Monday, 27 December 2010

A Very Hurley Merry Christmas to You All

A very Merry Christmas to all readers of my humble blog.

That's all family and friends, all Hurleys, and anyone of great taste.

I hope you all had a Happy and Holy Christmas and that St Nicholas brought you all enough little presents to make the Holy Feast memorable.

My one tip for next year for those of you with children: take them to Midnight Mass.

We had to wake the children up at 8am (previous years they woke us up - 6, 5 and even 4am taking their toll!).

We didn't even have to snooze off Christmas dinner on the sofa.

I threatened to do an Old Pa Hurley trick and have my photo taken wearing my Christmas presents. One year he has underpants, socks and a watch. They sight of him posing for a photo is indelibly seared on the memories of all present. I might sue for damages in a few years time...

But as I only had a shirt and a pair of doctor martens, I think the children would have called the police.

P.S. For those of you hanging on my every culinary word (I know, my kitchen skills are fabled, i.e. I can burn water) we had beef and duck for Christmas dinner. Very, very nice! My tip every year is to make mountains of extra roasties to eat cold for a couple of days with the leftover meat etc. Yum yum stretch my tum.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Hello Smiler! This IS Private Daniel Roderick Hurley

The soldier at mid-right in this photo, with the broadest smile, is indeed Private Daniel Roderick 'Roddy' Hurley, A Company, 9 Para Battalion, 6th Airborne Division who died on the 7th June, 1944.

Please say a prayer for the repose of his soul.

It's Nearly Christmas!

I am still a child at heart and so I still get excited by Christmas, and get caught up in all the joy of the Nativity.

Being an ardent Pro-Lifer I was pleased to see this poster too: a great reminder of how Christ too was an unborn child (and a humble one at that!).

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Were D.R. Hurley & T.W. Smith Good Mates in A Company?

9 Para Battalion, A Company.
I have posted this picture before.

Just today the grandson (Stephen Smith) of a member of A Company (Thomas William Smith) got in touch after viewing this blog to say that he thinks my uncle (Daniel Roderick "Roddy" Hurley) is standing next to his grandfather in the above photo, they are in the 2nd row down from the back, 2nd and 3rd from the right respectively.

Here is a close-up of the two men:

T.W. Smith & D.R. Hurley?
I am going to ask family members to confirm that the man in the middle-right of this close-up is indeed my Uncle Roddy, but it sure looks like him.

Here is Uncle Roddy in his individual photo in uniform for you to compare:

It certainly seems that we are finding out more about Private Daniel Roderick Hurley.

Many thanks to Stephen Smith for his help. It's tempting to think that his grandad and my uncle were good friends. They certainly must have known each other!

As a fitting P.S. I'm happy to say that the author Neil Barber is ensuring that the above photo of Uncle Roddy is going to be put on view, with other members of A Company, 9 Para, at the Merville Battery museum in Normandy.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

St Peter's Church, Roath, Cardiff

St Peter's Church, Roath
It's been quite a few years since I've been to St Peter's in Cardiff.

It has changed quite a bit from images I've seen on the internet since I went there as a child, and was married there in 1994.

The beautiful stain glassed windows and breath-taking Pieta statue (the Virgin Mary holding the dead Christ, taken off the Cross) is still there, but the decor has changed for the better as far as I can tell. I seem to recall white-washed walls and ceilings.

As this picture shows the ceilings now have motifs, including a 'Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus' above the altar.

There is similar decor (on a purple backdrop) around the Pieta.

Michelangelo's original 1499 Pieta in St Peter's Basilica, Rome
Sadly there is no history section at the moment on their main site. Hopefully this is something that will change in the future as St Peter's is the oldest existing Catholic Church in Cardiff and so I'm sure has a great history to it.

St Peter's Parish Roath
St Peter's Parish Archives/Records

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Remembering Newtown: The Story of a Near Forgotten Community

...the Irish newcomers quickly made Newtown their own. "Little Ireland", as it became known, had a school and its own church, St Paul's. The church in particular was central to the devout Catholic community. Musical and sporting talents like boxing legend Jimmy Driscoll were also nurtured. It was, as resident Mary Sullivan - whose Irish grandmother emigrated there - recalls, "a town within a city."
Above Right: World famous boxer Jim Driscoll, outside his pub in Newtown with the famous 'Cork Pipers'.

Call me an old romantic ("old?" I ask pleadingly, "romantic?" Mrs Hurley asks cynically) but I like to think that just as the Welshman, St Patrick, took Catholicism to the people of Ireland, so the new Irish settlers of the 19th Century brought the Catholic Faith back to a Wales that had it ripped from them in the 16th and 17th Centuries.

Just as St Patrick took the heathen Irish and created a land of monasticism and devout Faith, so the Irish settlers would bring at least some of the Welsh, amongst whom they settled, mixed and married, back to the Faith of Our Lady of Cardigan, Our Lady of Bala, and Our Lady of Penrhys. In that noble aim, born initially out of economic necessity (even survival!), the small enclave of Newtown, Cardiff, played its part.
Remembering Newtown by Maxine Roper

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Newtown: Cardiff's 'Little Ireland'

St Paul's Church, Tyndall Street
Newtown was an area of Cardiff between Splott and the Docks, known as 'Little Ireland.'

My dad has often spoken of his childhood in Newtown and when travelling on the "new" flyover that goes from Cardiff jail to the new revamped Docks with the Welsh Assembly building etc. one can see the area where Newtown used to be.

The area was demolished (I got the impression of slum clearances, but perhaps that is unfair) the year I was born, 1970.

Did my Irish grandfather end up living in Newtown with his Welsh wife because the Irish tended to gravitate there? Or were the rents cheaper? Or was it a work-related move?

Furthermore, it's interesting to read that Newtown was established by the Marquis of Bute, specifically for Irish workers. In the superb essay When the Heart Stopped Beating, published in the South Wales Echo, Dan O'Neil marks the irony of the Marquis of Bute who built Newtown for the Irish workers escaping the Irish famine all but begging forgiveness for bringing in "Papists" -- when his own son would convert to the One, Holy, Apostolic, Catholic Church.

Certainly reading a booklet on the Catholic history of Cardiff some years back, there was an editorial from the (19th Century) South Wales Echo which tried to paint the growth of the Irish population in Cardiff in general, and the establishment of a Catholic Church in particular, as if the Spanish Armada were en route again, as if the gunpowder plot were happening again: it was full of hysteria and hyperbole akin to an Al Qaeda cell being discovered in the city.

Altar boys in Newtown

The following site (see link at end) gives an excellent overview of Newtown, a community torn down 40 years ago.

