The Lost Generation: The Young Person’s Guide To World War I by Martyn Barr (2014) – Review

©Martyn Barr – Out Of The Box Publishing Ltd

©Martyn Barr – Out Of The Box Publishing Ltd

The Lost Generation: The Young Person’s Guide to World War I (2014), by award-winning Kent author, Martyn Barr, is the latest educational publication from Out of The Box Publishing. Martyn, a PR and design consultant, established Out of The Box Publishing Ltd in 2009, to produce and market his own books which, since then have included:

Extracts from The Lost Generation.

Extracts from The Lost Generation. ©Martyn Barr – Out of The Box Publishing Ltd

The Lost Generation is a beautifully illustrated and thoroughly researched softback publication which tells the story of World War One from a British perspective. Although the guide is aimed at young students (Key Stages 3 & 4), it also offers an excellent introduction, to such a complex period in world history, for the budding adult historian wanting to ‘dip their toe’ into this topic.

Regular readers of Come Step Back in Time will know that so far this year I have written many articles on World War One. I wish I had discovered The Lost Generation earlier, it would have saved me a lot of time (although never wasted!) ploughing through numerous academic tomes on the subject. What I really needed in the beginning was a straightforward introduction to inspire me continue on my research journey. The guide covers the war’s origins, as played out in a far-flung corner of Europe, right through to its bloody and bitter conclusion.

At a wallet-friendly price of £5.99 (including Free second class postage), The Lost Generation is an essential addition to your history bookshelf.  Fifty pence from every copy sold will be donated by Martyn to The Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal.

Extracts from The Lost Generation. ©Martyn Barr - Out of The Box Publishing Ltd

Extracts from The Lost Generation. ©Martyn Barr – Out of The Box Publishing Ltd

Inside The Lost Generation, are 62 pages, over 70 photographs/illustrations and a fold-out map on the back cover – ‘Taking Sides: A Europe Divided’ – illustrating a fractured Europe divided into allied powers, central powers and neutral countries.  The text is well-written and the layout is user-friendly. Some of the World War One topics Martyn covers include:

  • Motives for war;
  • Assassination of the Archduke and Archduchess, Franz Ferdinand and his wife, in Sarajevo;
  • Home front propaganda;
  • White feather campaign;
  • Pals battalions;
  • The ‘Old Contemptibles';
  • Key Battles on the Western Front (Mons, Marne, Ypres, Passchendaele, Neuve Chapelle, Loos, Verdun, Somme, Jutland, Camrai, Amiens);
  • The Gallipoli campaign and siege of Kut-al-Amara;
  • Life in the trenches;
  • Women at war;
  • War horses and animals on the frontline;
  • Prisoners of war;
  • Aviation;
  • The postal service;
  • Poetry;
  • Medicine.
Extracts from The Lost Generation. ©Martyn Barr - Out of The Box Publishing Ltd

Extracts from The Lost Generation. ©Martyn Barr – Out of The Box Publishing Ltd

Writing about The Lost Generation, Martyn comments:

A century has now passed since the outbreak of ‘the war to end all wars’ in 1914. The fertile fields of France and Belgium, where millions died, are no longer muddy, pock-marked quagmires. Nearby, row after row of white headstones mark the spot where men (and often boys) made the ultimate sacrifice… a practice repeated in many other countries across the globe.

Providing a guide to the First World War for today’s generation has been a challenge. The Lost Generation offers an overview of the war as it progressed, as well as a series of features that help flesh out the story. It has not been possible to cover every single battle and event, but I’ve tried to include the most significant from Britain’s perspective.

(p. 4, Teachers’ Resource Guide by Martyn Barr, 2014, Out of The Box Publishing Limited)

Interview With Martyn Barr

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Martyn about his work as an author:

Why did you decide to write The Lost Generation?

Although I am not an expert on this topic, I have always been interested in World War One and because 2014 is the 100th anniversary of its outbreak, it seemed like the right time to publish a book on this topic. It felt like a big responsibility at times, tackling such a complex topic. I wanted to write a guide, told from the British perspective which had depth and challenged the reader but didn’t go into a huge amount of detail.

I am not a teacher or a historian. I am an author with a background in writing and design. I understand how important book design is in publishing. Design layout in a book impacts upon the reader experience, it needs to be cohesive and engaging.”

Although The Lost Generation is aimed at the younger student of history, do you think it also has wider appeal?

Yes, very much so. I always consider my readership carefully. I ask myself ‘what would they want to see inside a history book about World War One’? Modern generations of youngsters do not want to read lots and lots of text, they prefer snippets. I also wanted to produce a publication that appealed to both teenagers and adults.”

Do you offer on-line resources for teachers to accompany your publications?

“Yes we do. Supporting educational material is available to teachers after they have purchased their publication(s). We then provide password details so that they can access the relevant Resource Guide on-line. Material included in these guides is cross-curricular.”

Tell me a little bit more about your unique concept of corporate sponsorship to facilitate the publication process?

Many of our publications are sponsored by companies. As part of their package, we provide each sponsor with 500 copies of the book they have helped to publish. It is entirely up to the company concerned what they choose to do with these publications. In the case of The Lost Generation, which was sponsored by Fenwick Limited, they have decided to distribute their copies, for free, to local schools in Kent.”

Reviews – The Lost Generation

Fenwick Limited chose to sponsor The Lost Generation to mark Group Trading Director Hugo Fenwick’s term as High Sheriff of Kent, 2014. He says:

I was pleased to lend my support to this project to ensure that the current generation recognises the huge sacrifices made by their forebears 100 years ago to secure their freedom. The government has pledged to fund an educational programme to create an enduring legacy and I think this book supports that admirably.

Martyn presents a brutally honest account of the First World War, and has pitched it perfectly for a teenage audience. He has managed to achieve this without dumbing down the material in any way, so I’m sure adults will enjoy reading it too.

The Lost Generation has been well-received by both the general public and historians alike. Dr Will Butler from the University of Kent at Canterbury, who also fact-checked the book prior to publication, comments:

This book is a valuable guide for a youth audience, or anyone approaching this subject for the first time. It is richly illustrated, covers a significant amount of detail, and avoids those well-trodden myths of the First World War, to provide a concise history of the topic.

Amber Rudd MP for Hastings and Rye writes:

A detailed and well-written book and resource to mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War. Martyn has succeeded in producing a fitting tribute to all those who bravely gave their lives for our freedom.

Extracts from The Lost Generation. ©Martyn Barr - Out of The Box Publishing Ltd

Extracts from The Lost Generation. ©Martyn Barr – Out of The Box Publishing Ltd

Teachers’ Resource Guide – The Lost Generation

Martyn has written a Teachers’ Resource Guide to accompany The Lost Generation. Packed full of useful support material. Upon purchase of The Lost Generation, password details to access the on-line guide can be found on p.51, it is the last word that appears on that page. Generous educational discounts are also offered to schools and colleges, depending on quantities purchased. Details of these offers together with details of how to purchase individual copiesclick here.

Canterbury Cathedral In Times Past: Remembering WWI

Remembering World War I will be at the centre of this year’s event; examples from the rich collections at the Cathedral Archives will be on display to tell the story of life in the Cathedral City between 1914-1918. The exhibition will feature manuscripts, photographs and patient records illustrating the Voluntary Aid Detachment hospitals; a series of documents relating to the War Work Dept; letters from soldiers from the front; the diary of a cavalry officer and WWI pilot; artefacts relating to HMS Kent; details of how the casualties of the war were remembered, and the construction of the memorials in the Cathedral and in the City. Activities for children will include making a remembrance poppy and lavender bag.

(Canterbury Cathedral Website, published 18.8.2014)

On the evening of Tuesday 7th October, Martyn will be signing copies of The Lost Generation, at Canterbury Cathedral as part of their ‘Canterbury Cathedral in Times Past: Remembering WWI’. This free public event begins at 5.30pm with Evensong sung by the Cathedral Choir and at 6.30pm various activities and displays begin inside the Cathedral. The event ends at 8.40pm.

Canterbury Cathedral holds these open evenings annually but this year’s event commemorates World War One. Visitors will also be able to try their hand at a number of skilled crafts including applying gold leaf, carving stone, and brass rubbing. Free guided and audio tours will be on offer and there will be visits to the private chapels, the Bell Tower, the organ loft, and the choir practice room. For further information about this event, click here.

Author Martyn Barr ©Tim Stubbings

Martyn Barr in the Cloisters at Canterbury Cathedral. ©Tim Stubbings

New Forest Remembers – D-Day Commemorative Event June 2014

©Come Step Back In Time

Forces Sweetheart entertained the crowds at Lymington Town Railway Station. D-Day commemorative event, 21st June, 2014. ©Come Step Back In Time

I recently wrote an article and made a couple of short films about Hampshire’s role preparing for the Invasion of Europe in 1944. For that article, ‘DDay, 70 Years On: Hampshire Remembers’, click here.

