Auschwitz: Photographs from Hell | Iconic Photos

This week, the world paused briefly to remember 27th January 1945 when the Red Army liberated Auschwitz.  The press release from the White House, now improbably occupied by a man who has sur…

Source: Auschwitz: Photographs from Hell | Iconic Photos

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

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 http://t.co/p8CYYU8nRz

— 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!

Sarah

Originally posted on First Night Design.

Neuve-Chapelle Indian Memorial

Great War Photos

7899878236_85c0bcc53a_oToday is the centenary of the Battle of Neuve-Chapelle, the first major British assault of the Great War. It was not the first attack on the German lines as the trench war had begun in late 1914 and in December there had been several localised attacks. But these had been small scale affairs compared to Neuve-Chapelle which saw more than 40,000 British and Indian troops make a major assault on the village. The Indian Army had taken part in First Ypres and much of the fighting in late 1914 but with the Indian Corps now accounting for a sizeable part of the British Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders this was one of their major battles of the Great War on the Western Front.

Indian Troops 1915 Indian Troops 1915

The Neuve-Chapelle Indian Memorial was designed by Sir Hubert Baker and unveiled in October 1927. It commemorates more than 4,700 Indian troops…

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The History Girls: Lest We Forget… by Clare Mulley

I was appalled to hear this month that cuts to the Imperial War Museum budget mean that access to the library and archives, which were hugely important during my research for Krystyna’s biography, is now going to be severely restricted if not closed, and the school education packages may be stopped. I find it incredible that, at this time of remembrance in particular, we can even consider risking losing one of the most important repositories of these stories. If you feel the same, please take a moment to sign the petition against these cuts, so that we can continue to remember, honour and consider, in an informed way.

via The History Girls: Lest We Forget… by Clare Mulley.

Tell Me, John, Let Me Hear it Once by Seumas Gallacher

Tell Me, John, Let Me Hear it Once

by Seumas Gallacher

Tell me, John, let me hear it once

From beyond the grave wherein you lie.

Tell me once, that I may know

Why the Hell did you have to die?

Now that I myself am growing old

As you were not allowed to do,

When your country went to War,

Killing them, and us, and you.

Is Humanity so bereft

Of sense and sensibility?

That murder dressed as War

Is the tip of Man’s ability?

Yes, my dear, I understand

There’s times to right the wrong

When Nation pits at Nation

To prove which one is strong.

But feel each mother’s loss

The angst, the grief, the pain

It’s no use telling them,

‘Let them not have died in vain’.

For every priceless child that’s gone,

Every precious son and daughter,

There can ne’er be salve enough

To ease the cost of slaughter.

So, yes, let us remember,

Not the glory, nor the killing

Nor the rant of politicians

Sending us to do their willing.

Yes, please,

Tell me, John, let me hear it once

From beyond the grave wherein you lie.

Tell me once, that I may know

Why the Hell did you have to die?

With thanks to Seumas Gallacher for allowing me to republish his moving poem on First Night History.

Bullets, Bathtubs And The Battle Of Stenay

This military action on 11th November 1918 is breathtakingly monstrous.

Armistice Day: Triumphant For Some, Tragedy For Others.