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Author Topic: The Real Dad's Army - The War Diaries of Colonel Rodney Foster  (Read 9250 times)
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Man of Kent1
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« on: July 15, 2012, 23:50:23 PM »

Rodney Foster (1882 - 1962) was born into an army family and was himself commissioned in 1901.  He joined the Indian Army, and was on active service for five years, including the North-West frontier.  In 1906 he left the army and joined the Survey of India, similar to our Ordnance Survey, before re-joining the British Army at the beginning of the First World War, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.  He had married Phyllis Blaxland in 1912, and their daughter, Daphne, was born in 1913.
In 1919 he returned to civilian life, rejoined the Survey of India, finally retiring with the rank of Superintendent in 1932 to 4 Hillcrest Road, Upper Hythe.
He kept a diary throughout the war and described, meticulously and often dispassionately, the experiences and sacrifices endured by himself, his family, friends and Home Guard colleagues on the south coast of England under almost constant air attack, and bombardment from across the Channel.


Sunday 14 July 1940:
'Phyllis and Daphne went to church.  At 3 o'clock the sirens blew, planes flew over, and anti-aircraft fire was visible.  It was an attack on a convoy near Dover, which a BBC announcer broadcast from the cliffs.  At 5.30 p.m. our aircraft passed over continuously for half an hour.  I drove Phyllis back to Bog Farm after tea.  At night we heard a Hun pass over as we went to bed.  Later the siren sounded then the 'all clear' and shortly after the siren sounded again.  I did not stir from my bed.  This giving the 'all clear' too soon is becoming a habit. At 11.30 p.m. I felt my bedroom shake and thought it was big guns, but it was an earthquake.'


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Man of Kent1
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« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2012, 09:15:27 AM »

Saturday 20 July 1940

"I went to orderly room then drove to Bog Farm. We saw a French plane flying low, which I'm sure was hostile. After tea we walked to the village andat 6 o'clock heard the Asford siren and soon after saw rows of 'Archies' bursting in the sky in the direction of Dover and Hythe.  Others said they were land batteries, but I guessed rightly that it was a convoy being attacked.  Then our planes came over flying very high.  As there was a lull, Phyllis and I walked on and had just got to our drive when I heard our Hurricanes diving down and a crash.  I saw a parachute descending.  The 'all-clear' went at 6,45pm.  I went up the hill behind our cottage and watched our planes flying high up.  I left at 8 0'clock.  Daphne also had an alarm at Hythe at 1 o'clock and in the 6 o'clock raid saw a parachute being blown over Thanet and saw a plane crash on the hills behind Capel.  I believe this was not the same as I saw before."

Newspaper report:
"Parachute Mystery.
Residents on the south-east coast saw what appeared to be a parachute being carried swiftly inland. It was first seen at about 8,000 feet, descending very slowly.  Nothing was heard of a fight overhead and no plane was observed"
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Man of Kent1
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« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2012, 23:07:19 PM »

"Friday 21 August 1942

I drove up to Saltwood about 12.40pm.  Soon after there were two loud explosions.  Young Bryant's orderly said he could see two Huns and hear them machine gunning.  A bystander called out:'There's where the bombs dropped!' Looking down Brockhill Road, I saw a column of smoke rising above Hillcrest Road houses.  I had a terrible shock, and exclaimed:'My house is gone!'
I dashed home and was relieved to find all well.  Daphne and I went to the lookout and saw the Grove Cinema and the Hythe Motor Works in ruins.  In the afternoon I went down into town.  I found all the windows of our storeroom blown in, and (Major) Butler's office blasted in its upper storey.  The fat Catt girl was singing as she cleared up the mess.  Hall, the solicitor, who had been in his own office, was cut about the face.
I met Igglesden at the Cinque Ports Club gate and went in with him.  The whole club interior had been wrecked.  He told me that he had been sitting with Dr Maudy on the sofa whilst Crauford-Stuart stood talking to (Major) Metcalfe.  Something hit *Stuart, smashing his head, and Metcalfe was untouched but badly shocked.  A bullet hit Mandy's(sic) arm, severing an artery, and he may have to lose his arm.  Old 'Timber' Wood was hit in the back of his head, but only bruised.  The club butler was badly cut about the face by glass.
I looked in at the Hythe Motor Works, where they were sweeping up the glass roof.  Young Roger Hammond, son of one of our Sergeants, was killed and Dunkin(the manager) and Wiles(the mechanic) were badly wounded; the former, hit in the lung, is in danger.
The bomb was the most destructive one we have had; roofs and windows in an extensive area were shattered, including half the length of the High Street."

