Friday, 29 November 2013

'Turned Towards the Sun' DVD

If you are amongst the many waiting for Micky Burn's film to finally appear on DVD, check out this link - The page also contains news that U.S. distribution might not be far off - which means that finally somebody must have wakened up to the fact this is a story that needs telling. If and when I get any more detail on this, I will post it here. I can almost hear old Micky's spirit muttering....'....fame at last!'

Thursday, 14 November 2013


The Commando Memorial

Standing high on the hills above Spean Bridge, in the middle of wartime 'Commando Country', the Commando monument looks out over a landscape of stunning natural beauty. To its left, in the image above, is Ben Nevis. A mere ten-minute drive from Fort William, the location becomes 'Commando Central' each November as commandos, past and present, along with families and friends, gather to remember those who have fallen in the various conflicts that still trouble our world.

Close by is a circular area where personal tributes can be laid to individuals and to units, and it is especially sad to see the most recent and realise the human race has still signally failed to learn the many lessons of the past (see below).

Details of the annual ceremonies are to be found on the website of the Commando Veterans' Association, and if you have never been, then a visit really is something you should consider. This year's events began on the Friday, and ended on Sunday: they included a visit to Achnacarry - 'Castle Commando', a Saturday evening dinner to which all were invited, a ceremony in front of the Alexandra Hotel, and of course the gathering beside the monument itself, with the skirl of the pipes ringing through the clear air. Amongst the many groups and individuals laying wreaths it was heartwarming to note the Army, Navy and Air Force cadets. Also to note the overdue presence of an Operation Chariot wreath laid, on this occasion, by Commando Bill Holland's daughter Denise Orzel.

Plans are afoot to resurrect the 'Commando Trail' idea with information boards at selected points throughout the area, each containing a QR code linking directly to the appropriate portion of the CVA website. This will allow visitors to have immediate access to the stories relevant to each particular location. Achnacarry was central to the training of both Commandos (Army and Royal Marines) and American Rangers. It was, however, not the first location to be so used, that honour going to Inverailort House and the Lochailort area some thirty miles away -
Here, and in the area surrounding it, the first Irregular forces were trained - as were agents of the Special Operations Executive. The CVA website, at‎ is a rich source of information, and well worth a visit.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

FACEBOOK - 1940s style...

If we've gone so far as to hypothesise the existence of blogging in the 1940s, why not extend our speculative exercise to include Facebook as well? The very notion of 'Social Media' in an era when communication relied on telephone, telegram and hand-written letters, might have seemed fanciful indeed; however, the immediacy of our digital world might well have provided for historians an altogether richer commentary, much of it made public without the more careful consideration that attends the laborious process of hand-writing. 

In pursuit of this idea we at PORT 20 have set up Facebook pages for three of the raiders, whose content, based on interviews and written material, will reflect their attitudes and feelings in the months leading up to the raid. In two of the cases published works exist which the reader can access to more thoroughly examine the lives of the men involved: for Micky Burn, we have his autobiography 'Turned Towards the Sun', plus his last volume of poems, 'Poems as Accompaniment to a Life'; and for General Corran Purdon we have his autobiography 'List the Bugle'. All three are currently out of print; however copies should be available through your local library. In every case the books are well worth reading, and their Amazon links are given below.

For the individual Facebook pages here are the links by means of which we can enter a world whose developing drama would change the lives of Micky, Corran, 'Tiger' and so many others for ever.