Search results for Martin Purdy.

‘The Great War: New Songs and Stories’ by folk storytellers Harp and a Monkey

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A small rural church in Cumbria, a disused airfield in Norfolk, an old railway wagon in Sussex, and the winding room of a former colliery in Tyne and Wear – these are the intriguing sites that provide the backdrop for a new documentary about a series of poignant performances by the acclaimed experimental folk and storytelling act Harp and a Monke…


‘The Women of Westfield - picking up the pieces after the First World War’

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Dr Martin Purdy (Lancs and Cheshire WFA branch) recently managed a Heritage Lottery funded project at the Westfield War Memorial Village Lancaster as part of the 'Then and Now' funding stream available for WWI related undertakings. It culminated in this short documentary. ‘The Women of Westfield - picking up the pieces after the First World War’ l…


The Gallipoli Oak: A Story of a Family’s Unique Legacy to a Lancashire Fusilier by Dr Martin Purdy

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PLEASE NOTE DATE CHANGE  - NOW 17 JAN In March 1922 a Lancashire businessman stepped from a cruise ship onto the Gallipoli peninsula. He was accompanied by a host of other pilgrims equally as desperate to visit this Mediterranean outpost as he and his wife, but what made James Duckworth stand out was the fact that he stepped ashore with a bucket o…


The Gallipoli Oak by Martin Purdy and Ian Dawson

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Paperback: 174 pages Publisher: Moonraker Publishing; 1st edition (2013) ISBN-10: 0955447216 ISBN-13: 978-0955447211 A masterful and poetically told story that reads as easily as Michael Morpargo and is just as visual; here however the authors are relating fact rather than fiction. The Gallipoli Oak has everything for the person interested in t…


Captain Prideaux and his Box Brownie at Ploegsteert

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Photography had already established itself as a popular hobby by the time of the Great War, and ‘The Brownie’ series had brought the concept of ‘snap shots’ to the masses. Despite this, the number of informal photos taken during the conflict remained small. There were, of course, obvious risks in allowing photographs to be taken by your troops - i…


Commercialism the new enemy of the Salient (The Times 1919)

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How many of us have paused to ponder the incongruity of our comfort break in the Grand Place at Ypres? How fine, or blurred, the line between pilgrim and tourist? It’s a tough call, and most readers will be familiar with the post-war argument – made by the like of Winston Churchill - that the city should be left in ruin as a lasting tribute to the …


Memories of the child of an Imperial War Graves Gardener

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In November 1999, a WFA member called Frank Burns of Scruton, Yorkshire, was invited to address a local branch of Probus on the subject of ‘Visiting the Battlefields of the First World War’. Enjoying a coffee before the meeting began, he was approached by a man carrying a plastic bag containing old photographs and newspaper cuttings. The man was ca…


From the Archives: Lost and found in France

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This is a story of two great French artefacts: one lost and one found. In an edition of the WFA Bulletin of October 1992 a short item appeared under the heading ‘Returned to Albert’. It was accompanied by an image of a damaged work of religious art. The shrapnel damaged painting returned to Albert The painting is one of the fourteen Stations o…


The Shot At Dawn Memorial

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In May 2001 HRH the Duchess of Kent officially opened the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas, Staffordshire, after a seven-year fundraising campaign in which many members of the WFA had been highly active. Some 150 acres of land had been gifted for the project at this time and more than 40,000 trees planted. In addition, a visitor centre and M…


Don’t forget the ‘War Donkey’

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There are many books, dramas and films that have brought different aspects of the Great War to the fore over the years, but few have been as successful as ‘War Horse’. Having entered the popular consciousness as a children’s book by Michael Morpurgo in the early Eighties, it was its reworking as a stage production by the National Theatre in 2007 ­–…


The Abandoned St Quentin Memorial to the Missing

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In 1926 the French government raised serious concern at the number of free-standing memorials being proposed by the Imperial War Graves Commission (IWGC) to honour the missing  and among those to be sacrificed would be the one planned for St Quentin. It was a challenge to create the necessary number of structures to carry the many names of the m…


Different Truths from the Same Battle

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As dawn broke on the morning of 6 May 1915, the men of the 1/6th Battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers became the first British Territorial Army unit into action at Gallipoli. Although the number wounded was high, the fatalities from the first encounter were low. What is striking is the very different tone of the first-hand accounts recorded within…


Tragedy and Heroism in the Davidson Family in March 1916

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On 28 March 1916, a pharmacist in Montrose, Scotland, dropped dead. The man’s wife duly wrote to the War Office to ask if her eldest son, Ronald, could be granted a short compassionate leave to come home from the Western Front and sort out his father’s business affairs as her two other sons were still of school age. Tragically, the widow’s appeal m…


