A series of podcasts from Oxford University's 'Their Finest Hour' project. Led by the Faculty of English, this project aims to collect stories, objects, and memories around British involvement in the Second World War using Oxford's Community Collection Model (OCCM). The podcasts will cover what the project is about, how it works, what it is trying to achieve, but also will take deeper looks at material that is submitted and the range of research going on in the field at Oxford.
This project is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Noor Inayat Khan: the "Spy Princess" - Interview with Shrabani Basu
Joseph Quinn speaks to Indian journalist, bestselling author and historian, Shrabani Basu, about the life and career of legendary SOE agent, Noor Inayat Khan. In this, the second of three special podcast episodes recorded for South Asian Heritage Month, Shrabani documents the extraordinary origins of Noor Khan, a pacifist Sufi Muslim woman, whose life took an unlikely turn during the Second World War. Shrabani shares with Joseph why this young Indian-American took the decision to serve as a member of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF), before being selected for training as a member of F-Section, Special Operations Executive. Shrabani details Noor's time as British-serving spy in Nazi-occupied France before her capture, interrogation, torture and ultimate murder at the hands of German Gestapo and SS authorities. She also reveals why Noor Khan has come to symbolise the contribution of British India towards the struggle against fascism, and how people all over the world have come to love and admire this brave and beautiful young woman as a symbol of resistance in defiance of Nazi tyranny.
Soldiers of the Punjab in two world wars - Interview with Amandeep Madra
Joseph Quinn speaks to Amandeep Madra, founder of the UK Punjab Heritage Association, about Pubjabi and Sikh soldiers in the British Indian Army. In this episode, recorded as part of South Asian Heritage Month, Amandeep tells Joseph about the important role that the former Raj province of Punjab played in Indian Army recruitment during the first and second world wars. He discusses the proud martial tradition of Sikhs in the British Indian Army, and why Punjabi Sikhs, together with fellow Punjabi soldiers of other faiths and traditions, often made up the largest cohort of India's wartime armies during the world wars. Amandeep also explains the reasons why the wartime service of Indian, Pakistani and other South Asian service personnel is so poorly documented today, and shares the important work of the UK Punjab Heritage Association in attempting to recover this lost military heritage.
The Duke of Windsor's German tutor - Interview with Emma Huber
Emma Huber, German subject librarian at Oxford's Taylorian Library, speaks to Joseph Quinn about the life and career of Professor H.G. Fiedler. In this short episode, Emma details the career of Professor Hermann Georg Fiedler, the first Taylor Professor of German Language and Literature at the University of Oxford, and his lifelong activities in support of peaceful relations between Germany and the United Kingdom. Taking a chronological guide through fascinating correspondence and documents held within the Fiedler Archive at the Taylor Institution Library, Emma shares with Joseph the details of his personal relationship with some of his former students, particularly Edward, Duke of Windsor, before and after his abdication in 1936. Emma and Joseph also explore Fiedler's connection with Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, and his support for Britain's appeasement policy in the late 1930s, along with his contact with members the German government, his failed attempts to cultivate peace between Nazi Germany and Britain through the sharing of culture, and also his humanitarian efforts in helping German Jewish refugees to find a home in the UK.
Northern Ireland in WW2 - TFH Collection Day at the Linen Hall, Belfast
Interview with Scott Edgar at the Linen Hall Library, Belfast, just after hosting the first TFH Collection Day event in Northern Ireland. Joseph Quinn speaks to Scott Edgar, the coordinator of Wartime NI and Arts and Cultural Programmer for the Linen Hall Library, Belfast, about his experience of coordinating a TFH Collection Day and the stories gathered during the course of the event. Joseph and Scott discuss the complexity and depth of Northern Ireland's experience during the Second World War, referring specifically to a number of astonishing stories and items submitted by three participants that day.
Fighting Proud: Gay Men in Wartime - Interview with Stephen Bourne
Interview with Stephen Bourne about the experiences of gay men in the British Armed Forces and at home during the Second World War. Out of the 6.5 million men and women who served in the British Armed Forces during WW2, as many as 1.2 million may have experienced some form of same-sex intimacy. In this episode, Matthew Kidd speaks to Stephen Bourne about his book "Fighting Proud", a fascinating study that unearths remarkable stories about some of the gay men who experienced the war in the British armed forces or at home. Among other things, Stephen and Matthew consider how "Fighting Proud" challenges some of the assumptions that people have about gay men during the war, and discuss how certain individuals featured in Stephen’s book proudly and bravely defied the expectations of their times.
Under Fire: Black Britain in Wartime - Interview with Stephen Bourne
Interview with Stephen Bourne about the contribution of black men and women in wartime Britain during the Second World War. To mark the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the Empire Windrush, Joseph Quinn speaks to "Black Poppies" author, Stephen Bourne, about the subject of his recent book, "Under Fire: Black Britain in Wartime 1939–45". Stephen shares with Joseph his experience in uncovering the previously untold story of the wartime contribution of black service personnel from the West Indies and Africa in the British forces, as well as the domestic war effort made by black men and women on the Home Front.