Search results for Jill Stewart.

The Five Baldock-Apps brothers from Hurst Green

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Some people will know of the sacrifice of the Souls family from Great Rissington in the Cotswolds. The family's tragedy was recounted by Ian Hislop in the TV series 'Not Forgotten' on First World War memorials in 2005 and told again in a book that supported the series of the same name by Neil Oliver. Annie and William Souls of Hurst Green, Eas…


The War at Sea in Home Waters

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The war at sea was wide ranging from engaging with the German High Seas Fleet when it put to sea to maintaining the supply of food and materiale to the UK. Part of this strategy involved the Admiralty utilising domestic fishing vessels to defend our waters against the submarine menace. Often this was a perilous task both from the U-boats themselves…


A Sobering Aspect of the Christmas Truce : 25 December 1915

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Many of the accounts of the Christmas ‘Truce’ in 1914 focus on the exchange of gifts and the supposed playing of football…but in at least one instance, there was a more serious and sobering aspect to the fraternisation that took place. Above: British and German officers meeting in No-Man's Land during the unofficial truce. (British troops from t…


A Christmas Party then Tragedy : 30 December 1915

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The band of the Royal Marines played, a film show ran and then tragedy as a  series of explosions ripped through HMS Natal on the afternoon of 30 December 1915 in the Cromarty Firth.  The ship sank within 5 minutes with the loss of 421 lives, some of them being the Captain’s invited guests including a local family and nurses from a nearby hospital…


The Loss of HM Yacht Iolaire 1st January 1919

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Hogmanay 1918 and many families in the Western Isles awaited with great anticipation the imminent return of husbands, fathers and sons after four long years of war. Such was the demand to get returning servicemen home, the mailboat ‘Sheila’ could not cope with the demand and therefore the Admiralty drafted in the Yacht Iolaire to assist. But when t…


The Road to Sheik Sa’ad

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On the outbreak of war, the 1st Battalion of the Seaforth Highlanders were in India but were ordered to move to France, in the Dehra Dun Brigade, Meerut Division of the Indian Corps, under the command of Lieutenant General Sir James Willcocks. Above: Sir James Willcocks and his personal staff in the garden at his headquarters at Merville, France…


From cruiseship to armed merchant cruiser and spy catcher….

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The ship that was HMS Viknor was built in 1888 as a passenger liner, the ‘Atrato’, for use on routes between Britain and the West Indies. In 1912, she would be renamed as the ‘Viking’ and was used for cruising. However, on the outbreak of war, she was requisitioned by the British Admiralty, renamed ‘HMS Viknor’ and armed as a merchant cruiser taske…


The ‘Battle' of May Island January 1917 and K-Class Submarines of the First World War

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This was neither a ‘battle’ nor an engagement of any kind with the enemy, but nonetheless, it left over a hundred families grieving the loss of a loved one in a series of mishaps: yet another tragic chapter in the short history of the ill-fated K Class submarines. Above a Royal Mail commemorative cover (dated 31 January 1993 - being the 75th Ann…


The tale of four lads from Buckie, Banffshire

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The fishing community of Buckie responded enthusiastically to the call for recruits on the outbreak of war in 1914. Although initially it was reported that fishermen were not sure what arm of the British forces in which to enlist, the creation of the Royal Naval Division resulted in more than 100 men enlisting in October 1914. Before leaving on a s…


The 2nd Northants at Neuve Chapelle

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The initial impetus behind this article was research on Lieutenant George Duff Gordon, who hailed from Elgin. During the course of this it became apparent that 2 Northamptonshire Regiment had suffered heavy losses over the period between 10 and 13 March 1915, with the war diary identifying that of 20 officers, 10 were killed, 7 wounded, with one mi…


Sergeant Alexander Edwards VC : 24 March 1918

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Alexander Edwards was born in Lossiemouth on 4 November 1885, the son of Alexander and Jessie Edwards. A cooper, he enlisted in the 6 Seaforth Highlanders in September 1914, going to France with the Battalion on 1 May 1915. Above (top image) Sgt Alexander Edwards, and immediately above: Alexander and his brothers The battalion was in action …


Devils in Skirts: The Story of George Findlater VC

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The tradition of pipers leading soldiers into battle was not a Great War phenomenon. It had developed during the 19th Century with pipers playing a role in a number of battles and skirmishes, some of these ‘devils in skirts’ would go on to enlist in the First World War, as was the case with George Findlater VC. On the outbreak of war in 1914, Geor…


Holzminden ‘Colditz’ of the First World War?