Here's a piece from the When the Heart Stopped Beating article:

The last Mass was celebrated in Saint Paul’s Church, Newtown, on Sunday, October 22, 1967.And that, more than anything else, more than the sight of old houses falling, familiar pubs reduced to dust, men, women and children moving from the homes where they were born - that, more than anything else spelled out that this was truly . . . .The End. For Saint Paul’s was the beating heart of Little Ireland. When it was built it signalled that the men and women from the Ould Sod had come to stay.  They had come fresh from the terrible famine, that calamity imprinted on the world’s mind as the Great Hunger, and they had built the vast docks which were to make Cardiff the coal capital of the world; and they brought their customs, and their religion with them.

Newtown, Cardiff

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Can Christmas Get Any Better?

You know the saying 'if Mohammed cant go to the mountain...'* Well, if there isn't a GKC Christmas Party (see my last post), then it is a duty of every red blooded Catholic to create one in the bosom of his own home!

Let's think of the ingredients we need:
1. Good food (that should be a given anyway, surely in a good - or bad - Catholic household). Funnily enough I was watching Fern Britton interview Clarissa Dickson Wright about her life and the Two Fat Ladies, and how they, her and Jennifer Paterson, were Catholics, went to Mass when filming, had to have the Saints Days on the scripts - if you get a chance watch it on iplayer. I was surprised to see such a moving, heartwarming programme which gave a positive light to our Faith.

Anyway, good food abounds at Christmas (following our shriving at Advent- a local retired Bishop often says that in Welsh, Advent was known as Winter Lent, i.e. a time of preparation for the Feast of Christmas). If between meals always have a stash of pork pies handy in the fridge. 

2. A wee tipple. You can toast the great man with a wee dram or perchance a healthy glass of Brains SA. If you are unfortunate enough to live outside Wales, then see your local ale specialist about procuring supplies of Brains SA, it really will be worth your while.

3. Put Christ back in Christmas. With the growing secularisation of our society (which GKC warned about 100 years ago) many people bemoan the taking of Christ from celebrations. The most extreme example was Birmingham's "Winterval."  As well as sending out cards with the Holy Family on, make sure your home has a Nativity Scene and, where possible, your Christmas decorations (and Advent calendars) have a Christian flavour.

4. And don't forget GKC. Read a little (or a lot!) of the great man at Christmas. Maybe a novel (try The Flying Inn) or a poem (try The Battle of Lepanto) or why not even go the whole hog and try a book (try the Everlasting Man). According to the Wikipedia page on the book:
In a letter to Sheldon Vanauken (December 14, 1950) [1] [C.S.] Lewis calls the book "the best popular apologetic I know," and to Rhonda Bodle he wrote (December 31, 1947) [2] "the [very] best popular defence of the full Christian position I know is G. K. Chesterton's The Everlasting Man."
5. Make sure Christian Carols are sung, played, in short are present in your home. Some favourites include Hark the Herald Angels Sing, O Holy Night, Silent Night, Oh Little Town of Bethlehem, The Twelve Days of Christmas, Oh Come All Ye Faithful/Adeste Fidelis, The First Noel, Joy to the World, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen... All of which place the Infant Christ at the centre of Christmas.

6. Don't forget Confession during Advent, and Mass throughout of course. All the celebrations, quaffing etc. lead to Christmas Mass and the remembrance that the infant Christ went on to give us the Sacrifice of the Mass.

Follow these 6 steps and you too can have a Happy, Holy, Wise, Merry and Joyful Christmas.

*Not being a Muslim it was a moot point whether to use a heathen quote, but I once asked a Mohammedan at an eatery in Brick Lane if he knew of this quote, and he responded that despite studying the Koran he had never heard of it. That's my get out clause anyway.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

GKC Christmas Party? Wine & Pork Pies Surely!

I was very excited on seeing the headline "GKC Christmas Party."

Being a huge GK Chesterton (aka GKC) fan - though not as huge as the great man himself, whose cause for canonisation is well under way - I envisaged a wonderfully warm, witty gathering of great minds and friendly faces, quaffing wine (very continental and dare I say Catholic) and pork pies (quintessentially English and against all the dietary fads that GKC would have poked fun at).

How disappointed was I to find out that the GKC Christmas Party was in fact being held by the Greenville Kennel Club - the clue being in the name.

Oh well.

My tweeds, extra padding and GKC wig will have to go back to the hire shop.

Still it could have been worse - I could have booked the ticket to America, or even to Australia for the GKC Christmas meet. I was excited to read that they would be having fish n chips.... though what/who is "Barwon Heads Pup" and how you would eat it has left me perplexed. Sounds positively Korean.

All of which GKC, the king of the paradox, would have found highly amusing.

Here he is at his best with The Problem With Modern Man:

‘But the new rebel is a skeptic, and will not entirely trust anything. He has no loyalty; therefore he can never be really a revolutionist. And the fact that he doubts everything really gets in his way when he wants to denounce anything. For all denunciation implies a moral doctrine of some kind; and the modern revolutionist doubts not only the institution he denounces, but the doctrine by which he denounces it. Thus he writes one book complaining that imperial oppression insults the purity of women, and then he writes another book in which he insults it himself. He curses the Sultan because Christian girls lose their virginity, and then curses Mrs. Grundy because they keep it. As a politician, he will cry out that war is a waste of life, and then, as a philosopher, that all life is waste of time. A Russian pessimist will denounce a policeman for killing a peasant, and then prove by the highest philosophical principles that the peasant ought to have killed himself. A man denounces marriage as a lie, and then denounces aristocratic profligates for treating it as a lie. He calls a flag a bauble, and then blames the oppressors of Poland or Ireland because they take away that bauble. The man of this school goes first to a political meeting, where he complains that savages are treated as if they were beasts; then he takes his hat and umbrella and goes on to a scientific meeting, where he proves that they practically are beasts. In short, the modern revolutionist, being an infinite skeptic, is always engaged in undermining his own mines. In his book on politics he attacks men for trampling on morality; in his book on ethics he attacks morality for trampling on men. Therefore the modern man in revolt has become practically useless for all purposes of revolt. By rebelling against everything he has lost his right to rebel against anything.' (G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, 1909).

"Rebel" students take note...

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Photo of Private D.R. Hurley, 9 Para Batallion , 6th Airborne Division

This is Private Daniel Roderick Hurley, my uncle, who died in Normandy on the 7th June 1944.

Family members will see the resemblance of his brothers in the 19-year-old's face.

Known as Roddy (his father - my grandfather's - first name was also Daniel) it seems that he died of his wounds on the 7th, so may have been fatally shot or had shrapnel injuries etc. at the assault on the Merville Battery on the 6th, or received his fatal injuries the following day at the village of Hauger where 9 Para was faced with some form of 'Ostruppen' (volunteers from Poland/Russia/Turkmenistan - details unknown at present).

If family members, researchers, veterans etc. want to be sent a high resolution jpeg by email please drop me a line.

