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WW2 Nation Podcast

Join me on a journey of discovery into the past and present, as I set out to explore the history of the Second World War. Our travels will take us from the Homefront to the battlefields of Europe and beyond. Travel with us as we revisit historical locations and walk the battlefields of WW2. We will be tracking down wartime artefacts, speaking with veterans and historians alike, and paying our deepest respects to this remarkable generation; as we set out to try and help keep this period of history alive. It’s going to be a long journey, in fact it’s going to be a life long journey!

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Voices of VE Day 75 - Alan King

To mark the 75th Anniversary Commemorations of VE Day, we spoke with a few of the veterans we know about their experiences on 8th May 1945 and hear their advice for future generations. Alan served in ‘B’ Squadron the 1st East Riding Yeomanry as a wireless operator on a Sherman Tank. Landing in Normandy on D-Day on 6th June 1944 as part of 27th Armoured Brigade, Alan and his crew fought all the way through Normandy, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and into Germany. He took part in Operation Charnwood, Goodwood, Astonia, Operation Alan in the Netherlands, the Battle of the Bulge and subsequent Rhine Crossings. Alan had been incredibly lucky in Normandy as he and his crew had 3 tanks shot out from under them. On 8th July 1944 during the engagement at Galmanche, Alan sadly lost his close friend Corporal Louis Wilkes – every year Alan visits and pays his respect to his former tank commander. *Please note this episode may contain some explicit language / content, parental guidance advised.*

2mins

7 May 2020

Rank #1

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Voices of VE Day 75 - Bob Sullivan

To mark the 75th Anniversary Commemorations of VE Day, we spoke with a few of the veterans we know about their experiences on 8th May 1945 and hear their advice for future generations. Bob Sullivan (MBE) served with the 6th Airborne Division’s 3rd Parachute Squadron R.E. during the Second World War. Jumping into Normandy on D-Day and helping blow the bridge across the River Dives at Robehomme, Bob saw action the whole way through the Normandy Campaign, in the Ardennes and in Holland, before being wounded in the left leg by mortar fire near his RV on Drop Zone A during the drop over the Rhine, Op Varsity in March 1945. *Please note this episode may contain some explicit language / content, parental guidance advised.*

8mins

7 May 2020

Rank #2

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Ep 5 - A Turret View of Normandy Part 1 : Talking with Captain David Render

In this installment of the Veteran Podcast Archive, we feature an interview we did a year ago with WW2 Veteran Captain David Render, a former Troop Commander with one of one of Britain's elite Tank regiments, the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry. David Render joined the regiment in Normandy on D+5 as a 19 year old 2nd Lt fresh from Sandhurst.    Due to its length, the interview will be split into 3 parts. In this very first episode, we discuss David's childhood and growing up in London, being evacuated to the countryside as well as the Blitz. We look at his brother's army service in France around Dunkirk in 1940, before then turning to David's own experience of joining the army, training and everything that entailed including learning how to drive a tank, and then finally to the crucial moment when training becomes reality, the crossing of the channel on D+2 to Normandy to join up with his future regiment.  Music Featured: Hearts & Flowers by Jeff Kaale (SoundCloud/Instagram) *Please note this episode may contain some explicit language / content, parental guidance advised.*

37mins

26 Jul 2016

Rank #3

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Ep 3 - Victor - Victor - Victor - Part One: Talking with Bill Betts

In this episode, the first of our veteran archive interviews, we speak with veteran Bill Betts about his experience as a radio operator in an M4 Sherman tank during the Second World War. Bill joined the army aged 19 in 1941 and fought with the Essex Yeomanry Regiment as part of B Troop. The Regiment landed on D-Day in the Jig Green Sector of Gold Beach near Le Hamel and fought its way with the rest of the British 8th Armoured Brigade through France, Belgium, Holland and into Germany before eventually being de-mobbed in 1946. Due to the length of the interview, it will be published on the podcast in two parts. What follows in part one, we discuss Bill joining the army, the training he underwent, joining the EYR, landing on Gold Beach, a few close encounters with a Tiger Tank, R&R in Brussels and much more...  Music Featured: Hearts & Flowers by Jeff Kaale (SoundCloud/Instagram) *Please note this episode may contain some explicit language / content, parental guidance advised.*