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The Second World War is probably more associated with escape exploits of prisoners of war, but there were a number of daring escapes (some more successful than others) during the Great War. The escape of 29 officers from Holzminden PoW Camp is probably the first ‘great escape’. Holzminden was a prison camp situated sixty miles south west of Hanove…


The Labyrinth and the 6th Seaforth Highlanders

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The Labyrinth was a maze of trenches at the southern end of the Vimy Ridge, north east of the villages of Anzin and Maroeuil. On the right the ground sloped down to the ruined village of Roclincourt. Above: The Labyrinth (Ashdown Forest Research Group) Above and below: Stereoscope images of the Labyrinth The area had been the scene of fie…


John Christie Wright - Artist and Sculptor

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Behind every name on a war memorial there is a story, but that of John Christie Wright, commemorated on the Rothiemay war memorial – a small community in what was formerly Banffshire – is particularly remarkable. Above: Rothiemay war memorial (c) Moray Council 2021  John Christie Wright was born in Aberdeen on 22 August 1889, the son of Moses, …


William Barnard Rhodes-Moorhouse – the first aviator VC

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One of the original ‘magnificent men’, the story of William Barnard Rhodes-Moorhouse is truly fascinating. What may not be widely known is that he was of Maori descent from his grandmother. His paternal grandfather was William Barnard Rhodes, a Yorkshireman, who by the early 1830s was Master of his own ship. Above: William Barnard Rhodes He so…


Sir John Edward Fowler – the Last Repatriation from The Western Front in 1915?

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By April 1915 the exhumation of bodies from the Western Front and their repatriation was banned.   Historian Richard van Emden identifies the last ‘official’ case of repatriation of a fallen British soldier to be that of Lieutenant William Gladstone, the grandson of former Prime Minister William Gladstone. This took place in April 1915, nine da…


The Grimson family and the First World War

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As with many spheres of life, the arts suffered many losses as a result of the First World War as exemplified by the Grimson family. Samuel Dean Grimson, described as a Professor of Music in the 1881 Census, and his wife, Maria Bonarius, brought up a musical family in London. All seven children (an eighth child died in infancy) became musicians an…


The First Canadian Nurses killed by Enemy Action during the First World War

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A number of Canadian nurses died on active service, largely as a result of disease. The first Canadian nursing casualties as a result of direct enemy action took place in May 1918, claiming the lives of three nurses over the following days. All were serving at 1st Canadian Hospital near Etaples, France, an area where there were many hospitals and c…


Betty Stevenson – ‘the Happy Warrior’

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Within days of the war being declared the YMCA established recreation centres in the United Kingdom – largely near railway stations and other places where large numbers of troops were likely to be gathering. By the end of 1914, similar centres had been established at Le Havre in France and later in other areas of France. Above: The first YMCA H…


Chilwell – the VC factory explosion 1 July 1918

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In 1914 the British armaments industry was primarily geared to supplying the needs of the Royal Navy, export markets, and a small regular army. The Navy’s and Army’s relatively modest armament needs were largely met by state-owned factories and a handful of private firms. But by autumn 1914, it was clear that the essentially static trench warfare o…


A Mother’s pilgrimage to Ypres 1921

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Private Joseph French was born in Dallas, Morayshire in December 1895, the son of William and Elizabeth French. The family later moved to live in Garmouth, Morayshire. Joseph enlisted in the Morayshire Territorials – the 6th Seaforth Highlanders – in 1912. Above: Joseph and his friends at camp, pre-war. Joseph is sitting, front row left, holding…


