The Perils of Technology: Aviation During the First World War

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The First World War was the first in which air warfare played a significant part. While aircraft were ultimately to change the face of warfare, the demands of the war provided a rapid boost to this very new technology.

At the outbreak of the war effective powered flight was a technology not much more than ten years old, but each of the participating countries already had an armed air service of some sort. The allies had 208 aeroplanes between them, and Germany 180.  There were also airships, which initially seemed better-tried and more practical, although their importance diminished as the war progressed.  The British aircraft were split between the Royal Flying Corps (RFC), under the command of the army, and the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS), under the command of the Navy.  These were merged to form the Royal Air Force (RAF) in 1918.

The types of aircraft in use were very varied, because each country had several of their own manufacturers and models of aircraft, and almost any machine which was available might be pressed into service. Aircraft models evolved rapidly, as technology was improved, and the needs of the war changed.

Initially, aeroplanes were regarded as primarily useful for reconaissance, and stable two-seaters, such as the British B.E.2, were preferred.  These were not very manoeuvreable and were poor at defending themselves or evading enemy anti-aircraft guns, which led to the development of fast, single-seater fighters, such as the French S.P.A.D.

The Germans made parallel developments; their early reconnaisance aircraft including monoplanes with distinctive swept-back, birdlike wings, such as the Rumpler Taube.  By the end of the war bigger, heavier aircraft designed for bombing had been developed.

From the beginning of the war both allied and German air forces had to establish, for the first time, how to make their aircraft recognisable, both to other airmen and to those on the ground. National markings were rapidly adopted, and by the beginning of 1915 both French and British authorities had produced posters showing silhouettes of enemy aircraft, entitled ‘Fire on these’.

In late 1914 or early 1915 the French produced the very first book of aircraft silhouettes for recognition purposes, Silhouettes D’Avions, Diagrams of Aeroplanes. These were produced with text in French and English and distributed to both troops and airmen.  An alternative version was produced on cards, for better durability.  Updated editions and supplements were issued to reflect new developments.  We hold two versions of this in our collections – the very first edition, showing French, British and German aircraft of late 1914, and a supplement of French aircraft from September 1915

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Examination of the two shows just why these publications were of limited success in preventing both ground troops and airmen from attacking the wrong aircraft. The pictures are not very high quality, and do not show up the main features of the individual aircraft particularly clearly, especially to an untrained eye.   Take the picture of the B.E.2 – it is quite difficult to make out that it is trying to indicate that the upper wings are longer than the lower ones.

The illustrations for the two editions are printed from different artwork, which shows up ambiguities in the lines.  The Parasol Morane is included in both.  In one illustration there are lines which might be either substantial structural struts, or nearly invisible cable, but all of which are omitted from the other picture entirely.

The S.P.A.D. was a very common aeroplane type, but it takes some effort to work out from its picture that the propeller was located in the middle of its fuselage.

There is even one illustration we have not been able to identify, the Avion de Chasse Morane, which does not seem to entirely correspond to any aircraft made by the Morane company and which was used during the war, that we can find a modern record of!

These manuals were all produced in a hurry; they illustrate only a selection of models, and do not show variants or all the latest developments of equipment. Even more confusing, not to say downright unhelpful, is the earlier edition, which summarises all the other British models of aircraft as being similar to the ones illustrated.

Towards the end of the First World War the problems of distinguishing aircraft, while not solved, were somewhat reduced. In 1917 the RFC ordered 1000 Bristol Fighter aircraft, so that although there were still many different models of aeroplane in the skies, there began to be some standardisation.  More successfully, in early 1918 the French set up a ‘Flying circus’ which toured examples of the different models of their aircraft around the British airfields.  This had the happy result of not only familiarising the RFC with the appearance of the different models, but the opportunity to compare performance and develop some camerarderie with the French aviators.

Despite the shortcomings of these identification manuals, this approach continues to be used today, better pictures and combining it with other methods of teaching improving its effectiveness, although today it is more likely to be used by enthusiasts for civilian aircraft, and combined with a mobile phone app for detecting and tracking aircraft.

 

Victory Medal (aka Inter Allied Victory Medal) – a medal of the First World War

CAMPAIGN MEDAL AWARDED TO WILLIAM HUNTER (1861-1937) – GREAT WAR

Victory narrowThe Victory Medal was also called the Inter Allied Victory Medal. It was awarded to those received the 1914 Star or the 1914-15 Star and, with certain exceptions, to those who were awarded the British War Medal. The medal was never awarded singly.

Recipients of the Victory Medal were those having been mobilised in any of the fighting services and having served in any of the theatres of operations, or at sea, between midnight 4th/5th August, 1914, and midnight, 11th/12th November, 1918.

Women who served in any of the various organisations in a theatre of operations were eligible, such as nurses, members of the Women’s Royal Naval Service, Women’s Army Auxiliary Corp, Women’s Royal Air Force, canteen staff and members of the many charitable services, also received the medal.

Victory narrowThe Victory Medal – a medal of the First World War – was established on 1 September 1919, and more than 6,334,522 were awarded. The medal was designed by the Aberdeen-born sculptor William McMillan (1887-1977).

Victory Medal - awarded to William Hunter (Centre for Research Collections, Coll-1146)

Victory Medal – awarded to William Hunter (Centre for Research Collections, Coll-1146)

The medal is a bronze disk, 36 mm in diameter.  The ribbon is 32 mm wide and coloured (from the centre outwards) red, yellow, green, blue and violet merged into a rainbow pattern. On the medal obverse is the winged, full length figure of Victory, with her left arm extended and holding a palm branch in her right hand. The remaining space is left bare.

Victory Medal - awarded to William Hunter (Centre for Research Collections, Coll-1146)

Victory Medal – awarded to William Hunter (Centre for Research Collections, Coll-1146)

On the reverse of the medal is the inscription: THE GREAT WAR FOR CIVILISATION, 1914-19. This is surrounded by a wreath. Those personnel who were ‘mentioned in despatches’ between 4 August 1914 and 10 August 1920 were able to wear an oak leaf on the ribbon.

Victory Medal - oak leaf on ribbon awarded to William Hunter who was 'mentioned in despatches'. (Centre for Research Collections, Coll-1146)

Victory Medal – oak leaf on ribbon awarded to William Hunter who was ‘mentioned in despatches’ (Centre for Research Collections, Coll-1146)

The Victory Medal shown here was the one awarded to Edinburgh University alumnus William Hunter who served in Serbia during the Great War. Hunter was President of the Advisory Committee, Prevention of Disease, in the Eastern Mediterranean and Mesopotamia (Gallipoli, Egypt, Salonika, Malta and Palestine), and he also served with the Eastern Command, 1917-1919. His service is described in greater detail in the May 2015 post to Untold Stories, ‘William Hunter & the Order of St. Sava’.

The Medal is contained within the collection of Medals, awards and decorations of William Hunter (1861-1937) curated by the Centre for Research Collections (CRC), Edinburgh University Library, Coll-1146.

Victory narrowDr. Graeme D. Eddie, Assistant Librarian Archives & Manuscripts, CRC

Sources: (1) Online resources. (2) British battles and medals. Lawrence L. Gordon. London: Spink, 1979. Ref. .7372(42) Gor. (Closed stack)

‘BLAST’ – a journal that will ‘try and brave the waves of blood, for the serious mission it has on the other side of World-War’

‘…THIS PUCE-COLOURED COCKLESHELL […] HAS TO SPRING UP AGAIN WITH NEW QUESTIONS AND BEAUTIES WHEN EUROPE HAS DISPOSED OF ITS DIFFICULTIES…’

Detail from the 'puce-coloured' front cover of 'Blast', issue 2, July 1915, in the A.H. Campbell Collection.

