historical tour of this amazing city, which by coincidence took place on the anniversary of VE Day, we came across a Russian community event in the castle with posters of lost family members, elderly women festooned with medals, and young voices singing folk songs and hymns of remembrance.
Having read about Anthropoid, I was determined to find the site of the siege, which although outside the tourist areas was easy to locate. I was amazed to come across the church (pictured below), which incorporated a small but interesting museum containing artefacts, documents, and photographs of the participants and the events leading up to the assassination and its aftermath.
The church shows external signs of the battle, and inside the crypt there are busts of the resistance fighters and soldiers who lost their lives there. I also observed a photograph of the two heroes training at Cholmondeley Castle in Cheshire, only a few miles from where I live, prior to their flight to carry out the mission for real.
It was a real find, which I would recommend any student of this period to visit if they can tear themselves away from the other delights of the city.
The terrible treatment of British prisoners of war by the Germans in the First World War, described in Joseph O’Neill’s excellent article (MHM August/September 2021), was probably a surprising eye-opener for others besides me.
Perhaps even more surprising, in view of their atrocious treatment of POWs in the Second World War, is that the Japanese treated their prisoners in the First World War in an exemplary fashion.
Admittedly, there were not many of them (Germans that is, as Japan was our ally), but as I understand it, they were treated probably better than, or at least as well as, any prisoners of war in history.
Japan took a totally wrong turn in the 1930s, and perhaps their conduct in the Second World War should be viewed as an aberration rather than, as it has often been portrayed, something culturally or even racially inherent in the Japanese nation.
One of your news stories in the most recent issue, ‘RAF pilot’s uniform preserved as parcel for 70 years’ (MHM October/November 2021) was way off correct in a couple of ways.
First of all, the three-blade propellor badge of rank does not signify a ‘senior airman’, but a senior aircraftman (SAC) – a junior airman. Secondly, there is no way that this was a pilot’s uniform. It carries no aircrew brevet (ie pilot’s wings), and the rank of SAC was not associated with being a pilot. Non-commissioned aircrew would have worn this style of uniform, but save for a few brave volunteer gunners early in World War Two, all SNCO aircrew carried the rank of sergeant or above. Officers’ uniforms were of a different type of material. Finally, the dates quoted for ceasing to wear this type of uniform seem well out to me.
However, the story didn’t spoil reading another excellent edition of MHM!
Squadron Leader RAF (ret’d)
Editor’s note: thanks to Colin and the other readers who wrote to us pointing out the factual inaccuracies in this story. It fell below our editorial standards.
Your recent issue, featuring the article on the relationship between President Lincoln and General McClellan (MHM August/September 2021), was excellent as usual.
But a minor correction needs to be made regarding Lincoln’s decision to ‘proclaim to the end of slavery’ after the battlefield ‘draw’ at Antietam/Sharpsburg. In fact, the Emancipation Proclamation of late 1862 only freed the slaves located within the Confederacy, and not those (around 500,000) in bondage within the Union.
The latter were not formally freed until enactment of the 13th Amendment in 1865, after the end of the Civil War.