April 22, 1918 – The Red Baron – Today in History

By way of comparison, the highest scoring Allied ace of the Great War was Frenchman René Fonck, with 75 confirmed victories. The highest scoring fighter pilot from the British Empire was Canadian B…

Source: April 22, 1918 – The Red Baron – Today in History

N.B. I’m not currently responding to comments or visiting blogs because of ill-health but I much appreciate your support.

Volunteer Nurses in the Great War: 1914 | Mrs Daffodil Digresses

The fashionable women of England are very anxious to help. At least they say they are, and never would we doubt a lady’s word. But their good intentions are thwarted on every side. Lord Kitch…

Source: Volunteer Nurses in the Great War: 1914 | Mrs Daffodil Digresses

Christmas 1914: Chandos Hoskyns in the Trenches

FROM THE ARCHIVE [yearly re-post]

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

Chan

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.

Related

Sarah Vernon © 20 June 2014

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

Birth of Erich Maria Remarque – If It Happened Yesterday, It’s History

June 22nd 1898
Birth of Erich Maria Remarque

On June 22nd, 1898, Erich Maria Remarque was born in the city of Osnabruck, in the federal state of Lower- Saxony, in Germany. He is the famed author of the classic novel, All Quiet on the Western Front (1928).

He was drafted into the German army at the age of eighteen, where he witnessed first hand the horrors of the Great War. He, himself, was wounded during the war by several pieces of shrapnel. His injuries would…

Source: What happened this month in history? – If It Happened Yesterday, It’s History

The Christmas Truce By Carol Ann Duffy

"Illustrated London News - Christmas Truce 1914" by A. C. Michael - The Guardian [2] / [3]Originally published in The Illustrated London News, January 9, 1915.. Via Wikipedia.

Illustrated London News – Christmas Truce 1914” by A. C. Michael – The Guardian [2] / [3] Originally published in The Illustrated London News, January 9, 1915.. Via Wikipedia.

THE CHRISTMAS TRUCE
by Carol Ann Duffy

Christmas Eve in the trenches of France,
the guns were quiet.
The dead lay still in No Man’s Land –
Freddie, Franz, Friedrich, Frank…
The moon, like a medal, hung in the clear, cold sky.

Then flickering flames from the other side
danced in their eyes,
as Christmas Trees in their dozens shone,
candlelit on the parapets,
and they started to sing, all down the German lines.

So Christmas dawned, wrapped in mist,
to open itself
and offer the day like a gift
for Harry, Hugo, Hermann, Henry, Heinz…
with whistles, waves, cheers, shouts, laughs.

Christmas 1914: Chandos Hoskyns in the Trenches

FROM THE ARCHIVE

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

Chan

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.

Related

Sarah Vernon © 20 June 2014

First Night Design | My Letter to an Unknown Soldier

Although this is fiction, it is written in the spirit of the times in which my grandparents lived. Originally posted in 2014.

First Night Design

Neil Bartlett and Kate Pullinger have set up a grand venture to commemorate WW1. For them ‘it is important to move away from cenotaphs, poppies, and the imagery we associate with war memorials’.

We can all contribute: ‘If you could say what you want to say about that war, with all we’ve learned since 1914, with all your own experience of life and death to hand, what would you say? If you were now able to write to the unknown soldier, a man who served and was killed during World War One, what would you write?’

If you’d like to take part, you can do so now. All contributions will be published on their website from 28 June. To read more about this project, click here.

‘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…

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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.

How Many People Did Hitler Personally Kill?

When it comes to the total number of deaths one person is responsible for Hitler is hard to top (beaten only by Stalin and Mao). The number of non-combatants killed under the Nazi regime is in the region of 11,000,000 according to Timothy Snyder, professor of history at Yale. I find this to be a reasonable and accurate estimate based on my own research. The true devastation and trauma of murder is easily forgotten when simply tallying death tolls as statistics – even more so when we are discussing an amount as colossal as 11,000,000. As Snyder eloquently puts it himself:

“Discussion of numbers can blunt our sense of the horrific personal character of each killing and the irreducible tragedy of each death. As anyone who has lost a loved one knows, the difference between zero and one is an infinity. (1)

But how many deaths was Hitler personally responsible for? We discuss the answer below, looking at all…

View original post 515 more words

6 Powerful Photos Of First World War Battlefields 100 Years Later.

Originally posted on Trendingly.

After 100 years these battlefields still bear the scars of the Great War, while at the same time becoming unforgettable parts of the stunning landscapes of modern Europe.

#1. Newfoundland Memorial Park — Beaumont-Hamel, France

Part of the battlefields that were host to the battle of Somme, the trenches, shell crater and wire pickets are all…

via 6 Powerful Photos Of First World War Battlefields 100 Years Later.

America’s First Female President

WRITINGS & RAMBLINGS

492px-President_Woodrow_Wilson_portrait_December_2_1912 President Woodrow Wilson-photo Library of Congress

With all the talk of the possiblity of Hillary Clinton becoming the first female President of the United States here’s a look back to 1919. Many historians believe that from 1919 to 1921 the United States had an “Acting President” who was a female. Her name was Edith Wilson. She was the wife of President Woodrow Wilson. Here’s how it happened and the circumstances leading up to it.

Background:
Thomas Woodrow Wilson (December 28, 1896 – February 3, 1924) served as the 28th President of the United States from March 4, 1913 to March 4, 1921. Wilson served during the World War I period. When the war began he declared the U.S. to be neutral keeping them out of the war. Isolationism dominated American politics and society in the early 20th century. Eventually events forced the U.S. to enter the war in April 1917…

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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.

The Green Fields of France

Two versions of one of the most moving songs about The Great War — The Green Fields of France (also known as No Man’s Land), written by Scottish-born folk singer-songwriter Eric Bogle in 1976.
greenfieldsoffrance

The Green Fields of France performed by The Fureys and Davey Arthur.

The Green Fields of France performed by Eric Bogle

The myth of the machine gun in the First World War and how it came about.

Mind Bursts

In the final chapter of ‘Machine Gun and the Great War’ Paul Cornish consider those who, in the 75 years after the First World War, ‘seized upon the machine gun as a symbol of both the carnage and the ‘stalemate’ of the Western Front.’ Paul Cornish (2009 : 141)

Debunking myths is my favourite game wherever my command of a subject is such that I feel I can do so with some credibility. I’ve been hooked on the First World War since childhood thanks to a grandfather who served and survived and lived well into his 90s. I’ve also been a sucker for the mythology of the war and too many warped and inventive interpretations of what actually took place. It has taken some serious, postgraduate study of the events of 1914-1918 to find I will chirp along with contemporary historians who are gradually turning the tide: generals were professional and did…

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