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Stolen Vintage Jewellery and WW2 Memorabilia


About an hour after the 2 minute silence on Armistice Day (11th November 2014), a man broke into my home and stole selective pieces from my WW2 collection, nearly all my vintage jewellery, my silver wedding purse, ww2 leaflets, WW2 letter records (the type you play on a record player), a panther/ leopard bracelet based on the Duchess of Windsor’s, ww2 pamphlets, pocket watches, vintage watches, cufflinks, tiebars and even my Grandmother’s WW2 Identification Card. They stole a Nikon D70s camera with a DX lens along with memory cards (holding photos for a future article as well as other things) and my back up drive housing all my photos and videos.

They also broke into my next door neighbours house and as well as jewellery and the like stole his Saxophone?!

We have 1 possible sighting and that was of a man holding a large box of stuff with a large scary dog. He was stood opposite the Lower Compton turning on King’s Lane, Stratford upon Avon.

I have lost all of my Grandmother’s jewellery, all I have left is her lace handkerchief. I have lost my Art Deco engagement ring, all the vintage jewellery I have collected over the years at shows, my torpedo necklace and earring, compacts, and even a Bundles for Britain charm bracelet which was a treasured gift.

I cannot tell you how it feel to walk into your home, knowing someone had been in there. The sudden gust of cold air coming from an unseen broken window and the crackle of glass underfoot as you scan the room. This guy had carefully selected pieces from my cabinet and even closed the door again. This is not an easy cabinet to get into and you don’t just push it gently shut. He had been less careful in the bedroom with all cupboards and drawers opened, bags ripped open (one gas mask bag lock had been torn in his haste to check the contents). The thief shook out my military burlesque costumes out of my WW2 kit bag to put his loot in (if you spot this, it has white stenciled writing on it, an address for an American College) before going next door.

I am still so shaken, I can’t think straight, I can’t sleep right and I want to stay hopeful and proactive enough to track down at least 1 of these things that may give us a lead. This was a professional job and he knew what he was taking. Some of these items, especially my engagement ring, leopard bracelet and charm bracelet are so unique and rare that these should stand out. Please help us catch these crooks?

So I am calling on you antiques dealers, militaria collectors and dealers, carbooters, followers, friends, anyone out there who can help. We will be doing local searches and internet searches, but it is going to take far more than that to hunt a piece down I am sure of it.

Below are some images of just a few things that were taken. If you can print them off and carry them around with you when you go to your next antiques centre, or keep your phone handy to check the photos at a militaria show then that would be fantastic. Don’t worry about searching for the Tiki Mask Brooch, he dropped that.

Notify the police immediately if you see anything. My crime incident number is Kitten 23S6/25722H/14. Or you can say it is regarding the Von Mew Burglary in Stratford upon Avon on 11th Nov.

stolen vintage jewellery and items Stolen 2 for FB Stolen Items 3 FB Stolen Items 4 FB

Halloween Horror Movies with a WW2 Twist!


Well, Halloween is upon us, so I am timing this so that you will see it in time to get your scary movies ready! Although you cannot beat true winners such as The Evil Dead (1981), Dawn of the Dead, Exorcist, Cabin in the Woods, Zombieland…I thought I would bring you a handful of the WW2 themed ones out there. This is just breaking the ice, but most of the other ones I have wasted my life seeing as so unfortunate that they don’t even deserve a mention. There are WWI contenders such as Death Watch, which is ok, not great and many more that I know some people will think “Why didn’t she write about that one?!) but I had to break the list down. If you have any favourites then please email them to me for next year!

I have brought you some greats and not-so-greats that may find themselves marching into your collection and some I have found the whole movie online. So if you are sitting comfortably, I will begin…

 

King of the Zombies

King of the Zombies 1941

If you can’t find a DVD copy of this, you can watch the whole thing on Dan Van Dam’s Youtube page as it is in the public domain! This original WW2 comedy horror features a Capelis XC-12 plane crash in the Caribbean after it runs out of fuel. It blows off course and with minimal radio signal crashes into an island. The pilot, passenger and his signature comical black man (Mantan Moreland, popular for his ‘wide eyed stares’) with his ‘witty southern ways’ make their way to a mansion surrounded by grave stones, which happens to be owned by a mysterious doctor (I won’t spoil his role for you, you will just have to watch the film!). With a WW2 twist, humour and zombies it is quite a good watch for a film of the time.

