About this website

Website development

The development of the foPPA website is split into several phases :-

Phase 1, in 2010, was about getting the main website infrastructure set up, hosted and tested on Macs and PCs across various browsers, and the initial overall design and content hierarchy worked out (to minimise broken links later on), then adding the most essential "core" sections and pages for the Popski Story, Remembrance, Reference and Fundraising. This restriction avoided the "creeping-featureitis" that often delays software development projects. Just bringing the initial data sets from our own private records to the web has unexpectedly made us tighten them up and re-evaluate and revise some of the conclusions that we had previously reached. Phase 1 was very kindly funded by Mr Robert Cummings and Mr Michael Blake, in memory of Michael's father Trooper Pat Blake of 'S' Patrol.

Phase 2 came in 2013 with a significant revision of the website's structure and look, following an upgrade to the web development software.

Phase 3 will follow with more content, features and interface refinements as time and funds allow (see also "Internal and external links" comments below), particularly regarding the foPPA Archives. FoPPA has acquired a large amount of material over the years but, being only amateur historians, it has not been explicitly catalogued. The development of the website has forced us to now look at this, as we need to log all the items and their sources and, where possible, their copyright owners, not to mention resizing some very large original hi-res image scans. Web-savvy readers will also notice the absence of a Search facility, and this will be added at a later date. We hope that the PPA Memorial Fund will continue to generate financial support for Phase 3.

The economic rationale for the website is simple: it cost foPPA about £3,000 to print and post out free copies of the 2005 commemorative 4th edition of our Astrolabe newsletter. With this website we will have zero print and postage costs and unlimited space for our online editions, faster and simpler distribution of research news, comprehensive display of Popski-fan-attracting content, and it will be much easier to solicit and accept donations or sell books and posters etc., in any currency. Of course it costs money to set up and run the website but foPPA has to play a very long fundraising game in its commitment to the PPA Memorial. In 2014 one of our Swedish members, Goran Noren, set up a complementary Facebook Group – "foPPA on facebook", with nearly 400 members by September 2017. This has been very successful, as a more dynamic information source than the static-information website.

We might paraphrase Winston Churchill's classic summary of Britain's situation just after El Alamein, as PPA was being formed: This is not the end of the development of this website. It is not even the beginning of the end, but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

Design and content

This website content draws upon foPPA's archive and original research material – including Popski's own private papers – information sheets, press releases, monographs and foPPA's "Popskibase": a comprehensive database built up since 2013, using information from PPA and other veterans, their relatives and friends, the Imperial War Museum, The National Archives, the PPA Preservation Society (whose website also shows a lot of foPPA content) and various published and unpublished works about PPA: most, if not quite all, of the major known primary sources.

We have tried to use pagination sensibly, to achieve a balance between reading-flow and fast download, but this may need adjusting later, after your feedback. Note also that content may be changed at any time and without warning, as we tidy up loose ends or add in new information: generally the clue to an update will be the change of date at the end of an article.

Courier typewriter font

Some pages are displayed in the Courier typewriter font because we are generally trying to reproduce a wartime look for content from that era and sometimes specifically mimicking the actual layout of the original document. We do this, rather than merely displaying a scanned image of the document, to convey a reasonably accurate facsimile but render it in a searchable format. The long-term plan is to always match these pages with scans of the original documents but we may meanwhile be limited in this by time, funds or copyright issues.

Spelling of personal and location names

Our material is drawn from many sources, written at different times, and our policy on consistency of the spelling of location and personal names strictly follows that of T.E.Lawrence, as explained in the Publisher's Note to "Revolt in the Desert".

Further information box

At the bottom of many pages in the website is a boxed section called "Further information", an example of which can be seen below, showing all seven possible "Further information" types: Context; Notes[1]; Bibliography; Links; Locations, Questions and Updates. Some pages do not have this at all and some pages may only show one or two of the seven possible sections. Notes, Bibliography, Links and Locations are self-explanatory, numbered consecutively across type within an article and are always specific to that article (but not all numbered items have a link in the text of the article).

