‘We shall go out and bomb every building in Britain marked with three stars in the Baedeker Guide’ the German Foreign Office announced in April 1942, as the Luftwaffe attacked Exeter, Bath, Norwich, York and Canterbury. This might have been a challenge, as there were no three star buildings in the guide. Nevertheless, it was this comment that gave the Baedeker Blitz its name.
Codebreaker Girls: A Secret Life at Bletchley Park
“World Read Aloud Day Presentation Taster – February 3rd 2021”
It is more than 80 years since the battle of Britain was fought over the skies of Morley and the whole of the South of England.
Morley has a link to these events. A former Vice Principal Denis Richards wrote an authoritative book about “The Few” and the life and death battle taking place in British skies in July, August and September 1940. There is another link between New Zealand and Morley. The daughter of The Agent General for New Zealand William Pember Reeves, Maude Blanco White, was Principal of Morley in the 1930s. Her other claim to fame was having been one of H.G.Well’s mistresses.
I have just written a new biography of Air Marshal Keith Park a legend who is widely regarded as the principal architect of Fighter Command’s victory in 1940. My association with Morley was as a Director of Humanities.
What makes a volunteer?
The reserve forces of the Royal Air Force have been the focus of my research for a good many years now. I found it fascinating to learn that young men, often from wealthy backgrounds were prepared to volunteer to join either the Auxiliary Air Force, or from 1936 onwards, the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. The Auxiliary Air Force (AAF) was formed around 1925, and volunteers, had to be asked to join, by individual commanding officers, one of twenty-one squadrons. I started my research when I was a secondary school teacher, teaching history to 11-16 years in Stockton on Tees. I found that 608 (North Riding) Squadron had been based at Thornaby Aerodrome, which was around five miles from where I lived. I began my research in 2002, and have subsequently been on a journey of research resulting in two books, an MPhil, a PhD and being the project historian on the Spitfire Project in Thornaby. As I began my research, I realised that there was very little written about the reserve forces of the RAF. And what there actually was, was based on the experiences of 600 (City of London) and 601 (County of London) squadrons. In fact it was the quote below which captured my imagination and led me to where I am today.
Politics and the Hofbräuhaus: the founding of the NSDAP, 24 November 1920
The Hofbräuhaus am Platzl is the most famous beer hall in the world, and today it is Munich’s greatest tourist attraction. Before Covid-19 more than 10,000 litres of beer were consumed every day by Münchners, visitors from other parts of Bavaria and Germany, and tourists from the rest of the world, all irresistibly drawn to this beer-drinking place of pilgrimage. All social classes and professions sit together at the long tables. The chances of sitting alone are somewhere between slim and non-existent. Beer is served in a Maβ, a one litre heavy glass mug, and the congenial and egalitarian atmosphere encourages conversation, often heard in multiple languages, and laughter, before everyone joins together in song singing In München steht ein Hofbräuhaus or Ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit just before the band takes a well-earned break.
Origins of the Book
Writing about Munich in Mein Kampf, Hitler declared: ‘Not only has one not seen Germany if one does not know Munich – no, above all, one does not know German art if one has not seen Munich’.1 Hitler had a heartfelt love for Munich, a city he claimed was the most German city he knew. Hitler was twenty-four years old when he moved to Munich from his native Austria in May 1913. The remaining years of his life were closely intertwined with the history of the Bavarian capital.