Detail from the ‘puce-coloured’ front cover of ‘Blast’, issue 2, July 1915, in the A.H. Campbell Collection.

These were the words of Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957), editor of Blast, in his editorial piece published in the July 1915 issue (only the second issue) of the journal. About that issue, he said that it ‘finds itself surrounded by a multitude of other Blasts of all sizes and descriptions’.

Detail from the front cover of 'Blast', showing month of publication of issue 2... being July 1915... in the A.H. Campbell Collection.

Detail from the front cover of ‘Blast’, showing month of publication of issue 2… being July 1915… in the A.H. Campbell Collection.

Blast was the literary magazine of the Vorticist movement in Britain and it only survived two issues. The first issue came out only weeks before the beginning of the War, and the second came out a year later in 1915. It featured a woodcut by Lewis on the cover.

Detail from the front cover of 'Blast', issue 2, a woodcut by Wyndham Lewis, in the A.H. Campbell Collection.

Detail from the front cover of ‘Blast’, issue 2, a woodcut by Wyndham Lewis, in the A.H. Campbell Collection.

 

The vorticists were an avant-garde group formed in London in 1914 – with Wyndham Lewis as its founder – aiming towards an art that expressed the dynamism of the modern world. Vorticism was launched with the journal Blast which, within its content included manifestos ‘blasting’ the effeteness of British art and culture and proclaiming the vorticist aesthetic.

Detail from the title page of 'Blast' issue 2, July 1915, in the A.H.Campbell Collection.

Detail from the title page of ‘Blast’ issue 2, July 1915, in the A.H.Campbell Collection.

Vorticist painting combined Cubist fragmentation of reality with an imagery derived from the machine and the urban environment. In its embrace of dynamism, the machine age and all things modern, it is more closely related to Futurism.

One of the signatories to the Vorticist manifesto was Jessica Dismorr (1885-1939). Her illustrations show a sharing of the involvement with the dynamism of the machine-age city. In 'Blast', issue 2, July 1915, in the A. H. Campbell Collection.

‘The Engine’ by one of the signatories to the Vorticist manifesto Jessica Dismorr (1885-1939). Her illustrations show a sharing of the involvement with the dynamism of the machine-age city. In ‘Blast’, issue 2, July 1915, in the A. H. Campbell Collection.

Blast, issue 2, included designs by painter and illustrator Jessica Dismorr (1885-1939), artist and architect Frederick Etchells (1886-1973), artist and sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska (1891-1915), painter Jacob Kramer (1892-1962), and by figure and landscape painter, etcher and lithographer, Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson (1889-1946).

'On the way to the trenches' by Nevinson, in 'Blast' issue 2, July 1915, in the A. H. Campbell Collection.

‘On the way to the trenches’ by Nevinson, in ‘Blast’ issue 2, July 1915, in the A. H. Campbell Collection.

It also contained graphic contributions from the figure and portrait painter William Roberts (1895-1980), Helen Saunders [or Sanders] (1885-1963), Dorothy Shakespear (1886-1973) artist and wife of Ezra Pound, artist Edward Alexander Wadsworth (1889-1949), and also Wyndham Lewis.

'The Design' by Jessica Dismorr (1885-1939), in 'Blast', issue 2, July 1915, in the A. H. Campbell Collection.

‘The Design’ by Jessica Dismorr (1885-1939), in ‘Blast’, issue 2, July 1915, in the A. H. Campbell Collection.

Other contributions were made by Ezra Pound (1885-1972), Ford Madox Hueffer [Ford Madox Ford] (1873-1939), and T. S. Eliot (1888-1965).

The poem, 'The old houses of Flanders' by Ford Madox Hueffer (Ford Madox Ford) in 'Blast', issue 2, July 1915, in the A. H. Campbell Collection.

The poem, ‘The old houses of Flanders’ by Ford Madox Hueffer (Ford Madox Ford) in ‘Blast’, issue 2, July 1915, p.37, in the A. H. Campbell Collection.

It had been the unfolding human drama, the unimagined industrial scale of death borne out of the machine-age, and the absolute disaster of the War – known to that generation as the Great War – that came to drain the Vorticists of their creative zeal. The real war experience of Ford Madox Ford influenced his poem ‘The old houses of Flanders’.

The poem, 'A vision of mud' by Helen Saunders in 'Blast', issue 2, July 1915, in the A. H. Campbell Collection.

The poem, ‘A vision of mud’ by Helen Saunders in ‘Blast’, issue 2, July 1915, pp.73-74, in the A. H. Campbell Collection.

Ford writes of the mournful eyes of the houses watching the ways of men, and of the rain and night settled down on Flanders; how the eyes look at great, sudden red lights and the golden rods of the illuminated rain; how the old eyes that have watched the ways of men for generations close for ever, and how the gables slant drunkenly over.

'Vortex Gaudier-Brzeska (Written from the trenches', in 'Blast, issue 2, July 1915, pp.33-34, in the A. H. Campbell Collection.

‘Vortex Gaudier-Brzeska (Written from the trenches’, in ‘Blast, issue 2, July 1915, pp.33-34, in the A. H. Campbell Collection.

Unlike Ford, Helen Saunders had no first-hand knowledge of the trenches and the shell blasted Flanders but in her poem ‘A vision of mud’ she took the image of the mud of the trenches to describe a wider sense of foreboding and anxiety. She imagined what would happen to a body underground and about what it would feel like to drown in mud with eyes, nose, mouth and ears filled with it. She imagined the distortion of awareness, and how the body would swell and grow as it filled with mud. She described a muddy soup of bodies.

‘…There is mud all round […]

They fill my mouth with it. I am sick. They shovel it back again.

My eyes are full of it […]

It is pouring into me so that my body swells and grows heavier every minute […]

I have just discovered with what I think is disgust, that there are hundreds of other bodies bobbing about against me.

They also tap me underneath…’

 

Artwork in 'Blast', issue 2, July 1915, p.49, in A. H. Campbell Collection.

Artwork in ‘Blast’, issue 2, July 1915, p.49, in A. H. Campbell Collection.

The trenches were also described by Frenchman Henri Gaudier-Brzeska. He wrote:

Human masses teem and move, are destroyed and crop up again.

Horses are worn out in three weeks, die by the roadside.

Dogs wander, are destroyed, and others come along.

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It had been Lewis’s hope that with the end of the War – when Europe had ‘disposed of its difficulties’ – Blast and the Vorticist movement would ‘spring up again with new questions’ in order to tackle the ‘serious mission’ that it would have ‘on the other side of World-War’.

'Design for programme cover - Kermesse', by Wyndham Lewis, in 'Blast' issue 2, July 1915, in the A. H. Campbell Collection.

‘Design for programme cover – Kermesse’, by Wyndham Lewis, in ‘Blast’ issue 2, July 1915, p.75, in the A. H. Campbell Collection.

The War brought Vorticism to an end for the reasons already described in paragraphs above, but in 1920 Lewis did make a brief attempt to revive it with ‘Group X’,  a short lived group of British artists formed to provide a continuing focus for avant-garde art in Britain.

'Snow-scene' by Dorothy Shakespear, in 'Blast' issue 2, July 1915, p.35, in A. H. Campbell Collection.

‘Snow-scene’ by Dorothy Shakespear, in ‘Blast’ issue 2, July 1915, p.35, in A. H. Campbell Collection.

The real stories, real imagery, and real maimed victims of War – the horrors of War – had brought about a rejection of the avant-garde in favour of traditional art, and there was a ‘return to order’ and the more traditional approaches to art creation.

'War-engine' by Wadsworth, in 'Blast', issue 2, July 1915, in A. H. Campbell Collection.

