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Reflections on the Commemoration of the First World War: Perspectives from the Former British Empire (Routledge Studies in First World War History)
By David Monger; and Sarah Murray. 2021
The First World War’s centenary generated a mass of commemorative activity worldwide. Officially and unofficially; individually, collectively and commercially; locally,… nationally and internationally, efforts were made to respond to the legacies of this vast conflict. This book explores some of these responses from areas previously tied to the British Empire, including Australia, Britain, Canada, India and New Zealand. Showcasing insights from historians of commemoration and heritage professionals it provides revealing insider and outsider perspectives of the centenary. How far did commemoration become celebration, and how merited were such responses? To what extent did the centenary serve wider social and political functions? Was it a time for new knowledge and understanding of the events of a century ago, for recovery of lost or marginalised voices, or for confirming existing clichés? And what can be learned from the experience of this centenary that might inform the approach to future commemorative activities? The contributors to this book grapple with these questions, coming to different answers and demonstrating the connections and disconnections between those involved in building public knowledge of the ‘war to end all wars’.
The Tenth Cruiser Squadron of the Grand Fleet had the task of patrolling the seas between Scotland and Greenland to… intercept enemy ships trying to escape into the ocean and merchant ships who could be carrying goods destined for Germany. This was a task of great political sensitivity, since almost all the ships intercepted were neutrals, and requiring great physical endurance from ships and men in the violent North Atlantic. The Maritime Blockade of Germany in the Great War is a comprehensive collection of the records of the Northern Patrol. It consists of regular reports of the admirals in command, to which are added other relevant official records, and more informal documents. There are the chatty letters of Captain Vivian and HMS Patia, the appalling experiences of young officers placed in barely seaworthy sailing ships to see that they went into port for examination, the patehtic 'mutiny' by a bored, distressed and underpaid black gang, the diary of Able Seaman Style, demonstrating the tedium of the patrol, and the self-satisfied diary of Dr Shaw. There are also the casualities: ships overwhelmed by storms, sunk by enemy action, torpedoed. The ships of the Patrol were perhaps the most constantly active Royal Navy vessels in the Great War, a barely acknowledged yet vital component in the eventual Allied victory
By Nicholas Tracy. 1999
This collection of high policy documents charts Britain’s difficulties in defending the Empire in a time of ’imperial overstretch’. The… 20th century saw the rise of several great maritime and military powers and the relative decline of British strength, which created major defence problems for the British Empire. Various solutions were attempted, such as ententes with France and Russia, the settling of differences with the USA and an alliance with Japan. These sufficed until after World War I, when the Empire gained several new territorial responsibilities, all to be defended on a declining economic base. The dominions were encouraged to pay for their own navies, although the Admiralty wished to assume control of them. The increasing threat from Japan made Australia, New Zealand and other Asian colonies nervous and the promised ’main fleet to Singapore’ became less and less likely as the 1930s wore on.
By Matthew Richardson. 2014
Leicester had a strong radical tradition, and was represented in Parliament during the Great War by the outspoken Labour MP… Ramsay MacDonald. MacDonald's anti-war views divided opinion in Leicester sharply, but whilst it was slow to provide troops for Kitchener's Army, this was not through lack of patriotism. Instead, Leicester's three main industries footwear, hosiery and engineering all had bulging order books as a result of government war contracts.Bravery on the battlefield, strikes at home, conscientious objectors and the great flu pandemic were all part of Leicester's story in the Great War, and all are covered here. The author allows Leicester citizens, who lived through these momentous events, to tell their stories in their own words, and powerful eyewitness accounts from men, women and children run through this book. Many of these accounts are previously unpublished, and lend a sense of freshness and immediacy to the narrative, making this an ideal purchase for First World War enthusiasts and social historians alike.
