First world war – a century on, time to hail the peacemakers
"On the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War, we should remember those who tried to stop a catastrophe" [more inside]
"The Wall Street Journal has selected 100 legacies from World War I
that continue to shape our lives today." You can sort according to your interest via the tabs at the top of the page. [Previously]
The BBC will be covering World War One
in great detail over the next four years. They've already started, with podcasts
, interactive guides
, online courses
, programs new
plus much, much more. Perhaps it's best to start at the beginning, with Professor Margaret MacMillan's Countdown to World War One
) or the account of her fellow historian Christopher Clark, Month of Madness
. Of course, how the war started is still contested by historians, as recounted in The Great War of Words
. The latter two are also part of the main WWI podcast
. Or you can dive into the Music and Culture
section, go through an A-Z guide
or look at comics
drawn by modern cartoonists.
was the first ever Black
officer in the British Army, and the first black officer
to lead white men into battle. He was also only
the second black player to compete in the top division of football, playing for the Tottenham Hotspur
and Northhampton Town. An unassuming pioneer, his life has inspired a play
, a documentary
and a petition
As part of a series of coins on the centenary
of the Great War, The Royal Mint has begun a programme of commemoration
that will continue over the next five years, telling the emotive story
of the journey from outbreak to armistice through a series of United Kingdom £5 coins, arranged in six-coin sets. Passed over for
the Military Cross, allegedly due to the Army's institutional racism that banned
"negros and other persons of colour" advancement to officer ranks, Walter Tull has his own coin
"Nevertheless, one lands the real killer blow against the rather silly ‘what if’ justification for the 'just' Great War by looking at its actual results. The militarist German-dominated Europe envisaged in the counter factual just mentioned would have been worse than the one that did actually eventuate, worse than fascism, Nazism, Stalinism, the Great Depression, the influenza epidemic … how, exactly? Surely a war allegedly fought to prevent one particular outcome but which, even when won, at the cost of millions of dead, produced an even worse situation is the very definition of pointless slaughter.
" -- In the wake of the Michael Gove led attack on the socalled "Blackadder view" of the First World War as a pointless slaughter, historian Guy Halsall does his best to pour cold war on their idea of WWI as a just war
"During the fierce fighting that followed the police found themselves heavily outnumbered as soldiers, many in uniform, joined in against them. A chemist's shop was raided and medicine bottles were used as missiles. A man was hit so hard by a fireman's jet that he was hurled through a music shop window. The crowd that went in to rescue him emerged with three pianos. These were dragged into the roadway and used as accompaniments. The crowd sang 'Keep the Home Fires Burning' before the biggest bonfire that Luton had ever seen. The burning down of the Town Hall provided the perfect culmination to what had started as a very wet day." -- In 1919 the mayor of Luton planned a "peace celebration" as a nice way for him and his friends to gorge themselves. Thousands of discharged, unemployed service men thought otherwise and the 1919 Luton riots were the result
"The phrase was first used by Arthur Mee in his King's England series in the 1930s. A Thankful Village, it was said, was one which lost no men in the Great War because all those who left to serve came home again. For example, in Yorkshire East Riding he says about Catwick, "Thirty men went from Catwick to the Great War and thirty came back, though one left an arm behind." It was also said that such villages have no war memorials - or that if they do, they are a thankful reminder of all who served. Any community which enjoyed this rare distinction must have been Thankful indeed, in an age when family and community life broken by war was the norm.
