As you might know - from Don Scott’s message below - he had a problem opening certain LWP files on his PC, and told us they showed up as gobbledygook; Don solved that problem using the following free Online convertor programme https://i-converter.com/files/lwp-to-pdf
Here is the introduction to one of the books, ‘Polar Bears from Sheffield’, that Don had published in 2001; I hope it doesn’t whet your appetite too much, because Don doesn’t have any copies for sale and they are now quite rare.
Introduction to ‘Polar Bears from Sheffield’:
These are stories about the Second World War, held in the memory of a mere handful of people who served with the Hallamshire Battalion, a Territorial Army unit of the York and Lancaster Regiment. Throughout that War, the Battalion was a part of the 146th Brigade of the 49th (West Riding) Infantry Division. This Division adopted the image of a Polar Bear for its insignia as a result of two years’ service in Iceland (1940-42). This explains the reason why the Hallams, with a peacetime base at Endcliffe Hall, Sheffield, came to be wearing such an unusual image on the upper sleeve patch of their uniform (title picture).
The purpose of this book is to document aspects of the history of a World War Two Infantry Battalion by using the evidence provided in a number of ways by only a small cross section of officers and men who served within its ranks. It has to be admitted at the outset, of course, that if stories had been related by another group from within the same Battalion then they might have painted an overall picture quite different from the one uncovered here. It is also natural enough for some stories to have become embellished with time and the telling, particularly if they tend to place the teller on a higher plain. All that accepted, the stories etched on human memory which are the subject of this work are, for the most part, revealed in print here for the first time and have not always been stamped in the mind by positive time and place. For this and other reasons, the cart will appear to precede the horse from time to time and the main storyline may go astray now and then to add a little extra flavour or information. It is hoped that such meanderings do not upset the reader or the chronology too greatly and apologies are also offered at the outset, with regard to attempts made in conveying the spice of Yorkshire dialect in some of the quotes.
So as to stitch these stories together in a chronological way, there will be some attempt towards an ordered sense of place and time through the use of War Diaries and other historical records. Most of the stories, however, relate to individual experiences and thoughts of men who served with the ‘Hallams’ in various capacities during World War Two. These memories may have been seldom aired in the past sixty years, even in family circles, but must have been brought to mind on many occasions in all that time. They may be of little interest to a modern and sometimes indifferent world, but will hopefully help to place the magnifying glass on part of a generation that was required by the warmongers of that period to sacrifice millions of youthful lives in five years of bloodletting.
Many of the accounts were recorded on audio tape over the past ten years or so and during sessions it was stressed that differentiation should always be made between those events personally witnessed and those of a second-hand nature. Hesitation was often experienced where names had to be linked with unpleasant occurrences but the good and the bad were revealed wherever possible.
Some of the names connected with stories that came to light in this book are not recorded here so as not to cause any offence or embarrassment to relatives, although some names are sure to be recorded elsewhere. Even some of the collected stories have been omitted that shed a poor light on the words and deeds of some individuals who are no longer alive to defend themselves or their actions. All too often, the accounts of war are tempered with a sense of caution in an effort to veil the truth about the less attractive nature of man. The nature of man, however, is much affected by his immediate environment and circumstances. It is not for others now to judge the actions of these men who, more than half a century ago, were thrust into the pit of horrors that mankind calls war.
The truth, of course, can be shocking but if it appears anywhere in the following pages it will be simply to put war in its proper perspective and to relate what are believed to be simple and honest accounts by men who were there. War itself is shocking and any written account of it should shock its reader just to show that the so-called ‘paths of glory’ are paved with the most grotesque injuries and indescribable suffering. At the other end of the scale, British soldiers are renowned for making light of the serious business of war. This book may not be without some occasional ill-timed humour and sick joke, both of which can be used to cushion the reality of war. In part, it is the essence by which some soldiers have been able to shield their minds from the trauma of it all. Having said all that, any reader expecting a blood and guts account of war might be disappointed.