This Summer there have been many D-Day commemorative activities taking place across Hampshire. On 21st June, I attended Lymington-Brockenhurst Community Rail Partnership’s immersive history event in the New Forest.  Visitors were given the opportunity to step back in time and experience life in 1940s rural Britain, quite fabulous it was too.

An ambitious undertaking, involving a number of different locations. Brockenhurst station, Lymington Town station, Brockenhurst village and Berthon Marina, Lymington all came alive with the sights and sounds of wartime Britain. Vintage vehicles from the era, restored D-Day vessels (HMS Medusa and Pilot Rescue Launch 441), retro-themed stalls, fair rides, dance displays, music, singing, specially designed heritage walks and much, much more.

In Brockenhurst Village Hall, there was also an evening showing of The Longest Day (1962) together with a fish and chip supper. The film is all about D-Day and based uponn the 1959 book, of the same name, by Cornelius Ryan.

In order to showcase, fully, this fabulous day of nostalgia and reflection, I made this short film.

  • ‘D-Day Commemorative Event – New Forest Remembers, 21.6.14′ created by Emma, Editor of Come Step Back in Time.

On Lymington Town Quay there was a service of thanksgiving as well as the dedication of a plaque commemorating the departure of 2nd Battalion The Essex Regiment (The Pompadours) for Normandy on 3rd June, 1944.  The plaque was unveiled by a representative of The Royal Anglian Regiment and Mr Maurice Crosswell JP, President of The Rotary Club of Lymington.

©Come Step Back In Time

©Come Step Back In Time

The 2nd Battalions of the Essex, Glosters and South Wales Borderers were organised into 56th (independent Brigade) in January, 1944. On 25th May, 1944 the Essex moved into Camp B3 in the Beaulieu area, where it prepared for D-Day. Early morning PT and route marches ensured the physical fitness of all ranks with the emphasis now being placed on stimulating a sense of urgency. Training continued for street fighting, mine laying and clearance and weapon training, whilst night operations were extensively carried out. In short, the battalion was fighting fit and fit to fight. The camp was sealed and the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel JF Higson MC, briefed all ranks on their role in the invasion.

At 5.oo pm on 3rd June the battalion left camp and was taken to Lymington, where it embarked on Landing Craft Infantry (Large) for Southampton. Bad weather delayed the landings and the battalion finally sailed from Southampton for Normandy at 7.00 pm on 5th June. The evening was dull and overcast and although a heavy swell was running it was a quiet crossing. At 12.30pm the following day the battalion landed without casualties east of Le Hamel, which was still in enemy hands.

(Text above is from the back cover of a booklet produced especially for the ‘Plaque Dedication Service and Ceremony’ that took place at Lymington Quay, 21st June, 2014)

©Come Step Back In Time

©Come Step Back In Time


D-Day Veteran, Geoffrey William Dunstan attended the plaque unveiling ceremony and service at Lymington Quay. Geoffrey was 19, when he took part in D-Day. He was a member of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry who took part in the assault on Sword Beach. ©Come Step Back In Time

D-Day Veteran, Geoffrey William Dunstan attended the plaque unveiling ceremony and service at Lymington Quay on 21st June, 2014. Geoffrey was 19 when he took part in D-Day. He was a member of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, one of the regiments that landed on Sword Beach. ©Come Step Back In Time.

In 1939, Brockenhurst station received the first cohort of evacuees, mainly from Southampton and Portsmouth. During World War Two, nearly five thousand child evacuees came to the New Forest. In order to commemorate this at the ‘New Forest Remembers’ event, local school children, dressed in period clothing, recreated the spectacle of evacuees arriving in the village during the war.

All evacuees would have been placed with local families who received ten shillings and sixpence to accommodate one child per week (£16 in today’s money). This fee was reduced to eight shillings and sixpence for two or more children at the same address. Villagers in the New Forest were not particularly well-off and all evacuees had to bring with them:

  • knife, fork, spoon, plate and mug;
  • comb, toothbrush, gas mask;
  • handkerchief, shoes, plimsolls, socks and a change of clothes.
©Come Step Back In Time

A 1937 Bedford Country Bus, an eleven seater vehicle which at the ‘New Forest Remembers’ event offered rides around the Lymington town for a small charitable donation. A wonderful experience for fans of vintage vehicles such as myself. ©Come Step Back In Time

©Come Step Back In Time

Inside the 1937 Bedford Country Bus. In 1939, the bus was used by the military to transport service personnel. In 1945, the vehicle was brought by Pentonville Prison for moving prisoners within the grounds. ©Come Step Back In Time

©Come Step Back In Time

Art Deco period detail inside the Bedford Country Bus, 1937. ©Come Step Back In Time

©Come Step Back In Time

A stunning Deco light fitting inside the 1937 Bedford Country Bus. ©Come Step Back In Time

©Come Step Back In Time

Lovely ‘Dig For Victory’ display at Lymington station by Lymington Gardening Club and Lymington Flower Club. ©Come Step Back In Time

During World War Two, large areas of Open Forest, close to Brockenhurst – Wilverley Plain, Ober Heath, Longslade Bottom, Whitefield Moor – were ploughed over and crops planted. Approximately fourteen thousand allotments worth of land was utilised for the ‘Dig For Victory’ campaign. The crops grown ranged from cereals, potatoes, turnips to rapeseed and flax.

©Come Step Back In Time

Lymington Town station’s waiting-room where the clock had been turned back 70 years to 1944.  ©Come Step Back In Time


One of my favourite vintage vehicle exhibits at Brockenhurst station. A rare 1933, Austin 16/6 Westminster Sports Saloon. Only 50 were produced and 3 are still in existence. It was first registered in Somerset in 1933. During World War Two it was used as an Air Raid Warden’s Field Office in Holders Yard, Petersfield, Hampshire. ©Come Step Back In Time

©Come Step Back In Time

Inside the restored 1933, Austin Sports Saloon caravan. Brockenhurst station. ©Come Step Back In Time

©Come Step Back In Time

Inside the restored 1933, Austin Sports Saloon caravan. Brockenhurst station. ©Come Step Back In Time


Georgina Craufurd, Hon. Secretary of the Friends of Lymington to Brockenhurst Line, part of the Community Rail Partnership. ©Come Step Back In Time

©Come Step Back In Time

Mr and Mrs Street c.1940. They ran ‘T. Street & Son’ a General Ironmongers in Brockenhurst Village. The shop still exists today. ©Come Step Back In Time

©Come Step Back In Time

©Come Step Back In Time

©Come Step Back In Time

Streets Ironmongers in Brockenhurst village is still going strong in 2014. For the D-Day Commemorative event, the current owners, like many other retailers in Brockenhurst village, turned back time to the 1940s, dressing and decorating their shop windows accordingly. As you can see, many items that were sold 70 years ago are still available today. Current interest in nostalgia has ensured that hardware classics such as wooden clothes pegs and enamelled pie dishes are still remain popular.   ©Come Step Back In Time

©Come Step Back In Time

A newspaper from June 1940 on display in one of the shop windows in Brockenhurst village. ©Come Step Back In Time

©Come Step Back In Time

Martins of Brockenhurst, chemist shop,  decorated for the event. ©Come Step Back In Time

©Come Step Back In Time

Various pharmacy items from the 1940s on display at Martins Chemist shop in Brockenhurst village. ©Come Step Back In Time


J. W. Martin Chemist Shop c.1940. ©Come Step Back In Time

©Come Step Back In Time

Forces Sweetheart entertains the veterans and dignitaries, HMS Medusa, Berthon Marina, Lymington, at a private reception at the end of the day’s events. ©Come Step Back In Time

©Come Step Back In Time

One of the maritime stars at the D-Day event was HMS Medusa (ML1387) on station at Berth E1 in Berthon Marina, Lymington. This vessel was involved in 6/44 Operation Neptune (Naval element of D-Day and Invasion of Normandy). Read more about her restoration: and her involvement in D-Day: Medusa is recognised as being one of the vessels selected to represent the nation’s maritime heritage by her inclusion in the National Historic Fleet. ©Come Step Back In Time

In 1943, Setley Plain, close to the main road between Brockenhurst and Lymington, was Camp No.65 for prisoners of war (POWs). The first POWs to be housed at Setley Plain were Italians captured in Africa and later on Germans. POWs in the New Forest often helped the Land Army and took odd jobs in local villages. Some worked in the local sawmill and made toys for local children. On the whole, the POWs received a warm welcome from the locals in the New Forest, some even stayed on after the war ended.

