Darren Neely, author of Forgotten Archives 1: The Lost Signal Corps Photos, took some time to talk to us about himself and what his book has to offer everyone- whether you’re an armchair historian, student of military history or armor enthusiast.
Where were you born? Where did you grow up?
I was born in Livermore,CA and grew up in the Philadelphia/South Jersey area and now live in Annapolis, MD.
Could you tell us a bit about any history of military service in your family? In what ways was the military part of your life from an early age?
My father was in the CA National Guard in the 50’s-60’s and my grandfather (who is still alive at 94) served with the 30th Infantry Division in WW2. Being around my grandfather allowed me to learn about his WW2 experiences from an early age and I still visit with him regularly. He was awarded the Bronze Star and Combat Infantryman Badge. In addition to my grandfather’s service inspiring me to learn about WW2, my brother and I were involved with toy soldier and military model making at an early age.
What kinds of books did you read growing up? Which had the greatest impact on you?
I read all military history books growing up. Mostly WW2 with some Civil War sprinkled in. I used to request books be shipped to our local library and also had to ask the school librarian to let me check the middle school level books out when I was in elementary school. The books that had the greatest impact were A Bridge too Far and the Longest Day by Corneilus Ryan. His way of telling a story with interweaving facts and personal narratives made for great reading.
Why did you decide to write this book? What prompted you to put this story down on paper?
Since it’s a photo study with descriptions of each one, the reason I did the book was well, I was tired of seeing the same official army photos in all the books out there. I was convinced there were more photos that the units took and that they were spread out among the archives and just needed to be found. I wanted to find these lost images and show them.
How much research did you do for the book? Can you give us some tips on this?
I did a lot. After finding all the photos and taking the time to scan them, I probably spent a day on each photo (over 200 photos) going over after action reports, unit histories, even motion picture film that covers the same subjects that the photos do. I wanted the most correct and interesting information for each photo to be available for the reader.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am working on volume 2 of the same series of Forgotten Archives, more new “lost photos” have been found!
We can’t wait – thanks Darren!