Posted in Aviation History, Film, History, Literature, Review, World War One

Featured Author: Kerrie Logan Hollihan – In The Field and The Trenches

Author Kerrie Logan Hollihan. ©Fred Logan
Author Kerrie Logan Hollihan. ©Fred Logan

I was delighted when Ohio-based author, Kerrie Hollihan, contacted me to ask if I would like to review her latest book, In The Fields and the Trenches: The Famous and The Forgotten on The Battlefields of World War One. Published last month by Chicago Review Press, In the Fields and the Trenches is Kerrie’s 6th YA non-fiction work for this excellent publishing house. I have previously reviewed several YA non-fiction books from Chicago Review Press, both by author Kathryn J. Atwood Women Heroes of World War 1 and Code Name Pauline.

Kerrie’s new book is a collection of 18 biographies of young men and women who bravely and selflessly decided, to ‘do their bit’ on the frontline in World War One. Several individuals, featured in In The Fields and the Trenches, went on after the war to become well-known in a variety of occupations from writer to president to film star (J. R. R. Tolkien; Ernest Hemingway; Harry Truman and Buster Keaton). Others were from high-profile families such as The Young Roosevelts or Irène Curie, daughter of Marie and Pierre Curie.

Book Cover

In the Fields and the Trenches is divided into 12 chapters, each short biography is clearly written and very well-researched:

  • The Cowboy: Fred Libby (American);
  • The Daughter: Irène Curie (French);
  • The Wordsmith: J. R. R. Tolkien (South African);
  • The Student: Walter Koessler (German);
  • The Aviatrix: Katherine Stinson (American)*;
  • The Family: The Young Roosevelts (American);
  • The Red Cap: Henry Lincoln Johnson (American);
  • The Pitcher: Christy Mathewson (American);
  • The Showgirl: Elsie Janis (American)*;
  • The Kid: Ernest Hemingway (American);
  • The Captain: Harry Truman (American);
  • The Comedian: Buster Keaton (American).

*Biographies feature later in this article.

Walter Koessler (1891-1966). A German architectural student who was called-up to fight for his country in World War One. Walter served in the German Officer Corps. He brought along his camera to capture many aspects of a soldier’s life on the frontline as well as in the trenches. After the war, he arranged all his photographs in an album ‘Walter Koessler 1914-1918’. This photograph was taken during Walter’s first months as a German Officer. He is pictured here with his motorbike. ©Dean Putney.

Although In The Field and the Trenches is aimed at the YA market, I highly recommend it to anyone interested in reading a fresh perspective on World War One. Hidden histories of extraordinary young people many of whose stories may have been forgotten forever if it wasn’t for writers like Kerrie. The book also includes a very helpful World War One Timeline to contextualize some of the events featured in the biographies.

I notice Kerrie dedicated this book to her grandfather, the inscription reads: ‘Frederick Urban Logan – US Army soldier and bugler in France 1918-19’. World War One is obviously a period in history that has a particularly strong personal connection to Kerrie.

One of Walter Koessler’s photographs. Soldiers washing and doing their laundry in livestock troughs during World War One. ©Dean Putney.

Kerrie writes the mini-bios with skill and clarity, managing to avoid the usual fax-pas of sentimentalizing content. In my view, a common error some authors make when writing historical non-fiction for a YA audience. I have always said, never underestimate the young, they know more than we sometimes give them credit for! Just stick to the facts, young active minds will be able to bring the stories to life for themselves. In her ‘Preface’, Kerrie writes:

Wars are fought by young people, and young people fighting wars make history – in ways great and small…They fought in battles, flew warplanes, killed the enemy, nursed the wounded, and fell in love. One died in combat. The rest came home, their lives forever changed.

Some of them had famous names, but most did not. Some had distinguished themselves in battle and returned as war heroes, while others would reach their prime as writers, businesspeople, scientists, and film stars. One became president of the United States. Another died penniless, estranged from his family.

These men and women lived a century ago. They felt altogether modern, and indeed, for the time they lived, they were. They encountered heroes, cowards, comics, and villains. They learned about human nature – power, greed, death, love, hate, courage, and fear. Like women and men of any age, they came away from a devastating experience with mixed feelings of despair, joy, hatred, loss, and hope. Their stories plainly show how they shared with us the tough journey that we call life.

(In The Field and the Trenches: The Famous and The Forgotten on The Battlefields of World War One by Kerrie Logan Hollihan, Chicago Review Press, 2016.Preface: pp. xv-xvi)

Photograph of the trenches in Winter by Walter Koessler. ©Dean Putney.

I have chosen 2 of my favourite biographies, from In The Field and the Trenches, to share with you here. The Aviatrix – Katherine Stinson and The Showgirl – Elsie Janis.

Katherine Stinson (1891-1977)

In Spring 1912, she became only the 4th American woman to earn a pilot’s license. Early in her flying career she made good money ($1,000 to $2,000 per week) performing acrobatic flying displays using her fabric-winged biplane. An extremely dangerous way for anyone to earn a living let alone a 5ft 5, young woman weighing only 100lbs! She took great pride and care maintaining her own plane and hired only the best mechanicians (known nowadays as mechanics).

When World War One started, she wanted to work as a pilot for the American Expeditionary Force (AEF). She applied twice and was turned-down on both occasions. In 1916, she decided to take her biplane on an ocean liner and sail to Asia performing display shows. In 1918, she went to work for the US Post Office as a pilot. In May, 1918 she flew to raise money to pay for Liberty Bonds to help with the overseas war effort:

The army might have forbidden her to fly in France, but the US government knew that a flying schoolgirl could appeal to Americans’ hearts and open their pocketbooks. Put to work as an airborne publicity stunt, Katherine flew from town to town on a campaign to sell Liberty Bonds to help pay for the war. She also raised $2 million for the American Red Cross, and she ended that fundraising journey by landing on a white cross in front of the Washington Monument.

(Ibid. p.58)

In July, 1918, she piloted the 1st airmail flight in western Canada, from Calgary to Edmonton. However, she still wanted to ‘do her bit’ in France. If she wasn’t allowed to be a pilot, then she would offer her services as an ambulance driver for the Red Cross. She joined the ambulance corps in August, 1918 and was soon sent to France.

After the war, she got permission to work as a pilot and fly mail between Paris and General Pershing’s army headquarters. Unfortunately at that time, the Spanish Flu pandemic was sweeping across Europe and North America. She succumbed to the virus and ended-up in a Paris Hospital. As it turned out, during the war she had, unbeknown to her, also contracted tuberculosis and her health was now ailing. She spent years convalescing.

Whilst in a sanatorium in Santa Fe, New Mexico, she met Miguel Antonio Otero Jr, who had been a pilot in World War One. They married in 1927. She went on to become an architect.

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Poster celebrating Katherine Stinson’s success in flying the 1st sack of Airmail in Western Canada in 1918. ©City of Edmonton Archives (Alberta, Canada)

Elsie Janis (1889-1956)

She first set foot on stage when at just 2 and 1/2, dancing in church socials. A child star from the get-go, she could sing, dance and act. Her mother, Janice Bierbower, was a typical stage mum who managed her daughter’s career, travelling everywhere with her. A professional stage career took her all the way from Broadway to Europe and back again.

In 1917, aged 28, she was in London with her mother, their maid and her Pekingese, Mousme. Despite not having permission from the US government to visit Europe, she decided to make the journey anyway. Afterall, she was a big star and surely no-one would refuse her entry?

She travelled with her mother to Bordeaux, France, arriving without official approval but helped by the YMCA. She immediately began rehearsing with a pianist and gave concerts to the troops. She became the sweetheart of the AEF. Kerrie writes:

Elsie was a trooper and performed up to nine shows in one day. She entertained on makeshift stages and tabletops, and she felt just as comfortable taking her show into hospital wards. She always opened her act with that same question, “Are we downhearted?” Bold, brash, and talented, she sang, danced, did a few imitations, and cracked jokes for the troops.

