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  • 08/29/14--02:15: The Friday Digest 29/08/14
  • THP Friday digest

    This week's update features medieval kebabs, the forgotten IRA bomb in Coventry and the truth about Africans in Tudor England. 


    'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red' poppy installation at the Tower of London to mark the centenary of the First World War. © Richard Lea-Hair and Historic Royal Palaces


    Among the poppies: a fascinating look at volunteering at the Tower of London's war memorial.


    The small French village of Mercy-le-Haut. Credit Ilvy Njiokiktjien for The New York Times


    In the steps of my grandfather, a German soldier in France during the First World War.


    Illustration of the torpedoing of the Lusitania

     

    * Arthur Conan Doyle's eerie vision of the future of war, published in July 1914, is surprisingly prescient.


    Broadgate after the explosion. (c) Coventry Police Museum


    On 25 August 1939, five people died and seventy were injured when an IRA bomb exploded in Coventry city centre. 75 years after the explosion, the devastating attack has been all but forgotten, but why?


    Africans in Tudor England


    * The truth about Africans in Tudor England


    Poster


    * How Sir John Dugdale Astley 'reinvented' walking on 18 March 1878.


    19th-century artwork of the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus (c) Science Photo Library


    The long-held idea that Europeans were the first to bring tuberculosis to the Americas when they arrived in the fifteenth-century has been thrown into doubt. Scientists have suggested that it was seals that transported the disease, rather than humans.


    Tablet propped up on top of old books (c) Alamy


    * 'Big data' may be the term on everyone's lips but can computers ever really replace historians?


    Statue of Queen Boadicea in Westminster


    Test your knowledge of British history with the quiz you can do in the car ... 

     

    Medieval banquet, from Royal Manuscript (Culture Club/Getty Images)


    * From medieval kebabs to pasties, here's 5 foods you (probably) didn’t know were being eaten in the Middle Ages 


    Amazon Kindle. Image (c) Daz Smith from http://www.flickr.com/photos/24441843@N00/4963645146/sizes/m/in/photostream


    Woto! Which old-fashioned words do you like saying? 


    There's only a few days left to save with the Kindle summer sale, grab your bargain ebooks here


    Riding high: Nell Gifford, co-owner of Giffords Circus, leads by example (c) Rex


    * A look at the 1930s inspired Giffords Circus as it heads back out on annual tour.


    Man carving a violin


    * Celebrating the joy of craftsmanship and centuries-old techniques


    Richard Attenborough


    * How Richard Attenborough 'saved' the British film industry.

     

    Sandoy, Skúvoy and Stóra Dímun


    New research has proved that the Vikings were not the first colonisers of the Faroes.


      Which history and publishing stories have you enjoyed reading this week?


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    The legendary Holland submarine, built by the Irish- American former monk John Philip Holland, on display in the United States at Paterson, New Jersey.


    The British Admiralty was initially snooty about submarines. Its battleships had ruled the worlds oceans for centuries, each in its pomp and glory the personification of empire. Submarines were seen as small, scruffy and silly. Admiralty grandees wanted them swatted as an irritant. One said submarines were ‘underhand, unfair and damned un-English.’ Another wanted captured foreign submariners hanged as pirates. Commanders and crews were the wrong sort and their game too sly. It just wasn’t cricket.

    Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) was the first to envisage submersibles. His diagrams presaged four hundred years of mad-cap invention and a torrent of bizarre contraptions from underwater rowing boats to steam-driven submarines with folding chimneys, clock-work submarines to another with wheels to trundle along the sea-bed. While most designers were oddballs, some were thought deranged. Relatives committed one to a lunatic asylum on learning he had spent the family fortune on submarines.

    Progress quickened in the mid nineteenth-century when the developed world grew molten with invention. French naval architect Henri Dupuy de Lome  (1816-85) had a fanciful notion about a submarine fleet being built to ferry platoons of soldiers to invade Britain. He had learned about steam and iron ships as a young man while studying in the maritime hub of Bristol. While there he made a careful appraisal of the construction of Brunel’s stellar SS Great Britain. It was a useful spying trip.

    Mancunian vicar, the Rev. George Garrett, built the steam-driven Resurgam, Latin for ‘I shall Rise Again.’ It didn’t. Resurgam was 45 feet long, steam-driven, with a crew of three. The Admiralty deigned an interest and asked to inspect it at the Portsmouth Navy base on the south coast. In 1880 Garrett set sail from Liverpool. Engine problems had him pull in at Rhyl on the Welsh coast. After repairs he set off again, pulled by a steam-yacht. But the yacht broke down, the tow-rope snapped and Resurgam sank. Garrett survived, becoming embroiled with Sir Hiram Maxim (1840-1916), inventor of the Maxim machine-gun and the ubiquitous mouse-trap.  