A special thanks to Uncle Pat and Aunty Mary (recently decamped to the wilds of Lancashire!) who supplied the hard copy of this photo.

Please say a prayer for the repose of the soul of Roddy Hurley.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Cinema Code of Conduct: About Time Too

GK Chesterton (hurrah!) said that morality is like art: it's knowing where to draw the line.

Quite so GKC. And were it that we learnt that lesson the modern world might not be in such a mess.

It might seem pedantic to some, but I am a great believer (in the footsteps of St David) that if we do the small things well, the big things will follow, thus it was that I was awaiting the cinematic 'Code of Conduct' put together by Radio 5's Messrs Kermode and Mayo.

Having suffered the rustle of a plastic bag umpteen times through one film by a couple sat behind me, who turned out to be in their 40s or 50s; through the piercing light of mobile phones being checked in my peripheral vision; to people explaining the film/plot to young attendees throughout the duration; even down to having a bare pair of cheesy feet placed on the back of the seat next to mine (honestly! in a Swansea cinema)... enough was enough.

So cinema-goers of the world unite - you have nothing to lose but umpteen distractions to the cinematic treat you have shelled out your hard-earned for.

Maybe a return to acceptable standards in the cinema, coupled with an acceptance of behaviour that is conducive to the Common Good might see the rebirth (or a re-embracing) of civilised, Christian standards in more spheres of life, viz that we should do unto others as we would wish done to ourselves.

Let's make the cinema a battleground for acceptable standards, norms and behaviour.

I know GKC would approve.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Hurley's Bar, near Kinsale

"The Hurley's" of Ballinspittle, Co Cork.
Doing a search for Hurleys in Kinsale I came across a Hurley's Bar in listings for Kinsale, though in fact it's in a village just outside called Ballinspittle.

A link to the official site of the Bar is now in the side bar under the Irish sites grouping.

But I also found this blog on Bugbitten which has lots of photos from the bar, including this one of the Hurley's (I don't know if that means the staff of the bar, or the family that run it...).

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Back and (almost) Fighting Fit

Thanks to all friends and family for messages and cards received during my recent stay in hospital (hence the quiet period on my blog).

I am still recuperating, but normal service should be resumed shortly.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

St Pabo and the Welshmen of Northern "England"

Just a quick post this one (yes, OK, you needn't relish in the fact!).

I found this simply sumptuous post on the blog "Reluctant Sinner" and it ties in well with what I wrote previously about the Kingdom of Strathclyde being Welsh.

It further highlights the Welsh heritage of Cumbria, Lancashire etc. and how the Welsh kept Christianity flourishing after the Romans left in the 5th Century.

It is ironic that as the Pope was sending St Augustine to Kent, so Christianity was in turn taken to Ireland by the Welsh (most significantly St Patrick) and Ireland's Monasticism in turn spread to Scotland, the Picts and the Northern English.

Anyway, enjoy this article, it is sublime. Look out for all the Welsh names connected to St Pabo, both in Wales itself and his own lands in what is now England.

A Reluctant Sinner on St Pabo

The Dark Orange Vans that Heralded a New Dawn

Hurley vans and employees at Bridgend
I was at a hospital today in Swansea, meeting some of the surgical team who will be cutting, trimming, fixing and generally re-arranging my innards in the very near future, and what a wonderful breed of people those health care professionals are!

Truly the Hippocratic Oath is a wonderful thing.

On my way down some stairs a dark orange colour caught my eye in the bottom corner of a window, and straight away one word sprang to my lips: HURLEY!

Sure enough on peering at the window there it was, emblazoned across the distinctive orange coloured van, the name Hurley.

The years fell away, a strange mist filled the air and eerie stringed music filtered in (sorry - too many cheesy Hollywood films) and I was propelled back to a scene in High School, circa 1984 and there, trudging betwixt one lesson and the next, cutting across a patch of badly worn grass called 'the Cabbage Patch' (the teachers tried to stop pupils cutting across it from time to time, but the weight of sheer numbers usually made them give up after a week's diligence and effort) were many pupils.

There I was in turn, a studious teenage student, clutching my learnéd tomes, eager to reach the next valuable intake of knowledge and wisdom, busily straightening my tie whilst engaging in some playful badinage with my peers, when what should chug cheerily into view from the nearby school gates but a dark orange van with bold white letters spelling out the name: HURLEY.

A smile spread across my face as I pointed this marvel out to my friends and acquaintances. My empire was spreading. My world was complete. I felt like an ancient king being carried to a regal engagement in my plush sedan chair.

And ever since that fateful day, I have always felt a warm glow and a sense of well-being whenever I have seen those self-same Hurley vans at locations right across South Wales.

F P Hurley & Sons Ltd

Monday, 8 November 2010

Viv Huzzey's Oldham RLFC Record 1900 - 1903

Today's Oldham Roughyeds home shirt
VIV (H.V.P.) HUZZEY played for Oldham between 1900 and 1903. In 'official' matches he played a total of 40 times in the first team, mainly as a winger. Remarkably, he scored 22 tries in those 40 games at a time when tries were more difficult to come by than they are in the modern game. He also kicked 23 goals for a total of 112 points (a try in those days being worth only 3 pts).

His season-by-season record was as follows: 1900-01, played 22 (13 right wing, 5 right centre, 4 left wing), 10 tries, 10 goals; 1901-02, played 16 (9 right wing, 4 left wing, 2 stand-off, 1 right centre), 12 tries, 13 goals; 1902-3, played 2 (both at full back).

In addition to those 40 'official' appearances he also played in several friendly games in the 1900-01 season. There were six of these games and we have no record of how the teams lined up but we do know that Viv scored in at least three of them as follows: 3 tries away at Halifax in a 12-a-side friendly; 3 tries against Halifax in a 12-a-side friendly at home; and two tries against a local team, Werneth, in a match in which the Oldham team was billed as "Huzzey's team".

He also played in some unofficial games in the 1901-02 season, scoring two tries and two goals against South Shields; four goals against St Helens; and one goal against Hull. These figures were not included in his 'official' tries and goals records.

Henry Vivian Pugh Huzzey, to give him his full name, played on the wing for the Welsh RU side five times and also represented Wales at baseball before signing for Oldham in 1900.

In 1900-01 Oldham were Lancashire champions, finishing top of the Lancashire Senior Competition with 22 wins and a draw from 26 games. They finished with 45 points -- one more than second placed Swinton in a tight finish.

On Jan 12, 1901 Viv played right wing for Oldham when 23,000 turned up at Watersheddings to watch the top of the table clash with Swinton. During the match Jim Valentine, the Swinton captain, protested that spectators had spilled on to the pitch and as a result the referee missed a Swinton try. As Swinton won 7-5 they didn't press the matter, but Oldham did and the match was replayed in late February resulting in a 3-3 draw which ultimately cost Swinton the championship.