“Bascomb has unearthed a remarkable piece of hidden history, and told it perfectly. The story brims with adventure, suspense, daring,… and heroism.” —David Grann, New York Times bestselling author of Killers of the Flower Moon Neal Bascomb, New York Times best-selling author, delivers the spellbinding story of the downed Allied airmen who masterminded the remarkably courageous—and ingenious—breakout from Germany’s most devilish POW camp In the winter trenches and flak-filled skies of World War I, soldiers and pilots alike might avoid death, only to find themselves imprisoned in Germany’s archipelago of POW camps, often in abominable conditions. The most infamous was Holzminden, a land-locked Alcatraz of sorts that housed the most troublesome, escape-prone prisoners. Its commandant was a boorish, hate-filled tyrant named Karl Niemeyer who swore that none should ever leave. Desperate to break out of “Hellminden” and return to the fight, a group of Allied prisoners led by ace pilot (and former Army sapper) David Gray hatch an elaborate escape plan. Their plot demands a risky feat of engineering as well as a bevy of disguises, forged documents, fake walls, and steely resolve. Once beyond the watch towers and round-the-clock patrols, Gray and almost a dozen of his half-starved fellow prisoners must then make a heroic 150 mile dash through enemy-occupied territory towards free Holland. Drawing on never-before-seen memoirs and letters, Neal Bascomb brings this narrative to cinematic life, amid the twilight of the British Empire and the darkest, most savage hours of the fight against Germany. At turns tragic, funny, inspirational, and nail-biting suspenseful, this is the little-known story of the biggest POW breakout of the Great War.
By K. W. Mitchinson. 2013
Pioneer battalions, created as an expedient in 1914, were a new concept in the British Army. Intended to provide the… Royal Engineers, with skilled labour and to relieve the infantry from some of its non-combatant duties, Pioneers became the work horses of
By John Maxwell Hamilton. 2020
Manipulating the Masses tells the story of the enduring threat to American democracy that arose out of World War I:… the establishment of pervasive, systematic propaganda as an instrument of the state. During the Great War, the federal government exercised unprecedented power to shape the views and attitudes of American citizens. Its agent for this was the Committee on Public Information (CPI), established by President Woodrow Wilson one week after the United States entered the war in April 1917.Driven by its fiery chief, George Creel, the CPI reached every crevice of the nation, every day, and extended widely abroad. It established the first national newspaper, made prepackaged news a quotidian aspect of governing, and pioneered the concept of public diplomacy. It spread the Wilson administration’s messages through articles, cartoons, books, and advertisements in newspapers and magazines; through feature films and volunteer Four Minute Men who spoke during intermission; through posters plastered on buildings and along highways; and through pamphlets distributed by the millions. It enlisted the nation’s leading progressive journalists, advertising executives, and artists. It harnessed American universities and their professors to create propaganda and add legitimacy to its mission.Even as Creel insisted that the CPI was a conduit for reliable, fact-based information, the office regularly sanitized news, distorted facts, and played on emotions. Creel extolled transparency but established front organizations. Overseas, the CPI secretly subsidized news organs and bribed journalists. At home, it challenged the loyalty of those who occasionally questioned its tactics. Working closely with federal intelligence agencies eager to sniff out subversives and stifle dissent, the CPI was an accomplice to the Wilson administration’s trampling of civil liberties.Until now, the full story of the CPI has never been told. John Maxwell Hamilton consulted over 150 archival collections in the United States and Europe to write this revealing history, which shows the shortcuts to open, honest debate that even well-meaning propagandists take to bend others to their views. Every element of contemporary government propaganda has antecedents in the CPI. It is the ideal vehicle for understanding the rise of propaganda, its methods of operation, and the threat it poses to democracy.