    Steam submarines trailed giveaway smoke, negating the submarine’s greatest strength: its stealth. Interiors were scorching. Crews complained they were parboiled. Petrol engines ousted steam. Petrol was later superseded by long-range and less-explosive diesel units. Cumbersome banks of bulky batteries provided underwater propulsion.

    At the turn of the twentieth-century the American Navy, swiftly aped by the Royal Navy, acquired the designs of a former Irish monk and Republican John Philip Holland. An unlikely-looking revolutionary in bowler-hat and wing-collar, eyes lost behind heavily pebbled-lens, John Holland wanted to rid the seas of the Royal Navy.  He left County Clare for America. His first submarine was financed by the Fenian republican movement. It was followed by his Holland’s, the prototype for British submarines in the First World War.

    From the Holland’s of 1900 to the war in 1914 – Britain developed several submarine classes. The D and E class were deployed with success during the conflict. Britain’s submariners in the North Sea, the Atlantic, the Baltic and the Sea of Marmora – won five VC’s, Britain’s highest military decoration.

    The road to the E-class had been perilous. Calamity hit the  A-class. They blew up, some sank, one was accidentally rammed to the bottom. The toll in lives was heavy. In 1914 A-7 went down in Whitsand Bay, Cornwall. Thirteen died. It took hours to find her and the Navy tried for a month to raise her before leaving her where she lay.

    Early submarines were dangerous, cramped and claustrophobic. They were stiflingly hot, dripping with damp, hellishly-noisy, fume-filled and insanitory. As a leading Admiralty engineer said in 1901, nobody ever went down in a submarine for their health. 

    They reeked of petrol, batteries, stagnant water, sweat, terror and bodies Crews had no washing facilities or lavatory. They shared a bucket. One commander used to surface and conduct his toilet perched on the stern rail, until a German Zeppelin airship appeared and bombed him. There were no bunks. Crews slept among torpedoes and other paraphernalia. Some submariners were locked in a bread-oven for 24-hours to see if anybody suffocated. They didn’t. But there was a high-migraine count. Reginald Bacon, the droll ‘father’ of the submarine service, later an eminent Admiral, said the worst thing about the confinement was that one detainee was a flute-player and had taken his instrument in with him. 

    When submariners dived they didn’t know where they’d surface; or if. The periscope, created by Dubliner Howard Grubb – and modified by Bacon - transformed the submarine, enabling it to see without having to break cover. 

    The development of the torpedo in the 1860s, by British engineer Robert Whitehead, and the act of marrying it to the submarine, created one of the world’s deadliest weapons but torpedoes were unreliable. During the First World War, commander Martin Nasmith had been known to swim after an unexploded torpedo, neutralize it in the water – as best he could – before swimming alongside it while chaperoning it back to his boat so he could use it again. Torpedoes were expensive and especially valuable in that boats accommodated so few.

    In both world wars U-boats brought Britain to the lip of catastrophe. Several incidents wreaked global opprobrium, including the sinking of the British passenger steamer Falaba, torpedoed off Milford Haven in March 1915. Falaba’s passengers were getting into lifeboats, knowing the surfaced U-boat intended to sink the vessel. Instead of waiting for them to depart, the U-boat fired a torpedo into the ship’s side beneath a crowded lifeboat being lowered to the sea. Lifeboat and occupants were blown to smithereens. 

    On May 7 1915, U-20 torpedoed the liner Lusitania killing 1198 people. Some were Americans. It was one of the reasons the US joined in the conflict. 

    Though it had taken some four hundred years for the submarine to develop from daVinci to Holland, its presence was secured in the the First World War. By the Second World War, twenty one years later, it had become cardinal to victory for Britain and her allies.


    Sea Devils: Pioneer Submariners

     

    The historian, broadcaster and journalist, John Swinfield, is the author of  Sea Devils: Pioneer Submariners, a compelling account of pioneer submariners and their astonishing underwater contraptions. From a plethora of madcap inventors emerged a bizarre machine that navies of the world reluctantly acquired but viewed with distaste. Sea Devils brims with daring characters and their unflinching determination to make hazardous underwater voyages: an immensely readable, entertaining and authoritative chronicle of low cunning, high politics, wondrous heroism and appalling tragedy. 