In the same year Oldham reached the semi-final of the Challenge Cup but lost 9-2 to the eventual winners Batley, at Huddersfield. Viv played on the left wing in that semi-final and kicked the Oldham goal.

In the same season he scored a hat-trick of tries from the right wing against Rochdale Hornets in a 33-5 win at the Athletic Grounds, Rochdale.

In 1901-02 the top seven clubs from Yorkshire and the top seven from Lancashire formed a new 14-club division, and the South East Lancashire League was introduced to maintain local derbies. Oldham finished 9th in the new Northern Rugby League and 5th out of 6 in the new SE Lancs League

Viv's try scoring in this season included a hat-trick against in a 29-2 home win against Brighouse on October 5, 1901 when he played right wing in the following team: Thomas; Huzzey, S Lees, Civil, Williams; Lawton, A Lees; Bonser, Wilkinson, Frater, Vowles, Topham, Ferguson, Ellis, Telfer.

R L Thomas and Joe Ferguson were legends of the Oldham club, Thomas playing 363 times between 1897 and 1909 and Ferguson chalking up an astonishing 627 appearances --- a record --- between 1899 and 1923.


Many thanks to Oldham RLFC's Media Manager, Roger Halstead for supplying this information and to Rachael Marsters, their Commercial Manager, for responding to my email requests.

For more info on Oldham Roughyeds RLFC (as they are now called) visit their site.

It's interesting to note that my grandfather, Vivian Huzzey, HVP (Viv) Huzzey's eldest child, was born in 1900, the very year he joined Oldham RLFC. Born on the 18th June, one imagines the wee bairn Viv (who I knew of course as an old man full of sea-faring tales), travelling up to Oldham as a babe in arms and later as a toddler.

God Bless Denis Donovan - and His Hurley Stick!

Denis Donovan began life in Cork, Ireland and ended up in Australia after moving there in 1958.

Here he is pictured with his Hurley stick which he took all the way to Australia.

In his own words:

"My hurley stick is used in the Irish game of hurling. It is made of wood and is similar to a hockey stick. I brought the stick with me as a reminder of playing sport in Ireland."
The hurley stick is a great sporting and cultural icon to many Irishmen and people of Irish descent.

Denis's Irish grandfather - like mine! - had been in the British Army (remember that this was pre-partition, pre-1916/1921 and Ireland was officially still part of the UK).

To read more of Denis's story go to Belongings - Denis Donovan.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Viv Huzzey in Action for Oldham RLFC

The DVD on which Viv Huzzey may feature
I found an interesting blog article (link below) which mentions Viv Huzzey playing for Oldham RLFC in 1901 (having quit Welsh rugby union in September 1900 after being ignored for the post of Welsh team captain).
Oldham v Swinton (12 January 1901) 5-7 [Match void, replay 3-3] 
Oldham: Thomas; Davies (t), S. Lees (g), Fletcher, Huzzey; Lawton, A. Lees; Foster, Wormald, Wilkinson, Telfer, Moffat, Bonsor, Broome, Ellis 
Swinton: Chorley; Lewis, Messer (t), R. Valentine (2g), Hampson; Davies, Morgan; Harris, Pomfret, Jones, Preston, J Valentine, Vigors, Berry, Pollitt

This is one of three rugby league matches featuring on the DVD Mitchell and Kenyon Edwardian Sports.

As the Rugby Reloaded blog says:
The highlights of the nine Northern Union matches on the DVD - all played between 1901 and 1903 - show us rugby league mid-way between rugby union rules and the move to 13-a-side and the play-the-ball in 1906. 
So it seems that Viv Huzzey moved codes when the codes were very much as Catholicism and Orthodoxy circa 11th Century, i.e. breaking apart, slowly drifting, becoming 'politicised' with a small p, and gradually the rules of both would drift from each other whilst retaining the same overall beliefs (as both codes would score tries and both faiths would believe in transubstantiation).

In an earlier post we saw how rugby union in 1905 still had scrums of anything from one player per team, and this looks very much like rugby league restarts today (sorry I do not know any of the terms let alone rules of rugby league past or present).

Again from Rugby Reloaded:

The line-out had already been abolished in 1897 and in the same year the scoring system had been changed so that tries (three points) were now worth more than goals (all two points). In contrast, union goals were worth three points, as were tries, and drop goals scored four points.
Being Welsh of Irish descent of course Rugby Union is very much akin to Catholicism, in that it is the true way and we do pray that our 'seperated brethren' will see the light and return to the One True Fold (of Rome, and Rugby Union).

I have ordered the Edwardian Sports DVD (commentary by Adrian Chiles!) and if there is footage of Viv Huzzey - as I hope there will be - I will upload it to YouTube and post a link here... Time will tell.

A still from the Edwardian Sports DVD
The DVD itself is something of a heroic story as detailed by the site Movie Mail:
In 1994, during demolition work, 800 rolls of nitrate film were found in sealed barrels in the basement of a shop in Blackburn. They turned out to be one of the most exciting finds of early film ever made, with the rolls featuring the work of the Mitchell & Kenyon film company, active between 1897-1913. Remarkably, the films were in an excellent state of preservation. Consequently, because the images we see now from them are mostly so clean and scratch free, and provide such a clear view of Edwardian life, they give the amazing sensation of turning a picturebook past into a living present. Two new collections from the Mitchell & Kenyon archive are now on DVD, Edwardian Sports and Ireland.
Interestingly as Cork circa 1901 is featured on the 'Irish' film, there is an infinitesimally small chance that a Hurley family member from Cork County could be on the sister DVD to the one I hope my famous Huzzey relative is.

Rugby Reloaded
Edwardian Sports DVD reviewed

Wales v. All Blacks 1905 - A Famous Sporting Victory

Researching sites and looking for images of my great grandfather, famous rugby player Viv Huzzey, I came across this site: rugbyrelics

The page in question deals with the All Blacks tour of 1905.

Interestingly the scrum back then could involve any number of players:

“A Scrummage, which can only take place in the field of play, is formed by one or more players from each side closing round the ball when it is on the ground, or by their closing up in readiness to allow the ball to be put on the ground between them”. 

The All Blacks beat all comers, until they played the Welsh!

Again the site says:

The critics suggested the ‘colonial’ team would struggle against the West countrymen but the All Blacks thumped Devon by 55 points to 4, Cornwall were next, then Bristol, Northampton & Leicester, in their first five matches the All Blacks scored 197 points with just 4 against. News soon spread of this fantastic team, the qualities of the All Black scrum, the fitness of the players and the role of the forwards, who unprecedented at the time even joined in passing movements with the backs. They blazed a trail through England, Scotland & Ireland, defeating clubs, counties and countries alike !     

