Saturday, 23 January 2010

Churchill's Secret Reigate photobook

I am getting ready for my 2nd lecture about 'Churchill's Secret Reigate' next Saturday. Over 100 people have reserved free virtual tickets and there are limited spaces with good visibility.
This will be videoed fortunately, since publishing any research is a challenge. A few notable Churchillians, friends and military historians have seen the potential and are offering great support.

Would you like to view my souvenir photobook free of charge? Please scroll down to see the link. It's of little consequence compared with the material I'm able to share in my talk. If you'd actually like to purchase it, then I will send £4 for each copy to CHASE Children's Hospice, since I gather the small amount of Govt. funding has just been cancelled.

It was a treat this week to hear from Eric Sykes' agent regarding my research. His message is that Churchill was always his hero and I am very welcome to include an extract from his autobiography about his experience of Reigate during WW2. Certainly, it is an honour to do so. Eric Sykes was in the RAF stationed at Gatton Park. His book recounts how he was in radio signals and barely saw any aircraft, let alone women, but describes beautifully, the day he first walked all the way down the hill to Reigate and saw the Canadian effect of their troops that were over here. I think that all this time, he didn't realise that Reigate Hill was actually the HQ of South Eastern Command and exactly where Monty was in charge. It says a lot for the disguise techniques that I describe in my lecture. Eric Sykes has also documented his experience of D-Day after leaving Gatton, and later on, years later, meeting up with a fellow Canadian and introducing him to Vera Lynn. The message to me was that he was "thrilled"about my news.

So do take a look. On page 25, right at the end, is a poem by a good friend of mine who has a knack of encapsulating a great story, in a nutshell. The previous pictures have no caption so you can make up your own story if you are inspired to do so. Please notice Winnie the Pooh on page 2.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

The secret tunnels of Reigate Hill

I learned recently that "our" Reigate Hill underground Battle HQ known as Monty's Hideout was the inspiration for the secret tunnels of South Heighton on the South Downs for the Navy - started and completed soon afterwards in 1941.

Geoffrey Ellis describes this as follows:

'Col. FH Foster DSO OBE TD RL RIBA CRA 4 Corps Troops Royal Engineers disclosed how he designed the subterranean labyrinth after visiting Montgomery's headquarters at Reigate."

Haven Life, March 2006 page 19.

Take a look at the photos - it's a magnificent story of perseverance and restoration. The South Heighton site was eventually recognised as being of National Importance by English Heritage.

A little snippet of information I like is that one of the secret entrances was disguised a chicken coop.

Now then, how about its inspiration, here in Reigate?