Category Archives: Uncategorized

Sometimes we like to write about happenings or news or stuff that, while only loosely within our authority, give off a certain – say – profundity. It’s part of our all-around service to bring these to your discerning attention.

Electric Light, the health fad of the future!: 101 Years Ago at the Norwich Library

by Don Allen

In Norwich in June of 1917, for the price of one penny,  you could have picked up a little booklet called “City and County of Norwich Public Library Readers Guide”.

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Our friends at Picture Norfolk (click here for their webpage) discovered this interesting booklet while going through their ephemera, and thought that we here at the 2nd Air Library would be interested in it given the first topic listed on the cover: America And The War.

Of course, this refers to the first World War, and the 2nd Air Division did not yet exist. But it is still fascinating to see what, in the heart of World War I, the library chose to highlight about England’s cousin across the pond.

Not surprisingly there are a number of books on the general history of the United States. Titles like “The War of American Independence, 1775-1783” by John M. Ludlow and “The American Civil War” by Frederic L. Paxson. While these books are now long since gone from the library, you can find digital copies online at I personally enjoy reading old history books in order to compare what they knew and thought during their time to what we know and think today.

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A separate section of the page contains four books specifically on Abraham Lincoln. And right below that is a book on then-President Woodrow Wilson, entitled “President Wilson: his problems and his policy” by H. Wilson Harris. Funnily enough, if you look nearer the top of the page (third listing down), the library has listed works BY Wilson, who was the only US President to date with a PhD. One is titled “Division and reunion, 1829-1889” published in 1893, about twenty years before he became president (also available on if you’re interested). Also listed is Wilson’s controversial five-volume “History of the American People”. In it he defends racial segregation and the actions of the original incarnation of the KKK.

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Books on the Constitution and Government, the American Navy, Literature, Education, and America and the War round out the remaining suggestions for American reading. The booklet also celebrates the then-centenary of Jane Austen’s death by offering lists of works by her and biographies of her. And much like today’s library still does, the library hosted a public lecture by M.M. Pattison Muir, Esq, M.A., Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. (Click here for information on our upcoming series of lectures in March.)

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As much as I love seeing all the old books, I have to admit that the part that made me giggle was the advertising on the back cover. The Corporation and Electricity Dept. was located at 4-10 Duke Street, with a telephone number of: 154.


That amuses me greatly.


Just remember, electric light: it’s good for your health!


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Book Review: The Gatekeepers-How The White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency by Chris Whipple

by Don Allen

You have to be the person who says no. You’ve got to the be the son of a bitch who basically tells somebody what the president can’t tell him” — Leon Panetta, Chief of Staff to Bill Clinton


Every president since George Washington has had a personal secretary, however, it wasn’t until 1857 that it was made an official White House position and paid for by the government, rather than by the president personally. In 1961, after a few name changes, power consolidations and shuffling of duties along the way, it finally evolved into the modern office of White House Chief of Staff, currently held by John F. Kelly for the Trump administration.

The Chief of Staff’s position is an incredibly important one: he oversees the White House staff; manages the Presidents schedule; decides who meets with the President; and negotiates with Congress. Because of these duties, he enjoys unparalleled access to the President, and, as the title of Chris Whipple’s book states, is known as “the gatekeeper”. Several of these men have gone on to other important positions, including Donald Rumsfeld (future Sec. of Defense), Alexander Haig (future Sec. of State), and Dick Cheney (future Vice-President).

Whipple’s book details this extraordinary position, which does not require Senate confirmation and serves completely at the President’s discretion, by interviewing seventeen living former Chief’s of Staff  and two former presidents. Starting with the Nixon administration and running through the Obama presidency, Whipple details how “…when the president makes a life-and-death decision, often the chief of staff is the only other person in the room. Each chief can make or break an administration, and each president reveals himself by the chief he picks…the chief of staff can make the difference between success and disaster”.


