Littlehampton’s secret wartime unit on BBC’s The One Show
LITTLEHAMPTON’S role as the base for a wartime secret intelligence unit will be recalled on prime time television tonight (Wednesday, March 6) and tomorrow.
BBC One’s popular The One Show is screening a two-part film telling the story of the 30 Assault Unit, made with the help of the town’s museum.
A BBC crew came down to Littlehampton at the beginning of the year to shoot the first part of the film in and around the historic Beach Town area, to capture the training ground and living quarters of the crack under-cover unit, on which its commander, Ian Fleming, would later base his James Bond novels.
Museum curator Juliet Nye was interviewed by television journalist Justin Rowlatt, who made the film, having recently discovered that his grandfather had been a member of the 30 AU and been fascinated by their dangerous exploits, moving ahead of the allied forces to capture vital intelligence deep into enemy territory.
The moving story of Justin’s grandfather, Lt Theo “Rusty” Ionidies, is told through his time in Littlehampton and his operations in Normandy, working as a naval intelligence officer recruited to the unit in 1943.
Tonight’s film will describe Littlehampton’s role as the place where the 30 AU men were billeted with seaside landladies while undergoing rigorous Marine training throughout the spring of 1944.
The museum gave Justin and his team access to personal photographs, letters and official documentation on the unit from its archives to help with the making of the films.
There is a small display about the 30 AU at the museum and it is possible to view the archive on the unit by arrangement with museum staff, telephone 01903 738100 or firstname.lastname@example.org
“It is truly humbling what the men of the 30 AU did for our country”, says councillor Alan Gammon, chairman of the town council’s community resources committee, which is responsible for the museum. “The townspeople of Littlehampton are rightly proud of the support they gave these heroes in helping us to win the war.”
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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