I had heard before that this game was the first at which the Welsh national anthem was sung, and what a fixture of Welsh matches it has been ever since then. The report at the time said:

The 16th December arrived, special trains had been laid on for spectators from afar, queues formed at the gates and once opened around 11.00 am the ground quickly filled, at 1.30 pm the gates were closed. Those inside sang and joked while the unfortunate locked out looked for trees to climb and other vantage points. At 2.20 pm the All Blacks took to the field followed a little later by the Welsh team, the crowd roar was almost deafening as Nicholls led his men onto the Park. The All Blacks performed their customary haka then unusually the Welsh team started to sing the national anthem, this was soon picked up by the crowd and soon the whole stadium reverberated to the sounds of ‘Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau’. 

The more attentive of you will have picked out the name Nicholls in that report. Nicholls was the Welsh captain who had partnered my great grandfather Viv Huzzey on the wing. Huzzey was the vice-captain who quit to play rugby league when he was passed over for the captaincy.

If history had gone differently it could have been Viv Huzzey leading the Welshmen out to their famous victory against the All Blacks... History is such a fickle mistress!

The Times newspaper of the day (pictured above) had a report on the match:

Wales is the only portion of the United Kingdom in which Rugby Union football is the national game (as it is in New Zealand), and it would be a kind of poetic justice if the victorious progress of the New Zealand team were checked at Cardiff to-day. But, to judge by the indifferent exhibition of the Welsh three-quarters on the Rectory Field last week, the defeat of the visitors is an unthinkable contingency. 

Isn't it interesting how little times (or The Times!) have changed? After all, rugby is still the national game of Wales, and the media can still call games wrong... I would say the Welsh can still stop the All Blacks in their tracks, but that may just be wishful thinking.

I can't help but think though that when Wales stood and faced the All Blacks and refused to turn and/or walk away whilst and after they performed their Haka, they were repeating the national pride and determination which saw the Welshmen first burst into a rousing rendition of Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau.

This is a translation of Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau for all my English, American and other relatives, friends and visitors:

The old land of my fathers is dear to me,
Land of poets and singers, famous men of renown;
Her brave warriors, very splendid patriots,
For freedom shed their blood.
Nation, Nation, I am faithful to my Nation.
While the sea [is] a wall to the pure, most loved land,
O may the old language [sc. Cymraeg] endure.
Old mountainous Wales, paradise of the bard,
Every valley, every cliff, to me is beautiful.
Through patriotic feeling, so charming is the murmur
Of her brooks, rivers, to me.

If the enemy oppresses my land under his foot,
The old language of the Welsh is as alive as ever.
The muse is not hindered by the hideous hand of treason,
Nor [is] the melodious harp of my country.

And here is that anthem (be prepared to brush back a manly tear - especially the ladies!). The Welsh national anthem really is the best in the world:

One interesting aspect of the match is the number of All Blacks players with Scottish and Irish names. They also had - unbeknown to most if not all - a secret Welshman on their team, one Billy Wallace.

As I discovered recently, the name Wallace means 'Welshman' in Scots, following the fall of the Welsh Kingdom of Strathclyde, overrun by the Scots who themselves originated in Irish-Ulster, the Royal Family of Strathclyde (and their entourage etc.) moved to Wales, but many Welshmen must have stayed and in the mix that was original Pictish in the Highlands and Islands, Norse settlers of Orkney, Caithness, Sutherland, the Irish-Scots of the South West and now the Central Belt - in what became the land we now know as Scotland.

Was Billy Wallace, a Welshman from Strathclyde many generations removed merely following his genetic code?

Was he, like Arsenal's Welsh goalkeeper Dan Lewis, who let in an arguably "soft" goal to let Cardiff City win the FA Cup in 1927, a Welsh fifth columnist in the midst of the enemy camp! ;-)

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Henry Vivian Pugh Huzzey: Welsh Rugby's Would-be Captain

My maternal grandparents were from the Huzzey family.

I found this info from someone else's family tree online:

Henry Vivian Huzzey was born on 24 Jul 1876. He married Edith Mary Evans. Henry was employed as Rugby Footballer.
Edith Mary Evans [Parents] was born in 1878. She died on 29 Jan 1952. She married Henry Vivian Huzzey.
They had the following children:

M i Vivian Huzzey

F ii Winifred Huzzey

M iii Child 3 Huzzey

M iv Child 4 Huzzey

M v Child 5 Huzzey
Vivian Huzzey (Child one) is my maternal grandfather, born in 1900, making Henry Vivian Huzzey and Edith Mary Evans my maternal great-grand parents.

Wikipedia gives my great grandfather's full name as Henry Vivian Pugh Huzzey, but he is best known as Viv Huzzey and being one of Welsh rugby's best wingers.

You can read his full Wikipedia page here.

What's clear is that Viv Huzzey was one of the few people to play both international rugby and baseball, as well as being one of the earliest players to 'cross codes' to move from Cardiff rugby union to Oldham rugby league.

It seems that this was down to 'internal politics' and Viv Huzzey (surely the Shane Williams of his day) being deliberately overlooked for the job of Welsh captain, when everyone assumed the job was going to be his.

In fact, although he only gained 5 caps for Wales, limited because he changed codes, he remains in the Top 100 try-scorers of Welsh Rugby, as listed at the WRU Top 100 Try Scorers page having scored 4 tries in those 5 games.

Interestingly, on 02/04/1898 playing against England he scored one try (worth 3 points) and one drop goal (worth 4 points). How times - and the value of tries and drop goals! - have changed.

He is also listed as playing in position "2" while he was a winger.

The book that most of the information on Wikipedia seems to come from is Prince Gwyn: Gwyn Nicholls and the First Golden Era of Welsh Rugby by rugby correspondent and journalist David Parry-Jones.

Interestingly the match against England in the 1899 Four Nations championship, at which Viv Huzzey scored two tries, was played at Swansea. A full breakdown of that season's Four Nations is on this Wikipedia page.

I have one query concerning my great grandfather and that is why he refused to go on the British Lions tour to Australia in 1899. According to an account on the Official British & Irish Lions site for the Tour to Australia in 2013:

In the end, the final place was filled by Scottish international Alf Bucher, after failed approaches were made to recruit fellow Scot James Couper and Welsh wing Viv Huzzey.
Perhaps as they weren't professional players they had to miss out on months of work and could it have been that Viv Huzzey simply could not afford that?

The same site says that only 9 of the 21 tour team of 1899 had played international rugby, so it seems likely that Viv Huzzey wasn't the only one who could spare the time (months!) or cope financially in regard to the tour.

His wing partner at Cardiff and Wales E. G. Nicholls (Gwyn Nicholls) did go on the tour.

Viv Huzzey was a hero of Welsh rugby, and he was my great grandfather.

