WWI series: Conscientious Objectors in the Library

“The heroes of war are publicly honoured, and their brave deeds are taught to children… (while) the heroes of peace most often go unrecognised.” So wrote Elsie Locke, in her introduction to Bread and Water, a memoir of New Zealand’s conscientious objectors.

For now more than a year, New Zealand has remembered the sacrifices and experiences of soldiers, nurses and civilians who fought in the First World War. Conscientious objectors, however, are less often spoken of, and uneasily sit on the boundary between these two groups. These were men who, through pacifist, religious, and/or moral conviction, refused to participate in the war. Although often overlooked in our cultural memory of New Zealand’s war experience, conscientious objectors, both around the world and in New Zealand, have certainly left traces in our history. Here at the library, we’re equipped with resources to help you discover the lives and thinking of these men – and of their families and those who their decisions affected.

baxterPerhaps the most well-known of New Zealand’s conscientious objectors is also known internationally. Archibald Baxter was outspokenly against war in the days leading up to conscription in New Zealand, was arrested unawares before being asked if he would sign up, and shipped from jail to jail before being sent to the trenches, to be punished with ‘Field Punishment Number One’, incarcerated in a mental hospital, and eventually sent home to New Zealand. He left a strong legacy of anti-militarism; in his son, Terence John, who was imprisoned as a conscientious objector in WWII, and in his matter-of-fact account of his experiences whilst imprisoned in his book We Will Not Cease. Written in 1939 in England, almost all copies of the book printed were destroyed in the Blitz, and it did not become well-known in New Zealand until the 1960s. Luckily, despite this the book is now available to borrow from the library. Since this time, it “has become a classic of New Zealand literature.”

King and Country Call, by Paul Baker, is a second book about the experience not only of conscientious objectors in WWI, but also about conscription, how it was introduced to New Zealand, and its consequences. It is available to borrow, again from the Central Library.

Conscientious objectors’ lives and convictions are canvassed by the books above, and other titles in our library catalogue, but the details of their lives and beliefs, their principles in their own words, are often to be found in the details of life in archival sources. Army records and newspaper clippings give us another glimpse into conscientious objectors’ lives. PapersPast  is an invaluable online, searchable database of New Zealand newspapers from 1839 until 1948. A search for ‘conscientious objectors’ or the name of a particular figure brings up a huge number of resources.

The National Archives, likewise, provide access to defence personnel files from WWI, which can be viewed online and include details of deployments, conduct and medical files – invaluable resources.

Both these websites, along with many other resources useful for researching our history such as NZHistory.net  and Te Ara, can be accessed from the free internet computers at any Wellington City Library.

Ernest Kilby

In Wellington, last year’s WW100 project honoured not only eight servicemen, and one nurse, but a conscientious objector born and bred in the region, Ernest Kilby of Island Bay. Ernest resisted conscription due to his Open Brethren Christian beliefs, and was imprisoned from 1917-1919. Ernest Kilby’s likeness and story were pasted up in Island Bay as part of the city’s war commemorations. His story, and background information, can be read on the council website.  Accounts of Ernest’s conviction and various trials can also be read on the Papers Past online archive.

Sometimes forgotten, but worth remembering, the conscientious objectors of the First World War still leave their legacy. WWI was the first instance of conscription in New Zealand, and one with mixed results. The resistance of the men who refused it, and their articulate reasons for doing so, provide a counterpoint to our dominant cultural narrative of the war.

Librarian at Gallipoli – WW100 commemorations diary

Adrienne, our Children’s & Young Adult Services Coordinator, received a double pass to the WW100 commemorations in Turkey as part of the Government-run ballot system. Here’s her report from the events on Saturday 25 April which we received today:

“Was a bit of an ordeal, but totally worth it. We caught a bus at 2.30pm from Istanbul down to Gallipoli. The first check point was bus registration. We queued for 2 hours in a line of buses for this. The bus was given a number and we were all given tags with the same number- so we could ID our bus at the other end. The next check point was for the people on the bus. Another hour of queuing. bandsWe all had to show our ballot passes and passports and were each given a wrist band, different ones for Aussies and Kiwis. Next we queued, again, for the disembarkation point. We got off the bus and queued for security screening into a holding park where there was, finally, hot food and drinks and toilets. The first stop- the bus check point. We left through the opposite side of the park, onto shuttle buses, then down to ANZAC Cove for a final security screening (and another wrist band to say we’d been cleared) and then a short walk to the commemorative site.