(Ibid. p.115)

Not everything went well whilst they were in France. She refused to wear a uniform and one occasion in Provins, on her way to entertain 2,000 US troops at Chaumont, both her and her mother were arrested on suspicion of spying. This incident could have been avoided had she worn military attire. French officials examined the pair’s paperwork and after much fuss, eventually allowed them both to proceed.

Being in France must have been heart-breaking for her. In 1916, her British boyfriend, actor and singer, Basil Hallam Radford (b.1889) had been killed during the Battle of the Somme. He was a member of the Royal Flying Corps.

After World War One, she continued her career on stage and the silver screen, Women in War (1940) was her last film. When her mother died she married Gilbert Wilson, moving to Hollywood in 1936. For her contribution to the motion picture industry, she has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Elsie Janis and 'her boys', dressed as World War One veterans from the US, Britain and France. In 1920, Elsie reprised her wartime experiences in a show. Image courtesy of Kerrie Hollihan. Author's own collection.
Elsie Janis and ‘her boys’, dressed as World War One veterans from the US, Britain and France. In 1920, Elsie reprised her wartime experiences in a show. Image courtesy of Kerrie Hollihan. Author’s own collection.

There are many ways to connect with Kerrie and her writing:

  • Follow Kerrie on Twitter (@Kerriehollihan);
  • Visit Kerrie’s website;
  • Visit ‘Hands on Books’ blog. Kerrie, together with fellow authors Brandon Marie Miller and Mary Kay Carson. Between them, these 3 have over 50 published books to their names. Their blog features the ‘world of nature, and history’s makers and shakers’ and ‘share insights and stories about writing non-fiction for young people’.;

Copies of In The Fields and the Trenches as well as any of Kerrie’s other publications, can be purchased:



Posted in Bringing Alive The Past, History of Medicine, Literature, World War One, World War Two

Featured Author (Part 1) – Kathryn J. Atwood: Women Heroes of World War I

Kathryn J. Atwood. Image courtesy of author, copyright with author's husband.
‘The women in my World War One and World War Two collective biographies were compelled into action by powerful conviction and they had the courage to follow their instincts in order to find a way to do what they thought needed to be done.’ ©Kathryn J. Atwood (2015)


A short while ago I was contacted by American writer, Kathryn J. Atwood, enquiring whether I would like a review copy of her latest work of non-fiction, Women Heroes of World War I: 16 Remarkable Resisters, Soldiers, Spies, and Medics (June, 2014) published by Chicago Review Press. Kathryn has also written Women Heroes of World War II: 26 Stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Resistance, and Rescue (2011, Chicago Review Press) and Code Name Pauline: Memoirs of a World War II Special Agent co-authored with Pearl Witherington Cornioley (2013 – hardback, 2015 paperback, Chicago Review Press). I will be reviewing Code Name Pauline in a second article about Kathryn’s work.

Kathryn lives near Chicago, USA but is a self-confessed Anglophile with a particular interest in writing about remarkable women from history. In Women Heroes of World War I, Kathryn writes about the extraordinary feats of courage and selfless acts of heroism shown by daring girls and women from around the world (including the USA, UK, France, Russia, Belgium, Romania and Australia) during World War One.  Biographical profiles featured are brought to life through the use of engaging narrative, dialogue, direct quotes, document and diary excerpts.

Although Women Heroes of World War I is primarily aimed at the young adult market (12+) it will also appeal to the budding adult historian looking for a solid introduction to aspects of this complex period in world history. Parents of young adults will also enjoy reading this book.

The book is divided into four sections, ‘Resisters and Spies’, ‘Medical Personnel’, ‘Soldiers’ and ‘Journalists’. Women featured include: Edith Cavell; Louise Thuliez; Emilienne Moreau; Gabrielle Petit; Marthe Cnockaert; Louise de Bettignies; Elsie Inglies; Olive King; Helena Gleichen; Shirley Millard; Maria Bochkareva; Flora Sandes; Marina Yurlova; Ecaterina Teodoroiu; Mary Roberts Rinehart and Madeleine Zabriskie Doty.

Photograph of Nurse Edith Cavell taken in her garden, Brussels, 2015. Photograph and book in the Mary Evans Picture Library Collection ©Come Step Back In Time 2015
Photograph of Nurse Edith Cavell taken in her garden, Brussels, 2015 together with her beloved dogs. Her dog Jack was taken to the de Croy country estate in Belgium by Princess Mary de Croy after Edith’s death. Photograph and book from the Mary Evans Picture Library Collection ©Come Step Back In Time 2015

On 12th October this year, it will be the 100th anniversary of the death of British nurse Edith Cavell (1893-1916). When war broke-out in 1914, Edith went to Belgium and treated injured soldiers whether they were British, French or German. She even hid nearly 200 British, Belgian and French soldiers from the Germans by keeping them safe at the nursing school and clinic where she lived.

Edith also ran a secret ‘underground’ group that helped Allied soldiers escape capture by the Germans and receive a safe passage to neutral Holland. She hid her private diary by sewing it into a cushion to prevent the secret of the hidden soldiers from getting out. Edith’s activities were eventually uncovered. In Women Heroes of World War I, Kathryn Atwood describes Edith’s arrest:

On the afternoon of August 5, officers from the German secret police – Pinkhoff and Mayer – arrived at the clinic and, after a thorough search, found a letter from Edith’s mother in England that had been transmitted after the occupation of Brussels through the agency of the American Consul. It was not much, but they used it as grounds for arrest. After unleashing a lengthy tirade intended to terrify everyone within hearing, the police took Edith to Saint-Gilles prison, where she was kept in a tiny cell and interrogated on three separate occasions. When she admitted that she had used the clinic to hide healthy Allied soldiers, the Germans realized that Edith was eligible for the death sentence. Under the German penal code, “conducting soldiers to the enemy” was considered treasonous and a capital offense.

(Women Heroes of World War I: 16 Remarkable Resisters, Soldiers, Spies, and Medics by Kathryn Atwood, 2014, published by Chicago Review , pp.30-1)

Ten weeks later, on October 7th, 1915, Edith was tried and sentenced to the death. In the early morning of October 12th, 1915, she was executed at the Belgian national shooting range, Tir National.

Although some of the stories in Women Heroes of World War I are well-known, like Edith Cavell and Gabrielle Petit’s for instance, many are not quite so familiar to us, for example:

  • 17-year-old Frenchwoman Emilienne Moreau (1898-1971) assisted the Allies as a guide and set- up a first-aid post in her home;
  • Russian peasant Maria Bochkareva (1889-1920) who joined the Imperial Russian Army by securing the personal permission of Tsar Nicholas II (1868-1918), was twice wounded in battle and decorated for bravery, and created and led the all-women combat unit the “Women’s Battalion of Death” on the eastern front;
  • American journalist Madeleine Zabriskie Doty (1877-1963) risked her life to travel twice to Germany during the war in order to report back the truth;
  • Surgeon Elsie Inglis (1864-1917) founded the Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Service and bravely stood up to the invading Germans while caring for sick and wounded in Serbia;
  • Flora Sandes (1876-1956) the only British woman to serve as a soldier in World War One. She enlisted in the Serbian army after working in the ambulance service that was the first volunteer unit to leave Britain. The Serbian army was one of the few in the world to accept women. She became a Corporal and then a Sergeant-Major.
Flora Sandes Collection.
The Flora Sandes Collection. ©Women Heroes of World War I: 16 Remarkable Resisters, Soldiers, Spies, and Medics by Kathryn Atwood, 2014, published by Chicago Review Press.
Flora Sandes, c.. 1916. The Flora Sandes Collection.
Flora Sandes, c.. 1916. The Flora Sandes Collection. ©Women Heroes of World War I: 16 Remarkable Resisters, Soldiers, Spies, and Medics by Kathryn Atwood, 2014, published by Chicago Review Press.

