A couple of weeks ago, I got an email from a gentleman in England, who's writing a book about the poetry of the Second World War. He was looking to find out where the poet and BBC writer Henry Reed had done his basic training, an experience that was the genesis for his most famous poem, "Naming of Parts
" (shameless self-link).
I am by no means an expert on Henry Reed, although there's probably only a dozen or so folks on the planet who know more about the guy than me. I'm a Henry Reed-buff. An enthusiast. Fanboy. But an authority? Not hardly, Hardy. Still, I gave my inquiring friend all the info I had, and told him who to go to if he wanted to find out more. There's only so much research one can do, sitting at a laptop in the States. Legwork's required.
But I was curious, too. So I emailed the kind folks at the Royal Logistic Corp Museum
, in Surrey, UK. Henry Reed was "called-up" into the Royal Army Ordnance Corps in summer, 1941, and the RLC is an amalgam of a bunch of British Corps, formed in 1993, which combined the Army Catering Corps, the Royal Pioneer Corps, the Postal and Courier Section of the Royal Engineers, and the RAOC. I whipped off a vague but polite email, and proceeded to forget about it.
The library mail comes around this morning, and lo! and behold: I've got a brown paper package return-addressed from England. It contains a rather nice letter from the archivist who handled my request, and a slender volume called A Short History of the RAOC
(Brigadier Fernyhough, 1980. Sua Tela Tonanti
! "Their Weapons are Thunderbolts."). Best guess at the moment: Reed's battalion was based out of Leicester in 1941. A fact which would seem to be confirmed by this memoir
, which places the 3rd Training Battalion in Hinckley, Leicestershire.
How d'ya like that? Send an email to England, get free stuff in the post. Better'n mailing in proofs-of-purchase.