Imust go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky, And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by …” One of the best loved sea poems in the English language - John Masefield’s Sea Fever - conjures up powerful imagery of the oceans – white sails shaking, sea-gulls crying and even the vagrant gypsy life.
World War One is infamous for its enormous number of casualties with 700,000 men being killed in active service, leading to them being labelled as ‘The Lost Generation’. Indeed, many talented and ambitious young men were tragically lost, some of whom would have contributed to the educated and cultural elite, especially as there was a disproportionate number of middle-class men. However, these devastating losses not only impacted upon the men’s families and loved ones but also had dramatic social consequences for women – as the 1921 census showed, there was now a serious imbalance within the population, with there being 1.75 million more women than men. This meant that for many women aged under 40, marriage and also motherhood were unlikely to be a realistic option nor an achievable goal. In fact, when the details of the 1921 census were made public, the press was quick to exaggerate the significance of this population imbalance and label the excess of women as ‘surplus’ or ‘superfluous’ implying that, without the option of marriage and children, these women were destined for meaningless, unfulfilled lives, as marriage was seen as the ‘crowning glory’ of a woman’s life and her ultimate goal. Not surprisingly, this statistical revelation sparked much concern and anxiety and meant that many women, whether middle or working class, would have to find an alternative life path and be both emotionally and financially independent, which for many was an unexpected and challenging prospect.
How many people have old photographs of unidentified ancestors that they wish they could learn more about? My discovery began one winter’s afternoon when, delving into a dusty box retrieved from my late parent’s loft, I found individual photographs of two men. Each was wearing the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) special tunic, with its high collar and off-centre concealed button fastening, and side cap, but there was no clue as to their identities.
The Battle of the Somme began on 1 July 1916 and was to last until 18 November. The statistics for this bloody conflict are staggering: • 141 days of battle • 1,700,000 shells fired on to the German lines • 57,470 British casualties for the first day alone, of which 19,240 were killed • in total the Battle of the Somme would claim 419,654 British, 204,253 French and 500,000 Germans. In amongst these facts and figures
TheGenealogist.co.uk has just launched a new collection of British telephone directories. Complementing the early UK Telephone Directory from 1899-1900 that is already available on the site, this new release includes the 1907 Post Office National Directory, which adds a resource for finding names and addresses before the 1911 census.
Like other garments covered recently in this series, the trousered overalls known popularly as dungarees originated in India – or rather the name did, for dungri is a Hindi term for a cheap calico (cotton) material first worn in the 1700s by the poorer classes in a former area of Bombay near Dongari Killa. The coarse cloth, like many Indian textiles, was exported and used to fashion economical, sturdy work wear in the west, where its name was pronounced ‘dungaree’. Also, navies around the world used the tough fabric for ships’ sails and quite possibly it was the tendency of sailors to make clothes out of old sail cloth that caused the name ‘dungaree’ to mean not only the low grade material, but also the articles made from it.
Eton College, near Windsor in Berkshire, has a long, distinguished history and an equally extensive list of alumni. Founded in 1440 by Henry VI as ‘Kynge’s College of Our Ladye of Eton besyde Windesore’, it was, however, originally set up to provide education to 70 poor boys, known as King’s Scholars. It is properly one of England’s ‘public’ rather than ‘private’ schools, the difference being that the former have their roots in earlier charity schools, which were set up to educate poorer boys (‘public’ meaning not restricted by religion, family status or where they lived). Bearing this in mind, it’s more probable than you may have thought to have had an ancestor who attended Eton.
Taking hostages to try and force a European nation to bow to unreasonable aims is nothing new. In December 1867 the British had to launch a rescue mission for hostages being held in Abyssinia by the unpredictable Emperor Tewodros of Ethiopia. Five years earlier, much of his country had begun to revolt against him. The exception was a small loyal pocket near his fortress at Magdala. Theodore II, as he was known in English, had been engaged in constant military campaigns against an array of rebel countrymen and in an attempt to shore up his rule he had written to the major world powers – Russia, Prussia, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, France and the United Kingdom – asking for their help. None replied as he had hoped and this angered him.
Verdun and the Somme were two of the most cataclysmic battles of World War One on the Western Front. The carnage on that front in 1916 was unprecedented for all sides, and had a profound effect on the eventual outcome of the war. On the first day of the Somme, Britain and her Commonwealth suffered almost 60,000 casualties, the worst day's loss in British military history. Many people think of the battle solely in terms of that first disastrous day. In fact it lasted for four and a half months and would witness the arrival of the tank on the battlefield. Likewise Verdun lasted ten months and the steadfastness of the French soldiers remains legendary to this day.
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