©Come Step Back In Time

During preparations for D-Day, this site (now a private airstrip) near South Baddesley, Lymington was RAF Lymington, All that exists today of the original site is a blister hangar (top right) and the grass runway. ©Come Step Back In Time

In 1943, at a site near South Baddesley, Lymington, construction began to create a temporary airfield, an Advanced Landing Ground (ALG), known as RAF Lymington. The airstrip still exists but is now private property, part of the Newtown Park Estate. Between 1939 and 1945 there were twelve airfields operating in the New Forest.

In 1944, RAF Lymington had two landing strips, four blister hangars and many parking bays. The original landing strips at RAF Lymington were made of steel mesh pinned to the ground with large stakes. Tented accommodation for the Airmen and other staff working at the airfield was provided, hidden, in the nearby woods.

©Come Step Back In Time

View of the airstrip looking towards the Solent. The airstrip is now private property, party of the Newtown Park Estate but in 1943-44 it was RAF Lymington. ©Come Step Back In Time

RAF Lymington became home to the 50th Fighter Group, Ninth US. Tactical Air Force, they were first to use the airfield from April, 1944. P-47 Thunderbolts were familiar sights to anyone living in the New Forest area during 1944. Thunderbolt aircraft covered the beach landings on 6th June, 1944 as well as supporting allied troops invading Normandy. RAF Lymington ceased operation in Spring, 1945.

©Come Step Back In Time

©Come Step Back In Time

Other Squadrons stationed at RAF Lymington in 1944 were: 81st Squadron; 50th Fighter Squadron; 313rd Squadron and 9th Tactical Air Force U.S.A.A.F. The first three Squadrons then moved to an airfield in Normandy after 24th June, 1944.

©Come Step Back In Time

Airmen, possibly pictured at South Holmsley airfield, New Forest, 1940s. Photograph featured in a shop window display in Brockenhurst village as part of the ‘New Forest Remembers’ event. ©Come Step Back In Time

©Come Step Back In Time

©Come Step Back In Time

©Come Step Back In Time

©Come Step Back In Time

The Romsey War Horse Memorial Project: Stories From The Great War Part 14

Sculptor Amy Goodman with a life-size image of the Romsey War Horse and Trooper that she has designed. Photograph taken at the Ranvilles Farm, pop-up exhibition, July 2014. ©Come Step Back In Time.

Sculptor Amy Goodman with a life-size image showing her final design of the Romsey War Horse and Trooper. Photograph taken at Ranvilles Farm, Nr Romsey, pop-up exhibition, July 2014. ©Come Step Back In Time.

©Come Step Back In Time.

©Come Step Back In Time.

Earlier this Summer, I received an exciting invitation to attend a ‘pop-up’ exhibition of preparatory works for the Romsey War Horse Memorial Project by award-winning sculptor, Amy Goodman. The exhibition was located at Ranvilles Farm, near Romsey, Hampshire, now a private residence but during World War One was situated close to the Veterinary Hospital of The Romsey Remount Depot. Some of the stabling still exists today, including an original window.

Stables at Ranvilles Farm, Nr Romsey. ©Come Step Back In Time.

Stables at Ranvilles Farm, Nr Romsey. ©Come Step Back In Time.

Original window from World War One looking out from the stables over the fields at Ranvilles Farm, Nr Romsey. ©Come Step Back In Time.

Original window from World War One in the stable block at Ranvilles Farm, Nr Romsey once part of the site of Romsey Remount Depot. ©Come Step Back In Time.

Ranvilles Farm, Nr Romsey, pop-exhibition featuring Amy Goodman's preparatory works for the Romsey War Horse Memorial. ©Come Step Back In Time.

Ranvilles Farm, Nr Romsey, pop-exhibition featuring Amy Goodman’s preparatory works for the Romsey War Horse Memorial. ©Come Step Back In Time.

The Romsey War Horse Exhibition, Ranvilles Farm, featuring work by Sculptor Amy Goodman. ©Come Step Back In Time.

The Romsey War Horse Exhibition, Ranvilles Farm, featuring work by Sculptor Amy Goodman. ©Come Step Back In Time.

The Romsey War Horse pop-up Exhibition, Ranvilles Farm, featuring work by Sculptor Amy Goodman. ©Come Step Back In Time.

The Romsey War Horse pop-up Exhibition, Ranvilles Farm. ©Come Step Back In Time.

Preparatory works by Amy Goodman for the Romsey War Horse Memorial on display at The Romsey War Horse pop-up Exhibition, Ranvilles Farm. ©Come Step Back In Time.

Preparatory works by Amy Goodman for the Romsey War Horse Memorial on display at The Romsey War Horse pop-up Exhibition, Ranvilles Farm. ©Come Step Back In Time.

Preparatory works by Amy Goodman for the Romsey War Horse Memorial on display at The Romsey War Horse pop-up Exhibition, Ranvilles Farm. ©Come Step Back In Time.

Preparatory works by Amy Goodman for the Romsey War Horse Memorial on display at The Romsey War Horse pop-up Exhibition, Ranvilles Farm. ©Come Step Back In Time.

From the Archives of King John's House Romsey.

From the Archives of King John’s House Romsey.

Map of the Romsey Remount Centre as it would have looked in World War One. The current owners of Ranvilles Farm kindly showed me this drawing.

Map of the Romsey Remount Centre as it would have looked in World War One. The current owners of Ranvilles Farm kindly showed me this drawing.

Detail of the Romsey Remount Centre Map from World War One showing the location of Ranvilles Farm in relation to the rest of the site.

Detail of the Romsey Remount Centre Map from World War One showing the location of Ranvilles Farm in relation to the rest of the site.

DSCF1092In 1915, a Remount Camp was opened on the summit of Pauncefoot Hill close to Ranvilles Farm. The Camp had reading rooms, a library, a canteen, a YMCA  and a hospital. According to local historian, Phoebe Merrick:

Before it closed in 1919, 120,000 horses passed through the Romsey Depot. At any one time there were at least 2,100 men caring for up to 5,000 horses on this hilltop a mile outside Romsey. The Romsey Camp, which covered over fifty acres, consisted of a Headquarters area, a Veterinary Hospital, and ten Squadrons, each of which cared for horses and mules as needed. When trained, the horses were shipped from Southampton to France.

(The Romsey War Horse Memorial Project, leaflet written by Phoebe Merrick, 2014)

DSCF1094DSCF1103To commemorate the men and animals of the Romsey Remount Depot, a life-sized statue has been commissioned. Amy Goodman, now Artist in residence at Winchester University, designed the Memorial featuring a horse and trooper, which will be unveiled in Romsey War Memorial Park, April 2015. This date will be the centenary of when the Romsey Remount Depot opened.

At the time of writing this article, the clay model had been completed and encased in a polyurethane mould. It is now in Newbury being prepared to be cast in bronze-resin by Ryman & Leader Sculpture Casting.  The total cost of the statue will be £55,000 and a further £20,000 is needed for the plinth and setting. Thanks to a sterling fundraising effort by local people, £40,000 has been raised to-date.

Amy Goodman has also created nine bronze and fifteen bronze-resin copies of the sculpture. The sale of this limited edition maquette will provide much-needed funds for The War Horse Memorial Project, approximately a third of the total sales will go directly into the War Horse Memorial fund. On Saturday 13th September, at the Romsey Show, The War Horse project will be on display, complete with pictures of Romsey Remount Depot and a souvenir booklet about war horses in World War One.

  • For more information about the role of horses in World War One, including background about Swaythling, the other local Remount Depot, near to Romsey, please see my earlier article, ‘Front Line Post and War Horses’;
  • For further information about Sculptor Amy Goodman, click here;
  • For further information about the Romsey War Horse Statue Fund Raising Project, including history of the Romsey Remount Depot, click here;
  • At King John’s House (Romsey’s Heritage and Vistor Centre), the exhibition ‘Romsey Remount Camp Reloaded’ continues until the 28th October, click here;
  • Renowned watercolour Artist, Rex Trayhorne, RMS (Royal Miniature Society) is also supporting the Romsey War Horse Fund Raising Project. A beautiful greetings card featuring a view from Pauncefoot Hill, Romsey is being sold in support of the project. For Rex Trayhorne’s website, click here.
Rex Trayhorne's wife, Geraldine (right) holding the greetings card depicting 'View From Pauncefoot Hill' which is being sold to help with fund-raising for the project. On the left is Geraldine's friend, Barbara Milburn. ©Come Step Back In Time.