Kathryn’s research is impeccable, the text is written with care, precision and flare, carrying the reader along on an enthralling historical and biographical journey. Drawing upon original sources, for example, documents, personal diaries, photographs and direct quotes, providing a glimpse into the lives of this pioneering group of women, a number of whom had a relatively short lifespan.

Each chapter contains background information panels providing further detail on key historical events referred to within the text (see below). A clever idea to embed this information within each relevant chapter, saves research time whilst you are reading. At end of each chapter is a ‘Learn More’ resources section with useful websites and suggestions for further reading. Readers will also find a useful ‘Glossary’ at the back of the book.

©Kathryn Atwood (
Historical background panels are embedded in most chapters to enrich the reader experience. ©Kathryn Atwood (2014) Women Heroes of World War I published by Chicago Review Press

Interview With Kathryn J. Atwood – April 2015

What first inspired you to write about this incredible group of women?:

Actually, it was my editor at the Chicago Review Press, Lisa Reardon, who first suggested I write a sort of prequel to my first book, Women Heroes of World War II. I initially dragged my heels on the idea because the only heroines of World War One that initially came to my mind were nurses and while I was certain they’d been exceptional human beings, I didn’t want to write an entire book on women who played a single role.

But then one of our sons gave my husband an interesting Christmas gift:  Flyboys, a film about some American pilots who flew for the French during World War One before the U.S. became officially involved.  While it’s not exactly the Saving Private Ryan of World War One films, the excellent period details made me want to more thoroughly understand the war.

Then one night, after I’d initiated my search for women’s stories, I turned on the television to see Matthew Crawley [Downton Abbey] in that amazing replica of the Western Front. It was the first time I’d encountered Downton Abbey and it fuelled my determination to write the book. It also turned me into a Downton fan … although in my opinion that second season has remained by far the most compelling!

©Women Heroes of World War I: 16 Remarkable Resisters, Soldiers, Spies, and Medics by Kathryn Atwood, 2014, published by Chicago Review Press.
©Women Heroes of World War I: 16 Remarkable Resisters, Soldiers, Spies, and Medics by Kathryn Atwood, 2014, published by Chicago Review Press. Gabrielle Petit (1893-1916), a Belgium who spied for the British in World War One. She used the alias “Miss Legrand” but was captured by the Germans, imprisoned, stood trial and subsequently executed on 1st April, 1916 at the Tir National shooting range.

Whose story did you first discover?

I already knew the outline of Edith Cavell’s story but the second woman I decided to include was Gabrielle Petit. I discovered her through a query to the Ypres Great War Museum when one of their knowledgeable volunteers, Freddy Rottey, sent me a packet of English-language articles about Petit.

He admitted that most of it was hagiography, written shortly after the war, but reading between the exaggerated lines, I could tell there was a great story there. So I purchased more recently written French-language biographical materials and handed them to my Francophile husband for translation.

Why do you think so many of these stories have remained untold for so long?

Women’s history is like an iceberg: when a particular era has passed into history, all that’s showing above water, so to speak, are the roles that men played. Studying women’s roles lets one see what’s underwater, the entire mountain of ice, the entire time period.

And if the heroines of World War Two are hardly remembered, those of the first have been completely snowed under. World War Two is generally considered a more compelling study because of its element of good vs. evil. However, the World War One was fought and supported by young people of such noble aspirations and calibre, it’s not only shameful that their lives were  destroyed in such devastating numbers but that their stories are not more widely known. I hope my book might help remedy that situation!

Which individual’s story has touched/inspired you the most and why?

Gabrielle Petit. Her early life was so chaotic and difficult she tried to end it. But while working for British Intelligence during the war, her passionate nature found a focus which resulted in a patriotism, so winning it resonated for decades afterwards.

She was beloved and mourned by Belgians of various ethnicities who generally couldn’t agree on much else. She also directly inspired Belgian resistance during World War Two: so many flowers appeared at the foot of her statue in Brussels that the Germans posted a sentry there! And Brussels native Andree de Jongh, having grown up on stories of both Petit and Cavell, created an escape network that rescued hundreds of Allied airmen during World War Two.

What would you say are the key character qualities that all of the women you have written about have in common?

The women in my World War One and World War Two collective biographies were compelled into action by powerful conviction and they had the courage to follow their instincts in order to find a way to do what they thought needed to be done.

If you could invite 5 of the women you have written in Women Heroes of World War I to a dinner party, hosted by your good self, who would you choose and why?

For elegant conversation, initially reserved, perhaps, but eventually taking a fascinating turn, I would invite Edith Cavell, Louise de Bettignies, Mary Roberts Rinehart, Helena Gleichen, and Madeleine Zabriskie-Doty.  For a more animated, visceral conversation I’d choose Gabrielle Petit, Maria Bochkareva, Louise Thuliez, Elsie Inglis, and Olive King. I might decide to sit between the latter two as Olive King left the Scottish Women’s Hospitals, founded by Elsie Inglis, because she felt inhibited by the many regulations!

If all these women were alive now, what life lessons do you think they would impart to their female counterparts in 2015?

I find it quite astonishing that they enthusiastically supported the wartime causes of nations who were at that moment denying them equal rights and accepting their services simply because there was no one else to do the job! Perhaps they would have a collective message about seizing windows of opportunity and following one’s conscience.

What does history mean to you and why is it so important, do you think,  to keep the past alive for future generations, particularly young adults, to discover?

While technology and societal norms change, human nature doesn’t. That’s why “those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” A positive variation of that thought, and what I try to accomplish with my books is this: those who admire the heroes of the past just might become heroes themselves.

History is full of stories of people who made courageous choices in the midst of difficulty, who gave their time and effort – and sometimes their lives — for something higher than themselves. That’s inspiring no matter what one’s age but it’s particularly important for young people in search of something that matters.

Further Resources

©Women Heroes of World War I: 16 Remarkable Resisters, Soldiers, Spies, and Medics by Kathryn Atwood, 2014, published by Chicago Review Press.
Back cover of Women Heroes of World War I: 16 Remarkable Resisters, Soldiers, Spies, and Medics featuring a selection of review comments.
Posted in Film, History, Maritime History, World War One, World War Two

Happy New Year 2015 & Historical Pinboard 1915


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  • Greetings card from 1915. (Photo by Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images)

Happy New Year readers, welcome to 2015!  I’ve no idea what this year holds but as with everything in life, best ‘roll with the punches’. I have never been a fan of making New Year’s resolutions but am rather partial to writing endless lists. One such list I have compiled contains historical anniversaries coming-up over the next twelve months, there are quite a few of them, here’s my top selection:

  • January 24th (50th) death of Sir Winston Churchill;
  • April 25th (100th) start of the Gallipoli Campaign in World War One which ended on 9th January, 1916;
  • May 7th (250th) launch of the HMS Victory, (100th) sinking of the RMS Lusitania, (70th) 8th V.E. Day, (75th) 27th-4th June – Dunkirk invasions;
  • June 2nd (175th) birth of Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), 16th (100th) foundation of the British Women’s Institute, 18th (200th) Battle of Waterloo, 15th (800th) Magna Carta issued;
  • July 10th-31st October (75th) Battle of Britain;
  • September 6th (100th) first Women’s Institute meeting held in Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, Wales;
  • October 12th (100th) British nurse Edith Cavell (1865-1915) is executed by a German firing squad for helping Allied soldiers escape from Belgium, 15th (600th) Battle of Agincourt.

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  • Battle of Britain Memorial, unveiled in 1993, situated on the white cliffs near Capel-le-Ferne between Dover and Folkestone, Kent.

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  • Engraving (1873) featuring King John (1166-1216) signing The Magna Carta (1215).

I thought it would be interesting to have a look at some newspaper reports from a hundred years ago:

A New Year is dawning – a year of great possibilities, great responsibilities, and, we believe, great achievements. The year of 1914 has marked an epoch in the history of the world, and as it recedes into the shadows of the past our thoughts go back to its early days, before the German war of aggression darkened the peaceful lands of Europe.

