Friday, 23 March 2012

67th Anniversary of Operation Varsity. 24th March 1945.

Saturday 24th March 2012 will see the 67th anniversary of the Rhine crossing operations which took place along a stretch of the Rhine around the towns of Hamminkeln and Wesel. The airborne operation (Varsity) was in conjunction with the amphibious river crossing operation (Plunder) with the aim being that the airborne elements would link up with the land forces within hours allowing a strong bridgehead to be formed. Two Airborne Divisions took part in the operation; U.S. 17th Airborne Division and British 6th Airborne Division, both part of U.S. XVIII Airborne Corps. British 6th Airborne Division were to capture the villages of Schnappenberg and Hamminkeln, moving on to clear parts of the Diersfordter Wald (forest) and capture three bridges over the River Issel. The two Airborne Divisions would then hold the ground they'd captured until relived by advancing land forces.

The Airborne operation itself was the largest ever to take place in a single day, with 9 British airborne battalions and 6 American airborne battalions carried in literally thousands of aircraft. Initial losses were heavy due to massed enemy flak and some LZ/DZ's being obscured by smoke. However, within six hours all the objectives were taken.

The Glider Pilot Regiment itself took part once again although after losing so many men in the Arnhem battle its ranks were now strengthened by members of the RAF who had been trained to fly gliders and operate on the ground as fighting soldiers.

For a more in-depth account of the operation I can't recommend enough the book 'The Last Drop: Operation Varsity, March 24-25 1945' by Stephen L. Wright if you accompany this work with 'Operations Plunder & Varsity' by Tim Saunders you should be able to glean a good understanding of this most important action. Both books are available from Amazon (although other booksellers are available).

Unfortunately, Chalk won't be able to mark the anniversary with a photoshoot as we have done in the past, but this does not mean that we will not be remembering the men of the Glider Pilot Regiment and all the units that took part in this final massive airborne assault of the Second World War.

Thank you.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Supplier Recommendation: Military Library Research Service

The Military Library Research Service, or MLRS for short, are a well established company set up to reprint military books and manuals that are overlooked by others.

For an upcoming event I needed to find two maps of the 1945 Rhine crossing; one for Operation Varsity and one for Operation Plunder. I searched high and low all over the internet and found some very 'interesting' prices and dubious quality before I stumbled across a forum post recommending MLRS. After just a few minutes searching through the maps and books on offer I found exactly what I was looking for and at a decent price too. There was a choice of hard copy or high resolution PDF supplied on disc, I chose the latter and only had to wait a couple of days before the envelope dropped on the doormat!

The quality of the scans are excellent, perfect for Chalk's requirements. All throughout the transaction I had good communications with MLRS; confirmation of my order, payment and dispatch. No fuss, no nonsense, just a nice and easy process.

If you're looking for rare or unusual military publications, maps etc than you should check with MLRS first! You won't be disappointed.

Link: MLRS Books

Saturday, 3 March 2012

1942 Dated Denison Smock - Or Maybe Not?

Ok, so its not an original '42 dated Denison. Its actually one of the new Rangercamp smocks that's had some 'modifications', if you can call them that? I spent considerable time working on the fabric to make the colour more accurate and break down some of the fibres, then its been hung on the washing line for a couple of months in all weathers. Glider Pilot wings have been added along with Sgt stripes and crown. An original jack knife lanyard has been used as a whistle lanyard and a grenade pull has replace the cloth zipper pull (the idea was taken from an original photograph).

As an experiment I also removed the sizing label that come with all Rangercamp smocks and created my own by copying an original and printing it out onto transfer paper before transposing onto some vintage cotton and sewing into place.

 If you compare this smock to the photo of the smock as its supplied from Rangercamp, I'm sure you'll agree it looks more acceptable now? Also follow the link to the Paradata website you can see original 1st patterns, 2nd patterns and also post-war examples.

Link: Paradata Smocks