We ended up getting there at 1.30am. The place seemed packed and only half the attendees were there at this stage. Eventually everyone had to stand for the last couple of hours to fit everyone in. There was an entertainment programme through the night with music, singing and documentaries.

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As dawn approached the lights went off and everyone went quiet in anticipation of the ceremony starting. It was very moving occasion, much like the ceremonies at home but with the hills behind lit up to visually emphasise the feat achieved.

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Adrienne’s videos:
Dawn Ceremony – Ode
Dawn Ceremony – part of Prince Charles’ speech

Prince Harry in the crowd
Prince Harry in the crowd
Prince Charles laying a wreath
Prince Charles laying a wreath

Afterwards we were released from ANZAC Cove in stages to start the walk up to Lone Pine and Chunuk Bair. The Kiwis had lots of time as our ceremony wasn’t starting until 1.45pm and there was only 2000 of us to get into the site. So we had a leisurely walk through the battlefields and cemeteries, using the Nga Tapuwae app as a guide and seeking out the Kiwi points of interest.
Video: Walking: ANZAC Cove, Artillary Road

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Near Lone Pine. Turkish trenches just on other side of the road. The road is no-mans land where bodies piled up for weeks before a cease fire was agreed upon to collect and bury the dead.

While we spent time looking for the Kiwi and Wellington graves, the reality is that the brutality of the fighting means there were few bodies to bury and it was difficult to identify remains with precision. Most of the dead are named on memorials and interred in mass graves under our feet. Many others are still unaccounted for and the battle fields are open graveyards – we found some bones and pieces of skull underfoot as we wandered around, which was thought-provoking.

anzac-books anzac-covesThe location of this photo is the point where the book’s author, Lt Westmacott, got to with his soldiers before being wounded on 25th April and having to fall back. He’s one of the NZ heroes of ANZAC Day.

The NZ ceremony at Chunuk Bair was moving as it was especially significant for kiwis with waiata and speeches made with a focus on the kiwi efforts and achievements. Before and after the Chunuk Bair ceremony we were entertained by the NZ Youth Ambassadors singing kiwi classics with the crowd of 2000 heartily singing along to keep warm and awake (we were well into our second period of 24 hours with no sleep at this stage, but spirits were high).

Videos:
Chunuk Bair ceremony start
After Chunuk Bair ceremony

We then had to wait for our buses to collect us. They were going to Lone Pine first to pick up the Aussies from their ceremony before collecting us. The bus numbers were slowly being called out but with around 300 buses involved it was going to be a long wait. In the end we waited 5 hours for our bus to arrive, which gave us time the reflect on history and the day, and chat to fellows Kiwis. As it started to get cold the NZDF started handing out cups of hot tea and soup and kept everyone’s spirits up.

Our bus arrived at 8pm and whisked us off to a restaurant for a hot meal before the drive back to Istanbul. We arrived at 2am on Sunday 26th – 38 hours after leaving on the 24th and having been awake for 44 hours. We were exhausted but completely moved by what we had seen, learned and experienced. ”

Previous post in the series: Adrienne blogged about her library-related preparations to go to Turkey

Large scale ANZAC display at the Central Library

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For the past year, in the lead up to the Centenary of the Gallipoli landings, Wellington City librarians have been producing a series of contributions highlighting various aspects of our collection where you can find resources related to this major historical event. Our latest addition, inspired by a recent blog post http://bit.ly/1DNZ48J about Charlotte Le Gallais, one of the nurses who went to Gallipoli on the Maheno hospital ship, is a large scale exhibition about her story, highlighting the various online resources available for history and ancestry research. Come to the Central Library and discover her fascinating story.