Definite propaganda staggering around in the story line and a great cast including Dick Purcell who featured in many 30′s and 40′s films, but was most famous for portraying Captain America in the film serial of the same name in 1943! Henry Victor plays the doctor, whom you may have seen in the 1932 classic FREAKS and such movies as Confessions of a Nazi Spy and Nazty Nuisance (this is quite hilarious if you have yet to watch it).

If you are looking at Zombie films today in relation to thing one, it is bound to seem slow moving and more mystery and suspense led than horror, but is a classic non the less. If you are after an original 40′s film to watch on Halloween, then this isn’t a bad contender.

Rating 5/10

The Frozen Dead 1967

“Beware the stare of the Frozen Dead!” A British contender now about a mad scientist played by Dana Andrews (The Purple Heart, Wind and a Prayer, In Harm’s Way) who decides that collecting stamps must be really boring, so instead focuses his attention on Nazi war criminal’s heads. He then of course has to find the right bodies in which to attach these in to, so that he can re-build the Third Reich. America decided to do something very similar a year on using Hitler’s brain as the main focus (The Madmen of Mandoras, please don’t even bother with this one).

A very silly film done in a serious manner, it is hard to be scared by any The Frozen Dead, but it is still an ok watch if you are determined to watch something made before the 80′s. A collection of moving human arms strung on a wall…Nazi soldiers suspended in a tank…large syringes and a lot of ‘DUM DUM DUUUUUUUM” music. It hasn’t got any obvious comedy elements, but you will find yourself laughing at parts due to sheer ridiculousness anyway!

Rating 5/10

 The Boys From Brazil

The Boys from Brazil 1978

Not a gory horror film, but more of a Thriller. I believe it is still worth being in this article as if you haven’t seen it already, you should give it a go. The Boys from Brazil was nominated for 3 Academy Awards and the original story was written by Ira Levin who also brought us such classics as Rosemary’s Baby and The Stepford Wives! The original book is fantastic and a remake is in the pipeline, but Id on’t know when it is coming out!

The movie tells the story of Barry Kohler, who inadvertently stumbles upon Dr Mengele, the infamous Auschwitz doctor and other Third Reich nasties in secret talks. After hearing where the next meeting is, he calls upon the help of a Nazi hunter, who doesn’t really believe anything is going on and brushes it off. Barry decides to secretly record the next meeting on a hidden microphone but is unfortunately discovered and killed whilst making the all important second phone call to the Nazi hunter Lieberman.

Lieberman decides to follow the leads he heard in the final phone call and travels to North America and Europe to investigate the deaths of some civil servants. Upon meeting the widows of these men, he realises that they all seem to have adopted sons with incredible similar features…

Obviously taking inspiration from the Nazi cloning programme of 1938 and genocide, it is a far fetched story (says the girl who loves zombie movies), but still very gripping!

Starring Gregory Peck, Laurence Olivier and James Mason it already has a star studded cast. The fact that it was directed by Franklin Schaffner (Planet of the Apes) is also a bonus.

That is all I am giving you.

7.5/10

Death Ship 1980

If you are looking for classic 70′s/ 80′s cheese with music that reminds you of Demons/ Demons 2, then this is it. Yes it is dire and still only deserves a ‘meh’ rating, but if you find it cheap, just get it. Very funny in a ‘not-scary-but-trying-to-be-so’ way, this is what would have happened to the Gilligans if they hadn’t found their way to that island. A Nazi ghost ship picking up castaways from a cruise ship, the boat, mummified bodies and hallucinations seal the fates of these poor passengers. I have actually found the whole movie on Bruce McLaren’s Youtube account, so there you go!

