The Somme | GM 1914

From July to November 1916, one of the bloodiest battles, not just in the First World War, but in human history took place. For many, the Battle of the Somme truly symbolised the horrors of the Great War. The terrifying and brutal nature of trench warfare, the stalemate and tactics of attrition and death rates far beyond our comprehension today are all associated with the Somme. Over the course of the five months, over 400,000 men would be wounded or killed in the wet, muddy and disease ridden trenches of the Western Front.

The British were led by the now infamous and controversial figure of General Sir Douglas Haig who had previous military experience in Africa where he rose to prominence in the Sudan in 1898. Alongside him was…

Source: The Somme | GM 1914

‘It’s the end of the 1916 winter and the conditions are almost unbelievable…’

sommemudSomme Mud by E.P.F. Lynch

‘It’s the end of the 1916 winter and the conditions are almost unbelievable. We live in a world of Somme mud. We sleep in it, work in it, fight in it, wade in it and many of us die in it. We see it, feel it, eat it and curse it, but we can’t escape it, not even by dying.’

“Dress suitably in short skirts … and buy a revolver”: The role of women in The Easter Rising of 1916

Three young rebels of Easter, 1916

As we mark the centenary of The Easter Rising, a recent article by Olivia O’Leary for The Guardian lead me to consider the involvement of women in the conflict, and on the involvement of the …

Source: “Dress suitably in short skirts … and buy a revolver”: The role of women in The Easter Rising of 1916

A Family at War | historywithatwist

Charlie Weston, freedom fighter

Charlie Weston, freedom fighter

A man I have known for a long time was surprised to see me at a press conference recently for the launch of a report on life in Ireland in 1916. The Central Statistics Office (CSO) had put together a fascinating databank laying bare the low life expectancy, the grinding poverty and the chronic overcrowding of 100 years ago.

The figures were so stark that statistician Helen Cahill admitted at the press conference that she was in tears compiling the report, such was the deprivation back then. But my friend was puzzled to see me at the launch of ‘Life in 1916 Ireland: Stories from Statistics’.

“With a name like Weston, you guys must have been on the British side?,” he suggested, only half joking.On the contrary, I replied, there were…

Source: A Family at War | historywithatwist

Easter 1916 – Victorian Treasures

Demolition of 27 North Earl Street

“An elderly man stands utterly bewildered. Before him, his business and home are smouldering, black smoke billows from the skeletal remains and an acrid smell pervades the April air. Beside him, his wife and daughters stand, staring in horror. They have lost everything. All that remains of their home is a gable wall with fireplaces hanging grotesquely in mid-air. All is dust. Black and twisted remnants of their lives are the only signs that they had ever lived there. Too traumatised to even cry, they stand, silent and uncomprehending.”

The family referred to above is mine, the gentleman my great-grandfather. Easter week 1916 claimed his business and…

Source: Easter 1916 – Victorian Treasures

The Battle of Verdun 1916 | W.U Hstry

The Battle of Verdun is one of the costliest battles in history. It exemplified the policy of a ‘war of attrition’ pursued by both sides, which led to an enormous loss of life. The battle lasted from February 21st 1916 to December 16th in 1916. This was the longest single battle of World War One. The casualties from Verdun and the impact the battle had on the French Army was a primary reason for the British starting the Battle of the Somme in July 1916 in an effort to take German pressure off of the French at Verdun.

The attack on Verdun came about due to the plan of the German Chief of General Staff, von Falkenhayn. He wanted to ‘bleed France white’ by launching a massive German attack on the narrow stretch of land surrounding Verdun that had historical sentiment for the French. This area around Verdun contained twenty major forts and forty smaller ones that had protected the eastern border of France in the past and had been modernised in the early years of the Twentieth Century. Falkenhayn believed that the French simply could not allow…

Source: The Battle of Verdun 1916 | W.U Hstry

Ireland’s Dirty War… | historywithatwist

Members of The Squad (from left) Mick McDonnell, Liam Tobin, Vinny Byrne, Paddy Daly and Jim Slattery

Right now, Ireland is gearing up to commemorate the centenary of the 1916 Rising. Events will be held throughout the country to mark the moment when a brave few hundred stood up against the British Empire and sowed the seeds of a nationwide rebellion that would come to fruition just a few years later in the Irish War of Independence . . . at least that’s one narrative doing the rounds. Another narrative berates the irresponsibility of the rebels and the destruction their actions brought upon the country.