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  • 09/01/14--00:00: L for legendary
  • L for legendary


    Taken by surprise and pulverised by German artillery, the men of L Battery, Royal Horse Artillery, fought one of the bravest actions of the war on September 1, 1914. Amid the fearful carnage, gun after gun was put out of action and their crews blown to smithereens. Yet the dazed survivors refused to give in. Responding to the cry: “Who’s for the guns?”, those who escaped the slaughter braved a storm of fire to man their exposed guns. The man leading the fight back was the unit’s second in command, Captain Edward Kinder Bradbury, a Cheshire-born professional soldier of 14 years’ experience. In all, three guns were brought into action, with Bradbury taking charge of one. Two guns were quickly knocked out, leaving only his still in operation. Not long afterwards, a shell burst close by, severing both his legs as he attempted to bring up ammunition. Insisting on being propped up against a gun, he continued to shout orders while the wounded  range-setter, Sgt David Nelson, assisted by Battery Sergeant Major George Dorrell fought on.

    Together, they kept the last gun firing until all its ammunition was used up. By then, it was reckoned that they had accounted for three of the enemy’s guns and helped rescue a brigade of cavalry from potential disaster. The legend of L Battery and its courageous stand at Nery was quickly established. Though Bradbury succumbed to his injuries, he and the last remaining survivors of his gun team, Sgt Nelson and BSM Dorrell, were all awarded the Victoria Cross for superlative gallantry “against heavy odds”. Of the three, only Dorrell, the Paddington-born son of a London cab driver, survived the war. His medals, together with those of Bradbury and Nelson, were later exhibited at the Imperial War Museum, where the gun they served so faithfully was displayed in honour of one of the army’s most notable actions during the retreat from Mons.


    Stephen Snelling is the author of three books in The History Press series, VCs of the First World War, a biographical survey of the men awarded the country’s highest award for bravery in every theatre of war on land, sea and in the air. 


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    Who Takes Britain to War?

     

    James Gray and Mark Lomas will be at the House of Commons on Wednesday 10th September from 5:30-7:30pm for the launch of their new book, Who Takes Britain to War? 

     

    The long-standing parliamentary convention known as the ‘Royal Prerogative’ has always allowed Prime Ministers to take the country to war without any formal approval by Parliament. The dramatic vote against any military strike on Syria on 29 August 2013 blew that convention wide open, and risks hampering Great Britain’s role as a force for good in the world in the future. Will MPs ever vote for war? Perhaps not – and this book proposes a radical solution to the resulting national emasculation. By writing the theory of a Just War (its causes, conduct and ending) into law, Parliament would allow the Prime Minister to act without hindrance, thanks not to a Royal Prerogative, but to a parliamentary one. 


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    Inside the Wire

     

    Ian Hollingsbee will be at Alison’s Bookshop, Tewksbury on Saturday 13th September from 10am  - 12pm signing copies of his new book, Inside the Wire: The Prisoner-of-War Camps and Hostels of Gloucestershire 1939–1948

    Stalag VIII-B, Colditz, these names are synonymous with POWs in the Second World War. But what of those prisoners in captivity on British soil? Where did they go? Gloucestershire was home to a wealth of prisoner-of-war camps and hostels, and many Italian and German prisoners spent the war years here. Inside the Wire explores the role of the camps, their captives and workers, together with their impact on the local community. This book draws on Ministry of Defence, Red Cross and US Army records, and is richly illustrated with original images. It also features the compelling first-hand account of Joachim Schulze, a German POW who spent the war near Tewkesbury. This is a fascinating but forgotten aspect of the Second World War. 


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     Harold Jarman

     

     Mike Jay and Ian Haddrell will be at Bristol Rovers FC on Saturday 20th September from 12-2pm signing copies of their new book, Harold Jarman: Bristol Rovers Local Hero

    Harold Jarman is a Bristol-born sporting legend. A highly talented winger for Bristol Rovers, he made almost 500 League appearances for the club, scoring over a century of goals. Although he has taken on many different roles for clubs in the UK and the United States, his heart has always belonged to Bristol – he returned initially as youth team manager, then caretaker manager (saving the Rovers from relegation) before coaching and managing the youth and reserve teams During the summer months between 1961 and 1972, Harold also enjoyed playing professionally for Gloucestershire County Cricket club, delighting crowds with his skill and particularly his astute fielding. In this book, Mike Jay and Ian Haddrell explore a remarkable life, accompanied by fascinating pictures, many unpublished from Harold’s own collection. 


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    Bloody british History Salisbury


    For most people, Salisbury in Wiltshire conjures up the quintessential image of an English city, with its soaring cathedral, manicured grounds and elegant town houses, all set in a beguiling Close. Yet it was not always so...

    Old Salisbury, or Sarum as it was known by at least the eleventh century, once stood two miles to the north of the present centre, where the then church and the King's military muscle cohabited cheek-by-jowl, and suffered the brutal tensions such a dysfunctional neighbourhood was bound to provoke.