" -- From the Hellfire Corner research project on Thankful Villages [more inside]
World War I in Color
is a documentary designed to make the Great War come alive for a 21st-century audience. The events of 1914-18 are authoritatively narrated by Kenneth Branagh, who presents the military and political overview, while interviews with historians add different perspectives in six 48 minute installments annotated within. [more inside]
The Poet-King Of Fiume
There is no decent way of containing the excesses of Gabriele d'Annunzio's lives. It would astonish his contemporaries to discover that he is now only faintly remembered outside Italy. Even within Italy, though firmly entrenched in the literary canon, he is most commonly recalled with a sort of collective cringe. For once upon a time, in the fervid fin de siècle - for reasons variously literary, political, military and, not least, sexual - he was one of the towering figures of European culture. Think Wilde crossed with Casanova and Savonarola; Byron meets Barnum meets Mussolini - and you would have some of the flavours, but still not quite the essence, of this extraordinary, unstoppable and in many ways quite ridiculous figure
The Pike - A Review [more inside]
Given how little thought India’s contribution to the World Wars gets in our collective historical memory, it is almost strange to think that in the First World War India made the largest contribution to the war effort out of all of Britain’s colonies and dominions. Close to 1,700,000 Indians – combatants and non-combatants – participated in WWI. My own area of interest is India’s role in the Mesopotamian theatre. [more inside]
A great deal of poetry was written about the Great War, much of it by soldiers in the trenches. Two period books of World War I poetry and poets are The Muse in Arms
and For remembrance
, available in a variety of formats at archive.org. There is also The First World War Digital Poetry Archive
which mostly has things from the most well-known authors, but many of these are available as scans of the original documents. (The interface is a little iffy on the DPA; click on a person, then use the search for "any poem" to get a full listing of what's available)
The Great War Archive
goes live today (November 11), the 90th anniversary of the Armistice. Launched by the University of Oxford in March 2008, the initiative
invited members of the general public to submit digital photographs, audio, film, documents, and stories that originated from the Great War. Although the dealine for submissions is past, photos can still be added to the project's Flickr group
Voices and Music of World War I
and Voices of World War II: Experiences From the Front and at Home
both feature spoken word, sheet music and songs galore (all audio RealPlayer). The Great War site has plenty of stuff, but the core is the collection of songs, anti-war
and so forth. The WWII site also has a whole bunch of music, demonstrating the changing mood of the US, from conflicted feelings about the start of the war
to conflicted feelings about the atomic bomb
. Among the artists are Nat King Cole, Leadbelly, Benny Goodman and Fats Waller. But in addition the wonderful songs there are newscasts, speeches, propaganda and other radio broadcasting of all kinds.
is one of the most famous battles of World War I. Fought in on a Turkish peninsula in 1915 it was, like most Great War battles, a huge waste of life and largely fruitless. Jul Snelder's site has a wealth of information, the causes, history and aftermath of Gallipoli
, the slang of the ANZAC forces
, placenames in both English and Turkish
, interesting little factoids
, how Allied troops used subterfuge to hide their evacuation
, the Turkish perspective
, pictures of the battlesite today juxtaposed with old photographs
, a mini-travel guide to Gallipoli
and much more. One of the most famous units at Gallipoli was the Australian 12th Light Horse Regiment
. To learn more about this type of unit, responsible for the "last successful great cavalry charge
" two years after Gallipoli, I direct you to the excellent website of the Australian Light Horse Association
, where you can learn anything you might reasonably want to know about the subject.
As Armistice Day
approaches an exhibition reveals a hidden side to the horror of World War I.
It contains previously unseen images
of British servicemen who suffered terrible facial injuries in the conflict.
The exhibition also tells the story of one surgeon - Harold Gillies
– who through his efforts to help them became known as the father of modern plastic surgery.
WARNING: Some of the following images are of a very graphic nature.
The Faces of War
, a fascinating document of the prosthetic masks used to cover serious facial injuries from the battlefield. Before plastic surgery was widely practised and used to reconstruct the horrific facial injuries of the First World War soldiers, men with the most serious facial injured were often hidden away from society.
Men such as those recorded in watercolour
, and in pastels
: some may find these images disturbing); patients of Harold Gillies
, pioneer of facial reconstruction at Queen's Hospital, Sidcup, the wars major centre for facial reconstruction
and plastic surgery.
On this day in 1915 the ocean liner Lusitania was sunk
by a German U-Boat, which helped turn public sentiment in the US against Germany in The Great War. FirstWorldWar.com
is your go to site for all things War to End All Wars related, from how it began
to propaganda posters
to memoirs and diaries
to the weapons
to audio and video
and to the justly famous poetry of World War One
. Also check out the feature articles
My Boy Jack.
A heart wrenching story: "For Rudyard Kipling, the most famous author of the age, the carnage at Loos on the Western Front in September 1915 plunged him into inner darkness. His only son, John, for whom he had written his best-loved poem, If
, had been killed in the action just six weeks after his 18th birthday." [more inside]
The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918 may have brought an end to the Great War, but the ending was merely the beginning of the aftermath.
The aftermath years were a time of paradox, where the men who returned from the horrors of the trenches wanted to forget, and where those who had stayed behind, and had lost husbands and brothers, and sons and fathers were equally determined never to forget. It was a time where remembrance of the dead became a way of life, and where it was somehow assumed that all the best, and the finest young men of a generation had died. The other side of that assumption was that those who had survived were somehow less than those who had died. . . The exploration of that time, that world, is the theme of these pages.