Entries by James Holland

Chalke Valley History Festival 2014

June 2013. A baking hot Saturday – the last of the month – and in a small corner of south-west Wiltshire the throng of nearly 10,000 gaze upwards at the sound of a distant aero engine. Or is that more than one? It’s low, and deep and getting louder. Hands point, heads are craned, and […]

Heinz Puschmann – Another Old Friend Gone

This week I heard the sad news that Heinz Puschmann had died at his home in Auckland. He was a lovely fellow – a gentle soul with a great sense of humour who had settled in New Zealand in the late 1940s.  During the war, he had been in the 6th Fallschirmjager Regiment and had […]

An Obsession with US Wartime Jackets

I’m the first to admit I’ve probably got more Second World War ‘ephemera’ than is healthy, whether it machine-guns, long leather Wehrmacht greatcoats, or too many British gas mask bags.  One part of the collection that is turning a little dangerous, though, is my mounting number of US WWII jackets.  Of all the wartime uniforms, […]

Historic Newspapers

I’ve often found scouring old newspapers from the war a great resource.  Yes, of course, a lot of it was propaganda, but the beauty is the immediacy.  One can see how events were being reported, which in itself is often fascinating.  Furthermore, there are always so many wonderful little nuggets to be found: cinema listings, adverts, health […]

Cold War, Hot Jets

My new series on BBC2 starts this coming Friday, 8th November, and I have to say, what’s really good about making programmes for the Beeb is being able to present something of a thesis.  Yes, it’s quite a big subject compressed into two hours, but within those limits there’s still a bit of scope for […]

Secret Tales from the Italian Campaign

I’ve been having a fascinating time during a ten-day research trip to the States, not least pouring over Combined Services Detailed Interrogation Centre (CSDIC) files of their questionings of captured Axis troops.  Having written at length already about the last year of the war in Italy, I was both enthralled and horrified to come across […]

Admiral Titch Cowan – Britain’s Most Tenacious Warrior?

While I’ve been going through Stanley Christopherson’s diaries, I came across an extraordinary figure – Admiral Sir Walter ‘Titch’ Cowan.  Stanley met Admiral Cowan whilst he was part of a battery in Tobruk and was astonished to learn that the Admiral was still in uniform aged 73 and that he had served with the father […]

Stanley Christopherson Diaries

I’m currently having great fun editing the wartime diaries of Stanley Christopherson. Stanley had an extraordinary war.  A young lawyer with the Inns of Court TA regiment, he joined the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry at the outbreak of war.  At the time, the SRY were a very old-fashioned local Nottinghamshire yeomanry outfit, where hunting and cricket […]

Chalke Valley History Festival 2103

I’ve been very involved in getting this year’s Festival up and running, and now here we are with just two weeks to go.   We’ve got an amazing line-up of speakers including Boris Johnson, Dan Snow, Tom Stoppard, Neil Oliver and the BBC’s Wartime Farm team, as well as Antony Beevor, Max Hastings and even Rupert […]

Battle for Malta

Today I’m heading up to London for the last day on the Battle for Malta, a film I’ve been working on since the summer. The day will be spent at Envy, post-production officers off Oxford Street, where the last finishing touches are added: smoothing over edits, laying down music, checking facts are all spot on. […]

New Look for Jack Tanner

One of the really enjoyable moments in the book-writing process is when the first draft of a new jacket design is emailed through.  This one arrived yesterday, and while my editor has concerns that it’s too static, I’ve got to say I think it looks terrific.  It’s nicely gritty and moody and less obviously Commando-comic-ish. […]