Starring Academy Award winner George Kennedy (Naked Gun, Dirty Doze…and of course Dennis the Menace Strikes Again) and even Sally Ann Howes (Chitty Chitty Band Bang) it isn’t that bad really, just very of-the-period.

6.5/10 for the pure cheese factor

Puppet Master III

Puppet Master 3: Toulon’s Revenge 1991

Yes indeedy, it’s ‘String time for Hitler and Germany’ as Six Shooter, Pin Head and Blade somehow make it back to the cinema…no I don’t know why either. The film is dire, set in wartime Berlin in 1941. The Puppetmaster has already committed suicide in the previous should-not-have-ever-been-produced Puppetmaster 2. The Nazis , especially Majoy Kraus, have forced scientist Dr Hess to come up with a drug that can reanimate the corpses fallen in battle, but unfortunately the side effects of the drug seem to be mindless violence and bad acting. Meanwhile in a different part of town a puppet show is taking place (including a little puppet of Hitler that is brief but quite funny) and the couple running the show are caught feeding the puppets special magic stuff that keeps them alive by Major Kraus’ driver. He tell Kraus and the couple share the secret. Anyway, it all kicks off, Nazis burn down the theatre, kill the blokes wife and the puppets decide to take revenge. Nazis get shot by dolls and then dramatically throw themselves out of window like old spaghetti western movies. Watch it at your own peril. You won’t get that time back….especially as they brought our Puppet Master Axis Rising in 2013…

3/10

Outpost 2007

Maybe I’ve been hardened when it comes to horror flicks, or maybe I just found this too predictable. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t the worst film out there and a blessed relief after some of the tripe I had watched before it, but it still isn’t jump-out-of-your-skin scary to me. A British horror film directed by Steve Barker, it all revolves around an Ex-marine and soldiers being hired to find an old military bunker in Eastern Europe. At the same time every night, a strange bright light surrounds the area of trees around the bunker and eery silhouettes can be seen everywhere. They discover that the bunker was part of a strange Nazi experiment in reanimating dead soldiers into a super-powerful army (ooooh! Another one!). When two of the party are mysteriously murdered and some of their body parts are found joined together, the rest of the party realise that they have disturbed an occult force that isn’t quite over.

Worth a watch and if you get creeped out my movies easily then you will probably love this one.

6.5/10

Dead Snow

Dead Snow 2009

Yes!!! Norway I love you. Thank you for bringing us this gem of a movie! One of my all time personal favourites, Dead Snow was a complete surprise and a definite must have for those who love comedy horrors. More Nazi zombies, a classic group of young medical students and lots of laughter as well as blood and gore. The movie starts of with a killing from the get-go and after another character falls into a mysterious ice cave and some Nazi treasure is found and pocketed by the group, it acts like a bling magnet for the undead SS. We gleefully watch each student being either killed or creative with weapons in their desperate attempts to stay alive. The zombies are great, there is the obligatory sex scene (with a twist, watch out for the outhouse scene) and a wonderful bit with some intestines, but I won’t spoil it for you, just go and watch it. You’ll find it in Asda and Amazon for super cheap.

8/10

Iron Sky 2012

Another doozy of a film and not a horror, but Sci-fi. It totally deserves to be in here because I know an awful lot of people who haven’t seen it that should. Imagine Darth Vader is actually Hitler and lives on the Moon (surprisingly like the Death Star) and he has been creating his new and improved army of Stormtroopers since fleeing Earth in 1945. Yes Hitler didn’t actually die, he lives on the Moon, you heard it here. It is based in 2018 and America is planning another Moon landing to aid the female president’s re-election (I know, it can’t get any better can it?). The astronauts discover the secret space Nazis and are killed whilst Washington is taken over by the Fourth Reich. Fantastically tongue-in-cheek, Iron Sky is one of those films I wish I had seen at the cinema. If you don’t want zombies and horror, then give this beauty a go instead! There are a few really gaffawing moments and the rest is just a lovely bit of entertainment.