30mins

8 May 2016

Rank #4

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Ep 6 - A Turret View of Normandy Part 2: Talking with Tank Commander Captain David Render

Hi Folks, welcome to another edition of the Veteran Podcast Archive here at WW2Nation.com  In this episode, Part 2 of A Turret View of Normandy, we rejoin Captain David Render of the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry as he recalls the bitter reality of life and conditions inside a Sherman Tank during the Second World War. In this session we learn about the horrific casualties sustained by the Regiment as they fought their way through the Normandy bocage and towards Germany, and just to give you an idea of what David faced during this period, the average life expectancy of a Tank Commander was just two weeks. We also discuss the tactics employed by both sides, the constant threat from snipers in the bocage, a first encounter with a Panzerfaust, losing a tank on mines, a few tricks of the trade that helped keep David and his crew alive, Operation Pepperpot and much much more.  Music Featured: Hearts & Flowers by Jeff Kaale (SoundCloud/Instagram) *Please note this episode may contain some explicit language / content, parental guidance advised.*

39mins

22 Aug 2016

Rank #5

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Voices of VE Day 75 - Denzil Cooper

To mark the 75th Anniversary Commemorations of VE Day, we spoke with a few of the veterans we know about their experiences on 8th May 1945 and hear their advice for future generations. Denzil had initially joined the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) during the early stages of the war, before going on to join the Glider Pilot Regiment. Trained to fly the British Horsa Glider, Denzil went on to take part in Operation Mallard in Normandy on D-Day in June 1944. He and his fellow co-pilot then transported troops into battle around Arnhem as part of Operation Market Garden in the Netherlands in September 1944. Denzil found himself fighting for his life as he and his colleagues faced overwhelming odds and became embroiled in bitter house-to-house street fighting. *Please note this episode may contain some explicit language / content, parental guidance advised.*

1min

7 May 2020

Rank #6

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Voices of VE Day 75 - Jeff Haward

To mark the 75th Anniversary Commemorations of VE Day, we spoke with a few of the veterans we know about their experiences on 8th May 1945 and hear their advice for future generations. Jeff joined up before the war with the territorials 1/7th Middlesex Battalion which was equipped with Vickers Machine Guns, and saw service with the ‘Die Hards’ the whole way through the war, from its very start to its end. Jeff fought in France as part of the BEF in 1940 where he was evacuated at Dunkirk, he went on to fight in North Africa taking part in the Battle of El Alamein, then Sicily, before landing in Normandy and battling all the way through into Germany where he was on VE Day. Jeff was one of those caught up in the fierce fighting in the Reichswald Forest in Feb 1945. He was awarded an MM for his role during this battle – which was later personally awarded by Montgomery himself. Sadly though, it was also in this same encounter that he lost his close friend and comrade, Sgt. Frank Dollin, on this day 75 years ago. *Please note this episode may contain some explicit language / content, parental guidance advised.*

4mins

7 May 2020

Rank #7

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Voices of VE Day 75 - Jim Radford

To mark the 75th Anniversary Commemorations of VE Day, we spoke with a few of the veterans we know about their experiences on 8th May 1945 and hear their advice for future generations. Having witnessed some of the events of the Hull Blitz, Jim joined the Merchant Navy at 15 serving onboard the Empire Larch Tug, where he and his crew-mates took part in D-Day assisting in the construction of the Mulberry Harbour – Port Winston – just off Arromanches near Gold Beach. There they stayed off the coast of Normandy acting as a rescue vessel assisting other crafts, men and crews in distress. Many of you will have no doubt heard Jim’s incredibly powerful account of his memories of these days in the form of his song – ‘The Shores of Normandy’ – which cannot help but bring a tear to your eye. *Please note this episode may contain some explicit language / content, parental guidance advised.*

3mins

7 May 2020

Rank #8

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Ep 4 - Baker 'B' From Le Hamel to Kiel - Part Two: Talking with Bill Betts

