Christmas 1914: ‘A man playing a penny whistle’ Chandos Hoskyns

  • Chandos Hoskyns at Winchester College
  • Lieutenant-Colonel Chandos Benedict Arden Hoskyns

Today I’m commemorating my maternal grandfather Lieutenant-Colonel Chandos Hoskyns. This is a letter he wrote to his family in December 1914.  I suspect what’s being describing the start famous ‘Christmas Truce’.  

2nd Bn Rifle Bde.
25th Inf Bde.
8th Divn.
Brit. Exp. Force
[Xmas 1914]

Darling all!

I hope you got my Xmas letter all right only I hear Grannie sent it on, the one thing I did not want done as I particularly wanted you all to get it together on Xmas day.

I am sending you the IVth Corps Xmas Card – rather a crude drawing I’m afraid but you’ll find it rather interesting as it has on it all the signatures of the other company officers. It will be rather nice to keep won’t it. E P Watts 53rd Sikhs (FF) is attached to us as second in command of the company. He is a topper. He is in the Indian Army (FF = Frontier Force) & as hard as nails.

I got a topping letter from Mr Gilbert at the same time as your last one. Just after I got it a frantic [?] note came from HQRS “Stand to arms at once!! this was in the trenches. Apparently an aeroplane of ours had been reconnoitring & had seen masses of G’s troops concentrating behind the village in front of us. Great excitement. That night patrols went out to find out what they could. One came back saying the Germans were cutting their own barbed wire entanglements to get through preparatory to making an attack. However nothing happened. On our right some miles away the line was heavily attacked. Later on a funny thing happened. A patrol went, (trembling in every limb) got quite close to the enemy and actually heard — (another thrilling instalment in our next issue) a man playing a penny whistle & man singing!

I got a topping letter from Mr Gilbert at the same time as your last one. Just after I got it a frantic [?] note came from HQRS “Stand to arms at once!! this was in the trenches. Apparently an aeroplane of ours had been reconnoitring & had seen masses of G’s troops concentrating behind the village in front of us. Great excitement. That night patrols went out to find out what they could. One came back saying the Germans were cutting their own barbed wire entanglements to get through preparatory to making an attack. However nothing happened. On our right some miles away the line was heavily attacked. Later on a funny thing happened. A patrol went, (trembling in every limb) got quite close to the enemy and actually heard — (another thrilling instalment in our next issue) a man playing a penny whistle & man singing!

Well there is no more news to tell. We are resting now after 6 days running in trenches. By Jove the dirt – One almost walks about without meaning to.

Much love to all

Your loving

Chan

Lieutenant-Colonel Chandos Hoskyns
1885 – 1940
Lest We Forget

Chan [pronounced ‘Shan’] also fought in the Second World War taking part in the Seige of Calais in 1940 where he was badly wounded. He was transferred to a hospital in Dover and was expected to live by the doctors but he was too concerned about the men under his command still fighting, which hindered his recovery. His death had such an enormous impact on his wife, Joyce Austen Taylor who had already lost her only brother in the First now loses her husband and is devastated. It had a particularly bad effect on my mother, his daughter. It never left her and shaped many of her choices in life. There are more forbears in the wider Hoskyns family who dealt with loss in both wars as with families all over the world.

Sarah Vernon © 11th November 2020

Hitler in Vienna: homeless, hungry, hateful – History Wench

The story of Hitler in Vienna starts in 1907. Aged just 18 at the time, Hitler moved to the capital city to pursue a career as an artist and live a bohemian lifestyle.He would remain in the city until May 1913, when he went to Munich after avoiding conscription to the Austria-Hungary army. He would return again in 1938, triumphant after the Anschluss – the annexation …

Source: Hitler in Vienna: homeless, hungry, hateful – History Wench

Book Bite: The Royal Governess | An Historian About Town

 

In 1933, twenty-two-year-old Marion Crawford accepts the role of a lifetime, tutoring their Royal Highnesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose. Her one stipulation to their parents the is that she brings some doses of normalcy into the sheltered and privileged …

Source: Book Bite: The Royal Governess | An Historian About Town

‘Heimat’ in a Suitcase: Flight and Exile of the Herzberg Family | Leo Baeck Institute London

‘Heimat’ in a Suitcase: Flight and Exile of the Herzberg Family

Today we would like to invite you to have a glimpse into the private rooms of Haus Herzberg. The photographs you see here are an extract from an album that contains images of the Herzberg family home in 22 Richard-Wagner-Straße, in the German town of Hanover. The pictures were taken in the 1930s, before the Herzbergs had to flee Germany to escape the Nazi Regime. The beautifully bound red leather album contains an array of photographs showing…

Source: ‘Heimat’ in a Suitcase: Flight and Exile of the Herzberg Family | Leo Baeck Institute London

Maxwell Knight – MI5’s Greatest Spymaster – on Female Spies

“It is frequently alleged that women are less discreet than men, that they are ruled by their emotions, and not by their brains: that they rely on intuition rather than on reason; and that Sex will play an unsettling and dangerous role in their work. …  it is curious that in the history of espionage and counter-espionage a very high percentage of the greatest coups have been brought off by women … this – if it proves anything – proves that the spymasters of the world are inclined to lay down hard and fast rules, which they subsequently find it impossible to keep to, and it is in their interests to break.”