Now I may be wrong, my memory is world-renowned for being like a sieve, but I recall being told some years ago that my great grandfather owned pubs in Cardiff. If that is true I will try and dig out more info.

Viv Huzzey's WRU Page
ESPN stats page

P.S. On Welsh Rugby and Baseball. I found a Cognitive Edge blog entry with this which sums up the situation well:

OK, a trivia question for you: how many people have been capped by Wales at both Rugby and Baseball? Just to help you out the first was Henry Vivian Pugh Huzzey born in 1876 and the most recent Mark Ring, first baseball cap in 1984. For those who don't know Cardiff and Newport in Wales along with Liverpool in England are the main centres for baseball in the UK. There are differences however, a point being scored for every base making a a British home run four and teams (like cricket) are eleven in number and there are two innings. As you would expect the main international match of the year is between England and Wales and was won in 2008 by Wales (the last English win was 1995).

As someone who played both baseball and rugby for school teams I can concur that Cardiff is certainly one of the centres for baseball in the UK. I wonder if there is some kind of "Irish" connection, as it seems strange that Cardiff/Newport and Liverpool are baseball hotspots, areas with quite a lot of Irish influence - or am I clutching at straws?

A Tale of Two Lovelaces - Lord Hurley & the Governer of New York

In an earlier post, about the town of Hurley in New York state mention was made that it was founded by a Baron Hurley.

On searching for further info on the good (?) Baron, I found this little snippet:

Which reads:

May 21. Dy'd Robert. Harley, Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer, Baron Hurley of Wigmore, Knight of the most noble Order of the Garter, one of the Governors of the Charter-House, &c. in the 64th Year of his Age. He was descended from a Family of great Antiquity and Note in the County of Salop at the Time of the Conquest. He was Member of Parliament for New- Radnor, and Speaker of the House of Commons, in thetwo last Parliaments of King William, and in the First of Queen Anne. In December, 1701, he was chosen Arbitrator for uniting the two India Companies; and in 1702, Queen Anne appointed him one of the Commissioners for treating of an Union with Scotland. He was also a Member for New-Radnor, in the second Parliament of »he said Queen, who, in 1704, admitted him a Member of her Privy Council, and made him Principal Secretary of State. In 1706, her Majestv appointed him one of the Commissioners for treating of a further Union with Scotland ; and in 1708, he was mude Cttfios Rotulorum of the Shire of Radnor; in 1710, her Majestv made him one of the Commissioners of the Treasury, one of her Cabinet-Council, and Chancellor, and Under-Treafurer of the Exchequer. On the 8th •f March, 1710-u, a Frenchman, who went by the Name •f Marquess de Guifcard, attempted his Life by slabbing him at the Council-Board, with a Penknife. In May following, the Queen created him a Peer of Great Jfritmin, by the Name, Style, and Title abovemention'd ; and on the 29th of that Month, constituted him Lord High Treasurer of Great Britain. On the 26th of October, 1712, he was elected Knight Companion of the most noble Order of the Garter, install'd in August following at Windsor, and the fame Year was chosen Governor of the South-Sea Company, of which he had been the chief Founder or Regulator: About the same Time he was also chosen one of Governors of the CharterJfouse. Soon after King George's Accession to the Throne, he was impeach'd by the House of Commons of High Treason, and other High Crimes and Misdemeanors, and thereupon was sent to the Tower, where he continu'd about 3 Years, when being brought to Tryal by his Peers, he was acquitted of that Impeachment. During the Time he was Prime Minister, he was easy and disengag'd in private Conversation, with such a Weight of Affairs upon his Shoulders. He was a Man of great Learning, and as great a Favourer and Protector of it. Intrepid by Nature, as well as by the Consciousness of his own Integrity, and would have chosen rather to fall by an Impeachment, than to be sav'd by an Act of Grace : Sagacious to view into the . remotest Consequences of Things, by which all Difficulties fled before him. He was a courteous Neighbour, ft. firm and affectionate Friend, and a kind, generous, and placable Enemy, sacrificing his just Resentments not only to publick Good, but to common Intercession and Acknowledgement. He was a Despiscr ofMotey, and what is yet most rare, an uncorrupt Minister of State. He was twice marry'd : His first Wife was E'hmbeth, Daughter of Thomas Foley of Whitley-Court in the County ot Worcester, Esq; Sister to Thomas first Lord Fo'ey, by whom he had Issue one Son and two Daughters, Edward ' Lord Hurley, by whom he was succeeded in Honour and Estate. Elizabeth, who marry'd the Marquess of Carmarthen, Son of Peregrine Osborn, Duke of Leeds, but dy'd in 1713 ; and Abigail, his second Daughter, marry'd to George Hay, Lord Duplin, asterwards Earl of Kincul in Scotland. His second Wife was Sarah, Daughter of Thomas M'ddleton, Esq; Son of Sir K»&k Middleton, Bart, by whom he never had Issue.

This would undoubtedly seem a different Baron Hurley to the Francis Lovelace, Baron Hurley of Ireland mentioned in the Hurley, NY posting.

Francis Lovelace or Robert Harley? Will the real Baron Hurley arise?

The plot thickens though, on researching Francis Lovelace it seems that a Richard Lovelace built a mansion at Hurley, Berkshire, which I touched on in another post, so we have almost come in full circle and it seems this could be a link between Hurley in Berks, and Hurley in NY state via the Lovelaces (though distinctly separate families!).

Sadly it seems Richard Lovelace built his mansion on the ruins of Hurley monastery (with some monastic rooms making up part of the mansion) and went on expedition against the Spaniards.

To quote the Royal Berkshire History web-site:

The Priory’s Infimary, to the east, was built upon by Ladye Place, the home of the Lovelaces from 1545. It was named after the Virgin Mary to whom the priory had been dedicated. Richard Lovelace sailed with Sir Francis Drake and greatly improved his house with his share of the Spanish booty. He was created Lord Lovelace of Hurley in 1627, and his monument can be seen in the church.

It seems Lovelace (Lord Hurley's) mansion cellars were used to plot against James II in favour of the foreign usurper William III (the hated King Billy), so Hurley became a centre of Hanovarian conspiring.

The link below ends the chapter on the Lovelace family by stating:
The Lovelace family was ennobled by Charles I., who in the third year of
his reign, created Richard Lovelace, Baron Hurley, which title became
extinct in 1736.
 Francis Lovelace - the namesake of Hurley, NY - on the other hand, was made Governor of the province of New York from 1668 to 1672.

An entry on his page on Wikipedia, states:

Francis Lovelace, Governor of New York
Early genealogists confused Francis with an identically named son of Richard, 1st Lord Lovelace of Hurley, due to a pamphlet issued at the time of his appointment mistakenly asserting that he was the brother of the said Richard. The confusion has also spread to more modern historians.
So we must be careful not to confuse the two Lovelace families, as the home page oh Hurley, NY appears to have done.

