War and Conflict

Plum Pudding In A Shell Hole: Christmas Baking In World War I
08 December 2017

This week we held a charity Christmas “Winter Wonderland” bake off in the Adam Matthew office. Marshmallow penguins and snowy forest floor s’mores competed against traditional yule logs and cakes decorated with snowmen, Christmas trees and gambolling reindeer. The joy that these seasonal bakes bring to a modern consumer must pale in comparison to that experienced by soldiers in the frozen, muddy trenches of the Western Front during the First World War. From “pop-up” dinners in shell holes and Christmas puddings delivered by messenger motorcycles, to what must surely have been a record-breaking cake, the photographs available in The First World War portal offer fascinating, and at times humbling, glimpses into culinary Christmas celebrations at the front and behind the lines.

Charles J.C. Hutson And Confederate Flag Culture: A Special Guest Blog
06 December 2017

The letters of Charles J.C. Hutson, a former student of South Carolina College and a soldier in the First South Carolina Volunteers, provide insight on various topics pertaining to the American Civil War era. ... But it is Hutson’s remarks on a company flag from early in the war that this piece will focus upon. Though perhaps trivial at first glance, these remarks offer us a personal perspective on the complex ways in which southerners developed a relationship with their fledgling nation and their wider ideas about the Civil War.

The Great Game Revisited: Afghanistan In The 1970s
01 December 2017

It was in the early 1970s that Afghanistan entered into the spiral of governmental instability, insurgency, outright civil war and foreign interventions that has plagued it to the present day. Amongst the dozens of Afghan-focused files in our resource 'Foreign Office Files for India, Pakistan and Afghanistan' two which date from the regime of Mohammad Daoud Khan, president from 1973 to 1978, shed light both on the circumstances under which he came to power and, with some considerable prescience, on the potential for instability and Soviet intervention which it was feared might follow the end of his rule.

In the Name of Lenin: Electrifying the Great October Revolution
08 November 2017

To celebrate the centenary of the 1917 Russian Revolution, Professor Graham Roberts introduces the 1932 film short, In the Name of Lenin. Directed by Mikhail Slutskii, this 14 minute feature was produced in the USSR to celebrate industrial progress in the years following the Revolution.

October Days: The Bolshevik Revolution at 100
07 November 2017

To celebrate the centenary of the 1917 Russian Revolution, Professor Denise J. Youngblood introduces the 1958 film October Days. Directed by Sergei Vasiliev, the film was produced in the USSR to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the October Revolution and makes for a fascinating case study in Soviet memory.

Keep Calm and Candid On
03 November 2017

This week I’d like to bring you some good news. Well, as ‘good’ as news could get for the British Army in Italy during the spring/summer of 1944. While working on the Service Newspapers of World War II: Module 1 collection I had access to a variety of high-profile publications like “Union Jack”, “Stars and Stripes”, and “Blighty”; each a heady mix of pin-ups, atrocities, and shoe polish advertisements.

The Battle of Passchendaele
19 October 2017

“I died in hell – they called it Passchendaele” – One hundred years on, Passchendaele is commemorated through the words of poet Siegfried Sassoon. But it can also be remembered through the memoirs and diaries of the men who experienced the events. Perhaps the First World War battle that is today most present in the collective British consciousness is the Somme, but at the time this battle was synonymous with the hopelessness and horror of what was playing out on foreign fields.

Attacking Japanese Morale, 1940-1945
20 September 2017

Among the gems in the Foreign Office Files for Japan are two files that consider the role of the enemy’s “civilian morale” in war and diplomacy. In both, British officials presupposed that targeting civilians might be an effective means of deterring or defeating the Japanese war machine.

Service Newspapers of World War II: Raising Morale One Moustache at a Time
08 September 2017

One of the most common remarks about life as a soldier in the Second World War, from those who experienced it first-hand, is that when you weren’t scared stiff you were bored to death. For many, the episodes of fighting were interspersed with long and tedious months of waiting around for orders, or being shipped to and fro between different bases, wondering what was coming next.

31 August 2017

In September 1940, a British diplomat named Wilfred Hansford Gallienne embarked on a two-week journey from Moscow to Tokyo via the Trans-Siberian Railway. A year into the Second World War, neither the Soviet Union nor Japan had explicitly taken sides, and Gallienne’s objective was to assess travelling conditions and evidence of military activity. His impressions are recorded in an official memorandum, included in our recently-published resource, Foreign Office Files for Japan, 1919-1952.

Stationers’ Hall During the Blitz
23 August 2017

The Court Books included in Literary Print Culture: The Stationers' Company Archive, 1554-2007 are essential to our understanding of the history and workings of the Stationers’ Company. The Court Books, ranging from 1602 to 1983, contain the official minutes of the Court of Assistants. For each meeting, the decisions of the court are recorded as orders. The collection contains the rough Court Minute Books and the Court Books; the former being draft minutes taken while court was in progress, and the latter being the formal and final version. All minutes are signed by the Master and typically the following information is included: place, date and time of court meeting and a list of those present.

Wonder Women
22 June 2017

Wonder Woman has kicked down doors for female superheroes everywhere this summer with her Lasso of Truth, steely commitment to peace and wholly impractical wardrobe – raking in $600 million in the process. ... While working on Adam Matthew’s upcoming resource Medical Services and Warfare, I stumbled across a biographical collection charting the real-life women who dedicated their lives to the war effort.

Love Letters from the Front
17 May 2017

This time next week, I’ll be spending my bank holiday at The Hay Festival, the annual celebration of literature, art, politics, history (and more) held in the beautiful ‘town of books’, Hay-on-Wye. There’s a huge amount to do at the festival but when the programme came out there was one event I knew I had to see for a second time: Letters Live.

Operation Teutonic Sword
09 March 2017

In the Cold War battle for hearts and minds there was documentary film making. In this struggle a small British distributor of left-wing films tried to play its part by showing documentaries made in socialist countries as a counterpoint to Western interpretations of those places behind the iron curtain as menacing and dangerous. Its motto was ‘See the other side of the world’. These were films that often shone a light back on the West and its own misdemeanours. Many of the films it distributed came from East Germany – home of some skilled documentary makers – and one these films in particular led to a legal and political kerfuffle that raised questions of libel, censorship and diplomatic niceties in Cold War Britain.

At all Times Loyal to America: Internment During WWII
24 February 2017

The latest POTUS recently signed the 13776th Executive Order - his twelfth since taking office. Last Sunday, however, marked the 75th anniversary of an earlier order – no. 9066 – which was issued by FDR in 1942. Harmless as this anonymous directive may sound, it gave the US military the authority to designate zones from which ‘any or all people may be excluded’. With this power, the government were able to enact a policy of interning and relocating thousands of its citizens.

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