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Category Archives: WW2 History

Echoes of History Show 2019

Echoes of History Show 2019

This event has changed site so many times and now has a shiny new name, but will forever been in my heart as Betsy’s first event. At 4 weeks old, she watched Mama sing for the first time and began her journey through the crazy event-filled world that is now her life.

Echoes of History has found a home in Purleigh, not too far from its previous locations. It will grow as word of mouth spreads. The living history areas are fantastic, plenty of eateries, great toilet facilities, main arena shows and live music as well as Air Raid Jive demonstrations too. There were not enough stalls in my opinion, but the organiser did say that it unfortunately clashed with another show. Next year will be better on that front!

There are big plans with this Essex event. A retro area and funfair are in the pipeline, with more classic cars too.

The Saturday was a bit quiet as the winds were getting up to 42mph, causing havoc with gazebos, tents and stylish headwear. Luckily today has been a lot better and a definite increase in public!

I loved singing in the marquee! A mix of 30’s to early 60’s, it went down really well and I even got an encore on my last set!

So what was my highlight? A ride on a tank. Wow what a high!

Festival of the Forties

Festival of the Forties

008 Festival of forties pinup tank web

It was my first time performing at Festival of the Forties and having never been to this particular 1940’s event, I was unsure what to expect!

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The first thing that struck me was the amount of reenactor displays around the edge of the field. There seemed to be more reenactors than public, which really surprised me. The groups had obviously gone to great lengths with their living history displays and they deserved far more people oggling their hard work!

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011 Festival of forties richard von mew web

I was performing in the main marquee and was pleased to see my friend Woody at War. He is one of the best DJ’s on the circuit and always a great help. The weather was scorching, so it was an oven on that stage! Although the heat was slowly baking us to a crisp, there was a very dedicated couple, who were fantastic dancers. They certainly added life to the show and it was a pleasure to watch them as I sang my way through the 1940’s classics.

Another familiar face was my Facebook friend Hiroki. I have not seen him since I used to perform at War and Peace Show each year. Hiroki travels all the way from Japan every year to take part in UK WWII events. The other wonderful thing is that he even wears his grandfather’s original wartime uniform!

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The piece de resistance was definitely the battle reenactment. As viewers, you were close to the action and fully engrossed in what was going on. A stand-off between American and German troops took place before our very eyes, using foot soldiers, Jeeps, a German bike with sidecar, tank and artillery. It was Betsy Rose’s first reenactment and she was absorbed with the action (but donning ear protectors as she is no good with loud noises).

005 Festival of forties reenactment web

006 Festival of forties reenactment web

007 Festival of forties reenactment web

The only thing I would’ve liked to have seen at the show was more vintage stalls and more healthy eateries (like the greek chaps I have seen at some shows), but this is just my personal opinion and certainly doesn’t effect the show. It was just so hot that I didn’t want greasy fish and chips, hot pie and mash and don’t like spicy stuff!

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I am still surprised that the footfall wasn’t greater as the event is obviously going to grow and grow each year. Maybe it just takes word of mouth to get the show the visitors it deserves.

009 Festival of forties tank kitten von mew web

008 Festival of forties tank web

Vintage Photoshoot with CSN Photography at GWSR


In early March I had the pleasure of working with Chris Nicholls of CSN Photography! We visited the beautiful and peaceful GWSR as they prepared for yet another busy season. The weather was questionable, but we made the most of the odd sunny spell between the showers!

So here are my top pick pics for you! In the 1940’s themed images I am wearing an original 40’s swing coat, crepe dress and hat. The shoes are from Johnson’s Originals. In the 50’s/60’s images I am wearing an original novelty print vintage dress and Clark’s Shoes.

I am very much looking forward to shooting with CSN Photography again. As he is used to frequenting at vintage military events, Chris has a keen eye for detail! It’s a shame we couldn’t shoot more of the dress, but it was flipping cold at this point and the weather was really turning!

Remembrance Sunday 2018


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As you all know, Remembrance Sunday 2018 marked 100 years since the end of the First World War. This has obviously been the main focus of this year’s anniversary, with remembrance poppies being significant to the fallen of the Great War.

