Always the first one to know

“Sometimes it’s going to be a smell. Sometimes it’s going to be a sound,” says Hélène LeScelleur. “And then it reminds me of the horror that we’ve been through.” Story and photography by Stephen J. Thorne “Seeing people decapitated, it’s not that usual for anyone,” says former army medic Hélène LeScelleur. “I saw a...
  • For all the talk of the talking in director Peter Jackson’s First World War documentary They Shall Not Grow Old, it’s a scene in which those featured in the film don’t say anything that resonates perhaps more than any other. It comes at the storyline’s...
  • Ernie Verhulst (Part 2): Growing up fast in occupied Holland

    January 30, 2019 by Stephen J. Thorne
    This is the second of two stories on Ernie Verhulst’s childhood in occupied Holland. To read part one, published on Jan. 23 click here. A wide-eyed boy when the occupation of the Netherlands started, Ernie Verhulst had witnessed widespread atrocities, death and destruction. The sound of...
  • Ernie Verhulst’s first glimpse of the Luftwaffe came on May 10, 1940. He was eight years old and the significance of the Nazi advance across Europe had not been lost on anyone in Rotterdam, Netherlands. His parents and their neighbours in the rowhouses around the...
  • The folly of militarizing space

    January 16, 2019 by Stephen J. Thorne
    It was a sunny, warm Wednesday in September 1962 when U.S. President John F. Kennedy laid down what many still consider the guiding principles of humanity’s great endeavour into space. He was speaking to a crowd of 40,000 at the Rice University football stadium in...
  • Douglas Gordon (Part 2): The troubles with Typhoons

    January 9, 2019 by Stephen J. Thorne
    If the Germans didn’t get you, the Typhoon just might. Flying Officer Douglas Gordon knew it only too well. Between June and August 1944, 19 Allied squadrons—his own among them—lost hundreds of the hulking aircraft and 150 pilots, many of them due to engine or...
  • Douglas Gordon (Part 1): Bail out or glide for England

    December 26, 2018 by Stephen J. Thorne
    Given a choice between parachuting into the frigid waters of the English Channel or nursing his dying aircraft for as far as he could take it, Flying Officer Douglas Gordon chose what he saw as the lesser evil—and it may well have saved his life....
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