The purpose of this blog site is to provide updates on the publication of the book that I have been involved in writing since January 2014. The book now entitled 'A Pithead Polar Bear From Brighton to Belsen 1940 to 1946' is an attempt to understand what my late Grandfather, L/Cpl James Kitchener Heath did during the Second World War.

'A Pithead Polar Bear' is the culmination of another internet blog project that I started, entitled 'A Fragmented Military History', the name being an acknowledgement of the limited information that I had to go on and just how much there was to learn. The original site can be accessed from this site and in many ways can be thought of as being complementary to the published book.

James, or Jim, Heath was an ordinary citizen soldier signed up for the duration of the war. His experiences over the six years of the conflict are similar to those of many thousands of infantry men whilst at the same time unique to him.

My sincere hope for this book is that it may in some part inspire like minded people to take up the challenge to explore a similar history for one of their own relatives. My message is that it can be done even seventy plus years after the events described. It is also hugely rewarding.

Somewhere down the line I wrote words to the following effect, 'in my dealings with our veterans it has become clear that it is not our thanks they seek for what they did but our understanding'. That for me is justification enough for such an undertaking as this.

Monday, July 10, 2017

A Veteran of the 5th South Staffordshire Regiment Responds

Bert Bamford
5th South Staffordshire Regiment.

Today I was the very happy recipient of a personal letter from one of the veterans who kindly took the time to share his wartime experiences with me during the preparation of 'A Pithead Polar Bear'. Herbert (or Bert) Bamford was, like my Grandfather, a soldier of the 5th South Staffordshire Regiment within the 59th (Staffordshire) Infantry Division. Prior to sailing to France in mid June 1944 he trained on the North East Coast, in Northern Ireland and Kent. Once in France he shared the experience of battle to the north of Caen, in Noyers Bocage and on the high ground overlooking the River Orne before the Division was disbanded in August 1944 to supply other regiments with much needed reinforcements.

6th July 2017

Dear Adrian,

Many thanks for the book, I have read a few pages and look forward to reading the rest. I am glad you were able to find the monument at the Chateau Galmanche. Also you were able to still see the signs of the battle. 

It must have taken a lot of work and research to complete your book. I also enjoyed being able to talk and reminisce about those times as my memory is getting a little hazy these days, a sign of age I suppose. 

Again, many thanks for the book.



Bert (on the left) with a fellow veteran at the St Contest Memorial to the actions of the 59th (Staffordshire) Division on the area on the 8th and 9th July 1944.

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