Rex Trayhorne’s wife, Geraldine (right) holding the greetings card depicting ‘View From Pauncefoot Hill, Romsey’ which is being sold to help with fund-raising for the project. On the left is Geraldine’s friend, Barbara Milburn. Photograph taken at The Romsey War Horse pop-up Exhibition at Ranvilles Farm, Nr, Romsey, July, 2014. ©Come Step Back In Time.

  • ‘Animals in War; WW1 Tribute’, published on You Tube, 8.11.12 by War Archives. ‘Using Pathé’s World War One footage, this tribute film thanks the forgotten army of World War One. Millions of animals gave their lives. They were selected for their variety of natural skills and instincts and they displayed unwavering courage even when exposed to extreme conditions.’

Tea Dresses To Trousers – Fashion For Women: Stories From The Great War Part 13

©Come Step Back In Time.

Lucy Adlington’s illustrated talk at Lymington Library, Hampshire. ©Come Step Back In Time.

Earlier this summer, I attended a superb illustrated talk on women’s fashion in World War One given by History Wardrobe’s Lucy Adlington and hosted by Lymington Library.  Lucy is a writer, actress and costume historian with an insatiable appetite for bringing the past alive, making it accessible to a modern audience.

Lucy has written two marvellous books about ladies’ clothing during this period, Great War Fashion: Tales From The History Wardrobe (The History Press, 2013) and Fashion: Women In World War One (Pitkin Publishing, 2014). 

Lucy also gives illustrated talks on many other aspects of fashion history, including: Gothic; Art Deco; 1700s and the Georgian era; swimwear; Jane Austen; silk; Titanic; suffragettes; 1950s; bridal; World War Two and the 1930s.

  • Details of her wide range of presentations can be found here.
  • Details of her 2014-2015 programme of talks can be found here.
    Lucy Adlington. ©Come Step Back In Time.

    Lucy Adlington. ©Come Step Back In Time.


Lucy delighted in showing us inside her impressive ‘history wardrobe’ packed full of original and replica clothing, accessories and printed ephemera. Her witty banter was peppered with plenty of fascinating anecdotes from contemporary sources. Lucy explained that it wasn’t only women’s clothing styles that changed between 1914 and 1918, their lives did too, as many embraced new roles in order to support the effort :

 Leisured ladies stepped down from their privileged positions to volunteer in many demanding branches of work, as well as running committees and tirelessly fundraising. Titled ladies swapped their silks for flame-retardant overalls in munition factories. Society girls muffled up in furs and goggles as motorbike despatch riders or ambulance drivers.

(Lucy Adlington, Fashion: Women In World War One, 2014, p.8, Pitkin Publishing)

  • British Pathé, silent film, ‘Women Railway Workers’ (1914-1918). Published on You Tube: 13.4.14;
  • Film clip (July, 2014), Lucy discusses with Michael Portillo, women’s role in the railway war effort in BBC2’s ‘Railways of The Great War’. Click here for clip.

Many of the items featured in Lucy’s collection are rare originals, others are high-quality reproductions. For example, a pair of replica khaki socks for soldiers has been made by World War One knitting expert, Melanie Towne. Melanie is adept at interpreting knitting patterns from this period, which are known for being rather tricky to follow.

Replica khaki knitted socks for soldiers. Knitted by Melanie Towne using original pattern from World War One. ©Come Step Back In Time.

Replica khaki socks for soldiers. Knitted by Melanie Towne using an original pattern from World War One and one of the handling objects in Lucy’s collection.  ©Come Step Back In Time.

©Come Step Back In Time.

©Come Step Back In Time.

One of the many unusual facts I learned from Lucy’s talk was that pyjamas, or ‘slumber suits’, for women, first appeared during this period.  A precursor to the 1940’s ‘siren suit’ and modern-day ‘onesie’. Pyjamas became popular with a number of women in World War One because of their practicality (ease of movement and modesty) during the event of a night-time air raid. In her collection, Lucy has a charming pair of delicate, peach silk and lace pyjamas which would have been worn with a matching boudoir cap and wrapper. Apparently, there were reports of women willing a bombardment just to show off a new pair of pyjamas!

Peach silk and lace pyjamas from Lucy's own collection.

Peach silk and lace pyjamas from Lucy’s own collection. ©Come Step Back In Time

Advert for ladies' pyjamas, December, 1915.

Advert for ladies’ pyjamas, December, 1915.

In Britain, aerial bombardments from German Zeppelins began on the 19th January, 1915. Parts of the Norfolk coastline were first to come under attack, followed by the south-east and the North Sea coast over the following months. By the end of the war, Britain had been subjected to fifty-one bombing raids, five hundred and fifty-seven people lost their lives and another one thousand three hundred and fifty-eight were injured.

Advert for coats and skirts, December, 1915.

Advert for coats and skirts, December, 1915.

Corset advert from 1915.

Corset advert from 1915.

A most noticeable feature of the new season’s suits is the preponderance of dressy, semi-tailored styles. These more frequently take the form of three-piece garments, and are particularly graceful and attractive in appearance. The skirts, as those of the dresses, are both short and voluminous, and present a great variety of style.

Tailor-made wool and silk suits, Spring, 1916. Featured in Debenham & Company's 'Spring Fashions, 1916'. Catalogue from Lucy's private collection.

Tailor-made wool and silk suits, Spring, 1916. Featured in Debenham & Company’s Spring Fashions, 1916. Catalogue from Lucy’s private collection.

In many of the more extreme productions, flounced and draped effects, especially over the hips, are frequently shown, while in the simpler forms the desired fullness is obtained by circular and semicircular effects gathered to the waist, or by the employment of gores and sun-ray, knife and box pleatings either finished by a belt or mounted on a full gathered yoke.

Featured in Debenham & Company's 'Spring Fashions, 1916'. Catalogue from Lucy's private collection.

Featured in Debenham & Company’s Spring Fashions, 1916. Catalogue from Lucy’s private collection.

Featured in Debenham & Company's 'Spring Fashions, 1916'. Catalogue from Lucy's private collection.

Featured in Debenham & Company’s Spring Fashions, 1916. Catalogue from Lucy’s private collection.

Tailor-made wool and Featured in Debenham & Company's 'Spring Fashions, 1916'. Catalogue from Lucy's private collection.

Tailor-made wool and silk. Featured in Debenham & Company’s Spring Fashions, 1916. Catalogue from Lucy’s private collection.

A dainty finish is given to many of these garments by a narrow edging of white or light coloured silk showing just below the hem. Finely kilted white lace is employed by one of the leading designers for this purpose with marked effect. While a normal waistline may be said to be the general rule some models show a waist slightly above the natural line.

Street coats in a semi-fitting style.  Featured in Debenham & Company's 'Spring Fashions, 1916'. Catalogue from Lucy's private collection.

Street coats in a semi-fitting style. Featured in Debenham & Company’s Spring Fashions, 1916. Catalogue from Lucy’s private collection.

(All the above quotes are from Spring Fashions, 1916, Debenham & Company)

Advert from 1916.

Advert from 1916.

Original lady's lace-up boots from World War One era, worn by Lucy during her talk.

Original lady’s lace-up boots from World War One, worn by Lucy during her talk. ©Come Step Back In Time

Ladies' leather work shoes. Lucy's private collection. ©Come Step Back In Time.

Ladies’ leather work shoes. Lucy’s private collection. ©Come Step Back In Time.

Blue silk evening shoes from Lucy's collection.

Blue silk evening shoes from Lucy’s collection. ©Come Step Back In Time

Pair of ladies' gaiters, World War One. Lucy's private collection. ©Come Step Back In Time

Pair of ladies’ gaiters, World War One. Lucy’s private collection. ©Come Step Back In Time.

One positive aspect of the war was a tendency to be more tolerant of slightly shabby or out-of-date clothes. All classes and all ages were caught up in the daily struggle to make ends meet; to focus on war work before fashion.

(Lucy Adlington, Fashion: Women In World War One, 2014, p.13 Pitkin Publishing)

Stocking advert from 1915.

Stocking advert from 1915.

Rare surviving example of a mourning hat from World War One. Lucy's collection.

Rare surviving example of a mourning hat from World War One. Lucy’s collection. ©Come Step Back In Time

Straw-plaited hat from Lucy's own collection.

Straw-plaited hat from Lucy’s own collection. ©Come Step Back In Time

Working Women

Any woman who by working helps to release a man or to equip a man for fighting does national war service. Every woman should register who is able and willing to take employment….Every woman employed will be paid at the ordinary industrial rates. The pay ranges from 32s, a week including overtime in some of the munition factories to 8s. and 10s. a week in agriculture. There is immediate need for women workers in munition and other factories, in offices and shops, as drivers of commercial motor vehicles, as conductors of cars, and above all in agricultural employment….It is recognized that in many instances it will be desirable that women of the same class shall be employed together, and efforts will be made to organize ‘pals’ battalions’ of labour.

