Category Archives: Military

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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, […]

T. S. Eliot and Haig’s funeral

On 7 February, 1928, T. S. Eliot wrote a letter to his mother, describing Douglas Haig’s funeral procession, on its way to Westminster Abbey: The funeral started at the Scotch church, which was flying the Scotch flag at half-mast [….] Well then there were the Scotch pipers of the Guards, and they started the ‘Lament […]

‘Whether of pure European descent’

I did some researching at the National Archive in Kew yesterday, finding out a little more about the military career of P. G. Wodehouse’s brother, Armine, an officer in the Scots Guards. One of the documents I saw was his ‘Application for Appointment to the Special Reserve of Officers’. (Click the picture if you’d like […]

Singing secretly

I’ll be giving a talk in a couple of weeks about myths of the War – the strange rumours that people whispered to each other at the time, and the equally strange things that some people believe about the War today. That’s why I’ve been looking again at a book I’m very fond of, Echoes […]

How to See the Battlefields

In June I shall be giving a paper at the Sheffield Hallam Culture Wars conference, about critical responses to the detective fiction of Dorothy Sayers;  recently I have been discovering (more than somewhat irrelevantly to the argument of the paper) a little about Sayers’s husband, Atherton Fleming. I already knew that he was a journalist, […]

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