One of the most iconic symbols in the UK to be associated with war, the poppies pay homage to fallen servicemen, women and animals that have served and fallen.  The paper versions you may purchase each year to adorn your lapel are actually made by disabled or impaired veterans.  These have been created since 1922 (albeit the originals were made of silk) and are a significant part of our Remembrance Days and services.

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This year there has been an abundance; created by the W.I., crafting individuals, church groups, schools and more. The public displays have been breathtaking and in some cases extremely moving.

A few years ago I thought it would be nice to start a Post Remembrance Service Cafe in Snitterfield so that people could warm themselves with a nice cup of tea and piece of cake.

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Angie Tomes (with a sprinkling of volunteer helpers) has helped me turn this 2 hour event into a yearly one that raises money for a different charity each year.

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A charity very close to my own heart is Combat Stress, which started in 1922 and helped rehabilitate veterans suffering from shell shock after the war. Instead of shutting them away in a mental hospital, this charity would use things like basket weaving to focus their minds, relax and socialise. To this day, the charity help ex-servicemen and women suffering with depression, anxiety, shell shock and other mental illnesses with the aid of creativity and specialist therapists.

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First and foremost, thank you to everyone who donated cakes, money and their time! The cafe was busier than ever and it really was an incredible event. I must apologise for my sound system playing up! I battled through as best I could and have now found the error, so next year will be back up to scratch!

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After the cafe, we headed to St. Mary’s Church in Cubbington. Well, what a gorgeous little church! Not only was it pretty to begin with, but the amount of poppies and displays were incredible. I got to sing in front of a packed crowd and felt very honoured to be part of such a special day. We managed to collect just over £312 for Combat Stress!

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Thank you to Charlotte Doran Davies for the wonderful photos from Snitterfield and to Trevor Wright for the ones at Cubbington!

Percival Prince T1 Aircraft

Percival Prince T1 Aircraft

Today I had a shoot at a fantastic location. I’ve travelled past this derelict aircraft since I was a little girl and always found it striking. Sat on a hump of earth at the entrance to Long Marston Airfield, it pays homage to the history of a place now destined for a life as a housing estate.

The airfield was built in 1941 and was home to the RAF, local WAAF, training corp and others, until it was decommissioned in 1954. It was intended to be a satellite station and training unit for a new bomber, but in the end the Air Ministry decided on another base (Honeybourne).

RAF flight training, missions to the Middle East and Gibraltar and Wellington Bombers all took off from Long Marston.

It eventually lay abandoned, full of WW2 building, decommissioned aircraft and parts until the original farming family took it over once more. Since then it has had a WW2 museum (unfortunately no longer there), festivals such as the Bulldog Bash and drag racing amongst others!

The Percival Prince T1 at its entrance was originally from the museum, brought over from Cosford. The training version of the Percival Sea Prince C1, it is an early post war British aircraft used predominantly by the Royal Navy.

The original paintwork would’ve been nothing like this American fighter plane look, but the I still think that the graffiti artist has done a fantastic job of giving this abandoned shell some life once more. The inside has been pretty much gutted, most likely by the adventure seeking teens and festival goers that have been here in the past.

I really hope that after the housing estate has been completed, this important relic will still be guarding the entrance; a testament to this incredibly important piece of local history.

All photos taken by and copyright Kitten von Mew.

Celebrities at War


From Silver Screen to Serving in WW2 – Originally written for Military World Magazine by Kitten von Mew

So we all know about the honourable work that a lot of celebrities did, entertaining our troops throughout the war with ENSA, the USO and in the movies. What about those stars that actually served in WW2? I’m bring you just 6 of the many who did!