(Daily Mail, 18th March, 1915)

Advertisement for ladies' wrist-watch protectors aimed at the woman undertaking war work.

Advertisement for a ladies’ wrist-watch protector,  aimed at the woman undertaking war work but also encouraging her to buy one for her chap fighting at the front.

Front cover from a rare edition of Vogue, May, 1918. Lucy's own collection.

Front cover from a rare edition of Vogue, May, 1918. Lucy’s own collection.

If the full fighting power of the nation is to be put forth on the battlefield, the full working power of the nation must be made available to carry on its essential trades at home…And this is where women who cannot fight in the trenches can do their country’s work, for every woman who takes up war service is as surely helping to the final victory as the man who handles a gun in Flanders. With a fortnight’s training women can fill thousands of existing vacancies, and also take the places of thousands of men anxious to join the fighting forces but at the moment compelled to keep in civil employment.

(Daily Mail, 18th March, 1915)

Publication from 2nd September, 1915. Lucy's own collection.

Publication from 2nd September, 1915. Lucy’s own collection.

One of the more unusual items in Lucy's collection is this long, thick plait of brown hair. It belonged to one Ethel Haselhurst. Ethel wanted freedom from the impracticalities of having long hair so decided to cut her plait off in 1918. Lucy told us that many women cut their long, pre-war, hair during World War One. Shorter styles continued to be preferred by women after the war. Practicality gave way to fashionability and the boyish cuts of the roaring twenties. When the 'bob' and 'shingle' cuts were de-regar.

One of the more unusual items in Lucy’s collection is this long, thick plait of brown hair. It belonged to Ethel Haselhurst. Ethel wanted freedom from the impracticalities of having long hair so decided to cut-off her plait in 1918. Lucy told us that many women cut their long, pre-war hair during this period. Nursing staff also preferred short hair, particularly near the fighting front where lice were endemic. Shorter styles continued to be popular with women after the war. Practicality soon gave way to fashionably boyish cuts, such as the ‘bob’ and ‘shingle’ became de rigueur in the 1920s.  ©Come Step Back In Time

Uniform belong to midwife Winifred Ingram who wore it during the war. Lucy's own collection.

Uniform belonging to midwife Winifred Ingram who wore it during the war. Lucy’s own collection. ©Come Step Back In Time

Sleeve protectors worn as part of midwife Winifred Ingram's uniform. Lucy's own collection.

Sleeve protectors worn as part of midwife Winifred Ingram’s uniform. Lucy’s own collection. ©Come Step Back In Time

Details inside one of midwife Winifred Ingram's starched cuffs. Lucy's own collection.

Details inside one of midwife Winifred Ingram’s starched cuffs. Lucy’s own collection. ©Come Step Back In Time

  • I have curated a Pinterest board featuring ‘Women’s Fashion in World War One’, click here.

  • British Pathé, silent film, ‘Women War Workers In A Piggery’ (1914-1918). Published on You Tube: 13.4.14.

  • British Pathé, silent films, ‘Women Munitions Workers’ (1914-1918). Published on You Tube: 13.4.14.

  • British Pathé, silent film, ‘Women’s Army’ (1914-1918). Published on You Tube: 13.4.14.

  • British Pathé, silent film, ‘Women Agriculturalists’ (1914-1918). Published on You Tube: 13.4.14.

  • British Pathé, silent film, ‘Glasgow’s Pageant of Women War Workers’ (1914-1918). Published on You Tube: 13.4.14.

Ellaline Terriss & Lena Ashwell – Entertaining Troops On The Front Line: Stories From The Great War Part 12

  • The actress Ellaline Terriss poses with a broad smile for a photo postcard issued in London, England, 1910. (Photo by Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images)

Ellaline Terriss

Whilst looking through a selection of British magazines from World War One, I came across a fascinating editorial written by actress and singer Ellaline Terriss (1871-1971). The article (see podcast below) appeared in the December, 1915, issue of Leach’s Lady’s Companion and details her experiences performing to troops on the front line, Christmas, 1914. Another performer who caught my eye, whilst researching this topic, was Lena Ashwell (1872-1957). More about her later on.

Ellaline Terriss was an English actress and singer who had a long career on both stage and screen. Born on 13th April, 1871, to William and Amy Lewin, in Port Stanley, the Falkland Islands. Ellaline’s father tried a number of different occupations, including a merchant seaman, tea planter in Assam, silver miner and sheep farmer. In the 1870s, he returned to Britain with his family and took-up work as an actor using the stage name, ‘William Terriss’.

Unfortunately, William’s acting career was cut short. On 16th December, 1897, he was murdered by a deranged, unemployed actor, Richard Archer Prince who had recently fallen-out with William. The incident took place outside the Adelphi Theatre’s stage door where William was appearing in a play called Secret Service. Richard waited for William in the theatre’s Maiden Lane entrance and stabbed him repeatedly in a fit of jealous rage. William died shortly afterwards from wounds sustained in the attack. Richard was defiant and unrepentant upon arrest:

He has had due warning, and if he is dead, he knew what to expect from me. He prevented me getting money from the [Actors' Benevolent] Fund today, and I have stopped him!

(December, 1897)

Richard’s trial was a media sensation. Following the verdict, he was sent to Broadmoor Criminal Asylum for life, living out his days entertaining inmates and conducting the prison orchestra. Richard died in 1936. It is thought that because his victim had been an actor, Richard had got-off lightly. If William had been of ‘nobler profession or birth’, he would almost certainly have been hanged. Sir Henry Irving (1838-1905) remarked: “Terriss was an actor, so his murderer will not be executed.” The ghost of William Terriss is said to still haunt Covent Garden tube station and the Adelphi theatre.

Ellaline’s mother was an actress (stage name Amy Fellowes). Her younger brother, Tom Terriss (1872-1964), also had a successful career as an actor, screenwriter and film director. Tom worked at Vitagraph Pictures, an American company famous for producing many films during the silent era. Vitagraph was brought by Warner Bros. in 1925. Ellaline herself acted in a number of silent films, Scrooge (1913) and David Garrick (1913). She also managed the transition from silent films to ‘talkies’ with Blighty (1927).

Ellaline made her stage debut, aged sixteen, in Cupid’s Messenger at the Haymarket and henceforth became a regular on the London stage. She worked with some of the top theatre impresarios of the day: Charles Wyndham (1837-1919); Sir Henry Irving; W.S. Gilbert (1836-1911); George Edwardes (1855-1915) and Herbert Beerbohm Tree (1852-1917).

In 1893, Ellaline married fellow performer, Seymour Hicks (1871-1949), a partnership which proved to be a strong creative alliance. For Ellaline, 1897, turned into her Annus horribilis. Besides losing her father in the December she also lost a son in infancy and shortly after her father died, her mother passed away.

Ellaline, picked herself up after these personal tragedies and her career continued from strength-to-strength. In 1904, she gave birth to a second child, Betty, a sibling for her daughter Mabel, an Irish girl adopted by Ellaline in 1889. During the Edwardian era, Ellaline was a music hall star, an audience favourite and a bit of a ‘celebrity’. She concentrated on giving music hall tours from 1910.

  • Ellaline Terriss with her children c.1908. (Photo by The Print Collector/Print Collector/Getty Images) 

During World War One Ellaline continued to perform on the London stage, of particular note is her appearance in the musical comedy, Cash on Delivery, 1917. At the start of the war, she also travelled with her actor husband, Seymour Hicks (1871-1949), to France giving concerts to troops stationed on the front line. Seymour was the first actor to perform on the front line. He was awarded the Croix de Guerre for his services to entertainment.

National Theatre at the Front. A tent, a roadside, a hospital – anywhere. The price of admission is our gratitude to you.

(Programme header for Ellaline and Seymour’s concert tours along the front line in France, December, 1914)

During World War Two, Ellaline and Seymour joined the newly created Entertainments National Service (E.N.S.A.), entertaining, once again, troops on the front line, this time in the Middle East.

Ellaline Terriss, December 1915.

Ellaline Terriss, December 1915.