‘War-engine’ by Wadsworth, in ‘Blast’, issue 2, July 1915, in A. H. Campbell Collection.

Nevertheless, the typography of the Vorticists possibly places them as important forerunners of the revolution in graphic design that occurred in the 1920s and 1930s.

A copy of Blast, Issue 2, July 1915, was re-discovered in the Papers of Archibald H. Campbell, a collection which had been undergoing preliminary listing.

Dr. Graeme D. Eddie, Assistant Librarian Archives & Manuscripts, Centre for Research Collections, Edinburgh University Library

Used in the construction of this blog-post, in addition to the issue of Blast (2) 1915, were:  (1) ‘ Beyond the trenches’, Dr. Kate McLoughlin, in Research & teaching, Review 2013, pp.30-31, from Birkbeck web-pages [accessed 27 July 2016]; and, (2) ‘Vorticism’ and other pages on the website of the tate.org.uk [accessed 27 July 2016].

 

 

I: Edinburgh University Battery Officers’ Training Corps – OTC

LIFE IN THE ARMY, AT STOBS CAMP AND ELSEWHERE… AND SOME FACES OF THE FALLEN…

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Edinburgh University Battery Officers’ Training Corps was one of Scotland’s oldest military volunteer Units. By 1860 undergraduates of the University had formed No.4 Company of the Queen’s Edinburgh Rifles and in 1872 they also supplied recruits to the 1st Edinburgh City Royal Garrison Artillery Volunteers. A Medical Volunteer Company was also formed in 1890. In 1908, they combined to form one of the original eight University Officers Training Corps (OTC) contingents.

Badge of Edinburgh University Battery, Officers' Training Corps, on an invitation card inserted in 'Minute Book. Artillery Unit. Officers ' Training Corps', Dec. 1914 - Nov. 1920. EUA. Acc.99/017

Badge of Edinburgh University Battery, Officers’ Training Corps, on an invitation card inserted in ‘Minute Book. Artillery Unit. Officers ‘ Training Corps’, Dec. 1914 – Nov. 1920. EUA. Acc.99/017

Also in 1908, and as part of the Haldane Army Reforms, the OTC was formally established as a distinct unit in the British Army. It had the remit of supplying officers for the Special Reserve and the Territorial force. Against this background of Army reform, the Royal (Dick) Veterinary College OTC was also formed… in September 1912.

Officer recruits at a School of Instruction, Barry Camp, August 1914. Album in EUA. Acc.99/017.

Officer recruits at a School of Instruction, Barry Camp, August 1914. Album in EUA. Acc.99/017.

On the outbreak of war in 1914, the OTCs would become officer-producing units, but as the war progressed high attrition rates meant that the demand for officers soon outstripped supply. Local Edinburgh recruits would pass through Stobs Camp, near Hawick, in the Scottish Borders, and attend the Officers’ School of Instruction at Barry Camp, near Carnoustie, in Angus.

A group of Sergeants at Stobs Camp, 1914. Album in EUA. Acc.99/017.

A group of Sergeants at Stobs Camp, 1914. Album in EUA. Acc.99/017.

By the end of 1914, thousands of recruits were arriving at Stobs Camp to begin their transition from civilian to military life with up to 5,000 men being accommodated. Indeed, there were so many visitors to the Camp that an Exclusion Order was implemented to prevent civilians entering unless issued with a pass.

Specimen 'kit' displayed by a Sergeant at Stobs Camp, 1914. Album in EUA. Acc.99/017.

Specimen ‘kit’ displayed by a Sergeant at Stobs Camp, 1914. Album in EUA. Acc.99/017.

It had been intended that the Camp be used mainly as a summer training ground, and so the troops were only provided with tents. By 1917 however, the Camp contained at least 80 huts, a hospital with 150 beds, its own light railway, stores, workshops, Post Office, and a YMCA outside the perimeter. From October 1914, Stobs also served as a prisoner-of-war camp.

Photograph showing the Gun Team at Stobs, 1914. Album in EUA. Acc.99/017.

Photograph showing the Gun Team at Stobs, 1914, with Chilton, Balleny, Yorston, Robertson, Wedderburn, Calver, Laidlaw, Hill, Milne, Fraser and Waddy. Album in EUA. Acc.99/017.

The Gun Team of Edinburgh University Battery OTC was photographed in group at Stobs Camp in 1914. The Roll of Honour 1914-1919 of the University of Edinburgh notes that Medical student Frank Chilton, 1912-1914 (standing back left), from Christchurch, New Zealand, served in the OTC Infantry unit from October 1913 to August 1914. He became a Cadet in the 13th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, before becoming a 2nd Lieutenant in August 1914 and then Lieutenant in January 1915. He was then attached to the 2nd Hampshires, 29th Division, and was killed in action at Gallipoli on 4 June 1915 aged 23. He is honoured at the Helles Memorial (panel 183/184) which stands on the tip of the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey.

Photograph showing the Band at Stobs, 1914, with W.M.Hutchison, Mackay, W.M.McPhail, J.A.Robertson, N.McRury, C.G.N.Edwards, T.F.Murdoch, R. Hill, Duff, W.A.Sinclair, Younie, R.Coull, and J.D.Russell. Album in EUA. Acc.99/017.

Photograph showing the Band at Stobs, 1914, with W.M.Hutchison, Mackay, W.M.McPhail, J.A.Robertson, N.McRury, C.G.N.Edwards, T.F.Murdoch, R. Hill, Duff, W.A.Sinclair, Younie, R.Coull, and J.D.Russell. Album in EUA. Acc.99/017.

Because of the lack of initials and the common surnames on the group photograph other Fallen from the Gun Team are difficult to identify. However, the general records of service of some war survivors from the group – with less common surnames – can be summarised. William Balleny (standing next to Chilton) for example, was an Arts student, 1913-1914, and like Chilton served in the OTC Infantry unit, though from October 1913 to September 1914. He became first a Cadet, then 2nd Lieutenant, then in September 1916 a Lieutenant with the 2nd Gordon Highlanders.

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Robert MacDonald Yorston, a Science student from Montrose, 1912-1914, 1918, (and standing next to Balleny), served in the OTC Infantry unit from October 1912 to September 1914. He served as a Cadet with the 4th North Staffordshire Regiment, and then became a 2nd Lieutenant in August 1914, a Lieutenant and then a Captain in 1917. He served in France and was wounded at the Somme in July 1916. He was posted to Dublin from 1918 to 1919.

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Edmond William Waddy (seated front right) had been a student at Merchiston Castle before becoming an Arts student, 1912-1915. He was a member of the OTC from 1908 and became involved with the University Battery OTC, Infantry unit, from October 1913 to October 1914. He was a Cadet with the Scottish Rifles, becoming a 2nd Lieutenant in October 1914, then a Lieutenant in November 1915, before assignment to the 56th Training Reserve Battalion in December 1916. He served in France in 1916 and 1917 an became an Acting Captain in July 1917. He was wounded during his war service.

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At least two OTC men from the Band (photographed at Stobs) were killed in action. William Murray Hutchison from Sefton Park, Liverpool, had attended the Liverpool Institute, and been an OTC Cadet Colour-Sergeant there before studying at Edinburgh University. He had been part of the University Battery OTC, Infantry unit, October 1912 to August 1914. He was a Cadet then 2nd Lieutenant (August 1914) then Lieutenant (1915) then Captain (1916) with the Liverpool Regiment. He served in France in 1915 and was awarded the Military Cross as well as being Mentioned in Dispatches in May and September 1915. He died on 27 April 1916 after wounds received in France, aged 22. He lies in plot A.11 at Bruay Communal Cemetery Extension in the large village of Bruay, Pas-de-Calais, France.