You can also contribute your family stories in our “Scrapbook of Memories” kept by the display. For more resources on WW1, browse our series at www.wcl.govt.nz/ww100

 

Gathering at Gallipoli

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Since our troops landed there on 25 April 1915, Gallipoli has been a destination of great significance for New Zealanders of all ages. The trek to Gallipoli is even more meaningful this year, as we mark the centenary of those landings.

Some 2000 New Zealanders and 8000 Australians will gather at the Dawn Service on Gallipoli Peninsula to remember the soldiers of our two countries who fought together there as ‘ANZACs’. We will reflect on the passing of 100 years since the 25 April landing at Anzac Cove and the birth of ‘the Anzac spirit’. And for all Kiwis it will be a time to reflect on what the bitter Gallipoli campaign meant for our developing identity as a nation.

For many of those gathering at the commemorative site, it will also be a deeply personal experience. As we camp out under the stars on the eve of the Dawn Service, we will be thinking of relatives who fought at the Dardanelles – like my great-uncle Jack, of the 16th (Waikato) Company, 2nd Battalion, Auckland Infantry Regiment, who took part in the landing on 25 April 1915.

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Graves or memorials to most of the approximately 2700 New Zealanders who died at Gallipoli are in 24 cemeteries dotted around the peninsula. Besides attending the Dawn Service, some visitors will have time to explore the significant cemeteries, battlefields and other sites.

Many of the travel guides (like those published by Lonely Planet) have basic information about places of historical importance on the peninsula, but the library also has several more detailed guidebooks. These are essential reading for those visiting Gallipoli and are full of details to help anyone interested in the campaign to gain some understanding of the place where so many young New Zealanders fought and died.

Syndetics book coverGallipoli : a guide to New Zealand battlefields and memorials / Ian McGibbon.
This 2014 revised update of the original edition published 10 years ago “is the indispensable handbook to the history and geographic features of the campaign for a modern, general readership. Easy to follow and highly illustrated, it introduces the battlefields, cemeteries and memorials, detailing the stories behind each and offering historical overviews of New Zealand’s involvement”. (from cover)

Syndetics book coverGallipoli : the battlefield guide / Mat McLachlan.
“More than 30,000 Australians visit Gallipoli every year, and the numbers are increasing each year as the centenary of the landing approaches. This practical guide book enables them to plan their trip, work out what to see and in what order, and gives the historical background to the major battles. It gives all the necessary information – both practical and historical – to appreciate what happened, and where. Detailed tours (both walking and with transport) are described, and accompanied by specially drawn maps.” (from library catalogue)

Syndetics book coverTurn right at Istanbul : a walk on the Gallipoli Peninsula / Tony Wright.
Tony Wright’s book is not a travel guide as such but an absorbing and entertaining personal story. “His account of the modern phenomenon of increasing numbers of young Australians and New Zealanders heading for Gallipoli is an Anzac ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’.” “Anyone who has ever dreamed of travelling to Turkey and taking part in the Gallipoli experience will find this book a moving, inspiring and occasionally hilarious roadmap to the heart of Australia and New Zealand in an ancient land.” (adapted from cover)

B8kU-rUCIAAfZn_Ngā Tapuwae
New Zealand has developed a set of trails at Gallipoli as part of the Ngā Tapuwae project. (Trails are also being developed on the Western Front.) The online resource includes a downloadable app with audio tours, interactive maps, personal stories, travel guides, articles and a wealth of other material that helps the user follow in the footsteps of the NZ soldiers who fought at Gallipoli. Link here

WW 1 Display in the Central Library
Drawing from my family archive, the library’s local and NZ history specialist and I have prepared a display of original letters and postcards sent from the trenches. Other interesting pieces of WW1 memorabilia include battalion insignia and a New Testament issued to the troops. Be sure to take a look at these items in the display case on the Second Floor of the Central Library.

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Here is a close-up of a postcard in the display, sent from France in December 1916.

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Reading correspondence from those terrible years is often heartwrenching and the stories and letters in this display certainly convey the pain and sadness of the war.

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Click here to listen to a Radio New Zealand interview of Michael Williams, Waikato-based composer who has been working on writing Letters From The Front, his first symphony. He matches letters from the First World War with musical movements and it will debut performed by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra in April to coincide with Anzac Day commemorations.