  • Listen to Emma, Editor of Come Step Back In Time, read an article by actress and singer, Ellaline Terriss (1871-1971), which featured in the December, 1915, issue of Leach’s Lady’s Companion. In this article, Ellaline reminisces about entertaining troops on the front line in France, December, 1914 with her husband, actor-manager, Seymour Hicks (1871-1949):

  • Actress Ellaline Terriss with her actor-manager husband, Sir Edward Seymour Hicks, c.1910. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

  • Ellaline Terriss in the role of Duc de Richelieu in ‘The Dashing Little Duke, London, c. 1909. (Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images)

  • Silent comedy film featuring Seymour Hicks, Ellaline Terriss and Stanley Logan.
    An Off Moment Of Well Known Folk (1922). Uploaded to You Tube by British Pathe, 13.4.2014.

Lena Ashwell OBE

  • Lena Ashwell, early 20th century. (Photo by The Print Collector/Print Collector/Getty Images)

Lena Ashwell (born Lena Margaret Pocock 1872-1957) was an actress and theatre manager.  Lena studied music at the Lausanne Conservatoire, Switzerland and subsequently the Royal Academy of Music, London. In 1891, she began acting professionally. Her first job as an actor-manager came in 1906 when she worked at the Savoy theatre.

In 1908, Lena married Royal Obstetrician, Sir Henry Simson (1872-1932) who was actually her second husband. Her first had been Arthur Wyndham Playfair (1869-1918) but he divorced her on grounds of adultery, she had been having an affair with actor Robert Taber (1865-1904). Lena supported the women’s suffrage movement.

When World War One broke-out, Lena fought hard to persuade authorities to allow her to provide entertainment for the troops. In 1915, she finally won support for her plans from the Women’s Auxiliary Committee of the YMCA. The first concert party took place in February, 1915. Companies of singers, musicians and actors were soon being sent to France, Malta, Egypt and Palestine.

In 1917, Lena was awarded the Order of the British Empire for her work. In 1918, there were ten permanent concert parties and seven repertory theatre companies touring and entertaining the troops. Lena recalls her experiences entertaining on the front line in her memoirs Modern Troubadours: A Record of the Concerts at the Front (1922):

I found myself in a tent which seemed in the darkness to be far away from everything and everybody. I stood on a table and recited all the poems that I knew, but wished with all my heart that I had learnt many more, as the audience grew and grew, and they sat silently around like hungry children. It was a quaint, gentle, peaceful evening, and curious that on that night I should have been nearer the firing line than at any other moment…the whole experience was so overwhelming, so moving, so terrible that one’s littleness was stunned and could find expression.

In a crowded hut or tent filled with smoke and packed to suffocation, one felt the hunger of the souls of men, the aching, wondering query in their hearts. Many have found some answer now, and “when the barrage lifts,” perhaps we too shall see, “no longer blinded by our eyes.” But we could find no words or tongue to express the suffering of our hearts, the aching sympathy, to see great battalions moving up to the line, and welcome a few men back, to have a concert interrupted with the sudden roll-call of the men who were to join their regiments at once, to see the men respond to their names and go out and up the line, to hear a whole massed audience singing as their last experience before going up to the blood and horror, “Lead, kindly light”; these are not experiences which can be described, they cut too deep into the soul.

  • Lena Ashwell, actress, c.1900. (Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images)

The Concert Party

by Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967)

(Written in Kantara, April, 1918, based on a Concert Party at an Egyptian Base Camp, 1914, attended by Siegfried Sassoon, given by Lena Ashwell and her Concert Party)

They are gathering round …

Out of the twilight; over the grey-blue sand,

Shoals of low-jargoning men drift inward to the sound,—

The jangle and throb of a piano … tum-ti-tum …

Drawn by a lamp, they come

Out of the glimmering lines of their tents, over the shuffling sand.

O sing us the songs, the songs of our own land,

You warbling ladies in white.

Dimness conceals the hunger in our faces,

This wall of faces risen out of the night,

These eyes that keep their memories of the places

So long beyond their sight.

Jaded and gay, the ladies sing; and the chap in brown

Tilts his grey hat; jaunty and lean and pale,

He rattles the keys … some actor-bloke from town …

I hear you catting me”; and “Dixieland” …

Sing slowly … now the chorus … one by one

We hear them, drink them; till the concert’s done.

Silent, I watch the shadowy mass of soldiers stand.

Silent, they drift away, over the glimmering sand.

  • Lena Ashwell, c.1904.  (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The Artists Rifles: Stories From The Great War Part 11

001I recently visited Southampton City Art Gallery to see ‘The Artists Rifles: From Pre-Raphaelites to Passchendaele’ exhibition. Regular readers of Come Step Back In Time will know I originally trained as an Art Historian before specialising in social history. I have to confess, I don’t ever remember being taught about The Artists Rifles and therefore approached this exhibition with a completely open mind. I knew about the work and life of the various artists featured but not their involvement with The Artists Rifles regiment.

It is a compelling and poignant exhibition, if you are in Hampshire before the end of this year then I urge you to go and see it. It is a touring the county and is currently on at The Willis Museum (Sainsbury Gallery) until 27th September, then transfers to Gosport Discovery Centre (Gosport Gallery) from 4th October until 27th December.

This is the first ever major exhibition on The Artists Rifles and features original artworks as well as artefacts from major lenders. The Imperial War Museum, Leighton House Museum, National Portrait Gallery and the British Council Collection have all loaned  objects such as uniforms, medals and other memorabilia, some of which, particularly the World War One artist sketchbooks, are quite incredible.

Early Years Of The Regiment

In 1859, the idea to set-up The Artists Rifles had been suggested by art student, Edward Sterling, at a meeting held in the studio of portrait painter Henry Wyndham Phillips (1820-1868).  It was agreed that an Artists’ Corps should be created, made-up of painters, sculptors, engravers, musicians, architects and actors.

On 12th May, 1859 the government ruled that the Lord Lieutenants could raise a volunteer corps in each county. However, all expenses would have to be privately met, there was to be no public funding. Across the country, hundreds of units were formed and in 1859, The Rifle Volunteer Movement was created, called the 28th Middlesex (Artists) Rifle Volunteers.

Members had to be a minimum of 5ft 3″ with a chest measurement of 32″ or more. They all took an oath of allegiance liable to serve in the threat or event of an invasion. In its early years, the main purpose of this volunteer corps was actually to harass and invading army in their local area. Regular drill exercises took place in the gardens behind Burlington House, London.

To do your duty as an Artist Volunteer there were the daily hours 7-9am and Company and Lock Drill from 4 to 7pm in Burlington House Gardens. On Saturdays, the whole afternoon, sometimes the whole day, was taken-up in drill, route marches and sham skirmishing but men really in earnest managed to get their seven or eight hours’ work of painting besides their patriotic duty, and the latter told wonderfully upon the health of us all – never was I so well and full of energy.

To some the words ‘right’ and ‘left’ seemed synonymous! William Morris, for example, invariable turned to the right when the order was ‘left, then, surprised at his mistake, he invariably begged pardon of the comrade whom he found himself facing and whom he should have followed. Rossetti, on the other hand, was apt to argue. He wished to know the exact reason for every movement which he and his comrades were told to execute.

(Portrait painter and designer, Sir William Blake Richmond RA (1842-1921) writes about his experiences as a member of The Artists Rifles)

All recruits had to buy their own kit, including uniform at a cost of £3 8s 4d and pay an entrance fee of half a guinea. The annual subscription was one guinea and volunteers were expected to attend eight drills per month. The uniform was pale grey with a specially created badge displaying the head of gods Mars and Minerva, representing war and wisdom respectively. In addition to military discipline, members also had the opportunity of networking amongst their peers, a way of progressing an artistic career.

In 1860, the regiment became officially recognised and after two major world wars in the twentieth century, the regiment amalgamated with the SAS in 1947. On 10th May, 1860, the founding members of the regiment were:

  • Henry Wyndham Phillips;
  • Valentine Prinsep (Major) (1838-1904);
  • Frederick Leighton (1830-1896);
  • George Frederick Watts (1817-1904);
  • Charles E. Perugni (Captain) (1839-1918);
  • Sir John Everett Millais (Captain) (1829-1896).

Later members included:

  • William Holman Hunt (1827-1910);
  • William Morris (1834-1896);
  • Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882);
  • Algernon Swinburne (1837-1909);
  • Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898);
  • John Ruskin (Honorary Member) (1819-1900).

The Regiment In World War One

  • Over The Top’ by John Nash (1893-1977) 1st Artists’ Rifles At Marcoing, 30th December 1917, a landscape in the snow. The regiment were ordered to advance in daylight with no artillery support, a suicidal mission by any military standards. On the left, a red earth trench lined with duckboards stretches away from the viewer. A group of soldiers clamber from the trench, going ‘over the top’. Two lie dead in the trench and another has fallen lying face down in the snow. Those who have survived plod forward towards the right without looking back. They walk beneath a grey, stormy sky, with clouds from shell and gunfire in the distance. (Photo by John Nash/ IWM via Getty Images)

It is in fact pure murder and I was lucky to escape untouched…It was bitterly cold and we were easy targets against the snow and in daylight. I think the vivid memory of the occasion helped me when I painted the picture and provoked what intensity of feeling may be found in it.

(Artist John Nash  joined the regiment in 1916 and saw active service between 1917 and 1918. He is describing his iconic painting ‘Over The Top’)

I am now an Artist in a wider sense! having joined the ‘Artists’ London Regiment of Territorials, the Old Corps which started with Rossetti, Leighton and Millais as members in 1860. Every man must do his bit in this horrible business so I have given-up painting and bid it adieu for who knows how long, to take up the queer business of soldiering.

(Artist Paul Nash (1889-1946), older brother to John, writing in September, 1914)

  • November c.1915: Gelatin silver print. Photograph by Horace W. Nicholls of a procession of men filing out of the Royal Academy of Arts at Burlington House in Piccadilly. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images) According to Regimental Historian for The Artists Rifles, Patrick Baty:

This photograph of men trooping out of Burlington House shows a group of The United Arts Volunteers / The United Arts Rifles. ( This corps formed part of the 1st Bn County of London Volunteers along with elements of the Kensington Volunteers. 1st Bn was part of the Central Group along with 2nd Bn – Inns of Court reserve Corps, 3rd Bn – Old Boys Corps and 4th Bn – London Volunteer Rifles. Many ex-members of The Artists Rifles served with them.

The volunteer force of 1914-18 were part-time home defence soldiers (ie too old or young for the army or in reserved occupations) similar to the Home Guard of WW2.There were Motor Transport and Medical units as well as infantry. They were strong enough to be organised into groups (equivalent to brigades) and wore white sweaters, which led to their nickname of ‘The Unshrinkables’.

The Telegraph’s Rupert Christiansen, recently interviewed Patrick about his involvement in the Artists Rifles exhibition. For his article, CLICK HERE. You can also follow The Artists Rifles on Twitter (@artistsrifles)  or visit their Facebook page.

On 14th June, 1917, The Artists Rifles went to the Western Front as part of the 190th Infantry Brigade, 63rd (Royal Naval) Division.  Between July and September 1917, the regiment served on the front line at Oppy and Gavrelle. This was John Nash’s first experience of life in the trenches. In October, 1917, the 63rd Division were sent to Ypres to fight in the Battle of Passchendaele. Men encountered heavy gun and shell fire, thick deep mud and water, the latter causing many to drown.

In March and April, 1918, the regiment were part of the retreat of the British Fifth Army in German offensives as well as participating in Allied counter-offensives which helped bring World War One to a close. The last action the regiment saw, was on 15th November, 1918, during entry into Mons.

The Artists Rifles had a reputation for turning-out fine soldiers, most of the men were high calibre Officer material in both class and training. New recruits were subjected to a highly selective recruitment process.  Approximately a hundred Officers graduated every month. Hare Hall Camp, Gidea Park, near Romford, Essex was where a majority of the training took place. On 21st October, 1915, poet Wilfred Owen (1893-1918) enlisted in the regiment and began his Officer training at Hare Hall. He remarked:

I was put on Guard Duty from 9am yesterday to 9am today. Miserable time, not allowed to take-off packs or boots during twenty-four hours… this camping is beginning to get troublesome.

(Wilfred Owen, Hare Hall Camp, 1915)

I enjoy the burst of exercise- marching, drilling all day in the open air, about the pleasant parts of Regents Park and Hampstead Heath. We are not camped anywhere yet so live at home – later we may pig it at The Tower, a dirty, haunted sort of place I hear…

(Paul Nash, England)

The conditions are cramped and not over clean. The food is ill-cooked and ill-served, and has to be eaten in haste in a dark dirty room that the rain comes into.

(Edward Thomas writing from High Beech training camp, Epping Forest)

Well-known individuals who served in the regiment during World War One:

  • Clive Brook (1887-1974);
  • Wilfred Owen (1893-1918);
  • Edward Thomas (1878-1917);
  • Noel Coward (1899-1973);
  • Hugh Lofting (1886-1947);
  • Lance Sieveking (1896-1972);
  • R. C. Sherriff (1896-1975);
  • Charles Sargeant Jagger (1885-1934);
  • Barnes Wallis (1887-1979);
  • Sir Aston Webb (1849-1930);
  • Algernon Swinburne (1837-1909).

Key World War One statistics for the regiment:

  • 8 Victoria Crosses were awarded to men from the regiment;
  • 14,401 men were recruited between 1914 and 1918;
  • 10,256 of these men were trained and commissioned to other regiments;
  • 2,003 of these men were killed;
  • 3,250 were wounded or gassed;
  • 532 were posted as ‘missing';
  • 286 were Prisoners of War.

  • Oppy Wood, by John Nash, 1917. Evening, the lower half of the composition has a view inside a trench with duckboard paths leading to a dug-out. Two infantrymen stand to the left of the dug-out entrance, one of them on the firestep looking over the parapet into No Man’s Land. There is a wood of shattered trees littered with corrugated iron and planks at ground level to the right of the composition. The sky stretches above in varying shades of blue with a spectacular cloud formation framing a clear space towards the top of the composition. (Photo by John Nash/ IWM via Getty Images)

I used to have my habitation in that dug-out there…It looks a peaceful, idyllic scene. It was supposed to be a quiet sector. It was our introduction to the front.

(John Nash writing from Oppy Wood, 1917)


By Edward Thomas

(Written by Thomas whilst training at High Beech Camp, Epping Forest, 7th January, 1916)

Rain, midnight rain, nothing but the wild rain

On this bleak hut, and solitude, and me

Remembering again that I shall die

And neither hear the rain nor give it thanks

For washing me cleaner than I have been

Since I was born into this solitude.

Blessed are the dead that the rain rains upon:

But here I pray that none whom once I loved

Is dying tonight or lying still awake

Solitary, listening to the rain,

Either in pain or thus in sympathy

Helpless among the living and the dead,

Like a cold water among broken reeds,

Myriads of broken reeds all still and stiff,

Like me who have no love which this wild rain

Has not dissolved except the love of death,

If love it be for what is perfect and

Cannot, the tempest tells me,



Perfumes, Compacts & Powders – François Coty & The Doughboys: Stories From The Great War Part 10

Advertisement for Coty, Christmas, 1935.

Advertisement for Coty beauty products, Christmas, 1935. From my own collection.

Coty’s Personal Life

Eighty years ago, on the 25th July, French perfumier François Coty (born Joseph Marie François Spoturno) died in Louveciennes, France. Coty, a charismatic entrepreneur, transformed the French beauty industry with his bold strategy of creating attractively packaged products, at a range of price points, aimed at the mass market. Coty promised to:

Give a woman the best product to be made, market it in the perfect flask, beautiful in its simplicity yet impeccable in its taste, ask a reasonable price for it, and you will witness the birth of a business the size of which the world has never seen.

Born on 3rd May, 1874, Ajaccio, Corsica, Coty claimed to be a descendant of Napoleon Bonaparte’s aunt, Isabelle. Orphaned at the age of seven, Coty was sent to live with his great-grandmother, Marie Josephe Sporturno and after her death, his grandmother, Anna Maria Belone Sportuno, who lived in Marseille. His childhood was blighted by poverty which gave him the impetus to make a better life for himself as an adult. He achieved this ambition and went on to become France’s first billionaire. By 1928, he was the 5th richest person in the world.

In 1900, Coty married Yvonne Alexandrine Le Baron and they had two children together, Roland Alphée (b. 1901) and Christiane (b. 1903). However, Coty loved women and showered them with expensive gifts. He had many mistresses as well as illegitimate children, including five with one of his former shopgirls, Henriette Daude. Coty became a celebrity but also found himself the topic of gossip columns.

He often travelled with a large entourage, the Hotel Astoria in Paris was a particular favourite of his. He would take over an entire floor when staying there and liked to have his mistresses stay with him too. Despite his seemingly flamboyant public life, Coty was actually something of a recluse and didn’t like crowds. He enjoyed the finer things in life and money afforded him the opportunity of amassing a large collection of cars, art, property and racehorses.

In 1929, Yvonne, tired of his extra-marital activities, divorced Coty and married inventor and industrialist, Leon Cotnareanu. Yvonne’s substantial divorce settlement, as well as the Wall Street Crash of 1929, resulted in a period of economic hardship for Coty. Yvonne was eventually granted ownership of a sizeable chunk of  Coty’s perfume and newspaper empire (Figaro and L’Ami du Peuple). She subsequently sold Coty Inc. to Pfizer in 1963 and in 1992 they sold it on to German company Joh.A.Benckiser GmbH.

Advertisement for Coty from 1961. From my own collection.

Advertisement for Coty from 1961. From my own collection.

  • 2nd August 1963: L’ Aimant talc and toilet water by Coty. Harrods, London. (Photo by Chaloner Woods/Getty Images).
L'Aimant by Coty. This is one of my favourite fragrances. I always use L'Aimant powder. L'Aimant, launched in 1927 was one of the last fragrances Coty had been involved in creating.

L’Aimant by Coty. This is one of my favourite fragrances. I always use L’Aimant powder. L’Aimant, launched in 1927 was one of the last fragrances Coty had been involved in creating and has basenotes of rose, vanilla, citrus, musk and jasmine. He created L’Aimant in response to Chanel No. 5 which was released in 1921.

  • Les Grands Magasins du Louvre, a department store in Paris, France, 1955. The store where it all began for Coty. (Photo by R. Gates/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

Coty The Perfumier

Coty studied with François Antoine Léon Chiris (1839-1900) at his factories in Grasse, France. In 1904, Coty returned to Paris and took his first fragrance, La Rose Jacqueminot, (developed whilst training in Grasse), to department stores and boutiques.

The story goes, that Coty took a small vial of La Rose Jacqueminot to Les Grands Magasins du Louvre, whilst there he collided with a woman and the vial broke.  A number of customers in the vicinity were so enamoured with the fragrance that they wanted to purchase a bottle.  The store immediately gave Coty a featured window display as well as an initial order for sixty thousand francs to supply the fragrance. La Rose Jacqueminot was an instant hit, selling-out straightaway.

In 1904, aged just twenty-nine, Coty founded his company in Paris (which is now Coty Inc., based in New York City) and in 1908/9, he transformed a Parisian residential villa into a vast industrial complex which became known as ‘Perfume City’ (La cité des Parfums). Perfume City had nine thousand employees and manufactured nearly a hundred thousand bottles of scent a day. Business boomed, resulting in subsidiaries opening-up in New York and London.

  • Coty Cosmetic Display at Marshall Field & Company, Chicago, Illinois, June 4, 1941. (Photo by Hedrich Blessing Collection/Chicago History Museum/Getty Images)

Coty’s policy of creating attractive packaging for his products meant he employed the best artisans of the time to help achieve his vision. This included glass designer René Jules Lalique (1860-1945) and the Glassworks of Baccarat. Lalique designed stunning perfume bottles for Coty’s early and very popular fragrances, L’Effleurt (1908),  Ambre Antique and L’Origan. The labels on the bottles were printed on a gold background and had raised lettering designed to give the overall packaging ‘a touch of luxury’. During his lifetime, Coty launched thirty fragrances and at the peak of his career had a turnover of ten million bottles of perfume a year.

In the 1920s, Coty purchased gardens in France and Italy, planting in them orange blossom and jasmine thus avoiding having to purchase these essences from suppliers in Grasse. In taking control of this aspect of his business, he saved a fortune and profit margins increased.

  • Coty Cosmetic Display at Marshall Field & Company, Chicago, Illinois, April 14, 1942. (Photo by Hedrich Blessing Collection/Chicago History Museum/Getty Images)

  • Coty Cosmetic Display at Marshall Field & Company, Chicago, Illinois, May 23, 1942. (Photo by Hedrich Blessing Collection/Chicago History Museum/Getty Images).

Coty’s Business Booms in World War One

In 1914, Coty joined the Nineteenth Infantry Regiment of Ajaccio but unfortunately was medically discharged in December, 1914, due to an astigmatism in his left eye. This condition eventually resulted in the loss of his sight in that eye in 1920. It is thought that the astigmatism may have been caused by a thrombosis of a central vein in the retina.

Despite being unable to serve his country in a military capacity, Coty contributed toward the war effort in other ways. He financed the transporting of wounded soldiers to his residence at Le Château D’Artigny which he had turned into a military hospital. Coty’s delivery vans were used to transfer wounded soldiers from the train station at Saint-Pierre-des-Corps to the Chateau. Coty’s mother-in-law, Virginie Dubois Le Baron, ran the hospital because she was unable to cross the Atlantic during wartime.

In January, 1917, Coty developed Le Jouet de France. This welfare initiative employed war wounded in a newly created atelier in L’ile de Puteaux, amongst Coty’s factories.  Coty continued to develop his business interests despite the war. In 1917, Maison Coty launched a twenty-eight page catalogue showcasing their product range which included: cologne; toothpaste; soaps; sachets; powders; brilliantines; lotions and powders.

In 1917, Coty released one of his most famous fragrances, Chypre de Coty which had basenotes of sandalwood, bergamot, oakmoss, iris amber and jasmine. Coty described it as: ‘a perfume of amber froth emanating at certain hours from the woods and the forests.’ The ‘forests’ that Coty referred to were those from his Corsican childhood. Chypre inspired Guerlain’s Mitsouko and Chanel’s Pour Monsieur but was discontinued in the 1960’s then re-launched in 1986. Other perfumes launched during World War One included: Jacinthe (1914); Lilas Pourpre (1914); La Violette Ambrée (1914) and L’Oeillet France (1914).

However, it was at the end of World War One that business really boomed. On 6th April, 1917, America declared war on Germany. In October, 1917, the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) began active service on the Western Front. On 2nd June, 1918, General John J. Pershing (1860-1948), supreme commander of the AEF in France, attended the Supreme War Council in Versailles. US servicemen and civilians soon began to pour into France, particularly around Paris, at one point in time there were two million Americans, a large number of whom did not leave France until August, 1919.

Nicknamed ‘The Doughboys’, this influx of Americans boosted the local economy. Restaurants, shops and hotels were, once again, thriving. Coty installed displays of his products in hotel foyers which complimented his fully stocked stores in Paris, Nice and Bordeaux. He had cornered the market in beautifully packaged, affordable beauty at a time when currency was scarce. Demand for his products was high. Soldiers returning home in 1919, took back with them perfume, toiletries and metal compacts (a particular favourite!) as gifts for their wives and girlfriends. A majority of beauty products brought at this time, came from Coty’s stores. Women fell in love with Coty and demand for the brand overseas was high. This post-war sales boom made Coty, France’s first billionaire.

During this period, Coty Inc. had a store in New York at 714 Fifth Avenue which was decorated by Lalique. Benjamin Levy was Coty’s Sole Agent in New York, overseeing expansion of his business interests Stateside. At the beginning of World War One, Coty Inc. sold thirty thousand metal compacts a day in America, after the war this figure rose to ninety thousand.

Coty’s Property Portfolio

In 1906, Coty brought Georges Haussmann’s (1809-1891) home, Château de Longchamp near the Bois de Boulogne. Longchamp was remodelled by Coty who installed a laboratory where his fragrances, bottles, packaging and advertisements were designed. Lalique designed a glass dome at the property and Gustave Eiffel (1832-1923) designed a stone tower there.

On 30th July, 1912, Coty continued to expand his perfume empire and purchased Le Château D’Artigny (now a luxury hotel) located near Tours, in the Loire Valley. He pulled down the existing structure and built a castle in the eighteenth century style, set in twenty-five hectares of parkland. Bespoke kitchens were installed with copper sinks and white marble work surfaces, there was also a pastry room in pink and green marble.

All bathrooms had marble wash basins and there was a two-storey linen room containing a staggering hundred and forty cupboards made of citron wood or Macassar ebony inlaid with mother-of- pearl. The Château floors were multi-coloured marble. There were ballrooms and a domed ceiling, in what was once Coty’s first-floor office. The dome is decorated with a large fresco featuring members of his friends, family, dignitaries and artisans (as well as Coty’s mistresses!) and painted by French-born American artist, Charles Hoffbauer (1875-1957).  The property was completed in 1929.

One of Coty’s most famous acquisitions was Pavillon de Louveciennes which  once belonged to the mistress of Louis XV France (1710-1774), Madame du Barry (1743-1793). Coty brought the property in 1923 and added five bedrooms in the attic area, a perfume laboratory in the basement, kitchens and a swimming pool. Coty spent the end of his life at Louveciennes, where he died on 25th July, 1934, following complications after an aneurysm as well as a bout of pneumonia.

Advertisement for Coty's 'Air Spun' Face Powder (1950).

Advertisement for Coty’s ‘Air Spun’ Face Powder (1950).  One of the brand’s most popular products, launched in 1934. Coty collaborated with costume designer Leon Bakst to create the box’s design. From my own collection.



  • Paris, France: Coty perfume shopfront, September 1929. (Photo by Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images).