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Galvanising people to share their interest in uncovering stories of the First World War

A campaign though collaboration and networked eLearning to put names to faces in First World War photographs, even to put faces to names on British and Commonwealth War Grave memorials. Through the use of the iconic Poppy with a unique QR code viewers are taken to material that invites them to help solve a puzzle – who are these people? What is their story? And to add content of their own: photographs from the era, pictures of artefacts, transcripts of hidden memoirs and buried letters. By connecting across multiple sites new insights of the collective experiences of those who took part in the First World War will be gained and their memories will be given new life.

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Identifying veterans of the First World War: Putting names to faces, and faces to names.

 Fig.1. ‘Poster’ constructed using a combination of ‘Brushes’ (to layer several photos in one) and ‘Studio’ a simple graphics app that provided the overlays and text. Images and screen-grabs cropped and saved into Picasa Web Albums. 

Created for the Open University module H818: The Networked Practitioner – towards a poster to illustrate a conference demonstration of an interactive mobile learning platform aimed at sourcing the involvement of many collaborators to enrich our understanding of this period in history.

The QR code should work, the YouTube video does not – it’s a screengrab. The video clip, under 2 minutes, is there.

In fairness to my grandfather I edited around 8 minutes down to 2 minutes, keeping one story about a young woman who came down from London to meet up and otherwise to compress the kind of circuitous conversation you can have with someone in their nineties.

Fig. 2. Jack Wilson (1896-1992) talks briefly about his few weeks military training at RAF Hastings in May/June 1918. Features several of his photographs from these weeks that he sent home to his mother in Consett, County Durham. (As YouTube doesn’t embed on OU platform, link to YouTube)

 Fig.3. The simplest of SimpleMind mind maps to remind me what the poster still requires and is certainly missing. 

And as a reminder to me there is 2500 words to write too.

CALL TO ACTION

If you or your relatives have old photos from the First World War how about sharing them and let’s see of collectively we can bring these characters back to life by researching then telling them story. If you are seeing family over the holiday try to find out what you have in that battered box in the attic: photos, an ID bracelet, his watch? A pay book, or log book? An Webley Revolver!! A gas-mask. A piklehaube helmet.

I’m always very interested to hear from people with a similar interest in the ‘Great War’ especially when it comes to the Machine Gun Corps and the Royal Flying Corps where my grandfather and great uncle served.

The project above relates to RAF, formerly RFC Hastings. Cadets were sent for military training in batches of 30 or so, six weeks at a time. They got military training, fitness, map reading and meteorology. Time off was spent on the beach, on the pier, in the outdoor pool and cinemas, and in a RAF club in Wellington Square. After this they headed for Clifton College, Bristol (Douglas Haig’s old school) for Morse Code, navigation and mechanics (basics) and machine gun training. Then to Uxbridge for bombs and finally off to an aerodrome for flight training. I don’t even know if they all went off together. I do recognise one other face here, a man who shared a room with my grandfather. They had a valet between them. Some change for my grandfather, the son of domestic servants, finding himself in the Officer’s Mess with schoolboy Etonians and all sorts of others.

 

RAF Hastings 1918: A veteran talks about military training with the RAF in 1918

Jack Wilson talks about his time doing military training with the RAF in Hastings in 1918. Born in 1896 Jack joined the Durham Light Infantry in 1915. In 1916 the Machine Gun Corps took him and her served on the Western Front at the Battle of the Somme and Third Ypres, the Battle of Passchendaele. At the end of 1917 he successfully transferred to the Royal Flying Corps where his younger brother Billy was already flying bombers. Jack completed training as a flight cadet, passing out as a Fighter Pilot on Bristol Fighters in September 1918. The complete interview runs to three hours. In due course about 30 minutes, illustrated like this, will be offered online.

RAF Flight Cadets taking a dip, 7th June 1918, Hastings

D Flight 3 Squadron 2 Wing
RAF Hastings
June 1918
Sent by F/C John A Wilson MM to his mother Mrs Twentyman Wilson

On the reverse it reads:

The cadets were barracked in the Queen’s Hotel on the sea front.

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