My chat with the co-founder of The History Network kicks off the Blog. This is a ‘table turner’ as Angus interviewed me last year about Operation Tonga. So, with his favourite tipple – Yorkshire Gold in a straight glass – in hand, I began with our military connection to WW2…
Mine is through my Uncle Billy, who we spoke about in the podcast. Who is yours?
Well, like a lot of people of a certain age I have three connections, that I know about. My father was called up on his 18th birthday in March 1944 and was put into the Royal Army Service Corps [RASC]. Then I had two uncles, one a Bomb Aimer in Lancasters and the other was in Sunderlands.
You know how long it took me to find the full story of what happened to my uncle, but what was your experience?
I didn’t find anything beyond their roles for my uncles. As far as my father is concerned, I did a lot of research, beginning with photocopying or transcribing the War Diaries for the RASC. And then my mum gave me a diary which my father had kept, more off than on, but I put all the entries into a spreadsheet. Then, with a Michelin map and a highlighter pen, I worked with my father to highlight all the places he had been, which in France was Normandy in September 1944. What was interesting was that he remembered places but was convinced he was there at a completely different time. I followed this by chatting with him for about two hours about his memories and he just told me story after story, including the time he met up with two schoolmates in France. But there’s one story which I haven’t been able to corroborate. He told me that he was in Calais, soon after arriving in France, when the RAF came over on a raid and started dropping bombs on them. A mate was on the raid but he had no recollection. So, it remains a mystery.
So you caught the research ‘bug’ which is how, I imagine, The History Network came about.
Yes, and yes. Around 2005 I was introduced to podcasting and I instantly got it. But I found a hole in the market, as far as history was concerned. I had a mate who did voiceovers and I asked him if he’d be interested in having a go at doing some military podcasts. He said ‘OK’ and The History Network was born. We started by writing mini essays, about 1200 words, and recording them. They’re still listened to. But I wanted to do more about WW2. With the time I’d spent with my father, I’d got a love for anecdotes and yarns and I knew there were more out there which I could hear about from those who had personal experiences or, like me, had researched a particular unit or operation or similar. So I started WW2 Podcast.
And you interviewed me for Episode 50. You’re currently at 71. Do you have a particular favourite?
Without a doubt it’s Episode 49 ‘Castle of Eagles’ [And that’s all you’re getting here. It’s a story worthy of a ‘You couldn’t write it’ but it’s true. Here’s the link]
Any plans for the 100th episode?
Well I’m planned up to Episode 86 and I have ideas for following ones but there’s a lot of ebb and flow. Episode 100 seems such a long way off but in reality it will be next September . And thinking about it that will be the 75th Anniversary of my father arriving in France, so maybe something about the RASC. [Here’s a Call To Action. If you can help Angus with an angle on the RASC for Episode 100 now’s your chance. Incidentally, he’d also like to hear from anyone who has ideas for other episodes. Check the website to see what’s been covered.]
Angus, thanks, again, for your time. It’s been great to catch up. So, one final question. Readers have seen in the intro that your favourite tipple is a Yorkshire Gold in a straight glass. But where would your dream place be to enjoy one?
It wouldn’t be a dream place but certainly an enjoyable one. I live in the North York Moors and not far from my house are the remains of two or three Halifaxes flown by Canadians. These have largely been forgotten but I know they’re there, so I’d find a good viewpoint and raise my glass to these lads.
I chatted with Angus Wallace, co-founder of The History Network. You can find more at these links: