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How to wake the dead – pinning the past – the lost generation of World War One remembered in the Sussex market town of Lewes


Fig. 1. The War Memorial, Lewes High Street, Lewes

An extraordinary way to impress upon those living today, the terrible price and undoubted anguish and trauma caused by the death of one or more member of a family during World War One.

Steve George took the names of those featured on the Lewes War Memorial from the First World War. His research gave him an address which he pinned on a Google Map.

And where the war dead lived:

The men from Lewes who died in the First World War

Fig. 2. Where the WW1 War Dead lived in Lewes : remembered on the Town’s War Memorial.

Some grabs using Google Maps and Google World:

Fig. 3. Where the WW1 War Dead lived in Lewes : remembered on the Town’s War Memorial. (Satellite view)

  • Lots of the pins represent addresses with multiple fatalities
  • Approximately a third aren’t represented by individual pins.

Fig. 4. Where the WW1 War Dead lived in Lewes : remembered on the Town’s War Memorial.

One corner of the town. Every 3rd or 4th house marking a soldier missing or known to be dead never to return.

“The more you zoom in “, says Steve, ” the more clusters open out and the more shocking it gets”.

Fig. 5. The War Memorial, Lewes High Street, Lewes

On the War Memorial there are two, sometimes three names from the same family: brothers, husbands, fathers and sons. The loss in some families was higher still.

THE NEXT STEP:

  • Other towns, cities, associations and corporations to do something similar.
  • Do the same in all nations that suffered losses during the War.
  • Feature photographs of those named.
  • Link their home to where they fell (or where they lie).

Fig.6 The Tynecot Cemetry near Passchendaele.

Fig 7. International Corner, Belgium. The 75th Anniversary of Passchendaele

Jack Wilson with Lyn Macdonald in 1992, marking the spot near International Corner, north west of Ypres where on 22nd October 1917 Jack burried Dick Piper and Harry Gartenfeld in shallow graves (their bodies were never recovered)

Fig. 8 John Arthur Wilson in 1916. A studio photograph taken in Consett, Co. Durham the week before he was transferred to the ‘suicide squad’ and sent for training on the Vicker’s Machine Gun in Grantham

Jack was from Benfieldside, Shotley Bridge. Those who died from his commmunity are featured in the Church. Where did the Lewes men fall? Where are else are they remembered? Do their relations or ancestors know their story? What do we tell future generations?

Fig. 9. Lyn Macdoland, author of ‘They called it Passchendaele’ at the Tynecot Memorial with veteran
Jack Wilson MM in front of the names of fallen comrades Dick Piper and Harry Gartenfeld June 1992

Fig. 10. The Ypres Salient, Passchendaele : The Western Front autumn 1917

Fig. 11. The dead around Tyne Cot as a result of the October-November push known as Third Ypres, 1917

Fig. 12. What they fought for and where many of them died. A set of concrete German pill-boxes in the mud of Passchendaele, late 1917

Fig. 13. How it ended for tens of thousands in the cratered morass of the Ypres Salient in 1917

Fig. 14. Third Ypres. August – November 1917

Fig. 15. They Called it Passchendale. Vivid narrative from Lyn Macdonald supported by the voices of many veterans in their own words.

World War: its origins and opportunities

In Part Six of ‘World War’ the editor Sir John Hammerton (1938) makes some interesting points, written in 1938 with the Great War only twenty years before. I’ve heard others, regular Tommies from the trenches referring to 1870–71 and before to the beginning of the rivalry between France and Germany, back to the Napoleonic Wars and the Thirty Years War.

In the editorial Hammerton uses the language of war and expresses the misconceived hope, even in 1938′ that the last war will be the last, that victory is worth it or that “we produce an environment ‘safe for democracy’ or ‘homes for heroes’. Are we not still guilty of exploiting words like ‘heroes’? That it is heroic to put you life on the line? Which in turn must feed into the psyche of the next generation of fighters?

The victor writes the history, yet Hammerton tries to present the facts objectively. I wonder how the words of Hiddenberg come over in ‘My War Memories’? Does he glory in Tanneberg and blame others for the rest?

There’s a picture of a church taken as a strong point surrounded by barbed wire that makes me realise that in this war forts crumbled, literally and as a useful point if strength. The rise of barbed–wire, machine–guns and artillery is seen as the start of a short era of static war, yet this is surely akin to an older action, the seige. The war id movement, of cavalry, was transferring to the skies.

I find it remarkable that Germany made many foolish assumptions about the state of the relations between countries of the British Empire, even beleiving that should Canada enter the war it would exposen itself to conflict with the USA. WW6C12p151 Do all warmongers delude themselves about the outcome? Do they ever win? What are the lasting conquests and why did they succeed? For example the Norman conquest of England?

Hammerton makes an intersting pooint about ‘German Teutonic kultur’ compares to the ‘peaceful union of states under Great Britain, whose national existence was more likely to stay intact within the empire rather than separated from it’. A case of better the devil you know than the devil you don’t, or subjected people knowing that the time to rebel is not when hundreds if thousands of young men have been mobilised and armed?

German racism ‘The Germans complained during the war that they were faced with a motley crowd of coloured troops.’ Hammerton ed. (1938:151) As if war is a game where sides can only be selected from amongst specific ‘racially superior’ groups or classes?

We owe it to those who have gone before to preserve the great fabric of British freedom and hand it on to our children.” Sir Joseph Cook, the Australian Prime Minister.

Samalis want to fight for, not against the English.

I admire the construction of this metaphor as well as the sentiment expressed. Metaphors must have a ressonace with the audience. Was this first expressed to the people of Somaliland? Politically were those selected from the Somali people to govern likely to lose most, or everything, if they chose to rebel? In any case, given the times, to rebel would be to pick sides and I don’t suppose German colonialism had much of a reputation.

“As the monsoon winds drives the sandhills of our coast into new forms, so does the news of the German evil doing drive our hearts and spears into the service of the English Government.” The hakim of Jubaland, Governor of the Somaliland Protectorate.

A case of my master’s enemy is my enemy, better the devil you know than the devil you don’t or a human inclination to take sides in a fight and join in. (JV)

Or was their fear of internment and viscious retributions?

The men from Lewes who died in the First World War

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Fig. 1. The War Memorial, Lewes High Street, Lewes 

An extraordinary way to impress upon those living today, the terrible price and undoubted anguish and trauma caused by the death of one or more member of a family during World War One.

Steve George took the names of those featured on the Lewes War Memorial from the First World War. His research gave him an address which he pinned on a Google Map.

And where the war dead lived:

The men from Lewes who died in the First World War

Fig. 2. Where the WW1 War Dead lived in Lewes : remembered on the Town’s War Memorial.

Some grabs using Google Maps and Google World:

Fig. 3. Where the WW1 War Dead lived in Lewes : remembered on the Town’s War Memorial. (Satellite view)

  • Lots of the pins represent addresses with multiple fatalities
  • Approximately a third aren’t represented by individual pins.

Fig. 4. Where the WW1 War Dead lived in Lewes : remembered on the Town’s War Memorial.

One corner of the town. Every 3rd or 4th house marking a soldier missing or known to be dead never to return.

“The more you zoom in “, says Steve, ”  the more clusters open out and the more shocking it gets”.

Fig. 5. The War Memorial, Lewes High Street, Lewes 

On the War Memorial there are two, sometimes three names from the same family: brothers, husbands, fathers and sons. The loss in some families was higher still.

THE NEXT STEP:

  • Other towns, cities, associations and corporations to do something similar.
  • Do the same in all nations that suffered losses during the War.
  • Feature photographs of those named.
  • Link their home to where they fell (or where they lie).

Fig.6 The Tynecot Cemetry near Passchendaele.

Fig 7. International Corner, Belgium.  The 75th Anniversary of Passchendaele

Jack Wilson with Lyn Macdonald in 1992, marking the spot near International Corner, north west of Ypres where on 22nd October 1917 Jack burried Dick Piper and Harry Gartenfeld in shallow graves (their bodies were never recovered)

Fig. 8 John Arthur Wilson in 1916. A studio photograph taken in Consett, Co. Durham the week before he was transferred to the ‘suicide squad’ and sent for training on the Vicker’s Machine Gun in Grantham

Jack was from Benfieldside, Shotley Bridge. Those who died from his commmunity are featured in the Church. Where did the Lewes men fall? Where are else are they remembered? Do their relations or ancestors know their story? What do we tell future generations?

