Category Archives: Military

Compton Mackenzie, disillusionment and Douglas Jerrold

Mostly,  Gallipoli Memories (1929) is a rather jolly memoir by someone who presents himself as hanging around the Staff with not very much useful work to do. It’s only towards the end that Mackenzie makes it clear that this is partially intended as a contribution to the opposition to the ‘disillusioned’ literature that had taken […]

Casualties

There’s a striking short exchange in Compton Mackenzie’s Gallipoli Memories (1929): Some time after this General Paris visited Army Corps Headquarters, and to him General Hunter- Weston spoke enthusiastically of some successful action on a portion of the front. “Many casualties?” asked General Paris in a voice that could not hide the bitterness he felt […]

In No Man’s Land

From the diary of Duff Cooper: November 11th, 1916. Dined at 16 Lower Berkeley Street. After dinner, the conversation turning on sodomy, Blueie [Harold Baker] told us of a case where a man was accused of having committed it in No Man’s Land, i.e. between the trenches during an attack, taking advantage of a shell […]

My grandfather

Thanks to those who helped clear up the ‘ T.F.’ mystery. I’m more used to reading novels than Army records. Maybe readers could help me a bit more… I’ll start by telling the story of my grandfather’s Army service, so far as I know it, which isn’t very far, in the hope that someone might […]

T.F.?

At the National Archives last weekend, I did a little more research on my grandfather, and will post about it soon. Meanwhile, I am puzzled by an abbreviation in the London Gazette : What does T.F. mean? I bet there’s someone out there who knows.

‘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  […]

‘The Silent Morning’ in paperback

The excellent news is that The Silent Morning, the essay collection about the aftermath of the Armistice, edited by Trudi Tate and Kate Kennedy, is now in a paperback edition at a much less scary price. I’ve mentioned this before (click here for a blog post including a full list of the book’s contents) and […]

The Battle of Loos

On September 25th, 1915, the Battle of Loos began. Last year I contributed a short account of the battle as a programme note for Doctor Scroggy’s War at Shakespeare’s Globe, in London. Here it is: The Battle of Loos ‘Loos was no picnic.’ – Richard Hannay, in John Buchan’s Greenmantle, 1916. On Saturday 25th September, […]

Square jaws, trench music and a grim Christmas story

I’m still looking for, and finding,  anecdotes about British soldiers and their songs and music. Here’s a story from The Square Jaw, the English translation of La Mâchoire Carrée (1917), an account of fighting in the British part of the line, by the French journalists Henry Ruffin et André Tudesq. It compresses a lot of […]

Kipling invents the soldier

From A Soldier’s Mamories by Major-General Sir George Younghusband K.C.M.G., K.C.I.E., F.R.G.S., etc. (1917) And now for a curious thing. I myself had served for many years with soldiers, but had never once heard the words or expressions that Rudyard Kipling’s soldiers used. Many a time did I ask my brother Officers whether they had […]