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Prior to studies at Edinburgh University and participation in the University Battery OTC, Infantry unit, from November 1909 to October 1914, Norman McRury (in front of Hutchison) had been a student at George Watson’s College. He was a Cadet Pipe-Major, then 2nd Lieutenant (October 1914) then Lieutenant (February 1915) with the 11th Royal Highlanders (Black Watch). He was attached to the King’s Own Scottish Borderers (KOSB) and was in Gallipoli in May 1915. Like Frank Chilton, McRury was killed in action at Gallipoli on 4 June 1915, aged 24. He too is honoured at the Helles Memorial (panel 144) which stands on the tip of the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey.

A second blog on the Edinburgh University Battery Officers’ Training Corps – OTC will appear before November 2018. The website of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission was also used in building this picture of University alumni associated with the OTC.

Edinburgh University Battery Officers’ Training Corps is now part of the City of Edinburgh Universities OTC.

Dr. Graeme D. Eddie, Assistant Librarian Archives & Manuscripts, Centre for Research Collections (CRC)

II: ‘The Times’ History and Encyclopaedia of the War – the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolutions 1917, and of the declaration of Finnish independence

‘…AN ACCOUNT OF THE GREAT CONTEST NOW IN PROGRESS…’

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On the approach of the 100th Anniversary of the Russian Revolutions, this second look at The Times History and Encyclopædia of the War, focuses on how the publication reported on Russia and Russian campaigns during the First World War. The blog-post nods towards the 100th Anniversary of the February Revolution 1917 – which led to the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II and which was followed by a second revolution a few months later in October 1917… and which also led to the independence of Finland.

Chapter heading for a part of the history concerned with Russian action in East Prussia during the First World War, in Part 32, Volume 3, p.223.

Chapter heading for a part of the history concerned with Russian action in East Prussia during the First World War, in Part 32, Volume 3, p.223.

Detailed accounts of the Eastern Front of the First World War can be read elsewhere, but this thumb-through of various issues and volumes of The Times History presents a brief description of reports and illustrations from the Front, and offers a countdown to the Russian Revolutions of February and October 1917.

In contrast to the Western Front stretching from the North Sea to Switzerland, the vast Eastern Front stretched from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. While action in the west focussed on Luxembourg, Belgium and France, and involved the armies of the British and French Empires against Imperial Germany, action in the east stretched deep into Central Europe and involved the armies of Imperial Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire (the Central Powers) against Imperial Russia and Romania, providing ‘shatter’ to the region that would pale into insignificance in a second round of destruction in the early-1940s. There was of course a Southern Front in Europe too, pitching Italian forces against the Central Powers.

Map accompanying the account of Russian action in East Prussia during the First World War, in Part 32, Volume 3, p.223.

Map accompanying the account of Russian action in East Prussia during the First World War, with Tannenberg and the Masurian Lakes shown, in Part 32, Volume 3, p.224.

As the First World War opened, the Central Powers were met with a war on two fronts. On the Eastern Front, the Russian army attempted an invasion of East Prussia, striking the historical and ancestral heartlands of the German Empire. The Russians achieved some success initially but then they were beaten back at the Battle of Tannenberg in late-August 1914, with Imperial Germany securing the routes to its ports of Danzig (Gdansk, now in Poland) and of Königsberg (Kaliningrad, now a Russian exclave on the Baltic).

'The Times History' included pictures of ruined villages and towns as a result of fighting in East Prussia during the First World War, in Part 32, Volume 3, p.227.

‘The Times History’ included pictures of ruined villages and towns as a result of fighting in East Prussia during the First World War, in Part 32, Volume 3, p.227.

Tannenberg saw the near complete destruction of the Russian 2nd Army, and a series of follow-up battles around the Masurian Lakes destroyed most of the Russian 1st Army as well, and knocked the country off balance until early-1915.

Vladimir Aleksandrovich Sukhomlinov (1848-1926), Cavalry General of the Imperial Russian Army and Minister of War until 1915, on front cover of 'The Times History', Part 44, Volume 4.

Vladimir Aleksandrovich Sukhomlinov (1848-1926), Cavalry General of the Imperial Russian Army and Minister of War until 1915, on front cover of ‘The Times History’, Part 44, Volume 4.

Early Russian defeats fell on the shoulders of the Minister of War, Vladimir Alexander Sukhomlinov, who was forced out of office in 1915 and replaced by Infantry General Alexei Andreyevich Polivanov.

Russians preparing to blow up a bridge in order to hinder the German advance on Warsaw, in Part 61, Volume 5, p.329.

Russians preparing to blow up a bridge in order to hinder the German advance on Warsaw, in Part 61, Volume 5, p.329.

Although the Russians achieved successes in Galicia (now part of western Ukraine), and in the Carpathian Mountains, by mid-1915 they had been pushed out of ‘Russian Poland’ so removing the threat – at this very early point in the war as it would unfold – of any Russian invasion of Imperial Germany or Austria-Hungary.

A Russian motor-cycle battalion. In 1914 the Russian Army was the largest army in the world but poor roads and railways made the effective deployment of soldiers difficult, illustration in Part 97, Volume 8, p.204.

A Russian motor-cycle battalion. In 1914 the Russian Army was the largest army in the world but poor roads and railways made the effective deployment of soldiers difficult, illustration in Part 97, Volume 8, p.204.

This ‘Great Retreat’ by Imperial Russia from Polish territory – carved up between themselves, Austria-Hungary, and Prussia back in the 18th century – was a severe blow to Russian morale.

Blessing of the Russian forces at Kazan Cathedral, in Part 97, Volume 8, p.220.

Blessing of the Russian forces at Kazan Cathedral, St. Petersburg, in Part 97, Volume 8, p.220.

Polivanov, the new Minister of War, started transforming the Russian army’s training system and tried with limited success to improve its supply and communications systems. Army losses in manpower were easily filled from the vastness of the Empire.

Russian war loan poster, in Part 97, Volume 8, p.226.

Russian war loan poster, in Part 97, Volume 8, p.226.

The huge size of the Russian population and the loyalty of large swathes of the people to the Tsar and to the Russian Orthodox Church – and thus to the protection of ‘Holy Russia’ with the Tsar at its head – meant that a formal draft of able-bodied men was unnecessary. Instead, the government of Nicholas II released pamphlets encouraging people to buy government bonds to fund the war with rates for the loans standardised at 512% return per month.

Tsar Nicholas II visiting a munitions factory, in Part 97, Volume 8, p.203.

Tsar Nicholas II visiting a munitions factory, in Part 97, Volume 8, p.203.

In August 1915 Polivanov became aware of the plan by the Tsar to replace his Romanov relation Grand Duke Nikolay Nikolayevich as Commander-in-Chief of the Army and to himself lead the Russian armies at the front, and made strenuous efforts to persuade him not to. This was in vain, and in 1915 Nicholas II took personal command of the Russian armed forces and spent long periods at Mogilev (now in eastern Belarus) as Commander-in-Chief hundreds of miles from events unfolding in the capital… events on the home front.

Illustration of 'Grand Duke Nicholas in the Caucasus' accompanying a chapter on the Russian Campaign in Armenia, 1915-1916, in Part 124, Volume 10, 2 January 1917.

Illustration of ‘Grand Duke Nicholas in the Caucasus’ accompanying a chapter on the Russian Campaign in Armenia, 1915-1916, in Part 124, Volume 10, 2 January 1917.

Polivanov’s efforts to prevent the Tsar from taking control helped alienate him from the Tsarina, who then conspired to have him sacked. This was achieved when the Tsar dismissed the Minister of War in March 1916.

