The Western Front at its peak was over 450 miles long, stretching from the Belgian coast at Nieuport to the Swiss border near the village of Pfetterhouse. The terrain along that front varied widely from the flat plains of Flanders to the rolling downland of the Somme, through forests like the Argonne and into mountains when it reached the Vosges.
Tags: Annual report, benfieldside, harrowby camp, jack wilson, Machine Gun Corps, MCG, passchendaele, shotley bridge, somme, WordPress, WordPress.com, ww1
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 5,500 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 9 years to get that many views.
Tags: artillery, documentary, film, horses, howitzer, limbers, machine gun, mules, plum pudding, prisoners, shells, somme, trenches, western front
The big push on the big screen of picture theatres across Great Britain in 1916
My late grandfather, Jack Wilson MM, clearly remembered Key events that impinged on his life from the Relief of Mafeking in 1902, celebrated in the fringes of the British Empire on the Spa Fields, Shotley Bridge – but he said nothing of the 1908 Olympics, yet his father, the source of all news through the Penny Pictorial must have been aware of the Games. Jack would have been 12. Not a Dicky Bird.
Over 100 years ago I believe to the Olympics were far more exclusive, both geographically and economically isolating – a working class lad from the North East was never liekly to travel to London for an event such as this.
Another thought, of course, is how many 1908 competitors fought and died in the 1914-1918 War?
Tags: 1914-1918, colonialism, great war, john hammerton, war, war one, world war, ww1
In Part Six of ‘World War’ the editor Sir John Hammerton (1938) makes some interesting points, written in 1938 with the Great War only twenty years before. I’ve heard others, regular Tommies from the trenches referring to 1870–71 and before to the beginning of the rivalry between France and Germany, back to the Napoleonic Wars and the Thirty Years War.
In the editorial Hammerton uses the language of war and expresses the misconceived hope, even in 1938′ that the last war will be the last, that victory is worth it or that “we produce an environment ‘safe for democracy’ or ‘homes for heroes’. Are we not still guilty of exploiting words like ‘heroes’? That it is heroic to put you life on the line? Which in turn must feed into the psyche of the next generation of fighters?
The victor writes the history, yet Hammerton tries to present the facts objectively. I wonder how the words of Hiddenberg come over in ‘My War Memories’? Does he glory in Tanneberg and blame others for the rest?
There’s a picture of a church taken as a strong point surrounded by barbed wire that makes me realise that in this war forts crumbled, literally and as a useful point if strength. The rise of barbed–wire, machine–guns and artillery is seen as the start of a short era of static war, yet this is surely akin to an older action, the seige. The war id movement, of cavalry, was transferring to the skies.
I find it remarkable that Germany made many foolish assumptions about the state of the relations between countries of the British Empire, even beleiving that should Canada enter the war it would exposen itself to conflict with the USA. WW6C12p151 Do all warmongers delude themselves about the outcome? Do they ever win? What are the lasting conquests and why did they succeed? For example the Norman conquest of England?
Hammerton makes an intersting pooint about ‘German Teutonic kultur’ compares to the ‘peaceful union of states under Great Britain, whose national existence was more likely to stay intact within the empire rather than separated from it’. A case of better the devil you know than the devil you don’t, or subjected people knowing that the time to rebel is not when hundreds if thousands of young men have been mobilised and armed?
German racism ‘The Germans complained during the war that they were faced with a motley crowd of coloured troops.’ Hammerton ed. (1938:151) As if war is a game where sides can only be selected from amongst specific ‘racially superior’ groups or classes?
We owe it to those who have gone before to preserve the great fabric of British freedom and hand it on to our children.” Sir Joseph Cook, the Australian Prime Minister.
Samalis want to fight for, not against the English.
I admire the construction of this metaphor as well as the sentiment expressed. Metaphors must have a ressonace with the audience. Was this first expressed to the people of Somaliland? Politically were those selected from the Somali people to govern likely to lose most, or everything, if they chose to rebel? In any case, given the times, to rebel would be to pick sides and I don’t suppose German colonialism had much of a reputation.
“As the monsoon winds drives the sandhills of our coast into new forms, so does the news of the German evil doing drive our hearts and spears into the service of the English Government.” The hakim of Jubaland, Governor of the Somaliland Protectorate.
A case of my master’s enemy is my enemy, better the devil you know than the devil you don’t or a human inclination to take sides in a fight and join in. (JV)
Or was their fear of internment and viscious retributions?
Tags: gogle maps, google earth, lewes, war one, ww1
Fig. 1. The War Memorial, Lewes High Street, Lewes
An extraordinary way to impress upon those living today, the terrible price and undoubted anguish and trauma caused by the death of one or more member of a family during World War One.
Steve George took the names of those featured on the Lewes War Memorial from the First World War. His research gave him an address which he pinned on a Google Map.
And where the war dead lived:
Fig. 2. Where the WW1 War Dead lived in Lewes : remembered on the Town’s War Memorial.
Some grabs using Google Maps and Google World:
Fig. 3. Where the WW1 War Dead lived in Lewes : remembered on the Town’s War Memorial. (Satellite view)
- Lots of the pins represent addresses with multiple fatalities
- Approximately a third aren’t represented by individual pins.
Fig. 4. Where the WW1 War Dead lived in Lewes : remembered on the Town’s War Memorial.