At the beginning of January, 1914, the British public, which dearly loves deeds of adventure, was thrilled by the news that Sir E. Shackleton had decided to lead another expedition to the South Polar regions, and in November tidings were received that the party had reached Sydney on its journey southwards.

Scarcely a year has passed, and Great Britain is engaged in the greatest venture she has ever undertaken – a venture which has stirred the imagination, the sympathy, and the loyalty of Britons all over the world. As the bells welcome in the New Year the sons of the great World Empire are fighting with the Allies in France and Belgium; against the Germans in Africa; and Volunteers are devoting themselves to strenuous exercise in the Dominions and in the training camps of England, preparing  themselves for active service in the early spring. 

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  • August 1915: Posters at Marylebone Station advertising war loans. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

Day by day tales of unflinching courage, resourcefulness, and heroism reach us from the theatre of war. The news of the great air and sea battle of Cuxhaven, which came filtering through on Sunday night, outvied for sheer daring, skill, and ingenuity the most romantic story of adventure penned by novelists of any age. And while Great Britain can produce men like these she is able fearlessly to bring to a successful conclusion tasks, however difficult, with which she may be confronted in the immediate future.

Therefore, with high hopes, unbounded enthusiasm, and never-faltering optimism, she greets the New Year of 1915. British commerce is satisfactory in spite of the depression caused by the war, and British goods are in ever increasing demand all over the world. The great British Fleet is patrolling the seas, and merchant ships pass to and fro to neutral countries carrying their freight to distant parts. German and Austrian goods, which were stocked in quantities by many English shops, have now been largely superseded by British, bearing a label “British Made”. For quality, finish, and general workmanship they cannot be equalled.

(Preston Leader, 13.2.1915)

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  • Soldiers reading the Suffragette newspaper, April 1915. That week’s editorial by Christabel Pankhurst expressed intensely anti-German sentiments typical of the time. The front cover image is a reproduction of a French cartoon of Joan of Arc (St Joan) in full military armour, hovering as an angel above Rheims Cathedral, which had been badly damaged in September 1914. The headline screams: ‘That which the fire and Sword of the Germans Can Never Destroy’. (Photo by Museum of London/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

Votes for women announced at the beginning of 1915. We may claim that our efforts to keep the suffrage flag flying in spite of the war have met with a gratifying and stimulating measure of success. In several instances we have through the columns of the paper and by means of meetings, deputations & etc  been able to draw public attention to serious abuses which have made the lot of women in wartime harder even than in peace; but never for a moment have we lost sight of our single goal; the enfranchisement of women.

The Woman’s Right-To-Serve Demonstration: A Great Procession. The demonstration, on July 17, of thousands of women from all classes-aristocrats, professionals, workers in many forms of art and industry, women who rejoice in demonstrating, and women whom nothing but clear conviction and a strong sense of duty would draw from their quiet homes into the glare of publicity – which was organised to demand as a right that women should be allowed to take their share in munition and other war work, was a success in every detail, except the weather, which was deplorable.

….it was picturesque, enthusiastic and impressive, and drew a concourse of many thousands, some of whom may have “come to scoff”, and when the story of the World War comes to be written, the patriotic part played by women of the Empire, of France, of Belgium, of Italy, of Russia, will be chronicled, and this great demonstration of women craving to work for the war will find honourable place.

(The Illustrated London News, 24.7.1915)

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  • A lithographic comical postcard promoting an anti-suffrage sentiment concerning women’s rights, published in New York City (1915). The husband washes clothes and watches the baby and cat at home. (Photo by Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images)

  • Suffragette Rally, Trafalgar Square, London, ‘Suffragettes Help The War Effort’ (1915). British Pathe – Uploaded to You Tube 13.4.2014.

Undoing the Dardanelles blunder: The withdrawal of the British troops from two of the three points held on the Gallipoli Peninsula may be taken as a sign that the Government has at least realized the stupendous blunder is committed in venturing upon this expedition, the earlier phases of which Mr Churchill described as a ‘gamble.’ A gamble it has proved in the lives of the most heroic of our race. The casualties at the Dardanelles numbered up to November 9 no fewer than 106,000 officers and men. In addition, sickness on this front accounted for 90,000 down to October. A loss of nearly 200,000 men was thus incurred without any adequate result.

Not only did the Government despatch to the Dardanelles forces which, judiciously utilized at other points, might have achieved the greatest results; not only did it divert to the Near East munitions at a time when we were perilously short of high-explosive shells. It also deceived the nation as to the position and prospects after its strokes had signally failed through initial mismanagement or the inadequacy of the army employed. The public has not forgotten the optimistic assurances of Mr Churchill, Lord Robert Cecil, and Lord Kitchener.

Mr Lloyd George’s speech last evening really contains the gravest indictment that has as yet been drawn against the Government. Here is a confession that when the Germans were in May making 250,000 high-explosive shells a day the British production was only 2,500. Even now he implies that, despite great efforts, we have not equalled the German output. Shall we ever overtake it? Only if the nation works its hardest. The fatal words of the war, he said, were ‘too late’. These words have dogged the Allies’  every step.

(Daily Mail, 21.12.1915)

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Posted in Activity, Aviation History, Bringing Alive The Past, Event, History, History of Medicine, Literature, Maritime History, Motoring History, Review, Vintage, World War One

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
Posted in Bringing Alive The Past, Event, Fashion History, Historical Hair and Make-up, History, History of Medicine, Vintage, World War One

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.
Posted in Activity, Event, Film, History, Literature, Theatre History, Vintage, World War One, World War Two

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

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  • 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.

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  • 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):

Embed from Getty Images

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

Embed from 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

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  • 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.

Embed from Getty Images

  • 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.

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  • Lena Ashwell, c.1904.  (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Posted in Country House, Decorative Arts, Historical Hair and Make-up, History, History of Medicine, Horticultural History, Vintage Retail, World War One, World War Two

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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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

Embed from 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.



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  • Paris, France: Coty perfume shopfront, September 1929. (Photo by Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images).
Posted in Activity, Bringing Alive The Past, Event, Film, History, History of Medicine, Maritime History, TV Programme, Vintage, World War One

Folkestone 1914 & 2014 – Time Bleeds: Stories From The Great War Part 9

Film poster for Time Bleeds (2013).  Experimental documentary by Kent-based Viola Films. Directed by Samuel Supple and Produced by Debra McGee. Image courtesy of Viola Films.
Film poster for Time Bleeds (2013). Experimental documentary by Kent-based Viola Films. Shot on location in and around Folkestone.  Directed by Samuel Supple and Produced by Debra McGee. Image courtesy of Viola Films.

  • Emma, the Editor of Come Step Back in Time, reads ‘A Letter From Folkestone by Miss Moneypenny’, written in August 1914 and reprinted in the Sydney Morning Herald (30.9.1914) – A snapshot of life on the home front in Folkestone, at the beginning of World War One.

Monday 4th August, 2014, marked the Centenary of the outbreak of World War One. A hundred years ago the coastal town of Folkestone became one of Britain’s most important front-line locations. A gateway to France and the Western Front, eight million troops passing through there during the war.

The new Memorial Arch, Folkestone. Monday 4th August, 2014. ©Come Step Back in Time.
The new Memorial Arch, Folkestone. Monday 4th August, 2014. ©Come Step Back in Time.

In undying memory of the many million officers and other ranks, both men and women forming The Naval, Military, Air and Red Cross Services of the King’s Imperial and Colonial Forces who crossed the seas in 1914-1919 to defend The Freedom of The World (dedication taken from the Harbour Canteen books).

(Inscription on one of the memorial plaques close to Folkestone’s Memorial Arch)

I visited Folkestone on Monday to witness the day’s commemorative events which had been organised by Folkestone-based educational charity, Step Short. His Royal Highness Prince Harry unveiled a steel Memorial Arch on The Leas, alongside Folkestone’s seafront, as well as laying a wreath at the nearby war memorial.

