The Ice Cream Man

Pre-production site for a WW2 romantic drama based on true events.

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A brief bit of the history behind a true story of love and war.

Our story starts in the Egyptian desert around 60 miles from the Libyan border, at a little desert town called Sidi Barrani: it's little more than a few dozen mud brick buildings and a military fort. The Italian Army had crossed from Libya (their colony at that time) and pushed into Egypt - a British colony. At Sidi Barrani, the Italian commanders halted their troops and dug in in an effort to re-supply. This would prove to be a fatal decision. A mistake or not, Mussolini was totally opposed to the halt and badgered his commanders to move forward. But they delayed. This delay allowed the British and Commonwealth forces to regroup and plan. On the morning of 9th December 1940, they would attack the Italian positions from air, land and sea, totally overwhelming them. The Italian force outnumbered the Commonwealth troops but they were poorly equipped with much of their equipment dating from WW1. Italian artillery men fought to the bitter end but the British Matilda tank and a well planned attack proved too much for their guns and they were over-run and many lay dead or wounded. The retreat to the Libyan border began. Operation Compass, the code name for the attack, would prove to be a great success.

Prisoners.

Thousands of Italian and German prisoners would be sent to camps in many different countries and many would end up in Britain where many of them were happy to work the land or in factories as an alternative to the boredom of prisoner of war camps.

pows

The Blitz.

The Blitz is a term many people would only associate with London and the battle of Britain! In fact most major British towns were subjected to the horrors of the Blitz: Liverpool, in particular, was badly hit, the docks being the main target. The newspapers would report only that a Northern town was bombed last night…..Bootle, at the heart of Liverpool’s docks, would suffer more than most with around 75% of the area being damaged or destroyed.

Blitz in Liverpool

Liverpool docks.

Liverpool docks accounted for the vast majority of food and equipment entering and leaving the country. Many a soldier or sailor from far off nations would also pass through its docks. Masses of raw materials and munitions came and went through Liverpool and the Mersey Estuary. Vast amounts of munitions from the royal ordnance factory at Kirby would travel by road and rail to the ships waiting in the docks, all vulnerable to enemy air attack. In May 1941, The SS Malakand loaded with a 1000 tons of bombs and munitions was amongst the casualties, she was set alight when a barrage balloon fell onto her deck during a raid. Despite desperate efforts to save her and the precious but lethal cargo, she exploded in Huskinson Dock scattering debris over two and a half miles away.

Liverpool docks

The May Blitz 1941.

Some of the worst air raids on Liverpool occurred in the first week of May 1941 leaving hundreds of families homeless and many mourning lost loved ones. Huge areas of the docks and the surrounding area were left in piles of smouldering rubble. In the midst of this the emergency services would be stretched to the limit and there is a long list of stories of bravery and heroism. Amazingly, amongst all this death and destruction, careful records were kept of raid times, targets, bomb damage and casualties. During our research, we were constantly reminded of the horrors endured by so many.

Liverpool blitzed

Women and war.

As in the first world war (the war to end all wars) women played a huge role. It is often underestimated how large a part they did actually play; from the obvious nurses and telephonists we see depicted in old black and white movies, where every one spoke splendidly clear King's English, err errrm err , we we w w w we won't go there! But women did a vast range of jobs and duties and many of them have never been recognised for their courage, bravery and determination. Land Girls, Timber Girls, munitions workers, drivers, ferry pilots, flying Spitfires and Bombers, Anti Aircraft battery Gunners to name a few of the thousands of wartime occupations they filled.

Women at war

And so peace, finally.

After five years of bloody conflict leaving millions of people dead and maimed in both body and mind, buildings and homes destroyed, countries and people's devastated… what happens next? Well Life goes on. It has to. People renew their lives and rebuild their homes - some more easily than others. Some never go home; some no longer have homes to go to. Hopefully your family, as mine did, found a path to their future. Although sometimes difficult, sometimes easy the paths were fortified with a sense of hope and good humour.

Sadly, here we are 65 years on after the end of WW2 and it seems the human race has learnt little from its painful past. I hope war will one day be a thing of the past.

We here at The Ice Cream man HQ hope that this movie will send a little message of courage peace and harmony.

We hope you enjoy this true story.