Now presentations to royalty are all well and good and some achievement, even if I say so myself, but last week I received some feedback that was much more important for me.
When I re-started this project in early 2014, in researching the activities of the 11th Royal Scots Fusiliers in North West Europe, I stumbled upon an Imperial War Museum audio interview with one of their officers. This detailed two hour interview served as a first hand road map of the progress and achievements of the Battalion. The interviewee was William Dewhurst Douglas.
The interview can be found here:
Lieutenant Douglas, as he was at the time, was at some stage in Holland my Grandfathers Commanding Officer. He was on the highly audacious, not to mention highly decorated, raid over the River Waal that took 'D' Company of the 11th RSF behind enemy lines in order to 'create mayhem and bring back prisoners'. Indeed William Douglas was awarded the Military Cross for this action.
Later and quite by chance, an enquiry relating to the 11th RSF brought a response from an ex-pupil of William Douglas, with whom I enjoyed a very fruitful email exchange which included clarifications on my then understanding from said officer.
Upon publication of the book I sent copies to both men, with letters of thanks. Needless to say, I was thrilled for receive a very complementary, hand written letter from Lieutenant Colonel Douglas himself.
To get this close to my Grandfather's personal military history, 22 years after he died and 72 years after the events in Holland is for me amazing and completely unexpected.
From Lt Col W.D. Douglas MC
5th July 2017.
Many thanks for your letter of 10th June and your book about your Grandfather. Both only reached me yesterday as I had been away from home.
I have speed read your book today and congratulate you on your tribute to your Grandfather. He must be proud of you and grateful for your insight into his time in the Army.
I was only too pleased to be able to help you – particularly through Charlie Arrand (one of my star History pupils).
Your Chapter 1 (your Grandfather’s funeral) I rate brought tears to your eyes. It certainly caused a brief few tears to me as the memories came back.
Your account of the battle for NOYERS brought back a memory. Some days before I had done a recce patrol from south of Fontenay-le-Pesnel (page 146) to check German positions on the long slope leading down to Noyers station. I recall reporting that the area was full of German positions!
I think that you are correct in placing your Grandfather in 16 Pl ’D’ Coy because of his knowledge and concern for Sgt. Little.
What a good idea to send profits from the book to the Associations for the newly created museum and the 49th Newsletter.
I never had the opportunity to be much associated with the 49th Div. after the war. In July ’45, I was on a troop-ship bound for the Far-East when Japan surrendered. I spent four years in Rhodesia with the African Rifles, then Staff College, the Far-east (Malaya-Korea). In fact very rarely in the UK, with my loyalties to the 2nd Div., 3rd Div., and 1st Guards Brigade.
Once again, my congratulations on your book and many thanks for my copy.
All Good Wishes.
William Douglas, is a hale and hearty 96 year old, who is in late stage preparations to remarry. Such men were cut from a different cloth entirely !!