Category Archives: History

Aircraft Repair Depot

Above is a painting of an Aircraft Repair Depot towards the end of the war. Not No. 3 Western depot in Gloucestershire where my grandfather was stationed, but No.1 Southern Aircraft Repair Depot, South Farnborough. The painting is by Graham Glen, and shows  ‘Women’s Royal Air Force at Work on Aeroplane Salvage’. Click it to […]

Arnold Bennett, and the English and the French

I spent Saturday at the National Archives in Kew, taking a look at, among other things, Arnold Bennett’s activities when in charge of British propaganda to France in 1917-1918. Bennett’s notes and memos are rather impressive – crisp, sensible and decisive – as he deals with a multitude of issues.

Soldiers singing, at the end of the war

Last year I was working on a chapter about soldiers songs for the forthcoming Edinburgh Companion on the First World War and the Arts. Yesterday I came across a paragraph that I wish I’d seen before  finishing the chapter. It’s from the New Statesman, October 19, 1918:

The Oxford Vigilance Committee

I’ve recently been thinking a lot about Arnold Bennett’s novel about wartime prostitution, The Pretty Lady, so was delighted to come across a webpage referencing the November 1916 Oxford Vigilance Committee, and its report on the immorality of wartime Oxford. The committee sees prostitution as a ‘permanent social disease’, but the war is creating conditions […]

What soldiers shouldn’t read

I’ve read some good articles over the years about the reading habits of soldiers in France, and the literature supplied to them. What I hadn’t considered much before was what they were discouraged from reading. Here’s Arnold Bennett, writing in February 1919,  about the committee who ran the Camps Library, and made sure it did […]

An Officer’s Grievance

An anecdote from Arnold Bennett (New Statesman, December, 1918) The other day I met a British officer who had been wounded nine times, captured by the Germans while in a state of unconsciousness, and in England reported killed. He seemed to be perfectly well and perfectly cheerful. But one matter had aroused his resentment. It […]

Kipling the Spy

On Friday, November 20, 1914 the following story appeared in the Daily Mail:

‘Remembering 1916’

A blog reader alerts me to an exhibition in South London, which promises to be worth seeing. It is Remembering 1916: Life on the Western Front at the Whitgift Centre, Croydon. The website includes a fascinating photo gallery of artefacts, including the British gas helmet and rattle pictured here.  The rattle was used to sound  […]

‘Chocolate Munchers’

The First World War provided great opportunities for those whose pleasure in life was expressing disapproval of others. Here’s an article from the Daily Mail of 1917:

Tribunal exemptions

Browsing the Daily Mail for 1918, I was struck by this short report:

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