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How Dimbleby found vivid accounts of World War II desert campaign in his war correspondent father’s diaries

Jonathan Dimbleby says his father’s diaries, written when he was broadcasting from the Middle East during World War II provided vivid background material for his latest book on the British victory at El Alamein.

Jonathan Dimbleby

A pioneering giant of broadcasting, Jonathan’s dad Richard Dimbleby brought news of the campaign to the ears of anxious listeners back in the UK.

He reported for the BBC from not only  El Alamein but the Normandy beaches during the D-Day Landings and also broadcast the first shocking reports from the newly liberated Belsen death camp.

Jonathan, who will talk about his book, Destiny in the Desert at the Ludlow Assembly Rooms tomorrow night (Wednesday November 28)  and at the Malvern Festival Theatre on Thursday (November 29), says the timet Richard Dimbleby spent as BBC war correspondent in the Middle East yielded some valuable first-hand accounts of the battle.

“He described the desert conflict very vivdly in his diaries, which I came across when I was writing a biography about him. He didn’t talk about it at all. He was from the generation that wanted to move on,” Jonathan told Andy Richardson of the Shropshire Star newspaper.

Writing the  book, which is published to mark the 70th anniversary of El Alamein, was no easy task. He wanted to give an accurate and insightful account of a strategic battle but also one that was accessible to the general reader.

To create his “page-turner” he was only too aware that he was competing with countless studies by academics and career war historians.  “It had to stand up to scholarly scrutiny. I was swimming in a pond teeming with academic sharks and I didn’t want to look silly by making mistakes,” he told  Richardson.

● Jonathan Dimbleby appears at Ludlow Assembly Rooms tomorrow Wednesday (November 28). Tickets and further information from www.ludlowassemblyrooms.co.uk or calling 01584 878141. He will also be at the Malvern Festival Theatre on Thursday. More details at  http://www.malvern-theatres.co.uk


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