In this episode, we look at the second installment of our conversation from last month with Second World War veteran Bill Betts. We pick up from where we left off in part 1 by discussing Beverly, the second hand M4 Sherman Tank that he and his other crew members inherited and called home for much of their war. We also found out about the improvised measures that Bill and the rest of his colleagues took to add extra protection to their Sherman. We learn about the Essex Yeomanry's time fighting through Holland, crossing the Rhine in their Donald Duck tanks and also their experience of liberating Kiel, as well as much, much more.   Music Featured: Hearts & Flowers by Jeff Kaale (SoundCloud/Instagram) *Please note this episode may contain some explicit language / content, parental guidance advised.*

30mins

24 May 2016

Rank #9

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Voices of VE Day 75 - Mervyn Kersch

To mark the 75th Anniversary Commemorations of VE Day, we spoke with a few of the veterans we know about their experiences on 8th May 1945 and hear their advice for future generations. Mervyn Kersch served with the RAOC from D-Day through to Germany. Nearly not making it to Normandy due to being put on a charge by an officer for not eating the supplied meat in army meals as it wasn’t kosher, that was quickly sorted and Mervyn continued in the training ahead of Operation Overlord. He would land on Gold Beach a few days after the 6th June, where he was part of setting up the vital vehicle parks to maintain the supply and demand of the land army from motorbike to tanks. He even managed to ‘borrow’ a jeep to drive around in. From the breakout of Normandy, Mervyn was part of the advance that moved across Belgium and the Netherlands. Mervyn spent time in Celle and would encounter many of the liberated Jews from Bergen Belson who were awaiting transport. He was able to speak to some of the survivors in broken English, French, German and Yiddish. He recalls many he spoke to wanting to travel to Eretz. On the 7th May, Mervyn embarked a train to Brussels, they were to prepare to go to the Far East. The train arrived on the 9th May where they were then informed the war in Europe was over and hostilities had ceased. *Please note this episode may contain some explicit language / content, parental guidance advised.*

4mins

7 May 2020

Rank #10

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Voices of VE Day 75 - Peter Davies

To mark the 75th Anniversary Commemorations of VE Day, we spoke with a few of the veterans we know about their experiences on 8th May 1945 and hear their advice for future generations. Peter served in 1 Troop, B Squadron of the 1st East Riding Yeomanry as a gunner on a Sherman Tank during the Second World War. He had originally enlisted with the RAF as a wireless operator but then transferred to the Army who at that moment had been desperately short of W/O’s. Having landed on D-Day, he and his crew fought all the way through to VE Day where they finished up in the area of Biesbosch. They were incredibly lucky as despite suffering several glancing blows – ‘Bandit’ – Peter’s tank was never knocked out. *Please note this episode may contain some explicit language / content, parental guidance advised.*

2mins

7 May 2020

Rank #11

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Voices of VE Day 75 - Stuart Watson

To mark the 75th Anniversary Commemorations of VE Day, we spoke with a few of the veterans we know about their experiences on 8th May 1945 and hear their advice for future generations. Stuart joined the 13/18th Royal Hussars as a newly commissioned officer in late 1942 and was assigned to HQ as the units Signals Officer. During 1943 – early 1944 the 13/18 Hussars were preparing for their part in the invasion of Europe, equipped with Sherman DD Tanks they were destined to take on a specialist role on D-Day by helping to spearhead the landings on Sword Beach with their tanks swimming ashore to support the infantry being landed. Stuart fought with the unit throughout the bitter-fighting in Normandy during the summer of 1944, witnessing the horrors of the Falaise Pocket as the Allied forces broke-out into France and attempted to surround the remaining German forces during their retreat. He also took part in Operation Market Garden in the Netherlands with XXX Corps, saw service in the Ardennes during the Winter of 1944-45 before the final push into Germany. *Please note this episode may contain some explicit language / content, parental guidance advised.*

3mins

7 May 2020

Rank #12

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Voices of VE Day 75 - Ken Cooke