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Mystery In The Stack: Can You Help?

by Don Allen

The Library proper is a treasure trove of paintings, photos, magazines, bomb group information and of course books reflecting all aspects of not only the war but of American history and culture in general. Typically unseen by the general public however, though to be clear all of it is viewable by request here at the Library, is what we refer to as “The Stack”, the temperature, humidity etc. controlled area where we keep copies of extra or rare books, memorabilia such as uniforms and flags, and the declassified microfilm from the bases, among other things.


While I was searching through all of this, as is my wont on occasion, I ran across some pictures in one of our ephemera boxes. These are black and white photos of servicemen during the war, and I love such pictures as it allows a face to be put to so many of the names of the heroes who served. I came across these pictures and looked at our inventory’s explanation and information on them, but then realized that only one of them had a name. The information on the back reads: “Private Redie (Pee-Wee) Phillips, taken in Nov. 1943. Given to Mr and Mrs (Mom and Pop) and Laura(?) Thompsons. With Love, Pee Wee”. (The “Laura” isn’t clear, thus the ?).



Private Redie (Pee-Wee) Phillips


The others in the box however are unknown as of now. So I thought a great way to possibly discover the names of these soldiers would be to ask you if you recognize them. Below you will find the pictures, as well as what information we have on them. If you do have anymore information, we would love to hear from you, and have several ways in which you can contact us:

Email us at

Find us on Facebook at

Tweet us @2ADMemLibrary

Phone us at +44 (0)1603 774747

Or of course come in and visit!

We look forward to hearing from you, and appreciate any help you can provide us in making sure these heroes names are known.


“Booklet containing two photographs of a serviceman in uniform”


“Booklet containing two photographs of a serviceman in uniform” Photo One


“Booklet containing two photographs of a serviceman in uniform” Photo Two



“Booklet containing two photographs of serviceman in uniform. Back of booklet has pencil note ‘80820 De Palmo'”


“Booklet containing two photographs of serviceman in uniform. Back of booklet has pencil note “‘80820 De Palmo'”. Photo One


“Booklet containing two photographs of serviceman in uniform. Back of booklet has pencil note “80820 De Palmo” Photo Two



“Small black and white photograph of two servicemen in uniform. Back of photograph reads: ‘”Fred Eisen? July 1st 1945′”


“Small black and white photograph of two servicemen in uniform. Back of photograph reads: ‘”Fred Eisen? July 1st 1945′”



“Small booklet containing photograph of serviceman in uniform”


“Small booklet containing photograph of serviceman in uniform”

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Lego! At the Forum Gallery

By Don Allen

From December 1st, 2017 until January 21st, 2018 there is an exhibit of a most remarkable nature at the Gallery here in the Forum.



Brick Wonders: Around the World in LEGO bricks. The artist, Warren Elsmore, created all the amazing pieces in the display.

It’s a small exhibit, you can spend as little as 15 minutes and still see everything, perfect timing for kids who may want to move on! There is also a Lego wall for kids to build there name on for the day they visited, and a table where there are copious amount of Lego’s for them to play with.

Or, if you are more of an historical enthusiast (or Lego enthusiast) you could easily spend an hour or more viewing these amazing Lego creations. All of the displays include a plaque that gives information on the subject, and also the number of bricks used and the amount of hours it took for Elsmore to build that display. These include:

The Great Pyramid (being constructed)


The Great Wall of China (which I was fortunate enough to visit in 2011)




The International Space Station (suspended overhead)



and, my personal favorite, as it is next on my bucket list of places to visit:

Petra (specifically the “Treasury” building, seen in the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade)


The display also includes Lego creations of: The Old London Bridge; Niagara Falls; Hoover Dam; and The Hanging Gardens of Babylon. In fact all 7 of the Ancient Wonders of the World are represented, among others.

There is a long history of using Lego to recreate historical and amazing buildings and natural sites. Below is a link to a video of Lego being used to recreate Witchcraft. I can definitely recommend watching the video and if you are in the area you must stop by the Gallery for a visit to the Brick Wonders: Around the World in LEGO bricks exhibit. It is rather awesome.

For a video of a “working” (i.e. the engines work) Lego model of Witchcraft click here.


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