©Come Step Back in Time.
©Come Step Back in Time.
Monday 4th August, 2014. Memorial Arch, Folkestone. ©Come Step Back in Time.
Monday 4th August, 2014. Memorial Arch, Folkestone. ©Come Step Back in Time.

WW1 At Home Remembers: World War One At Home – BBC (2014)

©Come Step Back in Time.
©Come Step Back in Time.
One of the Hurst Green Shires which was part of the BBC World War One At Home pop-up event in Folkestone Harbour car-park, Monday 4th August, 2014. ©Come Step Back in Time.
One of the Hurst Green Shires who took part in the BBC World War One At Home pop-up event in Folkestone Harbour car-park, Monday 4th August, 2014. ©Come Step Back in Time.

In the car park of Folkestone Harbour, a tented complex formed part of BBC World War One At Home’s Live Event.  For more information about this BBC initiative, which is currently touring the UK until the end of September, CLICK HERE. I took the opportunity of visiting the Imperial War Museum’s (IWM) cabin which is also part of this BBC heritage pop-up. The IWM’s ‘Lives of The First World War’ project is an excellent idea, allowing members of the public to research life stories of those who served in Britain and the Commonwealth on both the home and fighting fronts. These individual stories can be from your own family or somebody you wish to research and be remembered. The researcher then has the opportunity to contribute their findings to the project’s vast on-line public database.

I took the opportunity on Monday to visit the Imperial War Museums pop-up genealogy tent to research my great, great grandfather who served as a Corporal in the Royal Engineers during World War One. ©Come Step Back in Time.
On Monday, I took the opportunity to visit the Imperial War Museum’s pop-up genealogy cabin, to research my great grandfather who served as a Corporal in the Royal Engineers during World War One. ©Come Step Back in Time.

My great grandfather was a Corporal in the Royal Engineers during World War One and I had hit a bit of a block with my research. On Monday, access to public records was free to search in the IWM’s mobile exhibit and I was able to view my ancestor’s medal record as well as obtain his correct service number. I am looking forward to moving my research to the next level. For more information about this interactive IWM project, CLICK HERE.

The firing squad scene.
The firing squad scene, Time Bleeds (2013). Image courtesy of Viola Films.

On Monday, I also met-up with Kent director, Samuel Supple, whose World War One experimental documentary, Time Bleeds (2013), was filmed on location in and around Folkestone using a cast of local people. The film was shown on giant screens throughout the town as part of the day’s events.

©Come Step Back in Time.
©Come Step Back in Time.
BBC live Q & A panel in Folkestone Harbour, Monday 4th August, 2014. ©Come Step Back in Time.
BBC live Q & A panel, hosted by Clare Reeves, in Folkestone Harbour, Monday 4th August, 2014. ©Come Step Back in Time.

Samuel also participated in a series of live panel Q & A’s organised by BBC Radio Kent in conjunction with BBC World War One At Home. Afterwards he took me on a tour of Folkestone  pointing out various locations that had provided him with inspiration to create Time Bleeds. Mr Supple certainly knows his World War One local history!

This property (now private flats) was once a British Red Cross Auxilary Hospital. Manor House Hospital is situated on The Leas, Folkestone.
In World War One, this property (now private flats), on The Leas, Folkestone, was a British Red Cross Auxilary facility. It was known as Manor House Hospital. Photograph taken Monday 4th August, 2014. ©Come Step Back in Time.

During World War One, the above property situated on The Leas, Folkestone and now private flats, was Manor House Hospital. Samuel told me that it was a chance conversation with a librarian about a former VAD at Manor House, that begin his creative journey to Time Bleeds. An extraordinary diary/scrapbook belonging to VAD, Dorothy Earnshaw, has survived and can be viewed on-line HERE.

When Samuel looked at the album, several years ago, he was struck by the level of detail contained in the document. This artefact provides us with an insight into the intense emotional bond that exists between carer and patient as well as being a snapshot of life in a home front hospital during wartime.  Samuel remarked: ‘The album reminded me of how we use Facebook and social media today to record our daily lives, leaving comments for our friends and loved ones. Documenting our thoughts, hopes and activities. There is a convergence of time and in that moment the idea came to me for Time Bleeds.’

The Silver Screen Cinema, Folkestone. Some exterior scenes for Time Bleeds were shot here. ©Come Step Back in Time.
The Silver Screen Cinema, Folkestone. Some exterior scenes for Time Bleeds were shot here. ©Come Step Back in Time.

Time Bleeds is an experimental documentary inspired by real-life wartime events in Folkestone and the aim of the project was to reconnect its participants with their own World War One heritage. Samuel also drew inspiration from contemporary works such as ‘The War Game’ (1965) by Peter Watkins and ‘Self Made’ (2010) by Gillian WearingTime Bleeds is a collection of interwoven stories drawn from either personal archives or local public records and explores the questions:  “What if we forget?”; “What happens if these stories are lost forever?” and “What would happen if 1914 Folkestone became Folkestone in 2013 – would time bleed?”

A 16 year old boy
A 16 year old boy bids farewell to his mother at Folkestone Harbour Station, 1914. Scene from Time Bleeds (2013). Image courtesy of Viola Films.

Time certainly did appear to ‘bleed’ on Monday in Folkestone. Khaki clad living history groups mingled with royalty, civic dignitaries, war veterans and members of the general public wearing rain coats and clutching umbrellas. A heady mix of uniforms and casual attire, time had merged, for just one historic, but important, day.

After World War One. Peace returns to The Leas, Folkestone in the 1920s. It is once again a thriving seaside resort.
After World War One. Peace returns to The Leas, Folkestone. In the 1920s, it is once  again a thriving seaside resort.
Monday 4th August, 2014. The Leas, Folkestone. ©Come Step Back in Time.
Monday 4th August, 2014. The Leas, Folkestone. ©Come Step Back in Time.

  • Listen to Director, Samuel Supple, discussing Time Bleeds in 2013, with BBC Radio Kent host, Dominic King.
Still from Time Bleeds
Folkestone harbour. Still from Time Bleeds (2013). Image courtesy of Viola Films.
Director of Time Bleeds, Samuel Supple, revisits some the film's locations on Monday 4th August, 2014. ©Come Step Back in Time.
Director of Time Bleeds, Samuel Supple, revisits some of the film’s locations on Monday 4th August, 2014. ©Come Step Back in Time.

I have myself become very interested in Folkestone’s many fascinating home front and military World War One stories. Regular readers may remember an article I wrote earlier this year about the infamous White Feather Campaign (featured in Time Bleeds) which began in Folkestone. A notorious and controversial wartime Campaign, the brainchild of conscriptionist Admiral Charles Cooper Penrose-Fitzgerald (1841-1921). On 30th August, 1914, Penrose-Fitzgerald galvanized into action thirty women in Folkestone, many of whom were holidaying there, encouraging them to hand-out white feathers to men not in uniform.

Monday 4th August, 2014. Folkestone Harbour. ©Come Step Back in Time.
Monday 4th August, 2014. Folkestone Harbour. ©Come Step Back in Time.

The importance of Folkestone as a centre of military intelligence in World War One is another topic that has dominated my reading this year. I assisted with research on BBC Inside Out documentary, The Spies Who Loved Folkestone presented by writer Anthony Horowitz whose Alex Rider series of spy novels have captivated a whole generation. This drama documentary was Produced by Samuel Supple.

Because of its location, Folkestone was an ideal target for German spies. The town provided a point of entry and departure to Britain. Not long after war was declared in 1914, Germany lost its entire network of spies in Britain and was keen to re-establish its espionage infrastructure. If you were caught and convicted of spying, death by bullet in The Tower of London was the most likely outcome.