Illustration of 'The Tsar at the Front Blessing the Troops', in part 122, Volume 10, p.162.

Illustration of ‘The Tsar at the Front Blessing the Troops’, in part 122, Volume 10, p.162.

On the home front, opposition and revolutionary sentiment was increasing. There were disruptions to the fuel supply, inflation was escalating, the price of meat, sugar and firewood was increasing, and there were continuous shortages of flour and coal. Added to these problems were the difficulties caused by refugees fleeing east, deeper into Russia, both from the army’s own scorched-earth policy entailing the destruction of entire villages and the indiscriminate forced removal of civilians, and from territories that had become controlled by the enemy.

Illustration, 'Russian refugees returning home', from the front cover of Part 122, Volume 10.

Illustration, ‘Russian refugees returning home’, from the front cover of Part 122, Volume 10, 19 December 1916.

With the collapse of food supplies, and with growing food queues, the breakdown of authority on the home front began to accelerate. Strikes and street demonstrations broke out in the first few days of March 1917 (towards the end of February in the old-style Julian calendar still retained in Russia). On 8 March strikers were joined in their protests by those celebrating International Women’s Day and those protesting against food rationing. On 9 March some 200,000 people were on the streets of Petrograd (St. Petersburg) demanding the end of the war and the abdication of the Tsar.

The official announcement of the tsar's abdication, Part 169, Volume 13, p.434.

The official announcement of the Tsar’s abdication, Part 169, Volume 13, p.434.

On 10 March, from his front-line base at Mogilev the Tsar requested the Petrograd garrison commander to disperse the crowds with gunfire but this was met with reluctance among the soldiers. Rioting broke out and on 11 March the Tsar ordered suppression of the rioting by force. This was met with mutiny and by nightfall of 12 March, the Russian Imperial capital was in the hands of revolutionaries. Army Chiefs and government Ministers advised the Tsar to abdicate the throne, and this he did on 15 March 1917.

Alexander Kerensky who replaced the first head of the Provisional Government, Prince Georgy Yevgenyevich Lvov, in July 1917, in part 169, Volume 13, p.435.

Alexander Kerensky who replaced the first head of the Provisional Government, Prince Georgy Yevgenyevich Lvov, in July 1917, in part 169, Volume 13, p.435.

On 16 March, a centre-left Provisional Government was announced and it was headed by the liberal Prince Georgy Yevgenyevich Lvov (1861-1925), although socialists had formed a rival body a few days earlier – the Petrograd Soviet (the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies). In a power-sharing agreement, the Provisional Government and the Petrograd Soviet held ‘Dual Authority’.

Illustration howing 'Russian troops in France taking the oath of allegiance to the new Russian government'. It shows General Lohvitzky and officers in fron tof the troops, in Part 169, Volume 13, p.451.

Illustration showing ‘Russian troops in France taking the oath of allegiance to the new Russian government’. It shows General Lohvitzky and officers in front of the troops, in Part 169, Volume 13, p.451.

Meanwhile the Russian communist revolutionary Vladimir Ulyanov Ilyich Lenin arrived in Petrograd in April 1917 and immediately began to undermine the Provisional Government, calling for ‘all power to the soviets’ (not simply dual power) and an end to the ‘predatory imperialist war’. Lenin did not have widespread support, even among Bolsheviks, and during the spontaneous armed demonstrations by soldiers and industrial workers – protests during the ‘July Days’ – he was unable to direct them into a organised coup against the government. Lenin was forced to flee to Finland and other Bolsheviks were arrested.

Illustration showing 'Delegates to the Soviet (Council of Workmen's and Soldiers' Delegates) holding a meeting in the Duma', in Part 169, Volume 13, p.457.

Illustration showing ‘Delegates to the Soviet (Council of Workmen’s and Soldiers’ Deputies) holding a meeting in the Duma’, in Part 169, Volume 13, p.457.

One outcome of the ‘July Days’ however was the replacement of Lvov as head of government. He was replaced by Alexander Kerensky of the Socialist Revolutionary Party. Kerensky declared freedom of speech, ended capital punishment, released thousands of political prisoners and did his best to maintain Russian involvement in the War.

Illustration showing aftermath of the 'July Days' 1917, in Part 180, Volume 14, p.361.

Illustration showing aftermath of the ‘July Days’ 1917, in Part 180, Volume 14, p.361.

The ‘July Days’ unrest had been precipitated by continued Russian involvement in the War. Nevertheless, in an ill-timed move, Kerensky ordered a new military offensive in July 1917 – the ‘Kerensky Offensive’, or ‘July Offensive’. It was led by General Brusilov, aided by Romania forces, and was launched against Austro-Hungarian and Imperial German armies in Galicia. The offensive was initially successful but Russian losses soon mounted and their advance collapsed. They were met with a counter-attack and in the end had to retreat around 240 kilometres. Mutiny and demoralisation within the Russian military had also played a part in the collapse.

Illustration showing 'The Russian offensive of July 1917', part 170, Volume 14, p.23.

Illustration showing ‘The Russian offensive of July 1917’, part 170, Volume 14, p.23.

The events of July, coupled with continued military defeat and striking and unrest in the cities, encouraged a resurgence of right-wing forces. In August 1917, with Kerensky’s agreement initially, General Lavr Kornilov, Commander-in-Chief of the Provisional Government forces, directed an army to Petrograd with the intention of restoring order to the country. However fearing an army putsch Kerensky reversed his agreement for this, but Kornilov pressed forward with his plans anyway. Kerensky was forced to turn to the Petrograd Soviet for help, the outcome of which was the rearming of the Bolshevik Military Organization and the release of Bolshevik political prisoners, including Leon Trotsky. Bolsheviks, Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries confronted Kornilov and convinced the army to stand down.

Illustration showing 'The Smolny Institute, Petrograd, Headquarters of the Bolshevists and guarded by Red Guards and Militia-Police', in Part 180, Volume 14, p.387.

Illustration showing ‘The Smolny Institute, Petrograd, Headquarters of the Bolsheviks and guarded by Red Guards and Militia-Police’. The Smolny was Lenin’s residence for several months until national government was moved to Moscow and the Kremlin in March 1918. Image in Part 180, Volume 14, p.387.

The ‘Kornilov Affair’, was followed by renewed military action and the fleeing of Russian forces from Riga (now capital of Latvia) when the city was attacked and captured by advancing German troops in September 1917. Throughout September and October there were mass strike actions by the Moscow and Petrograd workers, miners in Donbas, metalworkers in the Urals, oil workers in Baku, textile workers in the Central Industrial Region, and railway workers throughout the Russian network. More than a million workers took part in strikes, and workers took control over production and distribution in many factories and plants in a social revolution. In September, Lenin had returned to Petrograd too.

On 7 November 1917 (or 25 October in the old-style Julian calendar) the Bolsheviks led their forces in the uprising in Petrograd against the Kerensky Government – the October Revolution. On 6 December 1917, Finland – an Imperial Russian Grand Duchy since 1809 and before that part of a greater Sweden from the 12th and 13th centuries – declared itself independent. After the revolutions, both countries would undergo deeply rending civil wars.

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A further look at The Times History and Encyclopædia of the War will be taken in the next few months… possibly looking at reporting by the publication on heavy industry and armaments.

Dr. Graeme D. Eddie, Assistant Librarian Archives & Manuscripts, Centre for Research Collections (CRC)

 

 

I: ‘The Times’ History and Encyclopaedia of the War – its early issues and ambition

‘…AN ACCOUNT OF THE GREAT CONTEST NOW IN PROGRESS…’

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Printed and published by The Times newspaper, The Times History and Encyclopaedia of the War was a British weekly periodical first issued on 25 August 1914, only three weeks after the outbreak of war on 4 August. In the Preface to the first issue, the object of the enterprise was defined.