Attenborough 1942

Richard Attenborough 1942

Richard Attenborough in In Which We Serve, 1942. Image from http://vintage.tips

Winning 4 Golden Globes and BAFTA Awards, starring in blockbuster movies such as Jurassic Park and The Great Escape and directing classics such as Whistle Down the Wind, Oh! What a Lovely War, Gandhi and A Bridge Too Far…This is one man with a determined and energetic disposition! It is no wonder that he signed up for the Royal Air Force. He initially trained as a pilot and was then placed at the RAFFPU (Royal Air Force Film Production Unit) located at Pinewood Studios, under the command of Flight Lieutenant John Boulting. They produced propaganda films, showing bombed sites, RAF aircraft and aerial action. Attenborough volunteered to fly with the unit and qualified as a Sergeant after sustaining permanent ear damage during his further training. He flew several missions, recording from the rear gunner’s position. Although this is not technically classed as actually fighting in the war, can you imagine being up there, filming Bomber Command sorties and wondering when the next air raid would be???

Mike Anderson

Mike Anderson, Around the World in 80 Days

Michael Anderson (left), Mike Todd Frank Sinatra Around the World in 80 Days 1956. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Michael Anderson is best knows for directing Dam Busters, Around the World in 80 Days, Orwell’s 1984 and Logan’s Run! In WW2 he served from 1942 to 1946 in the Royal Signal Corps, 48th Infantry Division. There is hardly any information about his time in the British army!

Bea Arthur WW2 Card

Bea Arthur WW2 Card

Bea Arthur WW2 Marines

Bea Arthur WW2 Marines

Bea Arthur (previously Frankel) is most famous for her ‘ tough chick’ character in The Golden Girls, but was also one of the first women to serve in the Marines in the war! After hearing that the Marines were enlisting in 1943 (at the age of 21), she hoped for a role in ground aviation, but became a truck driver and typist and made it to Staff Sergeant in her 30 month serve. In her Personality Appraisal interview sheets, she had been described as ‘Officious but probably a good worker – if she has her own way!” and her conversation as “Argumentative”.

Arthur always denied serving in the war, but this may have been a cover up of her one count of misconduct…contracting a venereal disease in 1944!

Gene Autry WW2

Gene Autry WW2

Gene Autry. From rgreyh.files.wordpress.com

Known fondly as the ‘Singing Cowboy’, Gene Autry appeared on television, radio and films such as In Old Santa Fe, always playing the same singing cowboy character. He was the fist of his kind, but was superseded by Roy Rogers when Autry enlisted.

Joining the US Army 1942, he already had a private pilot’s license that proved useful. He became Tech Sergeant but was hell-bent on becoming an aviator. 2 years later he earned his service pilot rating as a C-109 transport pilot as Flight Officer. Autry flew dangerous airlift operation as part of the 91st Ferrying Squadron of the 555th Army Air Base Unit, Air Transport Command. Their missions took them over the Himalayas, between China – India – Burma Theatre. He ferried ammunition, arms and fuel until the end of the war.

Jackie Coogan WW2

Jackie Coogan WW2

Jackie Coogan in the US Army, From amazonaws.com

Jackie Coogan was famously know for his role as Uncle Fester in the Addams Family in the 1960’s (bald head, made light bulbs glow by putting them in his mouth…you know the one), but did you also know that he was the little boy in Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid?

In the First World War, Coogan worked with Near East Relief and toured across Europe and the USA in 1924 on a fundraising drive. In March 1941 he enlisted in the US Army as a medic after being angered by the Pearl Harbour attack. He later requested to become part of the 1st Air Commando Group thanks to already having a pilot’s license. Coogan was the first glider pilot to land allied troops behind the enemy lines of Burma! One of the gliders he was aboard unfortunately crashed. Coogan’s troop was attacked by the Japanese and he was the only one to survive, due to being at the bottom of the pile of bodies. He served for 5 years before being honourably discharged in 1944 and given the Air Medal and several other war citations for his service.

Alec Guinness WW2

Alec Guinness WW2

Sir Alec Guinness, middle row, centre.

He didn’t just help Skywalker defeat the dark side as Obi Wan in Star Wars! No! He also served in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve too! Also famous for such movies as Bridge Over the River Kwai, Kind Hearts and Coronets (one of my favourites!) and Hitler: The Last Ten Days of which he surprisingly considered his best film performance.

Guinness commanded a landing craft in the invasion of Sicily and Elba, later ferrying agents and supplies to the National Liberation Army and Partisan Detachments of Yugoslavia.