Saturday, 4 June 2005
Douglas Jennings, RAF Evader During World War II
?Jump or Die? - A Personal Recollection from 1939-1945
Topic: My Web Pages
If any of you have visited my web site, you will know that my aunt, Marthe Janssen-Leyder
was a member of the Belgian Secret Army during World War II. I met her once when I was four years and ten months old. She came over to London in 1946 to see my father and stayed with us for a couple of days. She was planning to arrange a meeting with some of the airmen who had been helped by her group but it was not to be. A few days later, she died from a stroke - the strain of the war years had taken its toll. I had some papers my father had kept, some 'stories
' she had typed out for us and some family memories. Then, a couple of years' ago, I was contacted by a Canadian Historian, Michael Moores LeBlanc, who told me how to get a copy of her 'Award File' from the US Archives in Washington DC. I now had some names - three Airmen she had helped, one USAAF and two RAF. I found one of them, Douglas Jennings
, living about twenty miles away from my home. He was the same airman pictured in the Belgian Newspaper
cutting I had.
At the time, Doug gave me a copy of his unpublished manuscript, "Jump or Die". It describes his two years of training with the RAF as an "Air Bomber", the initial 'crewing up' process and the crew's eventual posting to No. 57 Squadron at East Kirkby, Lincolnshire in April 1944 after a final two months at No. 5 Lancaster Finishing School. It tells how, on the night of 21st June 1944, (the crew's 18th operation), Lancaster III, LM580 DX-L, took off to bomb an oil plant in Wesseling, German. On the outbound journey, the bomber was shot by FLAK and went down in flames. All the crew
, except for Pilot Gwylin 'Ginger' Guy, who sadly went down with his aeroplane, bailed out. Doug was lucky not to be arrested by the Gestapo. He successfully evaded through Belgium and returned to England in September 1944. One of the first things he did was to visit my father's office to give him news of his sister! After "Survivors' Leave", Doug was posted to an Operational Training Unit at Abingdon - not what he wanted! After some 'drastic action' on his part, Doug finally succeeded in getting another posting to No 9 Squadron where he flew a further eight operations dropping the famous Tallboy Bombs.
I was enthralled with his book. So, I am absolutely delighted to announce that it has just been published through Tucann Books. The book is an A5 sized paperback of 141 pages and well illustrated throughout. Purchase price is #10 + #1.50 post and packing. Copies may be obtained from Doug (who will be pleased to sign them) or from the Publisher, full details here
Tuesday, 1 February 2005
Eureka - Another Solution!
Topic: My Web Pages
After all the troubles with my website gear, I realised something else this morning. I had subscribed to two Newsletters from Tripod: Tripod Handcrafted and Gearworks. The last one I received was dated 13th March 2004!
I did vaguely wonder what had happened to Handcrafted but so much happened last year what with back trouble, crashing my computer, updating to cascading style sheets and my husband's health problems overshadowing everything, that it failed to make an impact on my tired old mind.
I have now updated my Tripod/Lycos Network membership details with my Yahoo mail address. What is it with the Wanadoo Mail Servers? They are obviously not on speaking terms with Tripod! What other emails have I never received?
Does anyone else out there in the UK have a Tripod Website and a Wanadoo email address? I'd love to hear from you if you have.
Eureka - A Solution!
Topic: My Web Pages
I have had a long few days sitting at my computer - I was getting so tired at the weekend, I tried to pour pineapple juice into my coffee instead of Soya milk. Now that would have been a new experience! Luckily, I stopped just in time. I remember my sister once put a spoonful of instant coffee into my mother's hot lemon juice - I think that experiment went down the sink!
Well, at least I now know that my Feedback Form and my Guestbook emails are working properly. Thanks in no small part to 'Mamagoo', a member of the Tripod Community. I posted a message on the Tripod Community Blog
about my problems and this very kind lady went to a great deal of trouble installing a Feedback Form on her website and testing it out. As a result, I have now changed my email notification address to my Yahoo Web Mail address instead of my home email address. All the test messages we sent arrived immediately.
When I first set up my Yahoo account, I put that address on my website but I forgot to check it for several days and of course there was an email patiently waiting there. So, I reverted to my home email address. This time, I noticed that Yahoo now had a free mail forwarding service and I decided to try it out. Set everything up and verified my email address. Sent myself a test email from myself and back it came into my Outlook Express Inbox. So far so good... I then put yet another test entry into my Guestbook and nothing arrived - the notification email was lost in outer space somewhere, probably in the Alpha Quadrant! Went back to Yahoo and had a small panic until I found out how to turn off the mail redirection.
So, could the culprit be my Internet Service Provider! I have always had the same ISP, which started off as Freeserve. From the 5th April 2004, Freeserve introduced anti-spam and anti-virus services and then from 28th April, Freeserve changed its name and became Wanadoo - maybe some of these changes caused a bug somewhere in their Mail Servers? Hmmm... The earliest entry in the queue of entries I found in the Guestbook Gear Manager was dated 25th March 2004. Possibly, they started putting changes in force around that time. I have now contacted Wanadoo but, as usual, received an automated reply! I am writing again and hope to receive a reply from a human being in due course. However, I may never know the real cause of my problems.
I have yet to hear from Tripod whether there is any possibility of recovering nine lost Feedback messages - probably not. However, I have learnt a lesson. No news is good news - BUT keep checking Gear Manager! And, from now on, my Yahoo Mail box.
Saturday, 29 January 2005
Problems with My "Feedback Form"
Topic: My Web Pages
After sorting out my GuestBook problems, I looked at the Feedback Form and yes, that is definitely malfunctioning too. The statistics at Gear Manager tell me I have had eleven messages. Nine of those are lost in limbo somewhere on the Tripod Servers! Probably all sent in the last nine months or so. I actually sent myself a test Feedback message last night and it has not arrived although Gear Manager now tells me I have had twelve messages. So, if you are reading this and you once sent me a Feedback, my sincere apologies for not replying. Your message was never passed on to me.
Of course, I have my email address on my website also - masked in various ways to try to beat the email harvesting machines the Spam senders use to scan websites. However, I thought that having the alternative of using a Feedback Form was a brilliant idea, as some people do not have access to email facilities. I have a 'Mail' link in my taskbar so I can call up Outlook Express whenever I want to but not everyone has an email program installed on his or her computer. Some people use a web based email service such as Yahoo. I know that I can open a second browser and go to Yahoo whilst keeping a web page open, but many people do not realise that they can do that - a Feedback Form means they don't have to leave my site. Also, they don't have to give me an email address if they don't want to.
A brilliant idea.... But only if it works!
I have written again to the Support Team at Lycos/Tripod. They must have been aware of this long-standing problem before I discovered it. I can only hope that they can cure the "misconfiguration" and retrieve my Feedback messages but I am not feeling very hopeful at present!
Tuesday, 25 January 2005
The Saga of My Disappearing Guest Book
Topic: My Web Pages
I first set up my Guest Book in September 2001 when my website was still in its birth throes and the first people to sign it were my nephew, my son and my evening class tutor followed about six weeks later by my cousin, Michel. I decided to submit my URL to the search engines in November 2001 and waited several months for my site to be indexed. Then two more signatures appeared in July 2002 and one of my Spanish nieces found me in September 2002 and signed it too. One more signature was added in November and this was the first time I realised that Tripod had failed to send me a notification email to say my book had been signed. By the time I discovered the entry, it seemed rather too late to send a `thank you for signing' email.
In 2003, I had 13 entries, including my son again, my daughter and one I put in myself to reply to someone who had left a private entry together with an email address which did not work! Of the rest, I had to delete one and I had to remove the homepage link plus a large picture link from another one inviting everyone to visit the owner's website. (I followed that link only to find myself looking at a ghastly photograph of the rear end of an unfortunate weightlifter who had suffered a severe rectal prolapse. Ugghh!) This unpleasant experience made me change my open format to a moderated one sometime in July 2003. One more signature appeared on 27th February 2004. After that, nothing....
I began to feel extremely depressed about my Guest Book. I must be doing something wrong or perhaps signing Guest Books was just going out of fashion? Certainly, leaving an email link* anywhere on the Internet could result in unwanted Spam flooding your inbox, as I had already found out! Perhaps I could change the format completely? I thought of changing it to a 'Sign for World Peace' Book but I would have liked to include a 'light a candle' feature and I had no idea how to do that. I wrote to my cousin at Christmas and told him I would probably remove the Guest Book as no one was signing it. In mid-January, I finally did just that and removed all the links to my Guest Book from several pages.
Then late last Sunday afternoon, I decided to see what changes could be made to the Tripod Guest Book format if I started again; and so I logged into Gear Manager. That's when I discovered that there were a large (for me!) number of entries all waiting to be approved for publication. I had not received any email notifications. I was furious with Tripod and I ranted and raged until I could see my husband wasn`t listening anymore. I was also very upset that people had not seen their entries appear and extremely mortified that I had not been able to thank anyone for their comments. I searched the Help pages at Lycos/Tripod to see if there were any alerts regarding technical problems with email notification. Finally, late Sunday evening, I filled in the form to report an error.
Monday afternoon, a reply arrives from Lycos Customer Support:
The Tripod/HTML Gear Mail Servers are not functioning properly due to a misconfiguration error. Some members may receive delayed notification emails after their Guestbooks or Feedback forms were signed by visitors a while back. The error is not the result of an action on your part and all of the signed entries are kept in our database. We apologize for the inconvenience that may have caused you".
A misconfiguration error that is eleven months old! Tripod - that is just not good enough!