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The Preface claimed that it would be ‘an account of the great contest now in progress’, and it would be ‘at once popular and authoritative’. It would be ‘popular in the best sense of the word’, and discuss the political factors which have led up to the crisis’, and serve ‘as a work of reference’.

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As far as writing was concerned, the publisher spoke of its ‘staff of foreign correspondents […] celebrated for the knowledge and insight into political and social conditions’. These correspondents had made ‘the foreign pages of The Times the most accurate review of current foreign affairs published in any paper in the world’. The Times had ‘succeeded in obtaining the services of writers well versed in Military and Naval affairs and foreign political matters’.

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The Times History and Encyclopaedia of the War was to be issued ‘weekly in sevenpenny parts’ (7d in 1914 being roughly £3.00 in 2016), and thirteen parts were to form one volume. Special bindings were to be offered ‘in three different qualities’ – cloth, half leather, and full leather – to be ‘sold by every bookseller’. Modern 2016 prices for these various ‘qualities’ would be cloth £7.75, half leather £14.25, and full leather £26, roughly.

Ad' for the special binders that were available in which to gather the weekly parts of 'The History' together. From Volume 1, Part1, p.ii.

Ad’ for the special binders that were available in which to gather the weekly parts of ‘The History’. From Volume 1, Part 2, p.ii.

The weekly parts would also carry advertisements within the covers, and not just for The Times own products such as its binders, a weekly edition of the newspaper, a war atlas etc. Here is an advertisement for a tobacco – Player’s Navy Mixture – which was a ‘Combination of Bright Virginia, Louisiana perique, Latakia, and other scarce Eastern Tobacco’…:

Tobacco advertisement from the cover of one of the weekly issues of 'The History', in Part 21, Volume 2.

Tobacco advertisement from the cover of one of the weekly issues of ‘The History’, in Part 21, Volume 2.

At first, the publication was known as The Times History of the War but as the war progressed it would be known by the much more descriptive title of The Times History and Encyclopædia of the War. The earlier Parts 1-63 used the earlier title, and Parts 64-273 formed the later title. By war’s end the history/encyclopaedia would consist of twenty-one volumes. The individual parts of Volumes 1-21 were issued from 25 August 1914 to 27 July 1920, and Volume 22, published in 1921, formed a general index.

King Peter I of Serbia was featured on the front cover of Part 21 of Volume 2.

King Peter I of Serbia was featured on the front cover of Part 21 of Volume 2.

The earliest component parts featured graphic work on the front covers of the individual issues. Those in Volumes 1 and 2 featured the German Emperor, George V, Earl Kitchener, Field-Marshall Sir John French, Lt-Gen. Sir Douglas Haig, Peter I, General Gallieni, and Nicholas II, amongst others. The front cover was not always a statesman or military figure though…:

'Homeless' probably from communities in northern France or Belgium, featured on the front cover of Part 10, Volume 1.

‘Homeless’ probably from communities in northern France or Belgium, featured on the front cover of Part 10, Volume 1.

Refugees fleeing assault on their communities were featured on a front cover in Volume 1, and in Volume 2 a cover features an enlistment poster ‘appealing’ for recruits after attacks on the east coast of England. It was an appeal to the ‘Women of Scarbro’ (Scarborough) to help ‘avenge slaughter of the innocent women and children’ of the town and ‘encourage’ men to ‘Enlist at Once’…

In the 'East coast raid number' this poster was featured on the front cover of Part 23, Volume 2.

In the ‘East coast raid number’ this poster was featured on the front cover of Part 23, Volume 2.

The Preface to the first issue also commented on its maps. These were to be reproduced from those appearing in the pages of the daily newspaper – The Times – though ‘in some cases special maps will be prepared for particular purposes’. It went on, ‘special pains have been taken to secure their accuracy in every particular’.

Map showing Africa and South America in 1914, appended to part 23, Volume 2, p.357.

World map showing Africa and South America in 1915, appended to part 23, Volume 2, p.357.

An insert world map appended to Part 23 (February 1915), Volume 2, showed ‘the combination of powers and principal events of the first months of the war’. The map impressed on the reader how global the war had become, with naval action around the Falkland Islands in December 1914, naval action in the south eastern Pacific off Chile, and actions in south western Africa and west Africa.

Same map showing action in the Middle East in 1915, appended to part 23, Volume 2, p.357.

Same map showing action in the Middle East in 1915, appended to part 23, Volume 2, p.357.

The same map showed action taking place in Cyprus, Egypt, and Basra (then simply a city in the Ottoman Empire, rather than in the yet to be configured Iraq), and action in the Indian and western Pacific Oceans, and in China.

Siege Howitzer illustrated in Part 6, Volume 1, p.223.

Siege Howitzer illustrated in Part 6, Volume 1, p.223.

Very early in the work too, it would become clear to the reader how ‘modern’ and ‘industrial’ warfare had become. The issues would feature pictures of aeroplanes of all warring parties, the siege howitzer and other heavy artillery, airships…:

French aroplane illustrated in Part 15, Volume 2, p.54.

French aeroplane illustrated in Part 15, Volume 2, p.54.

'Zeppelin' illustrated in Part 16, Volume 2, p.81.

‘Zeppelin’ illustrated in Part 16, Volume 2, p.81.

and bombing…:

'Air bombing' illustrated in Part 18, Volume 2, p.196.

‘Air bombing’ illustrated in Part 18, Volume 2, p.196.

A further look at the content of The Times History and Encyclopædia of the War will be taken in the next few months.

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Dr. Graeme D. Eddie, Assistant Librarian Archives & Manuscripts, Centre for Research Collections (CRC)

Wartime service honours of Dr William Aldren Turner (1864-1945)… Devised a management strategy for shell shock… Honoured by Belgium and Britain

EDINBURGH UNIVERSITY MEDICAL STUDENT… SERVED WITH ROYAL ARMY MEDICAL  CORPS (RAMC)… BECAME ADVISOR ON ‘WAR NEUROSIS’ AND SHELL SHOCK TO THE BRITISH WAR OFFICE…

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William Aldren Turner was born in Edinburgh, 5 May 1864. He was the son of the Principal of Edinburgh University, Sir William Turner, and his wife Agnes. The younger Turner was educated at Fettes College, and then he studied at Edinburgh University as a medical student. He graduated as M.B., C.M., with first-class honours, in 1887, and then completed a term as house physician at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

Detail from the certificate presented to Turner by the Belgian Ministry for Foreign Affairs

Detail from the citation for the award of the King Albert Medal presented to Turner by the Belgian Ministry for Foreign Affairs (Quatercentenary Collection, Box 16)

He also studied as a postgraduate in Berlin and at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, London. He was awarded his M.D. in 1892.

Detail from the citation awarding the King Albert Medal to Turner, 1921

Detail from the citation awarding the King Albert Medal to Turner, 1921 (Quatercentenary Collection, Box 16)

In 1892 Turner was appointed as an assistant to David Ferrier (1843-1928), and as a demonstrator and then lecturer in neuropathology, at King’s College, London. In 1896 be was made a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (London), and in 1899 he was elected assistant physician to King’s College Hospital. Nine years later he became physician in charge of neurological cases and lecturer on neurology.

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For six years he was also on the staff of the National Hospital for the Paralysed and Epileptic. He published Epilepsy, a Study of the Idiopathic Disease (1907), and with Grainger Stewart, a Textbook of Nervous Diseases (1910). He married Helen Mary Mackenzie in 1909.