One corner of the town. Every 3rd or 4th house marking a soldier missing or known to be dead never to return.
“The more you zoom in “, says Steve, ” the more clusters open out and the more shocking it gets”.
Fig. 5. The War Memorial, Lewes High Street, Lewes
On the War Memorial there are two, sometimes three names from the same family: brothers, husbands, fathers and sons. The loss in some families was higher still.
THE NEXT STEP:
- Other towns, cities, associations and corporations to do something similar.
- Do the same in all nations that suffered losses during the War.
- Feature photographs of those named.
- Link their home to where they fell (or where they lie).
Fig.6 The Tynecot Cemetry near Passchendaele.
Fig 7. International Corner, Belgium. The 75th Anniversary of Passchendaele
Jack Wilson with Lyn Macdonald in 1992, marking the spot near International Corner, north west of Ypres where on 22nd October 1917 Jack burried Dick Piper and Harry Gartenfeld in shallow graves (their bodies were never recovered)
Fig. 8 John Arthur Wilson in 1916. A studio photograph taken in Consett, Co. Durham the week before he was transferred to the ‘suicide squad’ and sent for training on the Vicker’s Machine Gun in Grantham
Jack was from Benfieldside, Shotley Bridge. Those who died from his commmunity are featured in the Church. Where did the Lewes men fall? Where are else are they remembered? Do their relations or ancestors know their story? What do we tell future generations?
Fig. 9. Lyn Macdoland, author of ‘They called it Passchendaele’ at the Tynecot Memorial with veteran
Jack Wilson MM in front of the names of fallen comrades Dick Piper and Harry Gartenfeld June 1992
Fig. 10. The Ypres Salient, Passchendaele : The Western Front autumn 1917
Fig. 11. The dead around Tyne Cot as a result of the October-November push known as Third Ypres, 1917
Fig. 12. What they fought for and where many of them died. A set of concrete German pill-boxes in the mud of Passchendaele, late 1917
Fig. 13. How it ended for tens of thousands in the cratered morass of the Ypres Salient in 1917
Fig. 14. Third Ypres. August – November 1917
Fig. 15. They Called it Passchendale. Vivid narrative from Lyn Macdonald supported by the voices of many veterans in their own words.
Tags: memorials, remebered
Tags: exhibits, ww1
Tags: joseph fiennes, jude law, rachel weisz, stalingrad, ww2
There are many great war movies, ‘Enemy at the Gates’ is one.
Tags: 75th anniversary, egypt house, Houthulst Forest, john arthur wilson, john Terraine, langemark, lord french, passchendaele, poelcappelle, war cabinet, Ypres
Fig 1 Sketch of the movements of Corporal John Arthur Wilson, MCG, October 1917.
My grandfather drew a version of this in biro when in his 97th year; his eye-sight was very poor. I redrew it as you see, with him adding comment and annotations. Houthoulst Forrest is a bit out, there is a rail track and I haven’t drawn it strictly North-South.
From Haig’s despatches:
After the middle of October the weather improved, and on the 22nd October two successful operations, in which we captured over 200 prisoners and gained positions of considerable local importance east of Poelcappelle and within the southern edge of Houthulst Forest, were undertaken by us, in the one case by east-county and Northumberland troops (18th and 34th Divisions), and in the other by west-county and Scots battalions (35th Division, Major- General G. Mc. Franks) in co-operation with the French.
My goal, my pleasure, reliving stories he first started telling me on his knee after Sunday Lunch age 6 or so is tp be there with him, to time travel and by following closely in his footsteps survive as he did (just).
A scratch is all he suffered during the 1 1/2 years he was out there (April 1916 to December 1917).
Fig. 2. The silver ID bracelet Jack had made in Grantham. 13203. 104 MGC.
Courtesy of published maps and Google Earth I am gradually picking out the spots. In 1992 he attended the 75th anniversary of Passchendaele and marked the spots where he buried Dick Piper and Harry Gartenfeld. Even after those years, however ‘dull and featureless’ the landscape, and however broken it had been in his time, he was able to pick out the exact spot where these men died.
Is it feasible that the Jerry Prisoner who took can be identified? Handed over to Captain Blair in early October? Somewhere out by International Corner?
His papers came through at the end of December 1917, around the 27th I believe. A couple of officers gave him pictures of themselves, but who could this be?
Fig 3. A senior officer of the Machine Gun Corps who gave this picture to Corporal J A Wilson on 27th December 1917 as he headed home to train with the Royal Flying Corps.
Who is it?
‘After the middle of October the weather improved, and on the 22nd October two successful operations, in which we captured over 200 prisoners and gained positions of considerable local importance east of Poelcappelle and within the southern edge of Houthulst Forest, were undertaken by us, in the one case by east-county and Northumberland troops (18th and 34th Divisions), and in the other by west-county and Scots battalions (35th Division, Major- General G. Mc. Franks) in co-operation with the French’. Haig’s Despatch
Scanning ‘The Road to Passchendaele’ John Terraine 1977 I am struck by the statement that has Haig wanting to take Passchendaele Ridge in order to have command of the open land to the east in order to use cavalry. Also Lord French’s criticism to the War Cabinet that Haig keeps making the same mistakes. From Birdwood ‘Khaki and Gown’ p 316.
British Army Maps: