Nearly Famous... vague connections to someone famous

Ok, this is a "fun" type page. The idea is to tell how members of our wider family are linked to someone other people have heard of or to an event in history.

 

Michael Wittmann. In July 1944 Willie Adam was fighting on the British side in the desperate and heroic struggle to take this crucial town. Controversy still exists over the subject as to whether Montgomery had let down his American allies by failing to take the town much sooner or whether he was taking the heat off them by drawing the Germans away.

Montgomery has also been criticised for being overly cautious as a commander but it may be that he was showing realism regarding Britain's declining manpower pool. He may have been reasoning that Britain simply couldn't afford two or three huge battles of the WW1 type. The Normandy campaign was certainly on a par with those major battles.

By the time Britain and Canada advanced on Caen the Germans had bolstered their defences and they had the remarkably powerful and well protected King Tiger tanks in support. Michael Wittman was a decorated German war hero, a tank commander. He played a major role in holding back the Allies at Caen until his death in August.

You can read a lot about him in military history books, on Wikipedia and he pops up, or at least the tanks do, in wargames. The photo above comes from www.hobbymex.com.

Dr Crippen. I've already told elsewhere how Charles John Nicholson Douglas travelled to Canada in 1923 with his new bride Susan Beattie. They sailed on the SS Montrose. Donna Douglas reminds me that the same ship several years earlier had Dr Crippen and his "nephew" share a cabin. Telegrams to and from the ship led to his arrest and the unmasking of the nephew as a female friend. Crippen was on the run, possibly in panic, following the disappearance of his wife.

He was returned to England and charged with her murder when a body was found in the cellar of their house. Crippen was convicted of his wife's murder and hanged at Pentonville in 1910. Picture below from Wikipedia.

 

Buffalo Bill

The picture above shows Buffalo Billl but that below shows G Hargraves who worked on the Douglas family farm. This picture was taken at Bliss Ranch, Crutwell, Saskatchewan. Hargraves rode with Buffalo Bill (information from Donna Douglas). Buffalo Bill Cody was a scout, Pony Express rider, bison hunter and showman. The image from Wikipedia shows him with the famous Sioux chief Sitting Bull.

Admiral Sir Charles Douglas, born at Carr, Perthshire is NOT related to us as far as I can see. He was a veteran of the Seven Years War (French and Indian War to Americans) and the American War of Independence.

Dad and Admiral Bertram Ramsay

When Dad was at RAF Jiwani late in the war he was told to await signals from a plane carrying Admiral Ramsay. Ramsay had played a key role in the Dunkirk evacuation and also in the reverse, the D Day planning and procedure.

Ramsay's plane was due to arrive from Alexandria in Egypt, travelling further east. It did not arrive and later he was told that the plane had crashed.

Dad has told me this story a few times in the last 20 years but when I looked on Wikipedia I found it stated there that although Ramsay was indeed killed in January 1945 in a plane crash he was not flying from Alexandria and was not flying east but rather was flying from Paris to meet Montgomery near Brussels.

Perhaps Wikipedia is wrong or perhaps there was some cover up as to where he was flying. The Encyclopaedia Britannica and other sources support the Montgomery version. Dad may have misremembered the event or the name of the person.

As as a codicil to this he also told me that not long before being demobbed he was in radio contact at RAF Ouston with a night flight of 4 planes flying from there to Cumbria on back. Dad had to speak to them and record what was said. The last pilot reported that he was approaching shortly and Dad signed off. At the end of his shift Dad went home. When he got up next afternoon he was told that officers from the station had been to look for him and he was to report to the CO.

This he did and was asked in-depth about what had been discussed and he had to produce his log book, which thankfully he had written up fully. When he asked what it was about Dad was told that the fourth plane had not landed and the pilot had baled out. As a result there would need to be an enquiry and although he was due to be demobbed within a fortnight Dad was told to expect to be called to give evidence at it. This was the last he heard of it.

A website containing information about RAF plane crashes in peacetime exists and the following is taken from it as it seems the closest fit to Dad's story. The connection with Admiral Ramsay is that Dad recalled being told that this was his son. Whether that is actually the case I do not know.

03/08/1946 Harvard II KF982 22SFTS Crashed near Ouston after pilot lost control in cloud and abandoned aircraft

Dad and Judith Anderson

When Dad underwent RAF training around 1942 he was trained by an Australian civilian in England in wireless telegraphy whose name was Anderson. He was an approachable man and a good teacher. At one time he told Dad that his sister, who was a Broadway actress, was appearing in a film about to be released. Dad wrote home about this.

The film starring Lawrence Olivier and Vivien Leigh was based upon Daphne du Maurier's novel Rebecca and it was a major success. Judith Anderson played the sinister and somewhat unhinged Mrs Danvers.

Image of Judith Anderson from goldenmovies.com

 

Rob Roy McGregor (image from Dingwall Museum). See the page on the '45 for discussion about likely connections to this famous Scot.