* Kennedy Crauford-Stuart(rank not mentioned, but possibly a Brigadier) was one of the senior officers commanding the Home Guard in the area.  Foster disliked him intensely, thinking him 'nasty', pompous and pedantic, but admitting that 'he got things done'.  (Foster also loathed Churchill and Montgomery, so K-S was in good company!)
The week after the raid, Foster attended Crauford-Stuart's military funeral in Folkestone Parish Church.

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Man of Kent1
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« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2012, 17:28:09 PM »

'Monday 9 October 1942

Alerts in early morning.  Huns came in over Lypne and were fired on by AA guns.  As I arrived in Folkestone about 10.15 a.m. all the sirens were sounding.
People commenced to run and a woman went round in a circle in Alexander Gardens saying: 'What is happening? What shall I do?'.
I pushed her into a deep doorway but she bolted out again twice, so I let her go.
The police were seizing people and throwing them down the shelters.  Some rifles were fired, and a burst of six shells from the AA gun on the Leas made me look up; I saw the sky full of double-tailed machines diving on Hawkinge.  They were American Lockheed fighter-bombers, very fast.
Daphne heard that one plane was hit.'

My comment: the impression Foster gives here is that the American Lockheeds were attacking Hawkinge Aerodrome, which is why the AA guns were firing, hitting one!
I don't think this is what he meant, unless he meant that the Luftwaffe were using captured American aircraft!
Often, throughout his diary entries, he does give the opposite impression to what actually happened.  It's an example of his entries being too concise, and, probably, written in a hurry because of his myriad of other duties.
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rbgeorge
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« Reply #4 on: October 09, 2012, 20:34:45 PM »

Not Lockheeds but probably twin engined/twin tailed Messerschmitt Me 110 aircraft.  They were fighter-bombers able to carry at least two 250kg bombs.
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Man of Kent1
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« Reply #5 on: October 09, 2012, 22:36:05 PM »

That explains it then!  Thanks for the info, rbgeorge Grin.
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John
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« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2013, 16:58:04 PM »

Finally got a copy of this for a couple of pounds from my local second-hand bookshop. Worth the money? Yep, in fact it is well worth buying it at full price. As well as the diary entries, which are quite fascinating, the sketches and watercolours made at the time by Rodney Foster are amazing.
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Man of Kent1
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« Reply #7 on: July 20, 2013, 23:05:48 PM »

It's a fascinating read, John - enjoy!
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John
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« Reply #8 on: March 21, 2016, 19:16:23 PM »

The original diaries are on eBay - starting bid £999.  Shocked

The Home Guard Diaries of Col. Rodney Foster WWII Hythe Kent 1939-1945

There are 1 attachment(s) in this post which you cannot view or download
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Man of Kent1
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« Reply #9 on: March 23, 2016, 01:01:03 AM »

Rodney Foster died in 1962, his wife having pre-deceased him, leaving his daughter, Daphne, his sole heir.
According to the 'Epilogue' at the end of the book, Foster's diaries and archives were removed from his house, after Daphne's death in 2000, by the local council who sold the material to an unknown buyer.
Later, in 2004, a chap called Sailesh Jawa purchased the bulk of the archives, excluding the diaries, at a London auction.
The diaries were themselves bought at a car boot sale in Exeter by another unknown person before being purchased in 2009, on eBay, by Shaun Sewell, presumably the person selling them now.
Sewell was the person responsible for the publication of the diaries in 2011, with Jawa permitting the use of the illustrations.
One wonders how many more private archives there are out there, languishing unappreciated in people's lofts or garages, which could similarly be made available for public consumption to add to our knowledge of how ordinary people had their lives affected by war!
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alkhamhills
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« Reply #10 on: March 26, 2016, 11:39:03 AM »

4 Hours to go
No bids yet.
Bit of a cheek to be asking for a starting bid of £999.99 and to expect purchaser to pay £11 postage on top
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Monkton Malc
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« Reply #11 on: March 26, 2016, 19:48:19 PM »

Not sold at that price.

Now relisted start price a penny short of £500 or buy it now £749.99

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/The-Home-Guard-Diaries-of-Col-Rodney-Foster-WWII-Hythe-Kent-1939-1945/272188014723?_trksid=p2047675.c100011.m1850&_trkparms=aid%3D222007%26algo%3DSIC.MBE%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D36245%26meid%3Dfb027d7895dc433d9c8bcc66aa66b413%26pid%3D100011%26rk%3D1%26rkt%3D7%26sd%3D322045158926

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Monkton Malc
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« Reply #12 on: March 26, 2016, 19:48:47 PM »

Sorry forgot to do the hyperlink thingy..
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alkhamhills
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« Reply #13 on: March 30, 2016, 08:28:21 AM »

Was on for choice of £499.99 auction or £799.99 buy it now
now finished with no bids
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