Questions are numbered uniquely across the whole website and each Question Number (like "Q6" below) is also a link to the Questions page in the Research section where all of foPPA's unanswered questions are listed. Context items are not numbered and indicate where in the relevant PPA literature are the events discussed in the article, so more specific than a Bibliography section item. Each item shows a code for the relevant book etc, such as "VP" for Popski's book and the part, chapter or section (but not page numbers because of different editions). See Alan Moorehead's article for an example of the difference between Context and Bibliography. All of the "Context-Codes" are listed in Books about PPA.

A small (unanticipated) side-effect of this article reference numbering method is that, although reference numbers within the body of an article are strictly sequential, because the Further Information types are always listed in the box in the same order, as above, the reference numbers there may not be sequential from top to bottom.

Listed locations are linked to an external geomapping website. Further funding permitting, we plan to integrate the mapping directly into the website.

Internal and external links

Generally speaking, the links shown in the "Links" part of a "Further information" box are to external websites, while links within an article's body content are to other pages in this website. FoPPA is not, of course, responsible for the content of external websites, and a link does not mean that foPPA endorses or agrees with the content or views expressed. When external link names are shown in a "Further information" box they are also appended by the url itself, in braces, to aid printed copies.

The website has been designed as an integrated whole, to work in conjunction with the PPA Memorial, with richly interwoven cross-links. Due to time and funding constraints with the development of Phase 1 this means that some internal links will be included to pages that have not yet been developed (external links should always work). Rather than trying to keep track of where to add these links later (across not less than 100 pages) or return a standard "404 Page Not Found" response, a "placeholder" page will be shown.

foPPA logo and trademark

The foPPA logo and trademark, top right in the website banner, is taken from PPA's unit symbol, a simplified version of the cap badge, that was displayed on the front of PPA vehicles. The cap badge itself is shown as a watermark underlying all pages. The unit symbol graphic was scaled exactly from the original stencil (in the foPPA Archives) made by Popski for painting onto metal plates for the front grills of PPA jeeps. This same graphic was used to render the Astrolabe in 3D for mounting on top of the PPA Memorial. The yellow and green background of the website banner represents the time that PPA spent in the deserts of North Africa (one year) and and the groves of Southern Europe (two years) and shows the countries where PPA was in action during WWII, with the colours fading off into a heat-haze.

We think...

When references are made in some of the articles such as "we think..." or "foPPA believes..." etc., this generally means Guy Harris and Suzi Paterson, collectively sometimes known as "Friends of Popski's Private Army Research & Archive Section". This cunning attempt to convey a sense of operational size that far exceeds reality is, of course, an historic nod to "L" Detachment SAS and to PPA, punching way above their weight.

Contact us...

If you are experiencing problems with the display of the website (except with unsupported browsers) or spot a broken link or typo then send us a message and we'll investigate. Even if you're not seeing problems but like what you find then we would love to hear from you anyway.

Friends of PPA
3b Glendower Place
South Kensington
London SW7 3DU
United Kingdom

Telephone: +44(0)20-7584 7891
Email: foppa@popski.org

Suzi Paterson
Secretary, Archivist,
Editor, Webmaster,
Graphic designer,
Database developer.
Copyright © 2017 foPPA
9 Sep 2017

Further information
  • VP Part Four Chapter 2 This Context reference example is not the same as a Bibliographical reference. This example refers to the formation of PPA.
  1. ^ This is just an example note. The citation format is copied from Wikipedia for ease of use and familiarity.
  • Q6. Why did the chicken not cross the road? We actually know the answer to this one - it's just a test of your knowledge of PPA history. Can you tell us who was the only member of PPA to successfully steal a chicken while leaning out of a moving patrol jeep?
  • 2010-11-26 Added this new Further information type "Updates".