Nursing our boys: a Kiwi aboard the first hospital ship

Nurses RegisterCharlotte (Lottie) Le Gallais is a distant relative of mine, who joined the New Zealand Army Nursing Service Corps. Her registration details can be found in the New Zealand Registers of Medical Practitioners and Nurses, 1873, 1882-1933, from the Ancestry database (available in-library only. Check out our Genealogy page for further information). She was one of fourteen nursing sisters who were selected for the first voyage of Hospital Ship No. 1 (the ‘Maheno’), which left Wellington 10 July 1915, and was bound for Gallipoli.

Here is a photograph of the ship in the 14 July 1915 issue of The New Zealand Herald, retrieved for the PapersPast database accessible from our Newspapers and History database pages. The page is full of War-related articles, a year into the 4 year campaign. (Click on the image to enlarge)New Zealand Herald, July 14, 1915 SMALL

Lottie completed her voyage, and was posted to the retired list 21 June 1916. On her return to New Zealand, she married her fiancé, Charles Gardner, with whom she had two children. Lottie died in 1956.

Two of Lottie’s four brothers served in WWI – Leddra (Leddie), who was killed in action at Gallipoli 23 July 1915, and Owen, who fought in France, and survived the war to return home.

A book was written about Lottie, and this is in our collections:

Lottie: Gallipoli Nuse coverLottie : Gallipoli nurse / text by John Lockyer ; illustrations by Alan Barnett.
“An extraordinary account of a nurse’s journey to Gallipoli aboard the New Zealand hospital ship Maheno. Her experiences include caring for the wounded and coping with the death of her brother Leddie, who was killed in action. Based on the letters of Lottie and Leddie Le Gallais and the war diary of John Duder.” (Syndetics summary)

Other titles

Syndetics book coverAnzac girls : the extraordinary story of our World War I nurses / Peter Rees.
“By the end of World War I, 45 Australian and New Zealand nurses had died on overseas service, and over 200 had been decorated. These were the women who left for war looking for adventure and romance, but were soon confronted with challenges for which their civilian lives could never have prepared them. Their strength and dignity were remarkable. Using diaries and letters, Peter Rees takes us into the hospital camps and the wards and the tent surgeries on the edge of some of the most horrific battlefronts of human history. But he also allows the friendships and loves of these courageous and compassionate women to enrich their experiences, and ours. Profoundly moving, this is a story of extraordinary courage and humanity shown by a group of women whose contribution to the Anzac legend has barely been recognized in our history. Peter Rees has changed that understanding forever.” (Syndetics summary)

White Ships coverThe white ships : New Zealand’s First World War hospital ships / Gavin McLean.
“In 1915 the government chartered the trans-Tasman liners Maheno and Marama for use as our first hospital ships. For the next four years, starting with the Maheno off the beach at Gallipoli, they travelled the globe, staffed by Kiwi seamen, doctors and nurses. Back home, thousands of New Zealanders made items and raised money to support these ‘mercy ships’ and followed their movements closely as they transported the sick and wounded from many countries.” (Syndetics summary)

“Offspring of the battlefield” – WWI Kiwi soldiers in their own words at WCL

009100 years on from the First World War, there is no shortage of beautifully researched and written books on the subject by historians, sociologists, poets and others. Over the last few months, Wellington City Libraries has highlighted some of these books in our collection. However, our collection doesn’t stop with books written about New Zealanders in the First World War – we also hold those beloved items, original sources – items written and published by New Zealand troops, while still engaged in the war. New Zealand at the Front is one of these – words (and pictures and cartoons) from soldiers’ own pens.

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The two editions of New Zealand At the Front (1917 and 1918) were written as an ‘annual’, a yearly magazine stuffed full of poetry, short funny stories, cartoons and drawings. “Written and illustrated”, as the cover boasts, “in France by Men of the New Zealand Division”. The editor’s note introduces the contributions and the men who wrote them:

   The contributions for this book have come from Trench, Dug-out, and Billet. They are the offspring of the Battlefield. … If they have neither the quality of culture nor of genius, at least they … reflect something of the ideas, the temperament, and the life of men who, from a sense of duty, find themselves engaged in a mighty conflict in a strange environment, far from their own land.

These might be modified raptures, but the contents of the annual lived up to their introduction as a reflection of the men who wrote and drew for its pages, many of whom are identified only by initials, or various nom de plumes.

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The articles are stuffed with in-jokes and references obviously well-understood among the troops who penned them at the time, but bewildering today. Luckily, the editors seem to have anticipated some difficulties in translation, and provided a handy and tongue-in-cheek glossary for confused readers (a modern reader may wish to have a dictionary handy nevertheless!)

Other sections, and formats, are instantly recognisable. The annual contains many cartoons, often poking fun at officers or other soldiers’ quirks – the familiarity of life in close quarters visible in modern comic strips. Those familiar with the “How my boss sees me/ how my mother sees me/ how my friends see me” internet comic form can even see a distant cousin in one cartoon published in the annual, which compares, wryly, how “the padre sees us”, “higher command ‘seize’ us”, “mademoiselle sees us”, and “Mater sees us” – each sketch wildly different from the others (and proving the point that acute punning transcends time!).

013010The pre-occupations and domestic details of life behind the line loom large in the contents of the annual. From a full-colour watercolour of “Private Purripeef” displaying a haul of cans, to a story of nicknaming friends after “bulla-biff”, to a mournful piece titled “A Tragedy of the Line” – in which the tragic victim of a bombing is revealed to be a can of ‘Fray Bentos’ bully beef – tinned beef recurs as a subject at the top of many minds. Long marches are also a popular subject – a soldier identified only as ‘Rewi’ writes a tragi-comic poem about the significance of good footwear, which including the lines

Boots! Boots! Boots!

Till your latest breath

They will climb the hill to fame,

Trudge the road to Death,

Or march back the road you came.

Although many articles in the annuals are light-hearted or tongue-in-cheek, others are sombre, describing the desolation of their authors’ surroundings. A soldier named only as “Q” submits an article describing the “Red Lodge … as lovely a spot, maybe, as there is in the whole of Flanders”, which he and his companion Bob discovered in a Flemish field. Q writes “Bob said I remember, that it reminded him of a scarlet poppy on the mossy bank” – echoing the now-familiar theme of poppies marking war graves. “It is all changed now,” Q continues, describing the later destruction of the lodge. “Bob was killed on that accursed corner…” It’s possible that Q had read the 1915 poem “In Flanders Fields”, published in Punch, before he wrote his 1917 piece. The image of red poppies marking a war grave or memorial is one we now all recognise.020

The editor, who hoped these annuals would provide an honest reflection of their authors, may have been more right than he knew. The two volumes of New Zealand at the Front display incredible diversity of subjects, tone, and breadth of ability, many contributions beautifully and humorously done. The diversity of the men who wrote and sent in their contributions from “Trench, Dug-out and Billet” is just as apparent as their humour, and leaves us, 100 years later, a fascinatingly direct snapshot of New Zealanders at war.

New Zealand at The Front is held in the New Zealand Reference Stack Collection, and can be requested for viewing at the Second Floor Reference Desk, Central Library.

Socks & Plum Pudding for Christmas

In 1912, Lord Liverpool became governor of New Zealand. Alongside him, stood his wife, Annette Louise Foljambe, Countess of Liverpool. As soon as the War started in 1914, Lady Liverpool became an active supporter and fundraiser for the New Zealand troops sent to fight overseas.

Her Excellency's Knitting Book coverHer Excellency’s knitting book , compiled under the personal supervision of Her Excellency the Countess of Liverpool was published in 1915.  It was intended to encourage the women of New Zealand, as well as children (boys and girls!), to take up knitting as a valuable skill and turn it into a mass war effort by crafting useful items that would be sent to soldiers fighting for the Empire. Socks in particular were in high demand, a pair only lasting a couple of weeks. Often, the knitter would add a little hand-sewn personal note inside the garment for its recipient. The initiative became hugely popular and contributed to making soldiers feel that they weren’t forgotten back home.
One of these little books has been a treasure in our Rare Books room at the Central Library. It contains a hand-written introduction by Lady Liverpool herself, encouraging “the women of New Zealand” to take their part in the war effort by using the patterns in the book to produce some much needed comfort for the troops.

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The book despite its very modest dimensions as it was designed to be carried in a knitting bag, contains a myriad patterns and knitting instructions to guide the novice (“To wind wool so that you work from the inside of the ball, p.41) as much as the accomplished knitters . It is also dotted with quaint advertising from businesses all over New Zealand such as this Harringtons ad:

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The patterns not only cover garments of use to soldiers such as cholera belts, but items for women, children and babies. In case you always wanted to knit a cholera belt, here are instructions:

Cholera belt

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Christmas in the trenches Dominion articleThis clipping from The Dominion’s 16 July 1917 issue is a testimony of the extent of the contributions from the civilians back home. You can access the full article in the Paperspast database. Published in July, it was calling for “funds of gifts of various kinds” to ensure that soldiers on the front would receive comforting parcels from home, in time for Christmas. Plum puddings were highly prized for their capacity to travel well and their festive significance: “This year, owing to the shortage of certain classes of foodstuffs in the Motherland, these gifts, particularly plum puddings and fancy articles of food, should be more welcome than ever to the men in the fighting lines.”

 

Syndetics book coverOne of the most likely sources of the time for recipes of plum pudding would have been Mrs Beeton’s Every-day Cookery and Housekeeping Book as suggested in A Distant Feast : the origins of New Zealand’s cuisine by Tony Simpson (recipe p. 66).

Here are images of our own original copy of Mrs Beeton’s 1893 edition, available from our stacks on the second floor of the central library. It includes several versions of the Plum Pudding recipe (p. 379-381, pictured).

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Syndetics book coverMrs Beeton was an incredibly popular influence in the  kitchens of the time and has remained a seminal influence in the art of cookery, as our collection bears testimony.
However, “her reputation as an innovator is unjustified“, according to Tony Simpson, author of A Distant Feast, who believes that Eliza Action should have claimed the title.
And indeed, Simon Hopkinson’s (British former chef and critic, considered to be one of the best cookery writers) quote on the cover of Eliza Acton’s Modern Cookery for private Families stands as more than a stamp of approval: “The Author’s Christmas Pudding is as perfect as any festive pudding can be. I would not cook, nor eat I wish to eat, any other than Acton’s.” You will find her recipe p. 416 of this edition.

To read more about Eliza Acton refer to Syndetics book coverThe real Mrs Beeton : the story of Eliza Acton  by Sheila M. Hardy with foreword by Delia Smith.
For her own recipes, read Modern Cookery for private families : reduced to a system of easy practice in a series of carefully tested receipts in which the principles of Baron Liebig and other eminent writers have been as much as possible applied and explained  with an introduction by Jill Norman.

And finally, another source of recipes that has withstood the test of time is Auguste Escoffier’s A Guide to Modern Cookery. Published in English in 1907, it became a Bible for many generations of chefs and amateurs cooks. Hailed as one of the greatest chefs and food writers of all times, Escoffier redefined French cuisine and propelled it into the 20th Century, influencing cookery internationally.  Here is a photo of the 1951 reprint we hold in the stacks with Escoffier’s version of the very British Plum Pudding.

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For more contemporary publications regarding “The King of Chefs and the Chef of Kings”, Escoffier’s nickname, check our catalogue here.

Notes:
A very interesting documentary about Lady Liverpool and her war efforts, screened on TV3 News last August can be watched on this New Zealand History page with an accompanying article.

And for the francophiles out there, a recent episode of the highly entertaining food programme “On va déguster” produced by the French national radio station France Inter has a very informative piece on Auguste Escoffier. You can read and listen here! Bon Appétit et Joyeux Noël!