I Hope This Reaches You: An American Soldier’s Account of World War I begins in May 1917 with Byron Fiske… Field (1897–1968) boarding a morning train bound for Detroit with one objective in mind: to help the United States win the war against Germany. A pacifist at heart, Field had just finished his freshman year at Albion College where he was studying to be a Methodist missionary. Although he found the idea of killing another human to be at odds with his Christian beliefs, like other Americans he was convinced of the righteousness of World War I—the war to end all wars—and he was determined to do his part. In recounting Field’s story, Hilary Connor relied on four principal sources of information found in a footlocker issued to Field as a member of the 168th Ambulance Company in the 42nd Division—or as it was more famously known, the Rainbow Division. The first of these sources is a handwritten diary kept by Byron from February 1918 to July 1919. The second cache of firsthand information is contained in two books that were co-authored by Field and other select Company members in the late winter and early spring of 1919, recounting events and personal experiences of the war—The History of Ambulance Company 168 and Iodine and Gasoline. The third and perhaps most extraordinary source is a collection of over three hundred letters written by Field during the war to his parents and college girlfriend. Included in many of the letters are mementos ranging from the petals of regional flowers in bloom to Red Cross notices to church service programs and other pieces of everyday life that proved invaluable in helping to create a broader and richer historical context. The last category of material is a voluminous collection of personal papers, including academic articles, speech notes, and opinion pieces, written by Field in the decades following the war. The breadth of materials is only further enhanced by the benefit of one hundred years hindsight, lending itself to a more thorough understanding of many of the momentous events that occurred during those years. I Hope This Reaches You is a tapestry of human experience woven from the narrative threads of love, loss, loyalty, sacrifice, triumph, and tragedy that will call to any reader of historical memoirs.
By Ed Caesar. 2020
&“An outstanding book.&” —The Wall Street Journal * &“Gripping at every turn.&” —Outside * &“A gem of a book.&” —The… Guardian * &“A hell of a ride.&” —The Times (London) An extraordinary true story about one man&’s attempt to salve the wounds of war and save his own soul through an audacious adventure. In the 1930s, as official government expeditions set their sights on conquering Mount Everest, a little-known World War I veteran named Maurice Wilson conceives his own crazy, beautiful plan: he will fly a plane from England to Everest, crash-land on its lower slopes, then become the first person to reach its summit—all utterly alone. Wilson doesn&’t know how to climb. He barely knows how to fly. But he has the right plane, the right equipment, and a deep yearning to achieve his goal. In 1933, he takes off from London in a Gipsy Moth biplane with his course set for the highest mountain on earth. Wilson&’s eleven-month journey to Everest is wild: full of twists, turns, and daring. Eventually, in disguise, he sneaks into Tibet. His icy ordeal is just beginning. Wilson is one of the Great War&’s heroes, but also one of its victims. His hometown of Bradford in northern England is ripped apart by the fighting. So is his family. He barely survives the war himself. Wilson returns from the conflict unable to cope with the sadness that engulfs him. He begins a years-long trek around the world, burning through marriages and relationships, leaving damaged lives in his wake. When he finally returns to England, nearly a decade after he first left, he finds himself falling in love once more—this time with his best friend&’s wife—before depression overcomes him again. He emerges from his funk with a crystalline ambition. He wants to be the first man to stand on top of the world. Wilson believes that Everest can redeem him. This is the tale of an adventurer unlike any you have ever encountered: complex, driven, wry, haunted, and fully alive. He is a man written out of the history books—dismissed as an eccentric, and gossiped about because of rumors of his transvestism. The Moth and the Mountain restores Maurice Wilson to his rightful place in the annals of Everest and tells an unforgettable story about the power of the human spirit in the face of adversity.
By Stephen Wynn. 2019
Before the outbreak of the First World War, the Channel Islands were viewed as they are today; scenic, sunny and… relaxing holiday destinations, where it was possible to briefly escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. As soon as the fighting began, the immediate worry was the threat of a German invasion to the Islands, which are much closer to the coast line of France than they are to the southern coast line of Great Britain. Both men and women alike played their part. Men by either joining one of the islands Militia or enlisting in one of the numerous regiments of the British Army, including the &‘Jersey Pals&’, and the men who served with the Royal Irish Fusiliers, the Royal Irish Rifles and the Royal Irish Regiment. The book looks at the pride in the commitment and achievements of the Channel Islands' very own Royal Guernsey Light Infantry, formed in December 1916. The Islands' women volunteered in their droves to serve with the British Red Cross&’ Voluntary Aid Detachments, but not just throughout the Channel Islands, but to mainland Great Britain, and further afield in Belgium and France and other similar theaters of war. As far as most people are aware, the first time German soldiers stepped foot in the Channel Islands, was when their troops landed unopposed in June 1940 during the Second World War. However, between 1915 and 1917, some 2,000 German prisoners of war, were held captive at the Les Blanches Banques camp. The book closes by taking a look at the men from all of the Islands who voluntarily went off to war, and ended up paying the ultimate price and didn&’t make it back home to their loved ones.