Was Francis Lovelace Baron of Ireland (a supporter of Charles II) as well as governor of New York? Or was Hurley, NY named after the ennobled Lovelaces (supporters of William III) whose manorial home was in Hurley, Berks. and the Americans have become confused between the two Lovelace families?

If I find out more I will return to this... and of course I'd be hapy to hear from anyone who could shed some light on this.

Lovelace, Baron Hurley (see 'CURIOUS PARTICULARS RELATING TO HURLEY, IN BERKSHIRE' the fourth article down), written in 1908.
Notable People of Berkshire

A Company, 9 Para Batallion, 6th Airborne Division, 1944

The above picture is of 9 Para's A Company, which we believe is the Company in which Private Daniel Roderick Hurley served and died.

At the front of the picture is Para dog Glenn (see previous post).

If any veterans or family members can identify Private Hurley in the above photo, please do contact me.

Any internet casual visitors, please say a prayer for the repose of his soul.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

John Keats to Cardiff City (Enjoy it While it Lasts)

I have to admit that when I was in school I always thought John Keats was 'a bit of a weirdo' to put it bluntly.

Anyone who can't enjoy something beautiful because it will (soon) be over has to question his sanity. If I see/hear a nightingale sing, it reminds me how wonderful creation is, regardless of what "we" try to do to it, often in the name of progress. I don't sigh and mope because the nightingale is going to fly away like Mr. Keats would.

I guess this is what comes of supporting Cardiff City over the years. The good times are usually followed (very swiftly) by the bad times, a perfect pastiche on life itself, even down to the strange characters who come long for a while only to be replaced by others along the way.

It can be twee to say to those mourning the loss of a loved one that the good times will follow, or that 'time will heal.' Let alone to be like Keats and warn picnicking families of their ultimate demise!

Nevertheless I have to warn friends and relatives that the sight of Cardiff City sitting atop the Championship may yet be followed by leaner times. But let's enjoy the good times while they last, and ignore the worldview of Keats and his ilk.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

And Let's Hear it for Hurley, NM

Just under one and a half thousand souls live in Hurley, New Mexico, USA.

There's lots of local history and info on their official site, including its links to Chino mining and the Santa Rita frontiersmen.

It sounds like a fascinating place.

Hurley, NM Official Site

Another Hurley Village, This Time in Warks.

Hurley Post Office, Warwickshire
I was surprised to come across a place called Hurley in Warwickshire the other day (in my 'day job').

I knew of Hurley in Berkshire, as I lived nearby for some years and always smiled when I saw the road sign for 'Hurley.'

Hurley in Berks probably grew up (or at least simply grew) around Hurley Priory, a Benedictine House, founded in 1086 and so obviously a Norman foundation.

As of yet I do not know how these two very English towns got their (Irish sounding!) names, but I will report back to you if and when I find out any more info.

The second link below details more of the history of Hurley, Berks., including St Birinus (700 AD) and the  founding of the Parish Church, much more on the Priory (inc the location of the Sanctus bell) and even some info on the (misnomered) "glorious revolution" of the imposed King, William III (boo).

Hurley, Berks.
History of Hurley, Berks
Some great memories of Hurley, Warks.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Gay History in the Classroom?

How wonderful that "gay history" is being taught in at least one London school!

I always thought that history lessons should be more cheerful and as Enid Blyton taught me (c/o the Famous Five and the magic Faraway Tree) there's nothing so cheerful as being happy and gay.

For a really gay history lesson the teachers concerned could do no better than this cheerful little offering from Mrs Blyton:

After a little communal read the whole classroom would be as cheerful as could be, with lashings of ginger beer!

Or have I missed something ;-)

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Hurley, New York, USA

Yes fellow lovers of all things Hurley!

We have a settlement in New York State, with its own fascinating history.

Settled/established by the Dutch, AND NAMED Niew Dorp, it was attacked and destroyed by the natives, only to be later settled and renamed: HURLEY!

What a relief for the whole population of circa 6K. They are now Hurleyans, rather than NuDorpites.

I know which I'd prefer.

Interestingly the village was named after Francis Lovelace, Baron Hurley of Ireland.

Oh yes. This gets better and better.

More on that chap as and when...

9 Para's War Dog

I have just been reading about Private Emil Corteil and his dog, Glenn, in a book on the Merville Battery assault by Carl Shilleto.

They were in A Company, which we believe to be the Company my uncle, Private D.R. Hurley, served with.

The following 6 year old news report from the telegraph includes a mention of 9 Para, A Company's famous War Dog:

The members of the airborne forces who died in the initial D-Day landings and are buried in the Ranville cemetery include a dog.

Glen was the only "war dog" with 9 Parachute Battalion, which parachuted into the area around Merville to silence the main German coastal defence battery on the allies' left flank.
Pte Corteil was probably known to my uncle, and they share the same cemetery in Normandy. Corteil's grave (pictured right) is shared by his dog Glenn*, said to be the only example of this, a handler being buried with his dog.

Daily Telegraph article
Para Dogs
Pte Corteil's Grave Info

*Some reports (like the Telegraph's) give Glen as the name, but most seem to refer to Glenn.

Gamers Re-play Merville Assault

Playing with childrens' toys or trying to re-work historical events?

Well, you'll have your own ideas. The site below has a 'gamers' account of their own version of the assault on Merville.

The actual layout of the gaming table looks very similar to 1944-era recon photos of the battery and gives you an idea of what the attackers of 9 Para were facing, albeit very simplified (minus machine gun nests, mine fields, flooded areas etc.).

Nothing too exciting otherwise, but I suppose anything that keeps the memory of 9 Para at Merville alive can't be all bad.

Gamer's Merville

Sunday, 24 October 2010

O'Hurley's General Store, WV, USA

This is O'Hurley's General Store in West Virginia, USA.

It looks like everything you'd want in an old fashioned general store!

I can almost imagine 'the man with no name' moseying on up to get some beef jerky.

A person on flickr says:

This is a very interesting place. On Thursday nights, they have local musicians playing some great music.

On Yelp someone else says:

Lots of unique items. Collectors may find things like old signs. You can get some hardware that would be used in "century old" type homes. I also think their furniture, which is vintage country, is reasonably priced.

We are planning to build on our lot nearby in WVa in the next year or so, and will be returning here to pick up some items to decorate our home.

Their own website (see below) is run by one Jay Hurley.

Seems like everything you'd want in a real American/Southern General Store. Yee ha!

Now all I need is a sponsored family holiday so we can go visit... ;-)

O'Hurley's General Store

A Tale of Two Bunkers

This picture of the Merville Battery site today shows one of the bunkers on site.