Spy-mania in Folkestone, as well as across the rest of Britain, was rife. Local newspapers were full of stories of suspected spies. Local Kent hoteliers, Mr and Mrs Wampach, (proprietors of Wampach Hotel, 33, Castle Hill Avenue, Folkestone), were victims of persecution. Their hotel was requisitioned for war service between 1914 and 1918 and the couple were subsequently treated unjustly by the authorities. The Wampachs were actually from Luxemburg and had themselves lost a son (Cyril Constant Julian) in the war. The distrust of non-British subjects was not just a national obsession, it became one’s patriotic duty to ‘weed-out the aliens’, otherwise you could find yourself the subject of suspicion.

Security, particularly in ports such as Folkestone, was extremely tight. The area was populated with Civil Police, custom officers, Aliens officers, Embarkation officers and Military Police. If you travelled by car from Folkestone to London in 1914, you would liable to be stopped by Special Constables no less than twenty-four times during your seventy mile journey. The arteries of subterfuge were well and truly blocked (or so the authorities thought!).

The British Intelligence Services were established in 1909. During World War One, Folkestone was full of British counter-intelligence officers. The town became HQ of a tripartite bureau, including French and Belgian intelligence officers and was under the control of Colonel George Kynaston Cockerill (1867-1957). The British section was based at 9, Marine Parade, and headed-up by the notorious renegade spy, Captain (later Major) Cecil Aylmer Cameron (1883-1924).

Spy-mania found a fertile soil in unbalanced brains. A girl of sixteen would confess to her mistress that she had fallen into the toils of a master-spy, who would beckon to her through the kitchen window with gestures that could not be disobeyed, and she would go out for the night, returning with a wonder story of gags and blindfolding, of a black motor-car and a locked room in a distant suburb, and the discovery of a soldier’s gloves in her box, did nothing to shake her story.

(‘Truth About German Spies: How They Came To England’, The World’s News, 12.7.1919)

  • BBC Radio 4’s major new drama series, Home Front, began transmission on Monday 4th August, 12 noon. This is by far BBC radio’s most ambitious production to date. The show’s Editor is Jessica Dromgoole. There are six hundred episodes, across fifteen seasons and these will continue to air until 2018. Although the stories are fictional, they are rooted in historical truth. The first season is set in World War One Folkestone. CLICK HERE;
  • For more information about Folkestone in World War One, see Step Short’s website;
  • For more information about Viola Films, CLICK HERE;
  • For more information about BBC’s World War One At Home initiative, CLICK HERE.
©Come Step Back in Time.
Folkestone’s Road of Remembrance, in World War One it was called The Slope Road. ©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
©Come Step Back in Time
©Come Step Back in Time

The Day

By Henry Chappell

YOU boasted the Day, and you toasted the Day,
And now the Day has come.
Blasphemer, braggart and coward all,
Little you reck of the numbing ball,
The blasting shell, or the “white arm’s” fall,
As they speed poor humans home.

You spied for the Day, you lied for the Day,
And woke the Day’s red spleen.
Monster, who asked God’s aid Divine,
Then strewed His seas with the ghastly mine;
Not all the waters of the Rhine
Can wash thy foul hands clean.

You dreamed for the Day, you schemed for the Day;
Watch how the Day will go,
Slayer of age and youth and prime,
(Defenceless slain for never a crime),
Thou art steeped in blood as a hog in slime,
False friend and cowardly foe.

You have sown for the Day, you have grown for the Day;
Yours is the harvest red.
Can you hear the groans and the awful cries?
Can you see the heap of slain that lies,
And sightless turned to the flame-split skies
The glassy eyes of the dead?

You have wronged for the Day, you have longed for the Day
That lit the awful flame.
‘Tis nothing to you that hill and plain
Yield sheaves of dead men amid the grain;
That widows mourn for their loved ones slain,
And mothers curse thy name.

But after the Day there’s a price to pay
For the sleepers under the sod,
And He you have mocked for many a day —
Listen, and hear what He has to say:
What can you say to God?

  • Henry Chappell (1874-1937), known as the ‘Bath Railway Poet’, found fame after the above propaganda poem, about suspected German atrocities during the war, was published in the Daily Express, 22nd August, 1914. The poem was subsequently published in an anthology of his work in 1918, The Day and Other Poems.

    One of the many crocheted poppies that decorated Folkestone's Road of Remembrance (called The Slope Road in World War One). August, 2014. ©Come Step Back in Time.
    One of the many crocheted poppies that decorated Folkestone’s Road of Remembrance.  4th August, 2014. ©Come Step Back in Time.

Posted in Archaeology, Country House, Decorative Arts, Exhibition, Film, History, History of Medicine, Theatre History, World War One

Tomb To The Known Soldiers, Exbury, Hampshire – Stories From The Great War Part 8

©Come Step Back in Time
©Come Step Back in Time

The Parish Church of St. Katherine in the New Forest village of Exbury, contains a stunning memorial dedicated to two local brothers who lost their lives in World War One, John and Alfred Forster. Their parents, Lord and Lady Forster of Lepe, commissioned sculptor Cecil Thomas to design the monument. During the war, Cecil had been a patient at the same hospital in London as Alfred. Over a four month period, the two young men became firm friends.

The monument is housed in a Chapel extension, built 1927/8, which is also dedicated to other Exbury parishioners who lost their lives during the war:

  • George Dobson (Private) 11th Bn. Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regt.) – Died 27th September 1916;
  • William Warn (Able Seaman) Merchant Marine Reserve, H.M. Yacht Goissa – Died 25th April 1916;
  • Frederick John Toms (Private) 10th Bn. Hampshire Regt. – Died 7th September 1915;
  • Edwin Wellstead (Private) 2nd Bn. Hampshire Regt. – Died 13th August 1915;
  • George Toms (Able Seaman) HMS Narborough R.N. – Died 12th January 1915;
  • Cyril John Fairweather (2nd Lieut.) 4th Bn. Hampshire Regt. – Died 22nd March 1918;
  • John Forster (2nd Lieut.) 2nd Bn. Kings Rifle Corps – Died 14th September, 1914, aged 21;
  • Alfred Henry Forster (Lieut) 2nd Dragoons (Royal Scots Greys) – Died 10th March 1919, aged 21.

    ©Come Step Back in Time
    ©Come Step Back in Time

 The Forster Family

In 1890, Lord Henry Forster – 1st Baron Forster GCMG PC DI (1866-1936) married the Hon. Rachel Cecil Douglas-Scott-Montagu GBE (1868-1962). Lady Forster was the daughter of 1st Baron Montagu of Beaulieu, Hampshire. The Forsters originally lived at Southend Hall, Bromley until 1914 when Lord Forster found the new, noisy trams unbearable and decided to move away. He leased his home to Brittania Film Company on 17th August, 1914 and it became a thriving film studio.

In addition to John and Alfred, the Forsters had two daughters. Emily Rachel (1897-1979), who married Captain George Henry Lane-Fox Pitt-Rivers (1890-1966), the grandson of Archaeologist, Augustus Henry Lane-Fox Pitt-Rivers (1827-1900) and founder of Pitt Rivers Museum at the University of Oxford.  Emily became a stage and screen actress using the name, Mary Hinton. There is a memorial plaque dedicated to her in St. Katherine’s Church. Emily also had a sister, Dorothy Charlotte Forster (1891-1983).

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©Come Step Back in Time

One of Emily’s three sons, Michael (1917-1999), gained notoriety in the 1950s when he was put on trial charged with homosexual offences. He was found guilty and sentenced to eighteen months imprisonment. Michael later became instrumental in the 1967 decriminalisation of homosexuality.

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  1. Image above from 7th June 1965. Hungarian born actress Eva Bartok (1927-1998) pictured with Mary Hinton (left) in a scene from the London play ‘Paint Myself Black’ at the New Theatre.

Lord Forster was an ambitious gentleman who enjoyed a long and successful political career both as a Conservative M.P. and later as 7th Governor-General of Australia (1920-25). Following the general election in 1892 he became M.P. for Sevenoaks. In 1901, he took-up office as Deputy Lieutenant of Kent then 1902-05, he was Junior Lord of the Treasury. Between 1902 and 1911, he was the Conservative whip.

