War and Conflict

A date which will live in infamy
07 December 2016

President Roosevelt famously declared December 7th 1941 ‘a date which will live in infamy’. As war raged across Europe, and America - the ‘giant’ - slept on, imperialist forces in Japan plotted a devastating strike on Pearl Harbor. Today marks the 77th anniversary of the deadly attack on that sleepy Hawaiian naval base, an event that would ultimately turn the tide of the Second World War.

Cement, Chemicals, Bricks and Beer: Women in Industry During the First World War
18 October 2016

When we think of the role of women on the Home Front during the First World War, the images which spring to mind are inevitably those of fresh-faced city girls perched precariously on fence posts, wellies on and pitchfork in hand. Think harder and you might also have a vague recollection of countless rows of twenty-somethings handling and packing shell cases in London munitions factories; but what other jobs did women do during the First World War?

The Wipers Times
12 October 2016

Last week I had the opportunity of seeing Ian Hislop’s and Nick Newman’s stage play based upon the true story of The Wipers Times, currently showing at the Watermill Theatre, near Newbury, 22 September – 29 October 2016. I also attended an afternoon discussion session where the co-writers were interviewed about their work and answered questions from the audience. The Wipers Times was a trench journal published by British soldiers fighting on the Ypres Salient during the First World War. It became the most famous example of trench journalism in the English-speaking world.

Spectacle of the First World War: A special guest blog by Elizabeth Mantz
07 October 2016

One of the reasons I like the Adam Matthew resources so much is the visual richness contained within each one. The historical value and depth of the primary source content is complemented and augmented by a wealth of accompanying vivid images, many in colour.

Smiles from the Somme
29 June 2016

On 1st July 1916 the first day of the Battle of the Somme, one of the bloodiest campaigns of the First World War, began. Over 141 days, 1.2 million soldiers on both sides of the conflict were injured or killed, in what Captain Blackadder famously referred to as ‘another gargantuan effort to move [Field Marshal Haig’s] drinks cabinet six inches closer to Berlin.’ 1st July 1916 has gone down on record as the single worst day in the history of the British army; in just one day, the army suffered 60,000 casualties. Desperate to keep the true horrors of the war from civilian eyes, the propaganda machine swung into overdrive.

‘My Dear Old Basil’: Letters from a Shell-Shocked Soldier
04 December 2015

The 4th December marks the anniversary of the publication of a paper entitled ‘The Repression of War Experience’, presented to the Royal School of Medicine in 1917 by W. H. Rivers. Rivers was a psychiatrist and neurologist, mostly known for his work with soldiers suffering from shell-shock, both during and following World War I. His paper advocated the best course of treatment for sufferers of shell-shock was for them to face their painful memories, rather than adopting an ‘ostrich-like policy of attempting to banish them from the mind.’

20 November 2015

Before the close of the Nuremberg trials in October 1946, the Mass Observation team sent out a number of directives asking the public’s opinion on the trials of the Nazi war criminals. The primary response was that they were a waste of time, a waste of tax payer’s money and the verdict a foregone conclusion. The thought process was that these men were guilty, and would be found so, and that the simplest, and cheapest option, would have been to shoot them on the spot (though some had some more brutal ideas).

Armistice Day 1937: a special Guest Blog by Fiona Courage
10 November 2015

I cannot buy a poppy, for I have not got a penny. Not so rich. 11 o’clock, what an unearthly silence. My thoughts are upon my little children in school, their heads will be bowed in reverence to our beloved dead. It is all very sad for the relatives of the fallen, for it seems a pity to keep on reopening an old wound, causing a heartache. I don’t think any body really wishes to remember the war and its horrors. I am thinking about my child’s wet feet, hoping that her leaking shoe will not soak her foot. Wet feet mean bronchitis for her, unless I can stop it with my favourite medicine.

AJEX: British Jewry and Wartime Commemoration
06 November 2015

At the stroke of 11am this Sunday, individuals across Britain, including present day soldiers, veterans and their families, will observe a minute silence to remember the sacrifices of members of the British armed forces and of civilians in times of war. Among them will be members of AJEX, The Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women, which, as its name suggests, is made up of British-Jewish men and women who once served in the British Armed Forces. With a current membership of approximately 4,000 people, AJEX has a long and interesting history spanning over ninety years.

Do your duty as workingmen
10 April 2015

Six days from today shall mark the ninety eighth anniversary of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin’s return to Russia after more than a decade of exile abroad.

Warrior Sportsmen: Rugby Football & the Great War
20 March 2015

If, like me, you have been avidly watching the rugby of both the men’s and women’s Six Nations tournaments over the last few weeks, you will no doubt be feeling the tension rise as we approach the grand finales tomorrow. Whether you have been supporting the English, Welsh, Irish, Scottish, French or Italians, I think you will agree that it has been a cracking spectacle with the players taking centre stage.

China fights in Britain
22 January 2015

In the British popular memory of the Second World War, China is largely absent. Japan had invaded and annexed Chinese Manchuria eight years before Nazi Germany marched into Poland, so in one sense the war began on Chinese soil. But perhaps it is because of this that we forget about them – they only became our allies because their war with Japan happened, after 1941, to coincide with ours.

We will remember them
07 November 2014

On 11 November the nation, and many others around the world, will observe the annual memorial day for all those who lost their lives through war. This year, and surely for the next four years, particular thought is given to those who fought in the First World War, as we mark 100 years since the conflict began.

The Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand
27 June 2014

On 28th June 1914 Archduke Franz Ferdinand, an incident that stunned Europe and set in motion a series of events leading to the outbreak of World War I. Adam Matthew’s First World War resource contains documents, images and video footage that help to tell the story of the shooting and its aftermath.

A Stage for the Brave
12 May 2014

I, for one, adore the theatre; the bright lights, the energy, the set, the somewhat mystical quality that envelops you when confronted with the stage, upon which unfurls anything from a deeply moving fictitious work to light-hearted and humorous banter. After all, we all seek a sense of escapism and a yearning for pure entertainment.

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