8/10

Frankensteins Army

Frankenstein’s Army 2013

When I ordered this a few months back, I was so positive that it was going to be a great film, I went the extra mile and ordered the steel Blu-ray book version from America. I shouldn’t have.

The story is quite good, the usual thing of creating a super army, but this one is seriously creative, using robotics to make them look almost insect like or with circular saw blades instead of hands. The film is creative, gory and the location was a real find. The film however lacks and feels low budget. The weird zombie robots are awesome, but then every so often a bit will wobble or shake, breaking the illusion that it is heavy steel and reminding you it is silicone and the like. I just left this film with a critical ‘meh…’

The one thing that makes me not want to burn the disc is that I decided to watch the making of documentary. This was really interesting and the director was the artist behind the army of monsters also. His drawing technique is wonderful and what is on the paper gets recreated as the characters perfectly. They show you how they did certain effects and although most of the actors are foreign, there are a few English ones in there to. So although I thought the film needed more money to make it good, the documentary warmed me to the makers of it.

3/10 for the film

6/10 for the documentary

So there you have it. I have been kind in my scores I think and if anyone watches movies from this list, it would be great to hear what you thought! There are even more WW2 themed horror movies being made as I type. The Bleeding has promise of being a good WW2 vampire movie, The Boys from Brazil remake should be interesting, yet another Outpost film, Fangs of War (a Canada and Germany collaboration) with more vampires, Panzer 88 which is intriguing me due to the ‘creature’ aspect and Toon Patrol, a sequel to Roger Rabbit that I had to sneak in there!  Jessica Rabbit gets kidnapped by Nazis!

The National Trust Back to Backs, Birmingham


In early September we decided to treat ourselves to a visit to the National Trust Back to Backs. I remember when the conservation team was working on this project years ago, but have never wondered about its Birmingham location. Funnily enough, this wonderful treasure is something I had stood by a few times whilst gawping into the window of a traditional sweet shop. How funny that I had never known it was there.

Tickets have to be pre-booked and you are taken on a fascinating tour! Once inside the little National Trust Shop, you are taken around the corner and through a locked gate  into a courtyard that did not seem to exist until that very moment.

Inside are a row the back to back houses, a wash room and out house and each of the 3 homes your enter is set in a different period. As well as the period set up, they have also researched some of the interesting people who used to live there. From a Jewish clock maker to a man who made glass eyes for taxidermists and people! You can even find an air raid shelter in the first property and also take a glimpse into how the original state of the place before they set to work.

I learnt a huge amount I never knew, such as how arsenic was once used as a green dye for wallpaper, candles and even icing flowers.

Photography is not allowed at the Back to Backs, other than the courtyard area, and there are steep and winding staircases that have to be climbed and descended in each of the properties. Unfortunately my camera ran out of juice before I got to the tailor’s establishment, which was really wonderful. A tailor that set up business in the 1970′s retired in 2001. When he went, he literally left everything, from patterns to bolts of fabric and finished items…it is all still there!

Here are some of the photos I took of this mesmerising place. I will post more when I can. Thank you once again to all the staff who made this visit such a pleasure!

Back to Backs Courtyard

Back to Backs Courtyard

Back to Backs Birmingham Glass Eyes

Glass Eyes!

Stencilled Walls at the Back to Backs

Stencilled Walls

national trust back to backs flooring

Original flooring in one of the bedrooms!

national trust taxidermy mouse

Taxidermy Mouse ‘Le Eeek’

national trust back to backs birmingham

Original state

Air Raid Shelter Back to Backs

The Air Raid Shelter Basement

Goodwood Revival 2014 Photos


So another Goodwood Revival has come and gone! I have never seen so many people there as I did this year, it was an epic show. It was wonderful to catch up with familiar faces although I didn’t get my annual Lord March shoulder pat, which was most disappointing…

This years celebrities were the petite and gorgeous Geri Halliwell and the ever grump-tastic Rowan Atkinson who I still adore despite his true Blackadder personality (this was even before he crashed his car, so no excuses!). If you know of more then let me know!