Remembering WW1 on Anzac Day

On 25 April 1915, New Zealanders along with other Allied troops landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey, with the aim of taking the Dardanelles, and threatening the Ottoman capital, Constantinople (now Istanbul). At the end of the nine month campaign, about a third of the New Zealand soldiers taking part had been killed. Anzac Day commemorates all New Zealand soldiers killed in war, and also honours returned servicemen and women.  Here is some further reading:

Syndetics book coverShattered glory : the New Zealand experience at Gallipoli and the Western Front / Matthew Wright.
“The Gallipoli campaign of 1915 destroyed New Zealand’s fantasies of war as a glorious schoolboy adventure on behalf of a beloved Empire. The Western Front campaign that followed in 1916-18 gave shape to the emotional impact. it was a horror world of death and mud that destroyed the souls of the young men who fought in it. Together, these two campaigns shaped the lives of a generation of New Zealanders and have given a particular meaning to modern memory of war. In Shattered Glory, highly regarded historian Matthew Wright illuminates New Zealand’s human experience during these two First World War campaigns, exploring the darker side of New Zealand’s iconic symbols of national identity and explaining some of the realities behind the twenty-first century mythology.” (Back cover)

Syndetics book coverDevils on horses : in the words of the Anzacs in the Middle East 1916-19 / Terry Kinloch ; foreword by Dr Christopher Pugsley.
“Reunited with their horses in Egypt after the shattering experience of Gallipoli, the Anzac mounted riflemen and light horsemen were initially charged with the defence of the Suez Canal, then with the clearance of the Sinai peninsula, and finally with the destruction of the Turkish armies in Palestine and Syria.
At last they could pursue the style of warfare for which they had been trained: on horseback.
The First World War battlefields in the Middle East have long been overshadowed by those of Gallipoli and the Western Front. Yet the story of the mounted riflemen in Sinai and Palestine is a truly fascinating one. Using the soldiers’ original letters and diaries wherever possible, Kinloch vividly describes every battle and skirmish in the long campaign against the Turks: the crucial Battle of Romani, the defeats at Bir el Abd, Gaza and Amman, and the successes at Beersheba, Ayun Kara and elsewhere.” (Abridged from publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverMapping the first world war : battlefields of the great conflict from above.
“Some one hundred years on from the Great War, Mapping The First World War provides a unique perspective on the ‘war to end all wars’. Over a hundred maps and charts show the broad sweep of events, from Germany’s 1914 war goals to the final positions of the troops. There are maps depicting movements and battles as well as related documents, such as those on levels of conscription and numbers of weapons.” (Abridged from publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverPasschendaele : the anatomy of a tragedy / Andrew Macdonald.
“This extensively researched book tells the story of one of the darkest hours of Australia and New Zealand’s First World War military. With the forensic use of decades-old documents and soldier accounts, it unveils for the first time what really happened on the war-torn slopes of Passchendaele, why, and who was responsible for the deaths and injuries of thousands of soldiers in the black mud of Flanders. Macdonald explores the October battles of Third Ypres from the perspective of the generals who organised them to the soldiers in the field, drawing on a wide range of evidence held in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Britain and Germany. His book is far more than a simple narrative of battle and includes critical and comparative assessments of command, personality, training discipline, weapons, systems, tactics and the environment. It looks equally at the roles of infantry, artillery and engineering units, whether Australian, New Zealand, Canadian or British, and in so doing presents a meticulous, objective and compelling investigation from start to finish. Along the way it offers numerous unique insights that have, until now, been obscured by a nearly century-old fog of war. This book will reshape the understanding of one of the most infamous battles of the First World War.” (Publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverThe other Anzacs : nurses at war 1914-1918 / Peter Rees.
“By the end of The Great War, forty-five Australian and New Zealand nurses had died on overseas service and over two hundred had been decorated. These were women who left for war on an adventure, but were soon confronted with remarkable challenges for which their civilian lives could never have prepared them.
They were there for the horrors of Gallipoli and they were there for the savagery the Western Front. Within twelve hours of the slaughter at Anzac Cove they had over 500 horrifically injured patients to tend on one crammed hospital ship, and scores of deaths on each of the harrowing days that followed. Every night was a nightmare. Their strength and humanity were remarkable.” (Abridged from publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverArchduke Franz Ferdinand lives! : a world without World War I / Richard Ned Lebow.
“For Lebow (A Cultural Theory of International Relations), a professor of international political theory, the erasure of WWI from our historical timeline would have placed our world on a path quite different from the one we are on today. He expounds on the theory of counterfactuals to revisit and better understand our history. “What-ifs of this kind offer insights into the world in which we actually live,” Lebow claims, letting us “probe why and how it came about, how contingent it was, and how we should evaluate it.” He begins with the assassination of Franz Ferdinand and its aftershocks, detailing what could have happened in the fields of science, art, medicine, and politics had the archduke survived. Using historical and personal records, supported by known personality traits of notable period figures, Lebow fashions two possible worlds, one better and one worse, had WWI been avoided. His confidence is evident on every page; this work of alternative history reminds us of our own position in flow of events and tempts us to follow Lebow’s lead in fantasizing about the possibilities inherent in these very distinct worlds. Though we can’t escape the realities of our past, Lebow provides his readers with exciting alternatives to consider.” (Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverGallipoli : the final battles and evacuation of Anzac / David W. Cameron.
“This book is the first book since Charles Bean’s Official history to provide a detailed narrative of the bloody and tragic battle for Hill 60, along with the other engagements that went on until the very last days at Anzac – viewed from both sides of the trenches. It also examines in detail the planning and execution of the evacuation of the troops from Anzac – the most successful part of the whole Gallipoli fiasco. David Cameron’s detailed research and use of firsthand accounts including letters, diaries, and interviews, enables him to convey the confusion of battle while also telling a good story with a powerful emotional impact” (Back cover)