During World War One, Lord Forster was assigned to the War Office. Between 1915 and 1919 he acted as their Financial Secretary. In 1918-19, he represented Bromley in the House of Commons and in 1919, was given a peerage, 1st Baron Forster of Lepe in the County of Southampton. Lord Forster became Governor-General of Australia on 7th October, 1920, a post he held until 1925 when he moved back to England. Lord and Lady Forster resided at Exbury House, near Southampton, until Lord Forster’s death in 1936, aged seventy.

Because the Forsters had no surviving sons, the barony became extinct upon Lord Forster’s death. Sadly, this was an all too common occurrence for many aristocratic families after the war who were left with no male heir(s) to inherit either property or title.

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John Forster – (1893-1914) 

John Forster was born on 13th May, 1893.  Educated at Eton, John was commissioned in September, 1913 and served as 2nd Lieutenant in the 2nd battalion King’s Royal Rifle Corps. On 14th September, 1914, at 3am, John’s battalion advanced in thick mist and driving rain to attack the ridge above the River Aisne (Chemin des Dames), the first Battle of The Aisne. When they reached the crest, they were unable to continue further and found themselves pinned down by enemy fire coming from the occupied sugar factory at the crossroads above Troyon.

John died on 14th September, 1914 and is remembered on the La Ferte-sous-Jouarre Memorial, Seine-et-Marne, France. The memorial is to those killed in August, September and early October of 1914 who were part of the British Expeditionary Force. There is also a wall-mounted bronze plaque, by Cecil Thomas (see images above and below), dedicated to John, in St. Katherine’s Church Memorial Chapel.

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©Come Step Back In Time.
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©Come Step Back in Time

Alfred Henry Forster (1898-1919) 

Alfred Henry was born on 7th February, 1898. Educated at Winchester College (1911-1915), then RMC Sandhurst. He was commissioned in the 2nd Dragoons Guards (Royal Scots Greys) on 19th July, 1916. The following February he went to France and was promoted to Lieutenant on 19th January, 1918. On 17th October, 1918, Alfred fell, seriously wounded, near Le Cateau. He was transferred to Gerstley-Hoare Hospital for Officers at 53 Cadogan Square, Belgravia, London, where he spent five months.

The Gerstley-Hoare Hospital was set-up by Louise Hoare, cousin of politician Samuel Hoare (1880-1959). Louise had joined the British Red Cross as a V.A.D. and together with her wealthy friend, Mrs Adele Gerstley, established the Hospital in January, 1916. It was a Class A Hospital with twenty-five beds, there were three trained nurses, five full-time and twenty part-time V.A.D.s. Mrs Gerstley was the administrator and Miss Hoare the Commandant.

Gerstley-Hoare Hospital was affiliated with Queen Alexandra’s Military Hospital at Millbank, London and admitted casualties direct from the front rather than via a military hospital, as would normally be the case. The Hospital closed in April, 1919 and during just over three years of service, treated five hundred and fifty servicemen only two of whom died, Alfred was one of them. He died of his wounds on 10th March, 1919.

During his time at Gerstley-Hoare, Alfred met the sculptor Cecil Thomas (1885-1976), also a patient, the two became great friends. Alfred is buried at St. Katherine’s Church. Cecil designed the stunning tomb dedicated to Alfred which is in the Church’s Memorial Chapel. Such is the quality of the bronze figure that it was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1924. The Chapel’s Hanging Lamp, presented by Miss Amy Fergusson, was also designed by Cecil.  A model of the tomb is in the V&A, London.

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©Come Step Back in Time


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©Come Step Back in Time
©Come Step Back in Time
©Come Step Back in Time

Cecil Walter Thomas OBE FRBS (1885-1976)

Cecil was born 3rd March, 1885 at 24 Hedley Road, Shepherds Bush, London. His father had a gem engraving business in London and Cecil began his training there followed by Central School of Arts and Crafts, Heatherley School of Fine Art and then the Slade. Cecil enjoyed a long and very successful career as a sculptor, medallist, gem sculptor and seal engraver. In 1948, he designed a Seal for the British Transport Commission. Together with artist, Edgar Fuller, Cecil produced the reverse designs for the sixpence, two shillings and half crown. He also received commissions from Faberge.

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Cecil designed a sculpture of Rev. Dr Philip Thomas Byard ‘Tubby’ Clayton CH, MC, DD. (1885-1972) a World War One Chaplain who, together with Rev. Neville Stuart Talbot (1879-1943), founded Talbot House. Located in Poperinge, Belgium, Talbot House (better known as Toc H, see images above and below), provided soldiers, fighting on the front lines around Ypres, with a tranquil haven for relaxation and private reflection. Soldiers of all ranks were welcomed. Cecil’s effigy of Rev. Clayton is in All Hallows By The Tower in the City of London where Clayton was vicar from 1922 until his retirement in 1952.

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Posted in Archaeology, Decorative Arts, History, Maritime History, Museum, World War One, World War Two

Gun Shells Into Vases & Rat Skins Into Wallets – The Art of Souveniring: Stories From The Great War Part 7

A silent film by British Pathe, ‘A Good Use For Zeppelins’, World War One. Published on You Tube, 13.4.2014. The remains of a zeppelin made into souvenirs, usually napkin rings, for the benefit of the War Seals Foundation. In 1916, the British War Office donated aluminium from another zeppelin to be made into souvenirs to be sold to benefit employees of the London and North-Western Railway who had been wounded in the war.

Collecting souvenirs was often a risky business. There are many contemporary accounts of soldiers taking foolhardy risks in order to acquire that unusual trophy, the danger itself probably adding to the value of the piece. So commonplace was it for a soldier to be killed or wounded while ‘souveniring, that it was often reported almost nonchalantly.

(Saunders, N. J., Trench Art: A Brief History and Guide 1914-1939, Pen & Sword Military, 2011, p.122)

The inspiration for this article came from a visit to my family at Easter. I noticed a couple of German artillery shells on the mantelpiece filled with yellow Chrysanthemums. A novel use for  ‘spent ammunition’, I thought. Naturally, the historian in me was keen to find-out more.

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Women filling shells with shrapnel at the Krupp works, Germany, c.1916.

The outer shells of both vases are decorated in relief depicting scenes from history including Hannibal crossing the Alps. My relative knew very few details about provenance and backstory of these objects which were given to her by a friend.

Detail of German shell cases, now turned into vases, belonging to one of my family members. Date-stamped on bottom, 1916. ©Come Step Back In Time.
Detail of German shell cases, now turned into vases, belonging to one of my relatives. Headstamp on bottom shows year to be 1916. ©Come Step Back In Time.

My relative told me that the shells were produced in a German munitions factory in World War One. The headstamp is inscribed: ‘Patronenfabrik Karlsruhe and Fried Krupp A.G.’.  Krupp A.G. were founded in 1811 and during World War One manufactured munitions, heavy guns (16.5 inch howitzer known as “Big Bertha”, only four of these were made), barbed wire, stainless steel and eighty-four U-boats for the German Navy. The latter were built at Friedrich Krupp Germaniawerft, a shipbuilding company in the harbour at Kiel. After World War One, Krupp supplied steel teeth and jaws for wounded veterans. Krupp A.G. remained the world’s leading steelmakers and arms manufacturers until the end of World War Two. The Krupp dynasty were also plagued by a number of high-profile scandals in the twentieth century but I will leave you to Google these for yourself!

The base of one of the shell case vases. The inscription confirms that that the shell was manufactured by Fried Krupp A.G., 1916 at the Cartridge Factory Karlsruhe, Germany. The two 'flaming bomb' symbols are found on all cartridge castings made by Patronenfabrik Karlsruge for the Army and Navy in World War One.  ©Come Step Back In Time.
Base of shell casing. The inscription confirms that the shell was manufactured by Fried Krupp A.G., 1916 at the Cartridge Factory Karlsruhe, Germany. The two ‘flaming bomb’ symbols are found on all cartridge casings made by Patronenfabrik Karlsruhe for the Army and Navy during World War One. ©Come Step Back In Time.