I was looked after beautifully yet again by Sue and the team, who never fail to impress me with their organisational skills and spirit.

Less talk and more pictures! I have more that I will add later! Enjoy!

jackie stewart goodwood revival 2014

Jackie Stewart and Kitten von Mew

sue and kitten goodwood 2014

Sue and Kitten with the cheeky grid girls!

pinup kitten the goodwood revival

1954 Beechcraft BE50 Twin Bonanza called Eve with a ‘My Oregon Lady’ noseart

goodwood 2014

kitten von mew pinup noseart

raf benevolent fund

Heard of Benny and the Jets? Meet Kitten and the Vets! These two fabulous gents were signing books at the RAF Benevolent Fund tent. So much hilarity, we went back the next day for more…and a sing song!

peter-jackson-biplane-goodwood-revival

This replica First World War Bi-Plane is part of a project being funded by the famous director Peter Jackson. He is such a massive fan of the aircraft, he had a cameo appearance in one for his film adaption of King Kong.

ww2 vehicles goodwood revival 2014

Amazing track moment on Sunday. I took all these from the Start Line Grandstand. It was the most wonderful moving exhibit of vintage vehicles I have ever seen! And the 2 Lancaster Bombers were incredible moving!

track moment 4 WEB track moment 6 web track moment vets WEB track-moment 2 WEB

jackie stewart goodwood revival 2014

Jackie Stewart and Kitten von Mew. He was one cheeky chappie! Glad some things never change!

WW2 Songs and their Origins


Well last time I brought you songs of the First World War and today I bring you a few facts of the origins of these Second World War songs! I was going to go with quite a few quirky ones, but you would be amazed at how many are actually from a lot earlier. Take Quartermaster’s Stores for example…This is actually from the Civil War! So I have brought you some that are definitely WW2 and hope you enjoy the selection…
 
Now, as soon as I mention White Cliffs of Dover, you may be forgiven of instantly thinking of Vera Lynn, but there is 1 major flaw of the song that reminds us that the lyrics were written by an American…’Bluebirds’. These are not native to England and do not resemble Swallows or the like either. Imagine a Robin that has accidentally taken a bird bath in a pot of electric blue ink. That is a Bluebird. Nat Burner wouldn’t have known this as he had never ventured to these shores, but was forgiven as his beautiful lyrical imagery was so strong. Not only that, Swallows (which are navy blue) had been a symbol of love and loyalty for many, many years in Britain. It was a sign that spring when you saw that this delightful bird had arrived and they would always fly back every year. It also felt as if Nat’s Bluebirds were being used as a symbol of the RAF coming back home too.
 
White Cliffs of Dover Sheet music

White Cliffs of Dover Sheet Music from http://www.authentichistory.com

 
Written in 1941 (before America even joined into the fight), White Cliffs of Dover was created to boost morale on British soil. The musical composer was Jewish American Walter Kent who also composed the stunning festive song ‘I’ll Be Home for Christmas.’ Nat was actually born Nat Schwartz, but changed his Germanesque surname to something less so. Nat had been writing songs for stage and screen, including ‘When the Roses Bloom Again’, which you may recognise the likes of Johnny Cash covering.
 
 
blood on the risers lyrics

http://www.serviceofsupply.com
Original 1943 lyrics to Blood on the Risers

 
Next is one I remember singing around a Brownie campfire; Blood on the Risers. This song has had so many lyric changes since the original American Paratrooper version. Most of us know the chorus lyrics as “Glory, glory what a hell of a way to die, suspended by your braces when you’re learning how to fly. Glory, glory what a hell of a way to die and he ain’t gonna jump no more!” but in fact the originals were “Gory, gory what a hell of a way to die (x3), he ain’t gonna jump no more!” The “Glory glory” confusion comes in because the tune is for a completely different song (The Battle Hymn of the Republic), in which you would have sung those words. The “Gory gory” version is a funny play on these, which seem to have gotten lost in the campfire versions. There was also a different lyric to the “…suspended by your braces” part that went “With a rifle on his back as he’s falling through the sky.”
 