Whichever version you choose, rest assured that there will be much basking in a green national glow. The 1916 Rising was pivotal, as was the War of Independence. Both are momentous occasions in the history of this State. However, there is one other huge moment when arms were taken up to fight for a cause . . .Ireland’s Civil War, which ran from June 1922 to May of 1923.

It was 11 months of bloody struggle in which atrocities occurred far worse than…

Source: Ireland’s Dirty War… | historywithatwist

On this day: the Black Tom explosion

In Times Gone By...

Aftermath of the Black Tom explosion, an act of sabotage on American ammunition supplies by German agents which took place on July 30, 1916 in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Black Tom pier photographed on the 31st of July, 1916, a day and a half after the explosion.

On the 30th of July, 1916, German agents blew up a pier in New Jersey, USA in an attempt to sabotage American-made munitions intended for World War One.

The worst of the explosions took place at 2:08am, by which point some guards had fled at the sight of fire, knowing what was to come.

The explosion was so great some of the fragments became lodged in the Statue of Liberty, and a clock was stopped over a mile away. The time was frozen at 2:12am.

Map of Jersey City, NJ circa 1905 showing location of Black Tom.

It is estimated that seven people were killed. Hundreds were injured, and the explosion was felt as far away as Philadelphia and Maryland.

It was later revealed that a Slovak immigrant, who had earlier served in the US Army, was responsible for the explosions, and…

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The History Girls: Eugene Bullard, Black Swallow of Death Catherine Johnson

Originally posted on The History Girls.

Eugene Bullard

Another WW1 story you might not have heard, that of  Eugene Bullard,  a young black man who found freedom and respect far from his homeland. I’d never heard of him until recently and  found there are heaps of parallels between his life and that of Mathew Henson,  a hero abroad but ignored in his native land. Bullard became the first ever black military pilot in 1916 and won the Croix de Guerre, but ended his life working as a lift operator in the Rockefeller Center.

Eugene Bullard stowed away on a ship and ended up in Aberdeen. He said he witnessed his father’s narrow escape from a lynching. He made his way to Glasgow and worked there for a while. Life outside segregated America held a whole load more opportunities for a young black man and he settled in Paris in 1913 and worked as a prize-fighter and sometimes…

via The History Girls: Eugene Bullard, Black Swallow of Death Catherine Johnson.

Canada’s Worst Avalanche Disaster

Bite Size Canada

The 1910 Rogers Pass Avalanche killed 58 men clearing a railroad line near the summit of Rogers Pass across the Selkirk Mountains in British Columbia on March 4, 1910. It is Canada’s worst avalanche disaster.

Photo of workers recovering bodies from the avalanche Workers recover bodies and clear the tracks on March 5, 1910.

The winter of 1909–1910 provided conditions particularly conducive to avalanches; many slides experienced during January and February. On March 1, 96 people were killed further south into the Wellington avalanche in Washington State.

Three days later, on the evening of March 4, work crews were dispatched to clear a big slide which had fallen from Cheops Mountain, and buried the tracks just south of Shed 17. The crew consisted of a locomotive-driven rotary snowplow and 59 men. Time was critical as westbound CPR Train Number 97 was just entering the Rocky Mountains, bound for Vancouver.

Half an hour before midnight as the track was…

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War Girls by Jessie Pope

From Troubles of The World

There’s the girl who clips your ticket for the train,
And the girl who speeds the lift from floor to floor,
There’s the girl who does a milk-round in the rain,
And the girl who calls for orders at your door.
Strong, sensible, and fit,
They’re out to show their grit,
And tackle jobs with energy and knack.
No longer caged and penned up,
They’re going to keep their end up
Till the khaki boys come marching back.

There’s the motor girl who drives a heavy van,
There’s the butcher girl who brings your joint of meat,
There’s the girl who cries ‘All fares, please!’ like a man,
And the girl who whistles taxis up the street.
Beneath each uniform
Beats a heart that’s soft and warm,
Though of canny mother-wit they show no lack;
But a solemn statement this is,
They’ve no time for love and kisses
Till the…

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