By Stephen Wynn, Tanya Wynn. 2019
Animals in the Great War looks at the use of animals by all sides in the Great War and to… what effect. In the main, it focuses greatly on horses, dogs and pigeons but also addresses the war efforts of other animals. In the early years of the war horses were, to a large extent, the only form of transport that was available to the British Army, ranging from use by cavalry units, artillery units as well others such as the Army Ordnance Corps for the conveying of ammunition supplies to men fighting at the front. Britain sent an estimated one million horses to fight in the war, most of them to France and Belgium, but only 60,000 of them ever returned home, and only then were they returned because of the intervention of Winston Churchill. Dogs also played a major role in the war, especially in the trenches on the Western Front. They were used as mascots by the different regiments and in some cases, they were companions for homesick soldiers. They were also used for sentry duties in the trenches as well as catching rats, and they were used as messengers and to sniff out wounded soldiers in No Man's Land. Besides their immediate handlers who looked after their everyday needs, there was the Royal Army Veterinary Corps to tend to their wounds after they had been injured in the execution of their duties. Animals in the Great War explores how everyday domestic animals were transformed into remarkable wartime heroes, who more than did their bit for the war effort.
By Jon Cooksey, Jerry Murland. 2019
The First World War battlefields to the north of Arras – including Vimy Ridge – are among the most famous… and most visited sites on the Western Front, rivaled only by those around Ypres and the Somme, and this clearly written, highly illustrated guide is the ideal introduction to them. Visitors can trace for themselves the course of each battle across the modern landscape and gain a fascinating insight into the nature of the fighting in the area – and the wider conflict across the Western Front – throughout the war. The book covers the key battles fought in the northern sector of the Arras front, including the 1917 Battle of Vimy Ridge and battles at Villers au Bois, Oppy Wood and Gavrelle. Expert guides Jon Cooksey and Jerry Murland have devised a series of routes that can be walked, biked or driven, explaining the fighting that occurred at each place in vivid detail. They record what happened, where it happened and why, and point out the sights that remain for the visitor to see. Their guidebook is essential reading for visitors who wish to enhance their understanding of the war on the Western Front.
By Janet Macdonald. 2019
Napoleon famously said that an army marches on its stomach, but it also marches in its boots and its uniforms,… carrying or driving its weapons and other equipment, and all this material has to be ordered from headquarters, produced and delivered. Janet Macdonald's detailed and scholarly new study explains how this enormously complex task of organization and labor was carried out by the British army during the First World War. She describes the personnel who performed these tasks, from the government and military command in London to those who handled the items in the field. They were responsible for clothing, accommodation, medicine, transport, hand weapons, armament and communications – a vast logistical network that had evolved to keep millions of men in the field. This meticulously researched account of this important subject – one which has hitherto been neglected by military historians – will be essential reading and reference for anyone who is interested in the modern British army, in particular in its organization and performance in the First World War.