Fig. 9. Lyn Macdoland, author of ‘They called it Passchendaele’ at the Tynecot Memorial with veteran
Jack Wilson MM in front of the names of fallen comrades Dick Piper and Harry Gartenfeld June 1992

Fig. 10. The Ypres Salient, Passchendaele : The Western Front autumn 1917

Fig. 11. The dead around Tyne Cot as a result of the October-November push known as Third Ypres, 1917

Fig. 12. What they fought for and where many of them  died. A set of concrete  German pill-boxes in the mud of Passchendaele, late 1917

Fig. 13. How it ended for tens of thousands in the cratered morass of the Ypres Salient in 1917

Fig. 14. Third Ypres. August – November 1917

Fig. 15. They Called it Passchendale. Vivid narrative from Lyn Macdonald supported by the voices of many veterans in their own words.

War on the grand scale: 1914-1918 (And how to publish a weekly part-work successfully in 1936)

In the Editorial from Sir John Hammerton written in 1936 we learn that during the Great War there were 15 part works published each week to follow the war as it played out but only 4/5 stayed the course (two of them published by him).

The answer, if readers need persuading is to have

An Editorial plan:

1) Does it have a market?

  • Based on experience and instinct

2) Choice of letterpress

  • Choice and placing of illustrations
  • Taking pains, described as genius.
  • Well produced.

3) Keep promises.

4) It must be well advertised.

  • (The £15,000 Sir John Hammerton mentions spending  in 1934 might be £825,000+ ! in 2012)
  • The right balance between pictures and text or “harmonious proportions”.

‘War on the grand scale’

I am reminded that just as we look back 100 years authors looked back to conflicts of the previous century.

In the 50 years between 1864 and 1914 there had been far more changes in the mechanism of naval warfare than in the 4,000 years that elapsed between the time when the first Greek galleys hugged the rugged shores of their homeland and the encounters of St.Vincent, Trafalgar and Navarino. (1936:95)

Triple entente vs Triple Alliance

Stories that intrigue me include the 500 Turks waiting to board the battleship Reshadieh at the Armstrong yard on the Tyne at the outbreak of war. What happened to them and the ship?

What’s the history of Heligoland the tiny islands in the North Sea. Weren’t they British for a period?

Did Germany really feel threatened? Was it a trade war with England?

What took Britain into the First World War?

Enjoying iDraft so much I look for excuses to create these kinds of thing alongside my reading.

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The causes and origins of the First World War

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A handful of belligerent political leaders, primarily in Berlin, but also in Vienna, exploited the murder of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne Archduke Franz Ferdinand to pursue their long-held belief in Germany’s need for a world policy ‘Welpolitik’, even the right to world power ‘Weltmachtstellung’. Their machinations, deviousness, obfuscations and at times ineptitude and delusions, led Britain’s leaders, reluctantly, in August 1914, once all efforts at mediation had failed, and enough of Britain’s divided Cabinet could unite after Germany’s invasion of Belgium, to enter a state of war when Germany failed to respond to Britain’s 4th August ultimatum.

Shooting the Front. Terry Finnegan on the role of observers over the Western Front during ‘War One’ (sic)

Fig. 1.  Shooting the Front.

Terry Finnegan gave a presentation based on his book ‘Shooting the Front’ to an audience, largely of Friends of the Imperial War Museum at the IWM on Wednesday 20th June.

He wondered how the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Royal Flying Corps could have been missed, yet we got behind the 100th of Titantic.

Fig. 2. The author taking us through the standard set of cameras used.

The presentation was revealing on a number of counts.

I’d never heard it called ‘War One’ yet this is clearly how American’s refer to the First World War.

I wasn’t aware that the techniques used to record the flash and roar of enemy artillery fire used the earliest form of computing to ‘spot’ the gun and retaliate.

I’ve heard before how war ‘progresses’ technology. Terry put it like this, ‘it takes a military event to put you in the  21st century’.

He described trench warfar as  he ‘positional’ war or stationary war.

Every inch of the Western Front was scrutinised every day we are told (not enough to prevent the folly of attempting an attack though(, but rather to plot a way through for tanks and troops.

The role or observers in planes was:

  • air space management
  • division to corps
  • protecting the air above you about 20 miles forward

The Germans had better lenses, the Zeiss.

With the automation of photography the Observer became a fighter defending the plane.

Fig 3. An RAF Observer 1918

Because of the nature of the single-winged emblem on their tunics Observers became known as ‘Flying Arse-Holes’. The response was to retitle them ‘Navigators’.

Apologies to this individual whose name I don’t have. My grandfather, a flight cadet at the time, provided a length memoir which I am yet to transcribe from the interviews I conducted in his 97th year.

Nicholas Watkis, author ‘The Western Front from the Air’.

Suggested that for much of the time the front was dry and dusty and not a great deal happened.

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