Category Archives: History

Logistics and Support

Almost all writing about the War is about the sharp end – the fighting. The only novel I’ve read that is set in a labour battalion is Robert Keable’s Simon called Peter (and the subject of that is the chaplain’s sexual awakening, rather than the essential forestry work carried out by the soldiers who are […]

Murderous Tommies

The Manual of Military Law published by the War Office in 1914 explicitly stated: The object of military law is to maintain discipline among the troops and other persons forming part of or following an army. Inevitably there were occasions when this objective clashed with what today we think of as the human rights of […]

Churchill on the Kaiser

‘At every crisis he crumpled. In defeat he fled; in revolution he abdicated; in exile he remarried.’

Gertrude Harris

A remarkable lady died on Tuesday, at the age of 101. Gertrude Harris campaigned for many years to clear the name of her father, Harry Farr, who had been executed by firing squad in 1916. Eventually her efforts, and those of others, persuaded Des Browne, then Minister of Defence, to issue a blanket pardon for […]

Adventures of War: With Cross and Crescent

It was early in September of 1912 that Europe became alarmed by the menace of war [….] Macedonia, that vague and troublesome territory which for centuries has been the theatre of guerrilla warfare, of vendettas, of massacres and murders between Christians and Turks, was to be the cause of quarrel… Adventures of War: With Cross […]

War correspondents in the First Balkan War

There has been much discussion here recently about the (sometimes good, sometimes awful) paintings of C. R. W. Nevinson. By chance, the book I’m currently reading has a photograph of his father, Henry Nevinson, the distinguished war correspondent. Here he is with Horace Grant and Philip Gibbs and two unknown Serbians, getting ready to report […]

W. Pett Ridge and the future war

I knew, of course, that before 1914 there were plenty of Future War novels and stories, making the British public’s flesh creep with the prospect of invasion. Still, it was a surprise to come across this in the middle of W. Pett Ridge’s rather cosy family saga: Thanks to Sanderson (1912). heading for work, Mr […]

Register of effects – Julian Grenfell, Edward Thomas, Saki

Yesterday I mentioned the Register of Soldiers’ Effects, which lists monies paid to the family of those killed in action, and showed Isaac Rosenberg’s record as an example. Officers’ records are listed by initial rather than by full Christian names. Here, from early in the War, is Julian Grenfell’s record. Click on it for a […]

Isaac Rosenberg’s death payment

Online now at Ancestry.co.uk is a new resource, the Soldiers’ Effects Registers, which show the money paid by the British Government to the next of kin of men killed in action in WWI and the Boer War. As an example, here is the record of Isaac Rosenberg. It shows the final balance of his pay, […]

Huddersfield’s Roll of Honour 1914-1922

The best Christmas presents are always the unexpected ones, and one that I certainly wasn’t expecting was this volume: Huddersfield’s Roll of Honour, 1914-1922. Thank you, Jo and John. The book is a work of extraordinary scholarship, by Margaret Stansfield. In 1985 she joined a tour of the Great War battlefields in France and Belgium, […]

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