Military

WWI Evacuees: Research Update

on Saturday, 01 March 2014. Posted in Military

Hello, its Jade again!
Its been just over a month since I last wrote my blog and there have been some great, and interesting developments, some as a result of people reading the blog and getting in touch for which I am very grateful! So I thought I had better get in touch and update you all.

I have now been through all but nine of the school admission registers for the whole of Wiltshire - not an easy task I assure you, but being very close to finishing has made me reflect on what has been discovered along the way. I think it is safe to say that some sort of large scale, organised evacuation of young children out of London was occurring during the war.  While there is plenty of evidence to suggest this, it also has opened up new questions such as; why? how? and where? It is also worth noting that although it looks like this must have been organized on a large scale, it is equally clear that it was not anything to do with the government, or local authorities. This is clear from the lack of information available about the evacuees in any official records.

The First World War Home Front – a forgotten part of the war

on Friday, 07 February 2014. Posted in Military

The Blitz, rationing, evacuees, home guard, women’s land army are all such familiar parts of the story of the Second World War. The home front is well documented, the setting for popular television programmes, taught in primary schools and part of our collective narrative for the Second World War, but most people know very little about the home front during the First World War. Prompted by this year’s centenary and the production of a resource pack for schools, volunteers and staff have been looking into the archives for documents about the Great War. At the request of teachers, we looked into the role of children in the war researching the school log books to find out how the war affected their lives.

Wiltshire's Conscientious Objectors

on Thursday, 23 January 2014. Posted in Archives, Military

Some of you may have listened to the Today Programme on BBC Radio 4 this morning (23rd Jan) or have seen newspaper reports on the National Archives recent release of online material relating to World War 1 Military Conscription Appeal Tribunals for Middlesex. http://ht.ly/sPK8W  and http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2014/jan/23/who-conscientious-objectors-first-world-war?CMP=twt_fd

It is suggested that these records are one of only two complete sets of such records to survive as the tribunal papers were supposed to have been destroyed after the war. So we thought our blog readers might be interested to know that the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre also hold a series of tribunal papers.

WWI Evacuees to Wiltshire: The Untold Story

on Friday, 10 January 2014. Posted in Military

Hello, my name is Jade and I am currently on Placement at Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre from the University of the West of England, as part of my History degree. I am working on a project that is looking at the possibility of children during World War One being evacuated to rural areas, such as Wiltshire. We do not know very much about this as it wasn’t government organised, and there are little records remaining. It seems that there was quite a large influx of Children from London following air raids in 1917, when Zeppelin airships were superseded by the deadly Gotha Biplanes. In the first raid in May 1917 there were 95 casualties and on the 12th of June 1917 100 bombs fell killing 162 civilians, including 16 Children at a school in Poplar which received a direct hit. This seems to have caused an unofficial evacuation of children and families.

The Worst Journey in History

on Saturday, 19 October 2013. Posted in Military, Wiltshire People

Winston Churchill described the arctic convoys of the Second World War as the worst journeys in history; for the sailors not only had to contend with freezing conditions and the very real chance of getting stuck in the ice but also the terror of U-Boats and dive bombers. This all seems a long way from the safety of the present day and from Wiltshire – a county with no coastline. But a few weeks ago Wiltshire Council held a ceremony to honour the residents of the county who served in those convoys and who have had to wait 70 years before they were granted a service medal that recognised their particular efforts. It was a tremendous surprise, and a great honour, for those involved in organising this event to discover that there are 25 men living in Wiltshire who served in those convoys.

The Return of Miss Baker and her ‘boys’ at the Front

on Tuesday, 17 September 2013. Posted in Archives, Military

As already described in a previous blog, Miss Frances Baker of Brown Street, Salisbury, was the Honorary Secretary of the local branch of Queen Mary’s Needlework Guild. According to the box of letters held here at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre, she must have been a tireless worker on behalf of the Guild and the soldiers, sailors and airmen of Salisbury who were away fighting at the front.

As well as sending regular ‘Parcels of Comfort’ (monthly, in some cases) she also wrote regular letters. Most of these seemed to be to young men she had known, through her connection with St Martin’s Church, and the ‘Band of Hope’.

The ‘Band of Hope’ was a children’s Temperance organisation, set up in Leeds in 1847, to educate children in the evils of alcohol. A huge social problem amongst the population in the nineteenth century, drinking exaggerated the issues around poverty and so Temperance societies sought to influence the young, and thereby instruct those around them.

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