Great Uncle Norman: ‘shot by a single sniper’ | First Night History

I’ve decided to make this a regular re-post for November 11th, particularly pertinent this year in light of the fact that everything this and succeeding generations fought and died for is going for a Burton. As I said to Christoph Fischer earlier, I wish I could go back in time and tell my parents, grandparents and other forebears not to fight, not to sacrifice their lives because, come the 21st century, it will have made not a jot of difference.

‘Five foot ten of a beautiful young Englishman under French soil. Never a joke, never a look, never a word more to add to my store of memories. The book is shut up forever and as the years pass I s…

Source: Great Uncle Norman: ‘shot by a single sniper’ | First Night History

Tragic chapter in Isle of Wight maritime history remembered

Painting inspired by research into the loss of SS War Knight. War Knight ablaze in the foreground with Lysanda standing off behind. Picture courtesy of Mike Greaves.

THE tragic but forgotten tale of the collision of a steamer and the world’s biggest oil tanker off the Isle of Wight, which resulted in the loss of 34 seamen, is being marked almost a century on.

Thanks to Heritage Lottery funding, the Maritime Archaeology Trust (MAT) will be commemorating the disaster — the collision of the SS War Knight and the American tanker, OB Jennings, on March 24, 1918 — as part of its Forgotten Wrecks project.

Dive skipper and historian Dave Wendes, who has been researching the wreck and crew for many years, is leading the project to tell the tale of the tragic chain of events — and to have formally recognised, the contribution and sacrifice made by the majority of the ship’s crew.

The ships were part of a 16-vessel convoy, designed to protect them, from U-boat attacks.The War Knight crashed into the side of the tanker and caused a massive explosion and inferno, which killed…

Source: Tragic chapter in Isle of Wight maritime history remembered

Great Uncle Norman: ‘shot by a single sniper’

‘Five foot ten of a beautiful young Englishman under French soil. Never a joke, never a look, never a word more to add to my store of memories. The book is shut up forever and as the years pass I shall remember less and less, till he becomes a vague personality; a stereotyped photograph.’

Captain Noman Austin Taylor © Sarah Vernon

Captain Norman Austin Taylor © Sarah Vernon

Poor Norman.

Such a commonplace death.  Shot by a single sniper. Youngest child, only son.  Three sisters and a father left to grieve along with so many other fathers, mothers, sisters, wives, brothers, children.

“Poor Norman,” said my grandmother Joyce in the 1950s, and turned away so that her youngest son changed the subject.  Was she still, so many, many years later, too saddened by her brother’s death to talk or had he, for her, become nothing but a stereotyped photograph about whom she felt unable to talk?

A stereotyped photograph.  I have two in my possession, both of Norman in Army uniform. The round, boyish face of inexperience looks at me in the one [above]: a bland, almost formal, expression gives way to a makeshift confidence on closer inspection and, with arms folded, suggests a reluctance to be photographed.

In the other [below], he leans against a pillar with engaging insouciance; a cigarette holder, the ash about to drop, rests between sturdy fingers.  Three or four years, maybe less, separate the pictures. The poise in the latter cannot mask the face of a man who has experienced the muck and the noise, the unutterable panic and horror of trench warfare.

Captain Noman Austin Taylor © Sarah Vernon

Captain Noman Austin Taylor © Sarah Vernon

‘He was hit at four o’clock on the morning of 24th March 1918,’ wrote Joyce the following year.  ‘I felt that icy hand on my heart which I shall never now feel again.’   When I first read my grandmother’s words, I took her to mean that only her brother’s death could produce such an icy hand.  I look at the words now and see only that she felt her heart would never feel anything again.  Perhaps that is why she turned away from her son.

We will remember them.

Captain Norman Austin Taylor 1895-1918

@ALBerridge I thought you might enjoy this post about my great-uncle during #WWI

— First Night Design (@FirstNightArt) May 15, 2014

@FirstNightArt That’s beautifully written and very moving. No high drama, just the reality of human loss in a war. Great post – thank you.

— Louise Berridge (@ALBerridge) May 15, 2014

@ALBerridge I’m so glad you like it.

— First Night Design (@FirstNightArt) May 15, 2014

Take care and keep laughing!


Originally posted on First Night Design.

GUEST BLOG: Professor Hans Fenske (4) A Peace To End All Peace

First World War Hidden History

Armistice  signed in railway carriage at Compiegne on 11 November 1918The armistice of 11 November 1918, made it impossible for the German Reich to restart the battle and was tantamount to an unconditional surrender. In terms of international law it was questionable, since it contained conditions of a political nature – the annulment of the Eastern peace treaties – and because it permitted the continuation of the British blockade until peace was finally concluded. Since a blockade constituted a combat operation, it should have been suspended as soon as the armistice began. In addition, the Allies continued their stance of refusing peace talks with the enemies even after 11 November. They negotiated the peace treaty only among themselves. The main features were defined during a British-French-Italian pre-conference that took place in London in December 1918. They also decided to put Emperor Wilhelm II. on trial. President Wilson was unhappy with the result of the pre-conference and told his delegation that…

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