I will be reinstating my Guest Book links on my website as soon as possible and in the meantime, my sincere apologies to all those visitors who never saw their entries appear. I will alter the settings to "open" and I will have to check on a daily basis until Tripod resolves this technical mess or I find a more reliable Guest Book from somewhere else. In the meantime, I am still feeling extremely MIFFED! (Yes, I know, it's bad for my high blood pressure and I am trying to calm down).
Well, wouldn't you be annoyed? Also, I feel a complete Nerd for assuming my Guest Book was an utter failure and for not checking out Gear Manager on a regular basis - that was really stupid of me. Why didn't I think to look - anyone else would have checked it out except yours truly and ..... Arrghh... I must calm down, I must calm down, I must calm down...
* To mask your email address from the automatic Spam gatherers, write 'at' instead of using '@', which is one of the giveaways , and write 'dot' instead of a stop. Any human being can decipher that with no trouble.
Friday, 15 October 2004
Topic: My Web Pages
I have been unsettled for a while. I discovered a major problem with one of my pages a couple of weeks ago, which I really must address. Wrote to the Editor of a large website for advice regarding copyright about ten days ago and no one has bothered to reply! In the meantime, I haven't been able to concentrate on working on the rest of the website. Had my hair done last Tuesday - the whole works, lowlights and all - amazing how that makes you feel better! Then I nearly lost the car today! Had to see the nurse this morning to collect a 24 hour blood pressure monitor. It takes a reading every 30 minutes but, as I wandered round the shops, I noticed that it would take a second reading after one minute if I didn't keep still. Of course, it chose to take a reading just as I arrived back home in the car. Turned into the drive and sat still. Went indoors and, yes, it took a second reading. About five minutes later, hubby looks out of the window and comments that the car "is very near the drive entrance and looks odd". Rushed back out - I had only forgotten to put on the handbrake and the car had rolled back down the drive and was halfway across the pavement! Thank goodness he noticed.
Monday, 13 September 2004
What do you think?
Topic: My Web Pages
Finally finished working on my updated personal pages
and uploaded them today. About time - I had been working on them for ages! I knew I had to get rid of the night sky background and replace it with something lighter so that anyone with an older browser could read the black text. However, I have to battle this problem I have of always going for bright fussy backgrounds! Trying to stick to 'Eos
' designs so I finally chose the same pale texture I am using here and on my Album and Family Tree pages for the table background. Do you think the orangey page background behind the table is too bright? (You can read the black text on it, though.) I did once get an email from someone thanking me for 'a beautiful site' but I suspect any professional designers would throw their hands up in horror and tell me to stick to plain white with a fluid design. Anyway, I think a bit of colour does no harm. I am trying hard to follow some of the accessibility guidelines but it seems I am a long way from achieving even Priority 1. Will keep trying (yes, I know, I am VERY trying!).
Thursday, 8 July 2004
Topic: My Web Pages
Had a shock on Monday (hopping mad, too!). Found a webpage which had copied all of my words from my first Tribute page and from the story of the Traitor, several family photographs had been taken as well. It all looked particularly awful, too. Why? Well, he had not copied my external style sheet information - probably didn't know how to. I followed his link back to his personal pages and found he had listed a number of pages about people with his family name! All copied direct from the original sources (which all had copyright notices). Two or three emails later, he agreed to remove the stolen content.
Monday, 1 March 2004
Redesigning My Home Page
Topic: My Web Pages
Finally managed to get back to working on my web pages last week. What with yet another horrible chesty cold in February, plus my back injury, I hadn't done any real work on my computer since 19th December 2003! Trying to redesign my front page in line with the suggestions from Practical Internet Web Designer magazine. Removing most of the distracting animations and trying to tone down the backgrounds! When I first started writing web pages, I used 'tables' as boxes to hold everything together and to keep images where I wanted them so I think I will have to keep those. Also, used <td>s to create double borders. However, trying to get rid of some of the 'tables' inside 'tables' and use more cascading style sheets. Gradually getting my head round more of the intricacies of css but my old brain is aching!
Thursday, 8 January 2004
Topic: My Web Pages
Very pleased to see that my website has been featured in this month's Practical Internet Web Designer (Issue 89). I had originally written to the 'Design Doctor' in late September 2003, hoping for some advice and/or tips. The Editor contacted me in mid November to explain that the Design Doctor had been put out to pasture and was I interested in having a professional Web designer giving my site an overhaul in the new 'Site SOS' section! Agreed with some trepidation! Heard no more until I opened my January magazine! They have made some very helpful comments and their suggested design for my home page made me realise that the initial screen should contain some relevant information and links to jump down the page. (Not just a 'Welcome' and a photo!). I liked their suggested page background with bands across a photograph. However, they have not told me how to achieve this effect. Will have to experiment in Paint Shop Pro!
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