Battlefield Clearance and a Chinese revolt

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“Private Smith, one of the ordnance men in our team, was killed tampering with a 106 fuse. Chinese now totally frightened of job and there is every possibility of their refusing to carry on until an inquiry is carried out.” The above is a diary entry dated November 21, 1919, from Lt Frank Coxon (formerly of the 7th Royal Fusiliers) who was spendin…


George Horey's Parents’ Pilgrimage to the Somme 1923

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Some of the most moving photographs in the 40-year archive of The Western Front Association are those featuring the bereaved – the people forced to pick up the pieces and continue with their lives having lost a loved one in the war. Their pain all too often appears visceral. That is very much the case with these pictures of London tram conductor G…


The Arras and Loos Trenches at Blackpool

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One of the lesser-known legacies of the First World War is the impact it had on charity – it is estimated that the number of charitable concerns in Britain doubled during the conflict, resulting in stiff competition for funds and a need for greater professionalism across the sector. Many new and enduring ideas were born (including the concept of ‘t…


Remembering Grandad’s war : Sergeant James Fleming

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For many people interested in the First World War, initial enthusiasm can often be traced back to an old sepia photograph. What did ‘dad’ or ‘grandad’ do? It is a similar story for many members of this Association, and their research has provided some captivating first-hand accounts over the course of our 40-year history… In 2015 one of our Lancas…


One Man’s Lifelong Link to Vimy - Donald Wood's Story

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In July 1936, the impressive Canadian National Vimy Memorial was unveiled by King Edward VIII in front of a gathering measured in the tens of thousands. More than 15,000 would then gather for its rededication in 2007 following extensive repairs - and the crowds would again return in numbers in 2017 for the centenary of the battle that resulted in t…


Southampton: The Gateway to War

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When Britain entered the First World War in August 1914, there was no question as to which port was going to be the focus of activity – secret planning had been ongoing for years in relation to the city of Southampton. Previously used as the point of embarkation for troops bound for both India and the Boer War, in 1912 a practice mobilisation had …


The Mobilisation of Britain’s Military Nurses 1914

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The day after Britain entered the First World War, a ward sister at Charing Cross Hospital, Maud Hopton, signed a War Office contract agreeing to serve with the military nursing service 'at home or abroad' for a period of one year. Three days after this Maude found herself at Aldershot with 43 other nurses preparing to embark for France as part of …


The Safe Passage of BEF Troopships August 1914

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Comparatively little outside of the Official History has been written about the defensive measures established to cover the initial transport of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) to the continent in August 1914 and that may well be because of their success. The Royal Navy, with its traditional global perspective, had held little enthusiasm for…


Finding the Horses for War

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Horses and mules were not a marginal resource for the Army during the First World War - they were to play a crucial role in the Allied victory. Whilst motorised vehicles had started being introduced into the ranks in 1903, the horse still reigned supreme for artillery and cavalry. In 1914 the Army had a completely integrated transport system feat…


‘The Scum of the Earth’

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In 1813 the Duke of Wellington, angered by incidents of looting amongst his army, wrote sourly: ‘We have in the service the scum of the earth as common soldiers.’ The words were harsh, but not altogether inaccurate, for the British Army had a long tradition of recruiting primarily amongst the poorest and most desperate of society. Above: The Duk…


The First RFC Pilot to land in France 13 August 1914

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At 6.25am on 13 August 1914, No.2 Squadron Royal Flying Corp mobilised for France. They were to follow their commanding officer Major C J Burke, a pioneer of military aviation who was noted for his courage and who had not only insisted that his squadron be the first to leave – but that his aircraft be the first to land. Above: Major Charles Burk…


Frontline or Field ambulance? Where were Chaplains best placed to help?

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On 25th April 1915 Father William Joseph Finn became the first British military chaplain to be killed in action in the First World War. His death ignited a debate that continues to resonate with chaplains who serve the Armed Forces in the present day – where are they best placed to help?   Above: Father William Finn and the cemetery at V Beach at…


Daring to be different to help the disabled

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At the time of writing this item, Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich finds himself in the headlines as the result of a war in Ukraine, but back in 2018 he courted controversy by seeking to purchase a plot of land steeped in the history of an earlier conflict. The site that the owner of Chelsea Football Club was keen to buy was part of the Stoll Mans…


Harry Lauder: The World's First Musical Superstar and Broken Parent of the First World War

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“Have you news of my boy Jack?" Not this tide. "When d'you think that he'll come back?" Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.’ Kipling’s poem about his fallen son is one of the most well-known expressions of parental pain of the Great War, but few were more open about their grief at the loss of a child than ‘The World’s First Musical Superstar…