Sunday, 27 October 2013

BLOGGING - 1940s STYLE

So, it's been a while since anything new appeared on these pages, largely due to the effort put in to setting up 'PORT 20 Productions', our new production company tasked with bringing the Saint-Nazaire story either to the big screen as a movie, or to the small screen as a miniseries. If you're wondering where the name originated, 'Port 20!' was the last steering order ever given on the bridge of HMS Campbeltown just before she struck the dock gate that was her target.

Aside from that, there are to be two new websites devoted to the raid, one on behalf of the St Nazaire Society, and the other belonging to 'PORT 20' - in addition to which I will be creating a smaller site as a personal memorial to my old friend, Micky Burn (more of which later).

Interest in the raid itself has been far from muted during this hiatus: historian Robert Lyman, who has now joined the 'PORT 20' team, recently published a new book entitled 'Into the Jaws of Death'; while news just in is that a new documentary on the raid is being made by 'Impossible Films' - more details as I get them.

And now for dear old Micky who, in spite of having passed on corporeally, remains a constant inspirational presence in my mind. Rumours are that the documentary version of his autobiography 'Turned Towards the Sun' will soon be available as a dvd on Amazon - and again I'll add the information as I have it (see the trailer here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAZk5GoW33A)

As mentioned above, I'll be making up a small website about his life and experiences. Meanwhile, the idea struck me that had blogging been available all those years ago, Micky would certainly have made use of the opportunity. So it seems only fair to sweep away the intervening years and give him a chance to do just that by using his own experiences to illuminate the five month period between now and the 72nd anniversary of the Saint-Nazaire Raid just as though it were the period October '41 to March '42. Sometimes the words will be his own: sometimes they will be mine. But always they will be representative of Micky's mind.   

Late '41 found Micky in Moffat, Scotland, where he and his number 6 Troop, 2 Commando were billeted - in his case in the Star Hotel, under the watchful and ever-solicitous eye of Mrs Butler. The war, and the prospect of action, seemed equally far away as training ground on and on while in London the whole future of the Commando experiment remained under threat from a determined traditionalist lobby. 



The threat was nothing particularly new; but the fact of having to fight enemies at home before they could engage with the real foe, was beginning to take its toll on commitment, as reflected in a letter written to his mother some months earlier, but still very much germane to this period. 

'We became troubled about our unemployed elitism..... I wrote to my mother, "We are all grossly overfed and spoilt. One has to knock at the door and ask if the soldiers are in if one wants them and instead of issuing orders for a parade, I am thinking of sending out cards: Capt. Burn At Home 0900-1300 hrs. Uniform. R.S.V.P Please bring your rifle."' (TTTS p118)

Having once courted National Socialism, Micky was now determined to fight against it - which is why he had joined the Commandos in the first place. The lack of opportunity rankled all the more as fallow month followed fallow month. Really, he knew he must act soon - but the thought of abandoning his boys might be one cross too heavy to bear.....