By David Marks. 2019
&‘Fly, Zeppelin! Help us in the war. Fly to England, England shall be destroyed by fire. Zeppelin, fly!&’ Such was… the hymn which the children sang; such the refrain which greeted the aged inventor, Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, wherever he went. Why was there this reaction across Germany? How did a handful of aircraft giving pleasure cruises become a fearsome fleet of rapacious giants encouraged to punish Germany&’s enemies? What were the images that became part of the public&’s wartime consciousness? Books on the Zeppelin raids during the First World War have, traditionally, focused on the direct impact of Britain, from the devastating effects on undefended towns and cities, the psychological impact of this first weapon of total war to the technological and strategic advances that eventually defeated the &‘Baby Killers&’. Now, drawing on the largest postcard collection of its kind and other period memorabilia, David Marks tells the story of the Zeppelin during the First World War from a viewpoint that has rarely been considered: Germany itself. From its maiden flight in July 1900, the Zeppelin evolved into a symbol of technology and national pride that, once war was declared, was at the forefront of German&’s propaganda campaign. The Zeppelin links the rampant xenophobia at the outbreak of the conflict against England (it almost never called Britain), France, Russia and their allies to the political doctrines of the day. The postcards that profusely illustrate this book show the wide-ranging types of propaganda from strident Teutonic imagery, myths and legends, biting satire and a surprising amount of humour. This book is a unique contribution to our understanding of the place of the Zeppelin in Germany&’s culture and society during the First World War.
By Steve Dunn. 2019
During World War One the Scandinavian countries played a dangerous and sometimes questionable game; they proclaimed their neutrality but at… the same time pitched the two warring sides against one another to protect their import and export trades. Germany relied on Sweden, Norway and Denmark for food and raw materials, while Britain needed to restrict the flow of these goods and claim them for herself. And so the battle for the North Sea began. The campaign was ferociously fought, with the Royal Navy forced to develop new tactical thinking, including convoy, to combat the U-boat threat. Many parts of Scandinavia considered that the War had 'missed' the region, and that it was just a distant 'southern thunder'; Much of that thunder was over the North Sea.This new book tells this little-known, and often ignored, story from both a naval and a political standpoint, revealing how each country, including the USA, tried to balance the needs of diplomacy with the necessities of naval warfare. Starting from the declaration of a British blockade and its impact and reception in Scandinavia, the narrative progresses to cover the struggle to prevent supplies reaching Germany, the negotiations to gain preferential British access to Scandinavian trade and the work of the sailors, both of the merchant marine and Royal Navy who had to make the system function. By the end of 1916, the British–Scandinavian trade was so important that a new system of convoyed vessels was developed, not without much Admiralty infighting, leading to the growth of naval operations all along the East Coast of Britain in places such as Immingham, Lerwick and Mehil.Two years later, the Germans, desperate to break the tightening stranglehold, even brought out their big-gun ships to hunt and disrupt the Scandinavian convoys, and at one point US Navy battleships were perilously close to engaging with the High Sea Fleet as a result.Detailed analysis and first-hand accounts of the fighting from those who took part create a vivid narrative that demonstrates how the Royal Navy helped to bring about Germany&’s downfall and protect Britain&’s vital Scandinavian supply lines.
Why did the Germans brutally and illegally execute a group of British soldiers who had been trapped behind the lines… during the retreat to the Marne in 1914? Hedley Malloch, in this gripping and meticulously researched account, vividly describes the fate the soldiers on the run, and of the French civilians who sheltered them. He tells a dramatic and tragic story of escape, betrayals and punishment that also gives a fascinating insight into the life stories of the soldiers and civilians involved and the mind-set of the German army on the Western Front. The book names the German officers responsible for this atrocity, and explores their motivations.
In the past, while visiting the First World War battlefields, the author often wondered where the various Victoria Cross actions… took place. He resolved to find out. In 1988, in the midst of his army career, research for this book commenced and over the years numerous sources have been consulted. Victoria Crosses on the Western Front - Continuation of the German 1918 Offensives: 24 March - 24 July 1918 is designed for the battlefield visitor as much as the armchair reader. A thorough account of each VC action is set within the wider strategic and tactical context. Detailed sketch maps show the area today, together with the battle-lines and movements of the combatants. It will allow visitors to stand upon the spot, or very close to, where each VC was won. Photographs of the battle sites richly illustrate the accounts. There is also a comprehensive biography for each recipient, covering every aspect of their lives, warts and all: parents and siblings, education, civilian employment, military career, wife and children, death and burial/commemoration. A host of other information, much of it published for the first time, reveals some fascinating characters, with numerous links to many famous people and events.