I’m halfway through the book and it’s a riveting read. Sarah

Source: Maxwell Knight, MI5’s Greatest Spymaster BY Henry Hemmings

World Women’s Day 2020 – Jessie Fawsitt first Civil Air Guard

Jessie Fawsitt was an aviation pioneer in a quiet, unassuming way. She became Britain’s first Civil Air Guard in 1938. This was not planned by Jessie, more a case of serendipity, being in the right place at the right time…

Source: World Women’s Day 2020 – Jessie Fawsitt first Civil Air Guard

The Diary Of Renia Spiegel: Another Teen’s Remarkable Record Of Hiding From The Nazis

Renia Spiegel

Renia Spiegel

Almost everyone has heard of Anne Frank, the young Jewish girl who kept a diary during her time in hiding from the Nazis in 1942.  It has recently come to light that another diary of a World War II-era teenager has been found.  Renia Spiegel, from the village of Uhryńkowce in the Tarnów region of Opałszczyce in Poland, kept a diary from January of 1939 until…

via The Diary Of Renia Spiegel: Another Teen’s Remarkable Record Of Hiding From The Nazis

Kick Kennedy, the Marquess & the Earl – Turtle Bunbury

kickkennedy

Seventy years ago today, a plane crash in southern France ended the life of Kick Kennedy, oldest sister of Jack and Bobby, and her lover, Peter, Earl Fitzwilliam. This story recounts the series of events that lead up to the tragedy and the remarkable Irish connections to each of the protagonists…

via Kick Kennedy, the Marquess & the Earl – Turtle Bunbury

Alaska’s Unique Civil Rights Struggle | JSTOR Daily

Native Alaskan woman and child, 1929. via Wikimedia Commons

Native Alaskan woman and child, 1929. via Wikimedia Commons

A generation before the Civil Rights movement gained national attention, the struggle against Jim Crow was being fought…in Alaska. And women were at the forefront of the struggle.

Modern Alaskans, writes historian Terrence M. Cole, are “surprised and shocked to learn that racial segregation and Jim Crow policies towards Alaska natives were standard practice throughout much of Alaska” until…

via Alaska’s Unique Civil Rights Struggle | JSTOR Daily

Modern criticism of Winston Churchill is fake history – it’s based on quotes taken out of context

Some welcome sanity from historian Andrew Roberts.

British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill (1874 - 1965) in the garden at 10 Downing Street, London, circa 1943. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill (1874 – 1965) in the garden at 10 Downing Street, London, circa 1943. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

by Andrew Roberts

The movie Darkest Hour, in which Gary Oldman won an Oscar playing Winston Churchill, has garnered many plaudits, and deservedly so. It introduced a new generation to Churchill and the inspiring story of 1940, reminding them of how Britain stood alone for a year against the might and fury of Nazi Germany.

But it has also produced a vicious backlash against Churchill and all that he stood for and unleashed an avalanche of vitriolic abuse, much of it ahistorical and ignorant.

It says more about our modern “fake history” culture than anything about…

via Modern criticism of Winston Churchill is fake history – it’s based on quotes taken out of context – The i – iWeekend #28

Henrietta Lacks, Whose Cells Led to a Medical Revolution

Henrietta Lacks in a family photo. HeLa, the cell line named for her, has been at the core of treatments for ailments like hemophilia, herpes, influenza and leukemia. Lacks Family/The Henrietta Lacks Foundation, via Associated Press

Henrietta Lacks in a family photo. HeLa, the cell line named for her, has been at the core of treatments for ailments like haemophilia, herpes, influenza and leukaemia. Lacks Family/The Henrietta Lacks Foundation, via Associated Press

Cancer cells were taken from her body without permission. They led to a medical revolution…

via Henrietta Lacks, Whose Cells Led to a Medical Revolution

Want a real spy scandal? How about the aristocratic Conservative spy who was NEVER prosecuted? | Pride’s Purge

Heard the one about the Tory Old-Etonian Lord who despite being caught spying for the Japanese – giving them the know-how to take out Pearl Harbor and to capture Singapore resulting in 100,000 allied prisoners being taken, many of whom died in…

via Want a real spy scandal? How about the aristocratic Conservative spy who was NEVER prosecuted? | Pride’s Purge

January 29, 1944 Operation Pied Piper – Today in History

94330In the summer of 1938, the horrors of the Great War were a mere twenty years in the past.  Hitler had swallowed up Austria, only six months earlier.   Authorities divided the British Isles into “risk zones”, identified as “evacuation,” “neutral,” and “reception.”  In some of the most gut wrenching decisions of the age, these people were planning “Operation Pied Piper”, the evacuation of…

via January 29, 1944 Operation Pied Piper – Today in History