To mark the 75th Anniversary Commemorations of VE Day, we spoke with a few of the veterans we know about their experiences on 8th May 1945 and hear their advice for future generations. Called-up in late 1943 aged 18 when he was working in York, Ken joined the Green Howards 7th Battalion. On the morning of 6th June 1944, Ken landed in one of the initial waves on Gold Beach. When Ken waded ashore the greatest thought which preoccupied his mind was not the enemy fire going on all around him, but that of his socks being thoroughly soaked through. His unit quickly pushed in-land in the proceeding hours and were in fact told to hold in case they got cut-off from adjacent units who had met stubborn resistance. The reality of the situation quickly dawned on Ken when the next day when the names of a few of his mate were posted as wounded or killed in action. Caught up in the proceeding grinding fight through Normandy, Ken was wounded by shrapnel from an air-burst on 4th July 1944 where he was evacuated back to Blighty. It took several months in hospital for Ken to recover from his wounds. ‘Fit’ once more, he was sent back to the North Western European Theatre as a replacement and posted to the Highland Light Infantry, battling through Germany and ending up at Bremen. *Please note this episode may contain some explicit language / content, parental guidance advised.*

2mins

7 May 2020

Rank #13

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Voices of VE Day 75 - Len Fox

To mark the 75th Anniversary Commemorations of VE Day, we spoke with a few of the veterans we know about their experiences on 8th May 1945 and hear their advice for future generations. Len landed on Gold Beach late on D-Day. As a despatch rider, his job was to carry messages between units and to escort columns of vehicles to get them to their destination. In mid-July, he was leading a column of lorries containing ammunition to the front line. As he reached the crossroads behind him in the photograph, he stopped to get his bearings. Beside the road, a sign read ‘Dust Kills’, a warning to take care not to kick up any dust whilst driving because if it were to be spotted by the Germans it would make you an immediate target. But it was a very dry time of year and trying to move a column of lorries around without creating any kind of telltale sign was a near impossibility. Unbeknownst to Len, the Germans had the crossroads marked as a target for their artillery and they were watching them. Suddenly, a shell landed just yards away from them. Len knew it was a ranging shell and the next one wouldn’t miss. They had to move at once. He got the convoy moving away from the crossroads as quickly as he could but it was too late. Another shell came over and this time hit one of the trucks, causing all the ammunition it was carrying to go off. The resulting explosion was enormous. Len was badly wounded. He has no idea how long it was until someone got to him or what happened in the aftermath, as he didn’t regain consciousness until he was in a casualty clearing station about ten kilometres back from the crossroads. When he eventually came round, he saw a woman all in white and thought he was facing an angel. The nurse he had seen offered him a cigarette, and he realised then he wasn’t dead ‘because I knew you couldn’t smoke in heaven!’ Len awoke to find he was temporarily deafened by the blast and he had to have shrapnel removed from his spine. However, after just six weeks recovery time he rejoined his unit to take part in the liberation of Brussels. *Please note this episode may contain some explicit language / content, parental guidance advised.*

2mins

7 May 2020

Rank #14

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Voices of VE Day 75 - Danny Mason

To mark the 75th Anniversary Commemorations of VE Day, we spoke with a few of the veterans we know about their experiences on 8th May 1945 and hear their advice for future generations. As soon as he was able to do so, Danny volunteered to become a paratrooper going through the all the rigorous training that this entailed to wear the famous maroon berry. Posted to the 8th Parachute Battalion of the 6th Airborne Division which had cut its teeth in Normandy and in the Ardennes already. Danny was keen not to let the war pass him by due to his age, so when the opportunity came to fill the boots of a comrade who could no longer jump because of medical grounds, he jumped at the chance to volunteer for his first overseas operation and first combat jump. This was to be the largest Allied airborne drop of the war to date – Operation Varsity – with the Rhine Crossing in March 1945. Once on the ground, Danny and his comrades battled through Germany helping spearhead the thrust towards the River Elbe. Only a few days before the war officially ended, Danny had been wounded by a German aircraft attack on his position. He was evacuated out of the line to Belgium and was in hospital on 8th May 1945 for VE Day. In typical Airborne style, that did not stop him breaking out of the hospital to join in the celebrations and have a few drinks. *Please note this episode may contain some explicit language / content, parental guidance advised.*

3mins

7 May 2020

Rank #15

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Voices of VE Day 75 - Peter Lovett