By Mark C. Wilkins. 2019
The young men who flew and fought during the First World War had no idea what was awaiting them. The… rise of science and nationalism during the late 19th and early 20th centuries came to a head in 1914. The &‘technology shock&’ that coalesced at the Western Front was not envisaged by any of the leadership. These men did the best they could and gave their full measure but it wasn&’t enough. Each suffered from their experiences, some better than others. Each knew it was a defining moment in their lives never to be repeated. And many felt that the dynamic context of aerial combat was something that, after the war, they still longed for, despite the attendant horrors.The medical and psychiatric profession evolved symbiotically with the war. Like the patients they were charged with treating, doctors were unprepared for what awaited them. Doctors argued over best practice for treatment. Of course, the military wanted these men to return to duty as quickly as possible; with mounting casualties, each country needed every man. Aviation psychiatry arose as a new subset of the field, attempting to treat psychological symptoms previously unseen in combatants. The unique conditions of combat flying produced a whole new type of neurosis.Terms such as Aero-neurosis were coined to provide the necessary label yet, like shell shock, they were inadequate when it came to describing the full and complete shock to the psyche.We are fortunate that many of these fliers chose to write. They kept diaries and letters about their experiences after the war and they are, of course, an invaluable record. But perhaps more importantly, they were also a means for many of them to heal.Mark C. Wilkins finds the psychology undergirding historical events fascinating and of chief interest to him as an historian. He has included expert medical testimony and excerpts where relevant in a fascinating book that explores the legacies of aerial combat, illustrating the ways in which pilots had to amalgamate their suffering and experiences into their postwar lives. Their attempts to do so can perhaps be seen as an extension of their heroism.
By David Bilton. 2019
There have been few books written in English about the French Army during the Great War. Those that have are… scarcely illustrated. This book aims to provide a highly readable and succinct account of the work of the French Army on the Western Front, as well as provide the reader with a wealth of photographs that show the daily life of the French soldier both in and out of the trenches. All of the images are contemporary, many coming from wartime and postwar magazines, interspersed with many previously unpublished images. The book aims to give a concise overview of the war seen through French eyes and includes the casualties incurred. Although the May 1917 mutinies were an important but brief part of the story, they are not dealt with at any length because they can distract from the main story of the valor shown by the French troops in battles were the casualties were extremely high. Also included is a lengthy introduction which explains the structure of the army at the onset of the war and some of the problems it faced, and a section that looks at the uniforms worn and how they changed during the war.
By Aidan Dodson. 2019
Alongside its incomparable archive of British warship plans, the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich also holds a selection of drawings… from foreign sources. Among the gems of this collection are a number of German warships dating from the First World War era. These are official plans, acquired by the Naval Inter-Allied Commission of Control as part of the peace treaty, and very similar in style, detail and draughtsmanship to Royal Navy &‘as fitted&’ general arrangements, including the use of coloured line and washes.The very best of these, in terms of the completeness of coverage and the visual impact of the drawings, relates to the battleship SMS Helgoland, launched in 1909. The name-ship of the second class of dreadnoughts designed by the Germans, she was a big advance over the earlier Westfalen class, having 12in guns that matched those of her British opponents. She served in the High Seas Fleet throughout the war, fought at Jutland, and was ceded to Britain as part of the peace terms – which is probably why the plans are at Greenwich – and was broken up in 1924.This book is the latest in a series based entirely on original draughts which depict famous warships in an unprecedented degree of detail. Using the latest scanning technology to make digital copies of the highest quality, it reproduces complete sets in full colour, with many close-ups and enlargements that make every aspect clear and comprehensible. Extensive captions point the reader to important features to be found in the plans, and an introduction covers the background to the design. The result is a novel form of anatomy that will be a revelation to any warship enthusiast.