This is the site that 9 Para, including Private D.R. Hurley assaulted before dawn on D-Day, whilst other battalions of the 6th Airborne Division took Pegasus Bridge and other targets.

These bunkers were built to be camouflaged from the air.

Indeed on seeing this picture of a bunker at Merville, our youngest immediately said 'it looks like Pembrey Country Park.'

At the Country Park - the site of RAF Pembrey until 1957 and a Royal Ordnance Factory during WW2 and the Korea War - there are many bunkers almost identical in layout to the Merville bunker pictured here.

The Kidwelly History site says of the Royal Ordnance Factory at Pembrey:

It was Britain's largest producer of TNT with 700 tons and produced 1,000 tons of Ammonium Nitrate and 40 tons of Tetryl at it's peak in 1942 and employed 2,000 people.

Therefore it would seem that the bunkers in the country park, such as that pictured here, were used for storing ordnance. It is probably the case that the bunker at Merville above was for the same usage.

One can almost imagine the concrete entrance to the bunkers painted in camouflage paint, draped with camouflage netting and similar to disguise them from the air and reconnaissance efforts by the RAF and the Luftwaffe accordingly.

There is less earth on top of the French bunker, but given the severe aerial bombardment of the Merville Battery, there's little wonder that the actual bunker had less natural coverage.

The picture below shows the Merville Battery with the gun bunkers circled. It shows the extent of Allied bombing on the site which, if nothing else, must have unnerved and demoralised the defenders.

According the official Merville Museum site (see link in right hand panel), the Merville Battery received:

The most intensive bombing (in excess of 1,000 bombs dropped by 109 Lancasters) of the night of 5th/6th June.

Funnily enough, the Welsh bunker pictured above with its occupant, a London-style red double decker bus (I think it's a Routemaster - it certainly looks like one), is said to be haunted and featured on the TV show 'Most Haunted' which focused on Pembrey Woods (see embedded You Tube link below).

As usual the programme is more than a little cheesy and open to all manner of interpretation, but it also gives a good overview and intro to the Country Park and its former occupants and usage. You can see the bunker with the double decker bus in it on part one of the show.

Merville on French Wikipedia (more info than its English version)
Kidwelly History on RAF Pembrey

Friday, 22 October 2010

Half the Victims Reappear

Some good news.

On closing up the chickens last night, one of the children decided to use the torch he'd taken with him to scan the pond, and there 'sleeping' calmly at the bottom of the pond were three (of our original six) goldfish.

It seems at least half of them survived the onslaught earlier this week.

Today they were nowhere to be seen again, even when food was sprinkled on the pond. We think they are still in mortal fear of being seen by a heron; but at least some of them live on!

Dum vita est, spes est.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

The Robin Hood Tax Video

I have to say, Bill Nighy is one of my favourite actors.

Oi! Where Are the Goldfish?

Just a few months ago we dug out a small pond in our garden (being not long out of hospital Old Pa Hurley popped by to give a more than welcome hand).

After a short while it looked good. Stones were cemented around the sides, the lilies we put in were growing and spreading, and (as they say in France) the piece of resistance (or something like that) we put in six goldfish, three we already had in a tank and three new tiddlers.

Over the months the goldfish grew in size. I and other family members enjoyed feeding the fish and seeing them darting about as we fed the chickens or pottered in the garden.

Then, last Monday (we'd been out most of Sunday) I noticed the pond was quite low and the fish were nowhere to be seen. Some days they did hide (perhaps a cat had been a bit nosey) but this was weird. By Tuesday we had to concur that 'some of our goldfish are missing.' Well, all of them actually.

We wondered what had happened. Given the drop in water I wondered if a fox (which are in the area) had got in at night and splashed about and eaten the fish.

I was overlooking the obvious.

By Wednesday, Mrs H. ("the missus") said what it was! Of course, why hadn't we thought of that before?

Then today she had it confirmed, when looking up the garden she saw, stood bold as brass in the pond, a huge heron!

She said it looked positively prehistoric standing there in our little pond.

So that is where our goldfish went! A handy stopover snack for a heron!

Now we need to find out when is the best time to re-stock the pond, and how best to protect our little tiddlers from the attention of an errant heron.

Having watched our tadpoles grow into frogs and swim out of the pond earlier in the year, and all the pleasure our goldfish gave us (before becoming a la carte for a heron), I certainly have enjoyed having the pond this year.

I would prefer not to cover the pond with a mesh as I think it would spoil the look of it, but it really depends on whether or not we can find some alternative that works!

Any tips gratefully received!

Did Allied Leaflets Make Defenders of Hauger Fight on?

In reading up on 9 Para's engagement on the 7th of June at Hauger, against German Army volunteers/conscripts from Soviet Republics, I found the following text which gives an overall assessment of who those people were and why they enrolled in the German Army and thus were in Normandy, 1944, shooting at British paratroopers:

In my opinion there is one reason which explains everything: the general hatred of the Soviet system, a hatred greater than inborn patriotism and loyalty to one's own government. Those who have not seen the limitless degradation of man in what was the Soviet hell cannot understand that a moment may come when a man out of sheer desperation will take up arms against the hateful system even at the side of an enemy. The responsibility for his mutiny falls on the system and not him. Here the notions of loyalty and treason lose their meaning. If, in the eyes of many people, Germans who fought against Hitler were not traitors, why should the Russians who fought against the Soviet system be traitors?

How little public opinion in the West understood the real state of affairs is perhaps best shown by the text of the leaflets, addressed to Soviet soldiers in German uniform, which were dropped by the Allied Air Forces in France in the summer of 1944. These leaflets called for the cessation of fighting and promised as a reward - speedy repatriation of prisoners to the USSR! The effect was of course, such that some of the Eastern troops fought desperately to the last man. Thus, for example, an Armenian battalion perished completely in bitter fighting. Soldiers of the Eastern formations were the unhappiest soldiers of the Second World War. Deprived of their fatherland, scorned by their protectors, regarded generally as traitors, although in their consciences they were not traitors, they fought often for an alien and hateful cause; the only reward which they eventually received for their pains was toil and death, mostly in a foreign land, or "repatriation" to the hell from which they had tried to escape. 

The part I particularly found of interest was that Allied leaflets dropped on Normandy before D-Day, targeting the 'Ostruppen' in these regiments, hugely backfired. In all but promising to repatriate them to the USSR, the Allied forces had ensured that these men (who were known in part for surrendering or running away at engagements with an enemy) would fight to the bitter end.

If Private D. R. Hurley were indeed shot at Hauger, then the leaflet drops by the allies may have helped to create the circumstances. At the very least they may have resulted in the deaths of a few more Paras from his battalion.

Russian Volunteers in the German Wehrmacht in WWII by Lt. Gen Wladyslaw Anders and Antonio Munoz