Remembered: The Battle of Passchendaele | Heritage Calling

Allied Australian troops walk through the remains of Chateau Wood, Passchendaele 29 October 1917. © IWM E(AUS) 1220.

Today – 31 July – marks one hundred years since the start of the Battle of Passchendaele (Third Battle of Ypres, 31 July – 10 November 1917), Britain’s major offensive against German forces in the Flanders region of Belgium.

The ultimate aim was to liberate the occupied Channel ports to the north of Ypres, neutralising the U-boat threat to North Sea shipping and take the pressure off…

Source: Remembered: The Battle of Passchendaele | Heritage Calling

On this day: the death of a war hero | In Times Gone By…

Only hours after being awarded the French Légion d’honneur, British Lieutenant Reginald Warneford was killed in an aeroplane crash on the 17th of June, 1915. A 1919 painting depicting the moment th…

Source: On this day: the death of a war hero | In Times Gone By…

Britain on the Brink of Starvation: Unrestricted Submarine Warfare | Heritage Calling

Will’s cigarette card from the First World War. The reverse reads: ‘As in peace time, the flag of Britain’s mercantile marine flies over two-thirds of the shipping which plies the ocean. Ship after ship is coming over the seas, bringing food and raw materials…’ © Mark Dunkley.

One hundred years ago today on 1 February 1917, Germany resumed its policy of ‘unrestricted submarine warfare.’  The seas around the British Isles were declared a war zone in which fishing vessels …

Source: Britain on the Brink of Starvation: Unrestricted Submarine Warfare | Heritage Calling

The Silvertown Tragedy: Explosion on the Home Front | Heritage Calling

100 years ago today, on 19th January 1917 at 6.52pm, a catastrophic explosion at the Brunner Mond and Company’s high explosive TNT factory in Silvertown, East London killed 73 people and injured hu…

Source: The Silvertown Tragedy: Explosion on the Home Front | Heritage Calling

The Sunday Living History Interview – Percy Francis, Royal Flying Corps -Grandfather of Geoff and Gordon Le Pard | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

Percy Francis was fascinated by flying. Today it would not be unusual, but this was 1911. Powered flight was only a few years old and the primitive machines that clawed their way into the sky were incredibly dangerous. But Percy loved it. By 1911 he was by his own account ‘involved in aeronautical research’, and in 1912 he was an official of the London Aero Club helping to run…

Source: The Sunday Living History Interview – Percy Francis, Royal Flying Corps -Grandfather of Geoff and Gordon Le Pard | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

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

Christmas 1914: Chandos Hoskyns in the Trenches


My maternal grandfather, Chandos Hoskyns was commissioned into The Rifle Brigade [Greenjackets] in 1914. During The Great War, he fought in Thessaloniki, Greece, and in the trenches of France from where he sent the following letter in which he tells his family about something surprising and unusual.

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!

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


I am indebted to Tony Allen of World War I Postcards for the use of both images.

Chandos Hoskyns was the son of Benedict and Dora Hoskyns of the Sicilian Earthquake feature.


Sarah Vernon © 20 June 2014

War Toys for Christmas: 1914-1917 | Mrs Daffodil Digresses


Toy Makers Take Cue from War Now Raging, and Miniature Armies and Ordnance is in Style

Santa Claus will fill the stockings of Emporia boys and girls this year with guns, cannon, soldiers and warlike toys such as they never before have seen. It will be a military Christmas and the Emporia youngsters will fight the battles of the Argonne and Ypres like the real soldiers across the Atlantic, only the soldiers will be tin and the guns small and harmless.

The Emporia stores have their toys on display this week and in their big stock are many war implements. Miniature Krupp guns will slaughter tin soldiers in front of the fireplace Christmas Day, and the boys will imitate the Belgians and Germans with an assortment of…

Source: War Toys for Christmas: 1914-1917 | Mrs Daffodil Digresses

A ‘Hotbed of Immorality’? World War One and Sexual Panic

Workhouse Tales

War generates change (both perceived and real) in sexual conduct, and at the beginning of the First World War, young women were accused of being carried away by ‘Khaki Fever’ which in turn drove campaigns to curb the behaviour of young, mainly working-class, women. Similarly, fears that soldiers and sailors would be in danger of contracting venereal diseases from an increased number of women working as prostitutes resulted in draconian military legislation on the female population. Curfews were enforced, anti-immorality associations were formed, and female police officers were introduced.

In Swansea, a Women’s Citizen Union with a membership of 120 was formed at a conference for the promotion of public morals which was convened by women’s groups and led by well-known philanthropists Lady Lyons and Lady Llewelyn. Public morality had always been of concern to many women’s groups in Swansea, Lady Llewelyn had instigated and chaired a Ladies’ Workhouse Visiting…

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Shot at Dawn and an appeal for forgiveness – a moving story from Bolton’s archives

GM 1914

James Smith Playcomp

Lois Dean has researched and written this powerful story from Bolton’s archives.

Shot at Dawn and an Appeal for Forgiveness

The brave young Bolton soldier had faced guns before, at Gallipoli and the Somme, but those James Smith faced early on the morning of 5th September 1917 were to be fired by his own countrymen – friends and comrades from his own unit.

James ‘Jimmy’ Smith became the only Boltonian to be ‘shot at dawn’ after being found guilty by a military tribunal of desertion and cowardice.  However, his experience of the horrors of war told a different story, one that led to his pardon nearly 90 years later.

Born in Noble Street, Bolton, in 1891, the son of James and Elizabeth Smith, Jimmy was brought up by his aunt and uncle when his mother died soon after his birth.  At 18, he joined the Lancashire Fusiliers as a…

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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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Austro-Hungarian Red Book: Count Berchtold to the Austro-Hungarian Mission, 25 July 1914 – Part IV | The July Crisis: 100 Years On, 1914-2014

Originally posted on The July Crisis: 100 Years On, 1914-2014.

Leopold Count Berchtold

On 25 July 1914, the Austro-Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Leopold Count Berchtold (pictured), circulated a memoir to all Austro-Hungarian diplomatic missions. The memoir formed the basis of Austria-Hungary’s view of Serbia, and the Dual Monarchy’s rational during the July Crisis. From the Austro-Hungarian perspective, it lists the different forms of Serbian aggression endured since the beginning of the century, culminating in the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife at Sarajevo. The following is part IV of the memoir.

Circular Note to the Austro-Hungarian Mission. Vienna, 25 July 1914.

A few months previously, research with regard to treasonable propaganda had been instituted on Luka Aljinovicz’s account. In the course of these investigations three witnesses had testified against Aljinovicz, who, they said had in 1913 received 100 dinar from the Narodna odbrana for purposes of propaganda, but more especially for an attempt upon the life of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and a secret student society had given him the same sum.

This shows how the criminal agitation of the Narodna odbrana was recently concentrated upon the person of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

All these facts lead to the conclusion that the Narodjia odbrana, and the elements hostile to Austria-Hungary grouped around it, had recently considered the…

via Austro-Hungarian Red Book: Count Berchtold to the Austro-Hungarian Mission, 25 July 1914 – Part IV | The July Crisis: 100 Years On, 1914-2014.