The Gotha Air Raid on London – 13 June 1917

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German air raids on Britain during the First World War began in early 1915 when Zeppelins were used to bomb coastal targets in Eastern England. The use of Gotha bombers began in May 1917 - these aircraft were capable of long distance flights and were used to make daylight raids on South East England. On 13 June 1917, German Gotha aircraft carried…


The First Non-Stop Transatlantic Flight Alcock and Brown’ Alcock and Brown 1919

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In 1913, the Daily Mail newspaper offered a prize of £10,000 to ‘the aviator who shall first cross the Atlantic in an aeroplane in flight from any point in the United States of America, Canada or Newfoundland to any point in Great Britain or Ireland in 72 continuous hours’. The competition was suspended with the outbreak of war in August 1914 but …


'Roasting a sausage': Balloons, their crews, and those who shot them down

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Although observation balloons had been used as early as 1794 the static nature of the conflict in the First World War provided the backdrop for the balloons to come into their own and play an important part in the war. The idiom ‘the balloon’s going up’ derives from the raising of a balloon signalling the beginning of an artillery barrage, guided b…


The Restoration of a ‘Lost’ War Memorial – Woodborough Road Baptist Church, Nottingham

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The Woodborough Road Baptist church in Nottingham was an imposing late Victorian building, designed by the eminent architect, Watson Fothergill, and opened in February 1895. Sadly, the church closed in the 1970s and the Great War memorial tablets to the men who served and those who died, were removed from the premises before its sale. The UK invent…


The Air Raid on Chatham Drill Hall 3 September 1917

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On 3 September 1917, the Chatham Drill Hall, then a glass roofed building, was being used as a temporary overflow dormitory for sailors and there were 698 men asleep or resting in their hammocks in the Drill Hall. The Drill Hall formed part of the Royal Navy’s HMS Pembroke barracks at Chatham. Above: the main gate to HMS Pembroke thought to have…


U-36 and the Prince Charles

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SM U-36 was a type U 31 submarine, commissioned on 14 November 1914 under the command of Kapitanleutnant Ernst Graeff. Above: U Boat (U-38) of the U 31 type Her first war patrol in Heligoland Bight was at the end of March 1915, with no sinkings of ships reported. Above: U-36 pictured in April 1915 By the end of April that would change, wit…


Pantomime at Sea: Q-ships in WW1

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The use of deception in warfare at sea was not new to the First World War – as an example, in 1681, HMS Kingfisher was designed to counter the attack of pirates by masquerading as a merchant ship, with her armaments hidden behind false bulkheads, and with various means of changing her appearance.  Conversely, the tactic of making merchant ships loo…


Q-21 - HMS Prize and William Sanders VC

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HMS Prize also Q-21 was previously known as HMS First Prize and originally the German ship Else. She had the distinction of being the first ship captured in the war in August 1914 (hence the name First Prize). Auctioned off by the Admiralty, her new owners, the Marine Navigation Company, later offered her to the Navy for decoy work in November 1916…


Cecil Patrick Healy: the only Australian Olympic Gold medalist to die in war KIA 29 August 1918.

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Cecil Patrick Healy - the only Australian Olympic Gold medalist to die in war – was a prominent figure in the swimming world in Australia and beyond, for more than 15 years. An early proponent of the new crawl stroke and the side breathing technique, he contributed articles to the press about swimming and surf-bathing. Above: Cecil Healy picture…


The 'fake' French Aristocrat at Etaples

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In the vast expanse of Etaples Military Cemetery are thousands of headstones. Each of these represents the last resting place of a casualty of the war. No doubt all stories are unique, but to misquote George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’, some are 'more unique than others'.   Above: Etaples Military Cemetery Below is the image of a headstone of what wo…


The R38 disaster 24 August 1921

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At the start of the war, in contrast to Germany, the British had limited experience of airships. Under the Royal Naval Air Service there were only a handful of airships in service but with increasing U-Boat activity and the resultant impact on shipping, the Navy began to further develop its use of airships to counter the U-Boat threat. The R.38 c…


