On the 70th anniversary of his death on 19 September, Guy Gibson’s private letters have been put on public display for the first time at the Herbert Museum in Coventry. The collection of his personal items, donated by his nephew Mike Gibson, includes the private letters sent to Mike’s mother and father, a signed drawing he had done specially for Mike while at Scampton where he trained 617 squadron for the Dambusters raid, his cuff links, some photographs and a recording by the BBC’s War Correspondent, Major Richard Dimbleby, who Guy took on a sortie to Berlin.
I met Mike at an event to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Dambusters raid in 2013 and we became friends. I was fascinated when he showed me the letters from Guy and his other possessions as they are like gold dust to a historian. As a result we agreed it would be good to put them on display as they have never been seen in public before. The letters date from 1943 to 1944 and reveal a lot about Guy the private man. They include a wonderful drawing of Guy Gibson by the war artist Sir William Rothenstein. Guy signed the picture as a gift for Mike’s christening. The cufflinks on display were a gift from Guy’s parents when he joined the RAF in 1936. READ MORE
International development charities like Oxfam do great work but when it comes to jobs are they open to people from different work and ethnic backgrounds? My latest article for the Guardian explores why it’s so difficult to get a job with an international development charity.
Bill Gates’ first CV, written in 1974 when he was 18 years old, was recently unearthed by Seattle’s Living Computer Museum. It shows an ambitious young man who wanted to become a “systems analyst or systems programmer” on a salary of $15,000 (£10,000) and stated that he was willing to “work anywhere”. In the subsequent 40 years as the head of Microsoft, Gates became one of the richest men in the world, formed the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000 and then left Microsoft eight years later to dedicate his life to eradicating poverty. Yet, based on his international development experience alone Gates would not get a campaigning job with Oxfam or any other international NGO.
Why is it so difficult to get a job in international development? Many charities now rightly recruit from within the country or region they are operating in, so getting a UK-based job is highly competitive. Consequently many jobs are massively oversubscribed and that makes it a perfect employers’ market. As a result I believe that when it comes to many research, advocacy and campaigning roles, the UK international development sector has become a closed shop to people from unconventional backgrounds. And my evidence is my own career. READ MORE
I’m proud to say that tomorrow I will be accompanying Bill Betts, a 91 year old D Day veteran, back to Normandy for the D Day 70 commemorations on friday. Bill lives in a village near me and we met in the local pub one Remembrance Day a few years ago. Bill joined the Essex Yeomanry in 1942 and trained as a radio operator on Sherman tanks. He was one of the first ashore on Gold beach on D Day where he was directing fire against German gun emplacements defending the small village of Le Hamel. Within 45 minutes of landing he was shot by a sniper hiding in a field above the beach who also killed the soldier next to him.
Bill knew the sniper would finish him off if he moved a muscle so he pretended to be dead until the village was eventually cleared. He then spent an agonizing 10 hours lying injured on the beach until he was evacuated at the end of D Day. After six weeks in hospital Bill rejoined his regiment and fought his way into Germany being one of the first people across the Rhine in a floating Sherman Duplex Drive tank. This is commonly known to the troops as a Donald Duck! Bill still has the scar on his leg and told me that 70 years on he never thought he’d see that bloody beach again. I’ll be tweeting throughout the commemorations and also posting pictures on my website.
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