Syndetics book coverMeetings in no man’s land : Christmas 1914 and fraternization in the Great War / Marc Ferro … [et al.] ; translations by Helen McPhail.
“In the winter of 1914, after long months of marching, soldiers on both fronts began to dig trenches and the war became a battle of attrition in which ordinary men faced each other across the bombed mud of No Man’s Land. The enemy lines were often no more than a few yards away, the soldiers of both sides in equal desperation, surrounded by carnage and horror. Out of this hardship came a shared feeling which was demonstrated in the unofficial armistice of Christmas 1914, when German and English soldiers laid down their weapons for a blessed moment of peace, played football and swapped food.
In this book, four international experts look at the story of Christmas 1914 and the evidence that fraternization was far more common than previously accepted. Using new research, the book explores these brief moments of humanity on all fronts and throughout the conflict, and shows them to have been not only prevalent but also vital, long ignored, factor in the war. For the French, defending their home territory, fraternization was the last taboo and until now omitted from the record.
Meetings in No Man’s Land reveals a story of the Great War that has long been forgotten or lost in censored official reports or officer journals, and brings new light to the harrowing experience of the ordinary soldier’s life in the trenches.” (Publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverThe Great War handbook [electronic resource] : a guide for family historians & students of the conflict / Geoff Bridger ; foreword by Cornelli Barnett.
“Geoff Bridger’s The Great War Handbook answers many of the basic questions newcomers ask when confronted by this enormous and challenging subject not only what happened and why, but what was the Great War like for ordinary soldiers who were caught up in it. He describes the conditions the soldiers endured, the deadly risks they ran, their daily routines and the small roles they played in the complex military machine they were part of. His comprehensive survey of every aspect of the soldier’s life, from recruitment and training, through the experience of battle and its appalling aftermath, is an essential guide for students, family historians, teachers and anyone who is eager to gain an all-round understanding of the nature of the conflict. His authoritative handbook gives a fascinating insight into the world of the Great War – it is a basic book that no student of the subject can afford to be without.” (Syndetics summary)

ANZAC Day – Your Ancestors’ Military Past

GenealogyInterested in researching your family history?
From time to time we’ll be posting genealogy facts and advice here on the News Blog.
For other blog entries on genealogy, click on the tag “genealogy” at the bottom of this post.

Australians and New Zealanders know ANZAC day – 25th April – as a national day of remembrance to honour members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli in Turkey during World War I.

Did you have a relative who took part in WW1? Would you like to read their Military Personnel Record?

Military records can provide amazing details for genealogists, especially ages and places of birth, while they can also expand family histories with information about campaigns, conduct and even physical descriptions of ancestors.

Continue reading “ANZAC Day – Your Ancestors’ Military Past”