Citation - King Albert Medal

Citation – King Albert Medal (Quatercentenary Collection, Box 16)

As a Territorial officer in the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC), Turner had been rushed to France in December 1914 as a temporary Lieutenant-Colonel (Special Duty) when it became clear that ‘nervous and mental shock’ casualties were multiplying. He was one of the few doctors at the National Hospital with first-hand experience of casualties in France.

Award to Turner from the British Red Cross and the Order of St. John

Award to Turner from the British Red Cross and the Order of St. John (Quatercentenary Collection, Box 16)

As a consultant both at King’s College Hospital and the National Hospital, he was responsible for devising a management strategy for shell shock and in January 1915 (through to 1919) he was appointed consultant neurologist to the War Office. He was created C.B. in 1917, the same year he was elevated to Colonel.

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Turner acted as neurologist to the War Office Medical Board from 1919 to 1943 – the principal advisor to the government in these matters – and from 1930 to 1943 as consultant adviser to the Ministry of Pensions.

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Part of the citation from the award of OBE, 1919 (Quatercentenary Collection, Box 16)

In 1921 he was awarded the King Albert Medal (Koning Albert Medaille / Médaille du Roi Albert) by Belgium. This was a medal established by Belgian royal decree on 7 April 1919 and it was awarded to both Belgians and foreigners who were exceptionally meritorious in promoting, organising or administering humanitarian and charitable work that assisted Belgians in need during the First World War.

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In recognition of valuable services rendered during the War, he was also presented with an award by the British Red Cross and the Order of St. John of Jerusalem in England, and in 1919 he was given an OBE.

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Dr. William Aldren Turner had been one of the leading epileptologists of his time and he had an abiding interest in prognosis and treatment and the value of institutional care. He died on 29 July 1945.
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Dr. Graeme D. Eddie, Assistant Librarian Archives and Manuscripts, Centre for Research Collections
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Utilised in the construction of this blog post were: ‘Lives of the Fellows’, Munk’s Roll, Vol.IV., Royal College of Physicians; ‘Shell shock Revisited: An Examination of the Case Records of the National Hospital in London’, in Medical History 2014 Oct; 58(4): 519–545, by Stefanie Caroline Linden, and Edgar Jones; and, last but not least, collection items from the Quatercentenary Collection (Box 16), CRC.

John Buchan and his ‘Battle of the Somme’ (1916)

IN HIS WORK BUCHAN FAILED TO TELL HIS READERS THAT THERE HAD BEEN OVER 57,000 CASUALTIES ON THE FIRST DAY ALONE

On the Somme (GDE 2014)

Somme, Picardy, France (GDE 2014)

The end of this week sees the 100th anniversary of the ending of the Battle of Albert (1–13 July 1916) which comprised the first two weeks of Anglo-French offensive operations in the Battle of the Somme.

Also known as the Somme Offensive, the Battle of the Somme was a battle of the First World War between the forces of the British and French Empires on one side and the German Empire on the other.

Part of the large Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, at Thiepval, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.

Part of the large Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, at Thiepval, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens (GDE 2014).

It took place on the upper reaches of the River Somme (Picardy, France) in three major phases and several battles between July and November 1916: at Albert, Bazentin Ridge, Fromelles, Delville Wood, Pozières Ridge, Guillemont, Ginchy, Flers-Courcelette, Morval, Transloy Ridge, Thiepval Ridge, Ancre Heights, and at Ancre. During the battles the use of air power proved important, and the Offensive also saw the first use of the armoured tank as a weapon. By the end of the fighting on the Somme, the British Army had lost over 400,000 men for an advance of a mere six miles. Between all belligerents, over 1,000,000 were killed or wounded.

Title-page of 'The Battle of the Somme', by John Buchan, published 1916.

Title-page of ‘The Battle of the Somme’, by John Buchan, published 1916.

Although these losses were huge, in his work The Battle of the Somme (1916) John Buchan, author, and later on governor-general of Canada (1935-37) and Chancellor of Edinburgh University (1937-40), described the Somme Offensive as so successful that it marked the end of the trench war and the start of a campaign in the open.

Buchan had been recruited by the War Propaganda Bureau and was asked to organise the publication of a history of the war in the form of a monthly magazine. Unable to persuade others to help him with the project, Buchan decided to tackle it alone, publishing through Thomas Nelson & Sons Ltd. The first instalment appeared in February 1915 in Nelson’s History of the War. Profits and Buchan’s own royalties were donated to war charities.

Title-page of Volume II of 'The Battle of the Somme', by John Buchan, published 1916.

Title-page of Volume II of ‘The Battle of the Somme’, by John Buchan, published 1916.

Later, in the spring 1915, Buchan became attached to the Army as a journalist, and was given responsibility for providing articles for The Times and the Daily News, and he covered the second Battle of Ypres and the Battle of Loos. From June 1916 he was drafting communiqués for Haig and others at General Headquarters Staff (GHQ), and his rank also provided him with the documents needed to write the Nelson’s History of the War.

German monument erected to fallen soldiers after they took Beaumont Hamel, 1914.

German monument erected to fallen soldiers after they took Beaumont Hamel, 1914.

Buchan’s close relationship with Britain’s military leaders made it extremely difficult for him to include any critical comments about the way the war was being fought, and his  History of the War provided the public with a completely false impression of what was happening at the Front. Indeed in 1915 Buchan was telling his readers that Germany was on the edge of defeat.

Sketch map in Buchan;s book showing the changing position of the German front just beyond the town of Albert on the Somme.

Sketch map in Buchan’s book showing the changing position of the German front just beyond the town of Albert on the Somme.

A series of pamphlets was written by Buchan and these – works of propaganda – were published by the Oxford University Press. He wrote: Britain’s land war (1915); The achievements of France (1915); and, The Battle of Jutland (1916). Also published in 1916 was his work The Battle of the Somme.

Sketch map of trench systems around Thiepval on the Somme. On the edge of Thiepval Wood today stands the massive brick-built Memorial to the Missing of the Somme designed by Sir Edward Lutyens and unveiled in 1932.

Sketch map of trench systems around Thiepval on the Somme. On the edge of Thiepval Wood today stands the massive brick-built Memorial to the Missing of the Somme designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and unveiled in 1932.

In his work, The Battle of the Somme, Buchan claimed that the battle of the Somme was an Allied victory and that it would enable Britain to use its superior cavalry. What Buchan did not tell his readers was that of the 110,000 British soldiers making the assault, over 57,000 became casualties, and 20,000 were killed. As said earlier, by the end of the fighting the British Army alone had lost over 400,000 men for an advance of a mere six miles, and between all belligerents, over 1,000,000 were killed or wounded.

Part of the small CWGC Cemetary at Dernancourt, near Albert, on the Somme, also designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.

Part of the small CWGC Cemetery at Dernancourt, near Albert, on the Somme, also designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens (GDE 2014).

The map and sketch in this post (from Buchan’s book) show that area of the Somme region of France where the Battle played out. Some of the the most important monuments and some of the largest cemeteries (and many small ones) looked after by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) and of course Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge (VDK) are located within the areas shown: Thiepval Memorial; Ulster Memorial Tower; the Lochnagar mine crater at La Boisselle; McRae’s Battalion Great War Memorial at Contalmaison; Courcelette Memorial, a Canadian war memorial (fighting at Flers-Courcelette saw the first use of tanks on the battlefield… on the Somme); and, at cemeteries such as that of Vermandovillers German Military Cemetery and Fricourt German Military Cemetery, and at the small CWGC cemetery at Dernancourt near Albert.

Buchan’s Battle of the Somme, published 1916 by T. Nelson, London, can be requested at Centre for Research Collections, Special Collections, and read in the Reading Room there. It has shelfmark: S.B. .9(40427) Buc.