Although each of the different versions tell the same basic story of a man falling to his death, the original is of a poor Airborne paratrooper that let out his parachute, only for the silk to wrap around his legs, the cord to coil around his neck and the connectors to wallop him over the head. This can also be heard in Episode 9 of Band of Brothers. No one knows who wrote this song, but I like to think that as the rest of the troop were singing “Glory glory Hallelujah!”, there was some cheeky sod at the back making up his own lyrics to make people laugh. Well if that is true, it certainly did the trick and is still sung religiously by the American Airborne troops to this day!
 
 
a nightingale sang in berkley square

From yorku.ca
A Nightingale Sang in Berkley Square sheet music cover.

 
Recorded by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Rod Stewart (hey, wait! Where you going?!), Harry Connick Junior, Nat King Cole, Glenn Miller and Vera Lynn, A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square is a beautifully sentimental song. The lyrics spark images of romance, London’s elegant Mayfair district and birdsong…but did you know it was actually written and first performed in France?! This famous ‘English’ song was in fact written in a small fishing village in Le Lavandou, just before the outbreak of war. Eric Maschwitz (born in Edgbaston, Birmingham) wrote the lyrics and Manning Sherwen wrote the melody. Later the same year, Eric became part of MI-6′s sabotage section and even briefly established a resistance organisation in Yorkshire in 1940 before getting posted to New York and then back to London. He was most famous for co-writing the 1937 adaptation of Goodbye Mr. Chips (one of my favourite MGM classics!), of which he was nominated for an Academy Award. Manning on the other hand was American and moved to England in 1938. He wrote many wartime musicals, who’s casts delivered between 235 and 680 performances per play throughout the 40′s.
 
So back to the song…Imagine a small, insignificant bar with Manning at the piano, a resident saxophone player and Eric holding a glass of plonk singing the words. You would be blown away right? Well no one was that fussed to be honest. Well as soon as the Brits heard it in 1940 on New Faces (sung by Judy Campbell), we went crazy for the song and its references to London. It was of course Dame Vera Lynn that really saw sales and heart soar for this song.
 
So there you have it. 3 exceptional songs of WW2 and I could bring you more, but then I would have nowt to write about when I am stuck for ideas! I will bring you others at a later date I promise, but hope you have found this interesting and enlightening!

Ice Bucket Challenge


Yup, I finally did it, in support of Macmillan Cancer Research. I nominated my 2 friends Trampy and Stephanie. I would say it is passing on the love, but I now know what this feels like! All those people who wimped out and just used tepid water…pfff…

Fantasy Maternity Photos


I’m so sorry I have been lackadaisical recently. It has been hard to find the time in which to sit down on the computer and write something!

This weekend I had the pleasure of photographing Helen and Dai, my wonderful friends from Warwick. Helen, as you can see, is pretty darn preggers and will pop around Halloween time. Not feeling the maternal glow or fond of her temporary Weeble-esque shape, I decided to SHOW her how beautiful she looked by doing a light makeover and photo shoot in my parent’s gorgeous garden. I asked Dai to wear his wedding outfit and wanted the whole thing to have a medieval pre-raphaelite quality as they are so into their medieval and mythical themes. I also adore pre-raphaelite paintings, so it was a good excuse for me too!

So here are the finished pictures that Helen and Dai have kindly let me post up here. Hopefully this will be a good way of their family and friends seeing them too. I just can’t wait to do the baby photos, of which have already been planned!!!

helen-laying-frame-web

My favourite! I am very proud of this shot!

My favourite! I am very proud of this shot!

mythical maternity photos

medieval maternity photos

The wonderful couple!

helen cable pre raphaelite maternity photo

Helen in her wedding tiara.
Photos copyright Kitten von Mew. Do not use without prior permission.

Dai in his wedding finery. Photos copyright Kitten von Mew. Do not use without prior permission.

Dai in his wedding finery.
Photos copyright Kitten von Mew. Do not use without prior permission.

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