Monday, 26 December 2011

Rubbish Christmas Presents #1 - The Inaccurate DVD Boxed Set

Today we present the first (and probably only) entry in a series of Christmas presents you might have received but possibly didn't want (for whatever reason). (We didn't get this, or buy it, but we did spot it and choked at the thought of spending eight quid on it!)

We're sure the budget for this DVD boxed set was tight, but even with the possibility of there being not much money to spend on the design, you'd think that a DVD about the famous aircraft carrier Ark Royal might actually feature an aircraft carrier?

Not pictured: any aircraft at all.
Well, readers? Can you beat this? Did you get anything more rubbish than this? Let us know!

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

December has proved to be a quiet month on the blog, as family and work commitments have rather caught up with us.

We're going to take a short break until the New Year - we'll try and bring you some updates in the meantime, but we'll be working "part time" on the blog until then.

In the meantime, we'd like to wish all our readers and members of the Scottish Military Research Group a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

As a final Christmas gift to you, we present our final "object of the week" for December.

This card was sent home by A B Armstrong, to an M Armstrong of Glasgow. It's probably not a Christmas card, more of a Happy New Year card, but we thought it was of interest and fitting for the season.

If anyone has more information on A B Armstrong, who served with the Scottish Rifles as part of 52nd Lowland Division, we'd love to hear from you.

(Please click on the images for a closer look)

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Reaction has been mixed amongst veterans but most objections seem to focus on the fact that TV crews will be there and that the archaeologists will be looking to uncover hidden secrets to make for exciting programmes rather than being there for serious study.

As I read it there is no hidden agenda, no looking for dirty secrets, but something a lot more simple. The Falklands are one of the few places on the planet where a fairly large-scale conventional conflict took place and in fairly recent history. It was fought over ground where there hadn't been a war before, and hasn't been one since. Dr Tony Pollard has made the Battlefield Archaeology Centre’s case in the Scotland-on-Sunday article mentioned above which I'll quote here:  

“I believe the Falklands have the potential to be an important laboratory for the practice of battlefield archaeology.

“It was fought in the late 20th century, but with mid 20th century technology and will possibly be the last conventional war that the British army will ever fight. 

“If done properly, a project there could tell us a whole lot about how the archaeological record compares with the many accounts we have. 

“Because of its isolated location the remains on the Falkland Islands are incredibly well preserved. That, in conjunction with the fact that the combatants, in many cases, are still with us gives an ideal opportunity to complete a project looking at the archaeology, the history and the anthropology.”

Other objections point to it only being thirty years since the war. However, people are happy to excavate Second World War battlefields and air-crash sites and that is only seventy years ago. Many of the reasons for not excavating the Falklands are valid for WW2 too but where are the objections in those cases? Just when does it become acceptable? Is 1968 Vietnam too soon or how about 1950's Malaya or Korea?  

Personally I don't see there being a problem. If the excavations can help with our understanding of the Falklands Conflict, where many Scots served and several died; and also help improve future fieldwork undertaken by the Centre for Battlefield Archaeology on other less contentious battlefields, then it should surely be seen as a good thing.  

(Text by Adam Brown)

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Scotland on the Front Line

We've received advance notice of an upcoming publication from the History Press which we think will be of interest to readers of this blog. We'll hopefully have a review of the book in the New Year, in the meantime here's the information we have so far.

Scotland on the Front Line by Chris Brown

To be released February 2012 at £14.99
Paperback original, ISBN: 9780752464787

The only title to trace Scotland’s contribution to the Second World War through unpublished photographs

Ever since the war ended, and increasingly over the past forty years or so, there has been something of a tendency to see the 1939–45 war as the triumph of the men of the English army,  or at least in those places where there is no clear distinction between the terms ‘British’ and ‘English’.

Traditionally Scotland has made a contribution to Britain’s wars well out of proportion to her population and her military achievements are recognised throughout the world. 

‘Scotland at War’ provides an outline of Scotland’s war effort drawing on extensive photographic evidence from commercial, state and personal collections, looking beyond the experience of individual regiments to provide a wider picture of the experience of the Scottish soldier, sailor and airman in the struggles against Germany, Japan and Italy.  

· Previously unpublished photographs pay tribute to Scottish servicemen and women
· Over 50,000 Scots servicemen lost their lives during the Second World War
· A unique record that should be of interest to any military historian inside or outside of Scotland

Chris Brown is a noted Scottish military historian. He has designed and taught numerous War Studies and War Theory courses, including at Edinburgh University. He is author of many books including: Bannockburn 1314, Robert the Bruce: A Life Chronicled and Scottish Battlefields.

Object of the Week - 14th December 2011

We're a little late with this week's object. Please accept our apologies!

Today's item, like last weeks, comes from one of Scotland military museums, in this case the museum of the Royal Highland Fusiliers in Glasgow. We've blogged about this museum before, and it's well worth a visit. This is just one of the many fascinating articles which can be found there.

This is a small statuette of a soldier in desert uniform from the Second World War, and was made to commemorate the merging of the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the Highland Light Infantry.

The inscription is well worth reproducing here:


On 15th May 1948, the 2nd Battalion The Highland Light Infantry (Old 74th Highlanders) was, by His Majesty's Command, amalgamated with the 1st Battalion The Highland Light Infantry (Old 71st Highlanders) as the 1st Battalion The Highland Light Infantry (71st and 74th).

This statuette, made from certain silver articles the property of the Officer's Mess of the 2nd Battalion The Highland Light Infantry, is dedicated to the undying memory of that Unit, and in recognition of its unflinching courage and indomitable spirit and devotion to duty, displayed on so many fields of battle and elsewhere throughout its long and glorious history.

It represents a soldier in desert kit in the war of 1939 to 1945 during which the Battalion by its gallant deeds maintained the best traditions of the past.

"At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them."

(Please click on the image to see this wonderful statuette in greater detail)

Monday, 5 December 2011

Object of the Week - 5th December 2011

Every week this month until Christmas we will showcase an interesting or unusual item from either our own collections, or on display in one of Scotlands museums.

We have previously had an "object of the month" but we haven't had one for a while, so in the run up to Christmas we'll have a few.

Today's item can be found on display in the Black Watch museum at Balhousie Castle in Perth. I'm afraid the picture is not particularly great, but that should hopefully encourage you to visit the museum to get a better look!

The item we have for you today is the back door key to Spandau Prison, which held many Nazi prisoners, including Rudolf Hess. The occupying powers in Berlin took turns guarding the prisoners. Presumably at some point this included the Black Watch, and one of them perhaps accidentally walked out with this key in his pocket!