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Dr. Graeme D. Eddie, Assistant Librarian Archives & Manuscripts, Edinburgh University Library

 

 

 

Rationing and a healthy and nourishing diet during the Great War

REFLECTED IN PARTS OF A RECIPE BOOK CREATED BY NINA BALFOUR AND VICTORIA ALEXANDRINE MONTAGU SCOTT (LATER LADY LOTHIAN)

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Recently acquired by Edinburgh University Library is a fine bound manuscript volume of cookery and recipes compiled initially by Lady Nina Balfour of Balbirnie and then continued by Victoria Alexandrine Montagu Scott. The volume was gifted by Balfour to Scott in about 1864-65, presumably in anticipation of her coming marriage, and was added to over some eighty years at Monteviot House (the Borders home of the Marquis of Lothian and the Kerr family).

Noted in the ms volume is the date when rationing started during the Great War

Noted in the ms volume is the date when rationing started during the Great War

Victoria Alexandrine Montagu Scott was a daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch & Queensberry, and she married Schomberg Henry Kerr, 9th Marquess of Lothian on 23 February 1865, becoming Lady Lothian. Lord Lothian was Scottish Secretary, 1887-1892.

Note in the volume of the bread ration for men during the Great War

Note in the volume of the bread ration for men during the Great War

Spanning the Victorian and Edwardian eras and encompassing two World Wars, the recipes in the ms volume form an interesting chronicle of the Scottish country house diet.The entries for the Great War of 1914 -18 open with notes of rations introduced at different dates, then there are imaginative but parsimonious and largely vegetarian dishes: peelings stock, potato scones, potato bread, vegetable hot pot, savoury parsnips and ‘thrift cake’.

Bread ration for women

Bread ration for women

Suggesting a role in the local war effort, the volume contains a loosely inserted printed sheet headed Food Controller’s Rations: Some Good Receipts by Lady Lothian. The sheet offered five such ‘Good Receipts’.
Note of rationing of other foods

Note of rationing of other foods

The post of Food Controller had been appointed in December 1916, and a Ministry of Food Control was also established (the first being the Liberal, Hudson Ewbanke Kearley, Lord Devonport, grocer and politican). The plan was promote economies among the population and to keep moving the supply of food across the country.
'Some Good Receipts' from Lady Lothian

‘Some Good Receipts’ from Lady Lothian

However, it was not until 1917, when the Germans began an unrestricted U-boat warfare strategy, that the British government realised how vulnerable the country was to being cut off from imported food supplies. In April 1917 alone, some half a million tons of shipping had been lost in the submarine campaign.
A few of lady Lothian's recipes, from the printed insert in the volume

A few of lady Lothian’s recipes, from the printed insert in the volume

The response of the Food Controller was to authorise the organisation of a ‘national kitchen’, where healthy and nourishing food was cooked and served to the population. By then, most men had been called up, and women had taken their places in the workforce. Lady Lothian’s response for the national kitchen was, for example, Barley scones, Oatmeal bread, and Barley bread.
Note about cream and its use

Note in the volume about fresh cream and its use

Rationing was first introduced in the UK in London early in 1918 – though Lady Lothian’s book notes ‘voluntary rations’ in 1917 – and it was extended nationwide by summer 1918 (Rationing Order 1918). Ration cards were issued, and people were required to register with a retailer for meat, butter and sugar, and these would be stamped on purchase of the commodity. Lady Lothian noted in her cookery book that the weekly bread ration for a man depended on his ‘activity’ – whether he was in heavy industrial or agricultural work, in ordinary work, or in sedentary work or unoccupied – and this activity would decide whether he received 8 pounds (3.6 kg), 7 pounds (3.1 kg) or 4 pounds (1.8 kg) of bread per week. For women in heavy industrial or agricultural work, in ordinary work and domestic service, or in sedentary work or unoccupied, the rations were 5 pounds (2.2 kg) , 4 pounds (1.8 kg) and 3.5 pounds (1.5 kg) respectively. For all adults the meat ration was 2 pounds (0.9 kg) per person per week, and sugar 0.5 pounds (0.2 kg) per person per week.
Note of War dates in the ms volume

Note of War dates in the ms volume

In addition to the content of the volume (Coll-1741 – MS book of cookery and recipes, begun by Lady Nina Balfour and given to Victoria Alexandrine Montagu Scott, 1864, and continued over 80 years), the websites of the Imperial War Museum, BBC and others were used in compiling this blog post.
Dr. Graeme D. Eddie, Assistant Librarian Archives & Manuscripts, Centre for Research Collections, Edinburgh University Library

The Battle of Jutland – 100 years on

This week sees the hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Jutland, the largest and most important naval engagement of the First World War, and also a particularly Scottish event, as the majority of the British ships involved set out from Scottish ports – from Rosyth on the Forth, up to Scapa Flow in Orkney.

As the Navy, the politicians and VIPs, heavy security and the media descend on Orkney this week, it seemed an appropriate moment to see what we could find in our collections of the contemporary reporting and commentary on the battle.

The outcome of the battle of Jutland was complex: the losses of British ships and lives were far higher than the Germans’; but, it was a tactical advantage in that Britain retained control of the seas, maintained the blockade of German shipping and ultimately it contributed to winning the war.   However, immediately after the battle the longer-term consequences were not obvious and the consequences of the confused action were very much open to interpretation.

Jutland, was, for the Admiralty, a media disaster: the German High Seas Fleet, having retreated to port, issued prompt communiques declaring it their victory.  The Admiralty was unable to report so rapidly; the British fleet was still at sea, and they had no information.  When they did issue their own communique it was so badly worded as to make the British media interpret it as a defeat.

This was embarrassing.  The situation inspired the Admiralty to start a systematic propaganda campaign, as well as a review of how they handled these matters.

Their propagandist of choice was Rudyard Kipling – famous, influential, very much in support of the war, but long sympathetic to the lot of the ordinary soldier or sailor.  He was already writing general newspaper articles for the Admiralty – three were ready for publication when Jutland happened, appearing in The Times in late June 1916.  Kipling’s visits to the Fleet in connection with these had made contacts among the officers, and he had heard first-hand accounts of the battle as soon as a week after it happened.   In August he was provided with all the official reports, and in October four articles were published in The Daily Telegraph.

SB 82391 Kipling sea warfare c

These begin by outlining a positive interpretation of the battle, stressing the confusion of the action and the difficulty for those involved of being sure what was happening.  The rest of the articles, consistently upbeat in tone, consist of anecdotes showing the bravery, resourcefulness and ingenuity of the men involved, in overcoming battle damage, hitting their enemy targets, and getting their ships home.  They owe as much to Kipling’s contacts among the ships’ crews as to the official reports, and are as colourful in the telling as his fictional stories.  Indeed, they are openly somewhat fictionalised to avoid disclosing military intelligence.

From a modern perspective the thing which seems odd about these is the timing.  In our modern instant-news culture a series of lengthy articles would be unlikely to be published four and a half months after the event, and certainly not as a means to win round public opinion in that way.  What is even more alien to modern media culture, is that these, along with Kipling’s other articles for the Admiralty, were republished in book form before the end of 1916.

SB 82391 Kipling sea warfare b

However, the book version interspersed the articles with verse, and acquired a greater nuance of interpretation than that conveyed by the original articles alone.  The Jutland section of the book opens with ‘My Boy Jack’, a reflection on the dead.  This undoubtedly carries some of Kipling’s feelings about the loss of his own son at the battle of Loos the previous year, framed in naval terms.

SB 82391 Kipling sea warfare d

Our copy of Sea Warfare, can be consulted in the Centre for Research Reading Room, shelfmark: S.B. 82391 Kip.