‘A Gallant Duel’ : SS Otaki and the Moewe

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During the war, the Germans used merchant ‘raider’ ships against Allied shipping. The Moewe (also known as Mowe) previously Pungo, built in 1915, was designed as a refrigerated ship, originally intended as a freight ship for the transportation of bananas from Togo to the German colonies in Africa. As the Moewe, she would become one of the most succ…


Mutiny in North Russia 7 July 1919

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In the early morning of 7 July 1919, four British Officers were killed by men in their battalion – one further officer subsequently died of his wounds a few days later. All were serving in Dyer’s Battalion of the Slavo-British Legion in the North Russian Expeditionary Force and are now buried in Archangel Allied Cemetery. Above: Archangel Allie…


A short and unequal engagement: HMS Strongbow and HMS Mary Rose

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HMS Mary Rose and HMS Strongbow (two M-class destroyers) were routinely deployed on convoy duties for merchant vessels carrying coal between Scotland and Norway in 1917. The job was usually fairly mundane – described as ‘mail runs’ by one of the survivors ... but the events of 17 October 1917 would change all that. HMS Mary Rose was the seventh su…


Max Immelmann – the ‘Eagle of Lille’

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The first German air ace of the war was Max Immelmann – known as ‘Der Adler von Lille’ – ‘the eagle of Lille’. Over a period of just over a year, he would claim 17 victories until his death on 18 June 1916. Above: a commemorative coin Born in Dresden on 21 September 1890, Max enrolled in Dresden Cadet School in 1905. By 1912, he had left the ar…


RNAS Caldale, Orkney and the loss of two airships

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Situated a couple of miles from Kirkwall on the island of Orkney in the Parish of St. Ola, Royal Naval Air Station Caldale (also known as Icarus) was home to four Submarine Scout Pusher (SSP) airships, engaged in anti submarine and mine spotting duties, as well as kite balloons. In November and December 1917, the Air Station suffered the loss of tw…


A Father’s Search

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For many families of ‘the missing’, the absence of a known grave in the immediate aftermath of the war was unbearable. It would, of course, be some years before the Memorials to the Missing were constructed after the war. Field Marshal Lord Plumer, when unveiling the Menin Gate in 1927, acknowledged the void that many families of ‘the missing’ woul…


Christmas Day 1914 – Goodwill to all men?

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Much has been written about the Christmas Day ‘Truce’ on 25 December 1914 – while the popular image of Christmas Day 1914 might be that ‘peace reigned’, this was not universal across the western front. Above: the Christmas Truce 1914 Indeed, the CWGC records the deaths of 78 men on the western front on 25 December 1914 – whilst just over 30 of…


Alcohol in the trenches: the rum ration

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The daily rum ration to British troops has its roots in the British Navy, dating back to the mid 17th Century when Britain captured Jamaica from Spain. Up until then, beer had been the staple beverage – and in some prodigious quantity, as the daily ration was eight pints! With the introduction of rum to the Navy, senior ratings would receive neat r…


A Lonely Island War Memorial: Stroma in the Pentland Firth

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Two miles north-west of John O’Groats lies the island of Stroma. The name translates from Old Norse as ‘the island in the stream’, the stream being the Pentland Firth. Above: The island of Stroma is the most southerly of the islands in the Pentland Firth. The population of Stroma reached a peak of 375 in 1901. By 1911, the population had slig…


The Real Winslow Boy

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In 1946, Terence Rattigan wrote the play ‘The Winslow Boy’ – a story of a father’s fight to clear his son’s name of a charge of stealing a 5 shilling postal order whilst a cadet at the Royal Naval College at Osborne. It would later become a film in 1999.   Above: the first edition of the play, published by Hamish Hamilton and a publicity poster…


Five Sons Lost in the First World War

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For many years, it was thought that only one British family had suffered the loss of five sons during the war. The story of the Souls family was told by Neil Oliver in 2005 in his book ‘Not Forgotten’, which followed the TV series of the same name with Ian Hislop. Two years later, Michael Walsh wrote about the five Beechey brothers in ‘Brothers…