Designs on the shell casings have been created by a technique known as ‘acid-etching’ and this example was likely to have been produced at Bezalel School of Arts in Jerusalem in the 1920s. Unfortunately, some of the detail has been lost due to years of over-polishing, which is a great shame but a common problem with these brass objects.

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©Come Step Back In Time.
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October,1914. The gun-finishing workshop in the Krupp armament factory at Essen, where the great ‘coal-box’ siege-guns were made. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
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The Krupp gun factory number 1, Essen, Germany, 1917. Krupp supplied the German army’s heavy artillery pieces during World War One. A photograph from Der Grosse Krieg in Bildern. (Photo by Art Media/Print Collector/Getty Images).

Researching the subject of ‘souveniring’ and Trench Art, of which these shell cases are  particularly fine examples, has been fascinating. There is a lot written about this topic. Trench Art (sometimes called Soldier Art) is the collective term used to refer to war souvenirs that have been re-fashioned into everyday items or works of art. These objects represent a remembrance of war. Archaeologist, Nicholas Saunders, points-out:

Trench Art in the home was a way of linking the desolated individual with the wider community of bereaved, through shared displays of objects and also ensured that memories were always just a glance away. For the bereaved, placing a metal letter-opener, bullet-crucifix, or pair of polished shells on the mantelpiece, in the hallway or on a bedside dresser – perhaps next to a photograph of the deceased – was a constant reminder of the loved one.

(Saunders, N. J., Trench Art: A Brief History and Guide 1914-1939, Pen & Sword Military, 2011, p.129)

During World War One, these items were often used as ‘currency’, by soldiers and civilians, to purchase food and other sundries. It is important to note here that most Trench Art was created away from the trenches, contrary to what the name suggests. During quieter periods of non-action, it is true that some soldiers did make objects out of ballistic detritus but most items were made by POWs and convalescing soldiers (as handicraft therapy). Civilians with an artistic eye also produced Trench Art. These attractive mementos were sold to make extra cash or raise funds for war-related charitable causes.  Regimental badges were turned into ‘sweetheart jewellery’ which soldiers gave to their wives or girlfriends back home.  After the war, battlefield tourists would purchase a piece of Trench Art as a souvenir of their visit.

Prisoners of war on both sides of the conflict produced an amazing variety of artifacts made for sale to soldiers or civilians in areas near the camps in which they were interned. Some camps held artistic exhibitions in which these handicrafts were offered for sale to the public. British civilians in Ruhleben, a camp outside Berlin, produced a number of objects made by melting down silver coins. They also made inventive use of available materials such as rat skins to make leather wallets. Many of these items were sent home as souvenirs to their families in Britain. German prisoners in Britain created flower vases and napkin rings using mutton and beef bones from their rations, while Turkish prisoners made realistic snakes and other objects from beads. Russian prisoners made use of their woodworking skills to produce carved cigarette boxes and other items. Members of the Royal Naval Division interned in Holland crafted a variety of wooden boxes and picture frames. When brass and aluminum were made available to prisoners, many of them made souvenir shell vases, match box covers or letter openers to sell to their captors or to nearby civilians.

….time has obscured the provenance of many of these pieces forever. As they are dredged from basements and attics, relics of a long forgotten war, and sold or consigned to second hand or antique shops or sold at estate sales, objects are forced to speak for themselves. Some pieces, with specific names, units, battles and dates are eloquent. . .most have drifted far from their original moorings.

(Kimball, J. A., Trench Art of the Great War and Related Souvenirs, [1989] 2005, accessed on-line 13.4.14)

Lovely examples of Trench Art on display in the World War One Gallery at the Royal Marines Museum, Southsea, Hampshire. (Left) Paper knives made from .303 bullets and shell cases. (Right) Pen made by Royal Marine in 1916 from two .303 rifle bullets. Another example of Trench Art, World War One. Two shell cases on display at Corfe Museum, Dorset. ©Come Step Back In Time.
Lovely examples of Trench Art on display in the World War One Gallery at the Royal Marines Museum, Southsea, Hampshire. (Left) Paper knives made from .303 bullets and shell cases. (Right) Pen made by Royal Marine in 1916 from two .303 rifle bullets. ©Come Step Back In Time.
Another example of Trench Art, World War One. Two shell cases, commemorating the battles of Ypres and Somme, on display at Corfe Museum, Dorset. ©Come Step Back In Time.
Further examples of Trench Art, World War One. Two shell cases, commemorating the battles of Ypres and Somme, on display at Corfe Museum, Dorset. ©Come Step Back In Time.

I had no idea how widespread the practice of ‘souveniring’ was during World War One. Shrapnel, buttons, helmets, gun cartridges, bullets and shells were some of the more traditional items procured from the battlefield. Fine examples of Trench Art can be found in Museums across the world, antique stores and on-line auction sites. However, many of these objects can be found in a domestic setting, often handed down between generations or exchanged as gifts amongst friends. But sadly, as Jane Kimball points-out above, objects such as the vases belonging to my relative, have now become detached from their owners and therefore much of their original sentimental value has been lost.

One of the most famous soldiers who dabbled in the art of  ‘souveniring’ was Liverpudlian John “Barney” Hines (1873-1958). His story is extraordinary, in northern France he has become a bit of a legend amongst the region’s treasure-hunters where ploughed fields still expel ‘iron harvest’ a century later. Hines began his military career serving in the Royal Navy and then joined the King’s Liverpool Regiment. His first campaign was the Second Boer War (1899-1902) where he unfortunately contracted malaria.

When World War One broke-out, Hines had only just emigrated to Australia. He volunteered for the Australian Imperial Force in August, 1915. Early 1916, he was discharged as being medically unfit. However, as the war progressed and the need for men increased, recruitment rules, particularly in relation to medical fitness, were relaxed. In August, 1916, Hines took the opportunity to re-enlist and was sent to the Western Front in May, 1917 where he remained until June, 1918. Unfortunately, his health continued to hamper his active service which eventually resulted in another medical discharge, this time due to problems with his haemorrhoids.

Apart from his ongoing health problems, Hines had a number of character traits that made him a less than ideal ‘poster-boy’ for the forces. Hines was illiterate and prone to periods of erratic behaviour, he also enjoyed a drop or two of the ‘good old amber nectar’ even trading some of his treasured souvenirs for alcohol and more seriously, a stolen horse for a bottle of whiskey. On another occasion, he supposedly ‘found’ suitcases, full of French Francs, in a bank. Another incident involved a grandfather clock which he had purloined and brought back to his trench, much to the frustrations of his colleagues. The clock didn’t remain for long, its chimes attracted enemy attention so his fellow soldiers blew it to bits. His military records show that he was court martialed no less than nine times for drunkenness and a further entry shows he went AWOL after a bout of stealing.

However, having said all of that, Hines was actually a competent soldier. On one occasion, June, 1917, he captured sixty Germans by throwing hand grenades into their pillbox at the Battle of  Messines. A heroic deed that most soldiers would receive a recommendation for military honours. However, due to his behaviour between these periods of fighting, one action certainly cancelling out the other, his brave efforts were overlooked. He was never decorated during his military career. Hines ended his days, in abject poverty, sleeping rough on the outskirts of Sydney until he eventually died in January, 1958, aged eighty-four.

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John ‘Barney’ Hines  known as ‘Wild Eye’ or ‘the Souvenir King’. This photograph, taken by Frank Hurley, propelled John Hines into the limelight when it was published. Hurley took the photograph in France on the morning of 27th September, 1917, after the Battle of  Polygon Wood. Hines is pictured surrounded by ‘souvenirs’ he collected during the fighting, including various German weapons and personal effects. This photograph is from an album called ‘Official Australian War Photographs’, produced by the Australian War Records Section which was established by the British government in 1917. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)