Military historian at the service of war veterans

A MILITARY historian concerned about the welfare of men and women who have served in the armed forces wants to set up a support group in Stevenage. Kim Coleman, 55, of Sinbracks, Great Ashby, is keen to start a branch of the Association for Veterans of Fo

A MILITARY historian concerned about the welfare of men and women who have served in the armed forces wants to set up a support group in Stevenage.

Kim Coleman, 55, of Sinbracks, Great Ashby, is keen to start a branch of the Association for Veterans of Foreign Wars (AVFW).

The association is a charitable and benevolent organisation which offers fellowship and welfare to ex-servicemen and women who have served Britain in war. It also offers educational presentations to schools, cadet associations and other youth groups.

The mother-of-three, who has lectured in modern European history at the University of Essex and has been studying military history for the past 20 years, said: "Over the years many associations representing British servicemen and women have ceased to exist, for example, Dunkirk Veterans and Dieppe Veterans. This is partly because membership has dropped and also because the veterans themselves have got older.


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"But this is a great loss to our heroes and keeping their memory alive.

"It is also a great loss in terms of the education of the young and future generations. We cannot allow for any of our ex-servicemen and women to be forgotten so the AVFW represents them all.

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"The group would, therefore, offer fellowship and support to men and women in times of need, and in the future I hope to organise trips to places of interest as well as pilgrimages where we can take part in wreath-layings. However, setting up the group and holding monthly meetings depends on the support I achieve."

Mrs Coleman, who acted as a consultant for the BBC series Fields of Fire and for Watts Educational Publishers for books aimed at schoolchildren on World War II and the atomic bomb project, is currently writing her third book called Strike Force: 2/502, 101st Airborne in Vietnam, 1965-1972, to be published later this year.

Using over 400 interviews with Vietnam War veterans across America, the book traces the history of one battalion of the Screaming Eagles in Vietnam.

"When I was writing my first book, A History of Chemical Warfare, in 2004 I was looking for someone who could describe what a napalm explosion felt and looked like so I did a search on the internet and found a man who served in 2/502 in Vietnam," she said.

"I met him in America and then this book followed. It's set in the historical context but is written through their eyes. I was a student in the '60s and '70s when the Vietnam War was raging and I kept a diary and followed the war and what the Americans were doing."

Mrs Coleman added: "I have always been interested in war. As a little girl my father, who served with the Parachute Regiment, used to tell me stories about World War II and my grandfather told me stories about World War I. Since then my interest has grown and now I don't think there's a book on British or American history I haven't read.

"I have a lot of time and concern for the welfare of men and women in the forces and I hope this group will help them even if it means just helping them to put in claims."

Mrs Coleman also wrote ICI: Strategies for growth and survival, 1925-1953 in 2006 which examines the role in which Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) had in the manufacture of weapons of war.

l If anyone is interested in joining the group call Mrs Coleman on 01438 354378 or meet her at The Standard Bearer on Thursday, April 24, at 7pm.

l For more information about AVWF visit www.avwf.org.uk

Both of her books are available at www.amazon.co.uk

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