To mark the 75th Anniversary Commemorations of VE Day, we spoke with a few of the veterans we know about their experiences on 8th May 1945 and hear their advice for future generations. Peter landed on Juno Beach on D-Day and remained there with the 7th Beach Group for 4-5 weeks before it was disbanded and he went on to join the 9th Parachute Battalion, as a replacement helping to fill the gaps in the ranks following weeks of hard fighting on the left-flank. Following his involvement in Operation Paddle – the 6th Airborne’s advance towards the Seine and break-out of Normandy – Peter went on to play his part in the Battle of the Bulge before making his his first combat jump with the 6th Airborne Division as part of Operation Varsity – the Rhine Crossing into Germany. *Please note this episode may contain some explicit language / content, parental guidance advised.*

6mins

7 May 2020

Rank #16

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Voice of VE Day 75 - Tom Jones

To mark the 75th Anniversary Commemorations of VE Day, we spoke with a few of the veterans we know about their experiences on 8th May 1945 and hear their advice for future generations. Tom served in General Bill Slim's 'Forgotten' Fourteenth Army. Brought up in Liverpool, witnessing the Blitz here as he worked in the city's air-defence before joining up where he was posted to India for his training with the Royal Artillery. He went on to become a wireless operator for a Forward Observation Officer with the 33rd Jungle Field Regiment battling through Burma against the Japanese. He was still fighting the Japanese in the jungle when the ending of the war in Europe on VE Day was announced. *Please note this episode may contain some explicit language / content, parental guidance advised.*

4mins

7 May 2020

Rank #17

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Voice of VE Day 75 - Len Trewin

To mark the 75th Anniversary Commemorations of VE Day, we spoke with a few of the veterans we know about their experiences on 8th May 1945 and hear their advice for future generations. Len served with the 6th Airborne Division during the War. Initially gaining some experience with his local Home Guard unit, Len was called up in 1943 and was posted to the Royal Warwick’s camp of Budbrook Barracks for training, where as luck would have it a few Parachute Regiment recruitment team were also visiting. Fancying the challenge or as Len would say why not give it a go, he volunteered to join the Paras. And was whisked away to Hardwick Hall for 2 weeks of intense physical training before going on to Ringway / Tatton Park to do jump training and gain his wings following 8 successful practice jumps. Eventually Len was posted to 8th Battalion under the command of the renowned veteran CO Alistair ‘Jock’ Pearson. He joined the Mortar Platoon and arrived as a reinforcement in Normandy in August just in time to take part in the breakout towards the River Seine as part of Operation Paddle. Following this, Len was involved in the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes with 8th Bn, then took part in Operation Varsity in the jump across the Rhine. It was in this that Len was wounded as he was advancing up a road they came under fire from a German anti-aircraft gun which was being used in a ground role and he was caught by a piece of Shrapnel from one of its shells just above the left eye and still has this memento from Krupp to this day. Following the end of the war Len went onto see service in Palestine as well as other parts of the Middle East.  *Please note this episode may contain some explicit language / content, parental guidance advised.*

1min

7 May 2020

Rank #18

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Ep 24 - Part Three: Talking Moonlight Sonata - The Luftwaffe Raid on Coventry 14th November 1940 with Frederick Taylor

In Episode 24 on the WW2 Nation Podcast, it is our final part looking at Moonlight Sonata with Frederick Taylor. Coming up in this instalment we hear all about the aftermath of the Luftwaffe’s infamous raid and its consequences not only for the city and its inhabitants, but also the fall out for Germany on the international stage, as well as its influence on future operations by both the Luftwaffe and also the RAF Bomber Command. Music Featured: Hearts & Flowers by Jeff Kaale (SoundCloud/Instagram) *Please note this episode may contain some explicit language / content, parental guidance advised.*

36mins

18 Dec 2019

Rank #19

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Ep 23 - Part Two: Talking Moonlight Sonata - The Luftwaffe Raid on Coventry 14th November 1940 with Frederick Taylor

In Episode 23 on the WW2 Nation Podcast we are diving right back into our discussion with Frederick Taylor to discover more about the infamous raid on Coventry on the 14th November 1940 by the Luftwaffe. Music Featured: Hearts & Flowers by Jeff Kaale (SoundCloud/Instagram) *Please note this episode may contain some explicit language / content, parental guidance advised.*

32mins

12 Dec 2019

Rank #20