The Hallamshire Battalion may henceforth be referred to as the Hallamshires, Hallams, the Battalion or just Bn. As the story unfolds there will be reference made to other battalions, units and formations with which the Battalion was involved or formed a part. For this reason, it is felt that a simple breakdown should be given of the Brigade and Divisional Formation to which the Hallams belonged for the duration of the war. This will be found in Appendix I at the back of the book and may help those who are unfamiliar with the structure of a British Brigade or Infantry Division of the period. There is also another breakdown given in Appendix II which attempts to explain the basic structure and content of an Infantry Battalion. It should be remembered that some slight variations may have existed from one unit to another in terms of numbers of men, material and internal organisation. These would generally be governed by operational requirements, modifications as the war progressed, or as a direct result of shortages caused by active service losses, etc.
The photographs used in this work are from very many sources and acknowledgement is given wherever possible, but the vast majority were taken with cameras which leave a lot to be desired by modern standards and are mostly attributed to the ‘Hallams Fontenay Club’. Many were copied from tiny prints of obscure origin and some were quite battered, but all of them are gems because they have not previously been published. Others have the ability to illustrate a story, so well in places, that a reader can go straight to the scene without having to conjure up inaccurate visions. At one end of the scale the Icelandic episode is well catered for, but there is an understandable paucity of photographs in some areas, particularly in the post Normandy Landings period that relate directly to the Hallams. This is taken care of by using modern photographs from the authors collection (all are prefixed thus v) which are able to link with recorded memories of the past. Visits to continental battlefields and memorials over a ten-year period during holidays or on tours were often in the company of veterans who were sometimes able to pinpoint scenes of action and relate a story on the very spot where it happened. This was particularly true of Fontenay le Pesnel, where the Hallams fought their most costly battle, and Tessel Wood where they were committed to slit trench, static warfare for three weeks. Because of its nature, this book cannot paint a detailed picture with regard to cooperation between units or even a blow by blow account of all operations, but it should be remembered that the Hallamshires did not work and fight in isolation. At all times they were surrounded by, or operated in conjunction with, various other units. These were mainly within their own Brigade and Division in the immediate areas to left, right, front and rear. In a general account, more mention would have been made of them but this book concentrates on individual stories as opposed to strategies which are better found in some of the works listed in the bibliography. The fact was that most individuals in battle were hardly aware of what was going on in the next slit trench let alone the next field, unless it directly affected them! In these pages will be found mainly the thoughts and deeds of men fighting their own personal war but who could not, of course, ignore the fact that a much larger war was raging all around them.
Many people supplied information for this work, mostly veterans who are no longer alive to read it. That is something I deeply regret and I sincerely hope it will be worthy of them. Although it has taken over ten years to compile, it can never be complete because of the many stories left untold. However, it is also hoped that its words and pictures will impart at least some of the feeling and atmosphere of an age now passed on. If just one of the following pages is able to draw some emotion from any of its readers then he or she will have ventured into the realms of the mind visited by the writer on many occasions during the writing and researching of it all. That alone might be sufficient justification for producing this memorial, as well as inducing a very private and personal tribute to a group of people for whom the shedding of tears seems hardly enough, especially for those who lost their lives. Those wasted, youthful lives with everything to live for, all taken in a carefully planned yet mindless slaughter on both sides. There will never be words or memorials sufficient to express the pity of it all.
After having turned the last page, you may feel the need for something in the way of follow up. If that is so, then you could do no better than to set out on a journey of remembrance and visit some of the places mentioned in this book. Such a journey will inevitably take you to some of the burial grounds. Many of these will seem more like gardens than the dour places you might have expected but, unless your heart is made of stone, they will have a marked effect.
As you walk around these silent places, you will recognise some of the names engraved on headstones that have become familiar from the book. In each of the war cemeteries visited you will raise your head and gaze at row upon row of identical stones, each one a public testimony to untold private grief.
Sooner or later, an uneasy feeling will stir within you as the mind formulates a simple question that contains only one word, to which there is no answer... Why?
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