Sir Nicholas Winton honoured: Extraordinary story of the ‘British Schindler’ who rescued 669 children from Nazis in occupied Czechoslovakia – Home News – UK – The Independent

I am reblogging this post to honour Sir Nicholas Winton who has died at the age of 106. As a tribute, a steam locomotive – Tornado – stopped at Maidenhead on Wednesday night alongside the statue of Sir Nicholas. (BBC News)

First Night History

Sir Nicholas Winton was just 29 when he saved 669 children, most of them Jews, from the Nazis in occupied Czechoslovakia, in an extraordinary act of kindness and bravery that saw him nicknamed ‘The British Schindler’.

The story of Sir Nicholas’ remarkable rescue began shortly before Christmas 1938 when the former stockbroker from Hampstead, who was planning a holiday to Switzerland at the time, heard of the plight of child refugees in besieged Czechoslovakia.

Cancelling his holiday, he visited a friend in Prague to see the situation for himself.

While there he single-handedly masterminded the transportation of children from the Nazi-occupied country to Britain, saving them from the concentration camps, and in many cases certain death.

During 1939 he organised eight evacuations of the children on the Czech ‘Kindertransport’ train. He arranged foster homes, acquired the necessary travel permits for the children and persuaded…

via Sir Nicholas Winton honoured: Extraordinary…

View original post 22 more words

On this day: Food rationing was introduced in the United Kingdom

In Times Gone By...

UK Childs Ration Book WW2

A children’s ration book

On the 8th of January, 1940, food rationing was introduced in the United Kingdom as the Second World War raged on.

Petrol had been rationed since 1939, but in January restrictions were placed on bacon, butter and sugar.

A shopkeeper cancels the coupons in a British housewife's ration book for the tea, sugar, cooking fats and bacon she is allowed for one week. April 1943.

Stamping coupons in April 1943

Many more restrictions were introduced as the war continued, including wider rationing of meat, as well the rationing of things like tea, milk and biscuits.

Rationing on many products didn’t end until years after the war.

View original post

The Brits Who Fought For Hitler.


Insignia of the ‘British Free Corps’, former prisoners-of-war who enlisted in the infamous Waffen SS.

The SS motto – ‘My honour is loyalty.’

As a freelance scribbler and long-time student of military history I love finding the more overlooked or forgotten aspects of the subject. For instance, the popular narrative of the Second World War holds that the British people pulled together, fighting as one for a common cause.

Erm, not exactly.

While British troops and the vast majority of the British public did rally round, a tiny handful didn’t. Some turned traitor for money. The notorious ‘£18 traitor’ Duncan Scott-Ford (not one of Plymouth’s favourite sons), was hanged at Wandsworth Prison in November, 1942 for selling convoy information to German Intelligence at a bargain discount. For others the shift was ideological. They were in it for the cause, such as Wiliam Joyce (AKA ‘Lord HAW Haw’ and star of…

View original post 1,205 more words

World War One: A Centenary


I hope that nobody is unaware of the fact that 2014 marks the one hundredth anniversary of the start of the First World War, in August 1914. To many of you, especially those still young, it might seem like a dusty old piece of history, played out on TV in black and white. You may well consider that it has no relevance any more, and it is of no interest to you whatsoever. You will have no intention of sitting through the endless documentaries, dramatised reconstructions, or worthy coverage of commemorations. Please think again. We can all learn much from the follies of this tragic conflict, and the reasons that it began.

My own grandparents were born in the year 1900. Both of my grandfathers were lucky enough to not have to serve in this war, as they only reached the required age of 18 as the war ended. Other…

View original post 752 more words

‘Subject’, not Citizen


It has long fascinated me that people in other countries are so taken with the British Royal Family. They seem to dwell on the death of Lady Diana Spencer, and fawn embarrassingly, should any of them bother to visit their lands. I exclude Quebec, and some of the Antipodean peoples in this generalisation of course, but I think you know what I mean? It would also appear that the Royals are much-loved in their homeland, from news reports, and public attendance at festivities concerning them, or where they are due to appear. Recent celebrations for both the Jubilee, and Olympics, have shown them, especially the Queen, to be at a height of popularity, not seen since the War. She even appeared in a promotional film, with the current James Bond, which was shown to open the games. I have to admit, that most people I talk to, believe having a…

View original post 710 more words

UKIP: Parochialism, Prejudice and Patriotic Ultranationalism.

Although this post from kittysjones is not strictly within the remit I have set myself for First Night History, it does show very clearly what happens when the powers-that-be — in this case the UK government — ignore the past, wilfully or through ignorance, and thus repeat its mistakes to catastrophic effect. I am re-blogging it because I am disgusted and appalled that the Coalition, a government that was not elected, should have discarded everything our forebears stood and fought for. If you are a British citizen who will be voting in the European elections tomorrow, think very carefully how you vote. A vote for UKIP will mean more destruction and fear, not less.

Politics and Insights

999622_566748676727998_1599547969_n (1)
Over the past four years, we have witnessed the political right using rhetoric that has increasingly transformed a global economic crisis into an apparently ethno-political one, and this also extends to include the general scapegoating and vilification of other groups and communities that have historically been the victims of prejudice and social exclusion: the poorest, the unemployed and the disabled. These far-right rhetorical flourishes define and portray the putative “outsider” as an economic threat. This is then used to justify active political exclusion of the constitutive Other.
The poorest have been politically disenfranchised. Politically directed and constructed cultural and social boundaries, exclusionary discourses and practices create and define strangers. In Zygmunt Bauman’s analysis of the Holocaust, the Jews became “strangers” par excellence  in Europe, the Final Solution was an extreme example of the attempts made by societies to excise the (politically defined) uncomfortable and…

View original post 3,372 more words