    After the move of the clergy in 1220, a 'new' Cathedral rose up to the heavens but it too soon succumbed to the darker side of life. Prisoners of war, vagabonds, deadly choristers and an organist intent on murdering his dean, all brought shame on this holy edifice. There were the witches too, hanged for conjuring up the Devil or casting harmful spells.

    Murder, plague, famine, pestilence - all once occupied Salisbury's inglorious past - when you could recoil at sadistic monarchs and wicked barons; marvel at marauding monks or wonder at wayward nuns. You might gaze woefully into the prisons, perhaps stand before the gallows or reach out to the sorrowful inmates of Fisherton asylum.

    But then Salisbury's inhabitants have seldom escaped pain and suffering: visitors arriving on the new Victorian steam locomotives that left the tracks, and plunged into a swollen brook; five (maybe six) tormented souls, who committed suicide and who all had an unwelcome connection to the same local hostelry; the card cheat who lost more than his money for being found out; and a lovelorn doctor who vanished without trace - only to turn up years later, still clutching his sweetheart's letter. Even England's most wanted war-time revolutionary, deserter and sometime murderer was forced to flee, first to Wales, then to Scotland and finally to his death.
     

    The punishment of Pressing


    Outside the city, lepers and thieves (without their eyes) were cast aside; and plague pits contained the hastily dispatched. Prehistory witnessed macabre deaths - and a hundred and one uses for a corpse! In the Saxon era, scores of victims lost their heads to ritual, punishment and war. All the while iconic Stonehenge still stands sentinel to long forgotten sufferings. In the 20th century, fighting, death and the dangerous new art of flight brought disaster to nearby Salisbury Plain. 

    It's all a long way from the quaint cathedral city you thought you knew ...


    Bloody British History Salisbury


    David J. Vaughan is the author of Bloody British History: SalisburySalisbury has one of the most gruesome histories on record. Human remains filled its barrows, its nobles were tortured, its witches hanged and a deadly disease once lurked in its murky waters. There was no safety in its inns either, for one was plagued with suicides and another hid a severed hand. Even the introduction of the railways led to death and destruction. It's all a long way from a quaint cathedral city you thought you knew ...


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    The Calendar of Crime contains 365 amazing and incredible true crimes from British history. With infamous names – Crippen, Seddon, Haigh, Ellis – alongside lesser-known examples from the British pantheon of crime, it will fascinate, chill and surprise readers everywhere. 
     

    Calendar of Crime

     

    Calendar of Crime gives a brief description of a different crime from 1000 years of British history, one crime for every day of the year. This novel offers an intriguing and extensive variety of crimes; from German saboteurs turning into double agents (16th December) to the abduction and murder of a young girl (5th January).

    Evidently the theme of this book is crime, and the authors’ intent appears to be to show how the definition and type of crime committed in Britain have changed over the past 1000 years. For example, the entry on 27th June 1556 reads; eleven men and two women were burnt at the stake for heresy after refusing to recant their Protestant beliefs during the reign of Queen Mary. Holding certain religious beliefs may have been a crime in the 16th Century, but this is not the case in modern society, and the inclusion of such crimes makes it easier for the reader to perceive how definitions and punishments have changed throughout history.

    Stubley’s novel does not go into large amounts of detail about these crimes, only dedicating a page at most to each one, and so may not be appropriate for those looking to carry out an in depth study of the history of crime. However, it makes for an interesting read as there is such a wide variety of crimes listed and not just more commonly discussed gruesome crimes (although many are included!). This novel is appropriate for anyone interested in penal history or just looking for something different to read.

    The distinct format of this novel makes it perfect for when you have a spare half an hour as it is not a continuous narration. You will be able to pick Calendar of Crime up to entertain you in your spare time, but it may not be as easy to put it down again!

     

    Book: Calendar of Crime 

    Author: Peter Stubley

    Review by Rachel Gardner


    Rachel Gardner is a history student at the university of Nottingham. She enjoys reading and horse riding in her spare time, and aspires to become a history teacher.


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    In 1666 the Great Fire of London was finally extinguished after burning down more than 10,000 houses, 80 churches and St Paul's Cathedral over four days. The catastrophe was initially blamed on Robert Hubert, a French watchmaker who made a false confession to starting the blaze and he was convicted, sentenced to death and hanged at Tyburn. It was later discovered he was not even in the country at the time.

    In 1670 the independence of juries was confirmed by a famous legal decision in what became known as 'Bushel's Case'. Edward Bushel and his fellow jurors had been locked up without food, water and heat for two days and then fined for Contempt of Court after they refused to find two Quakers, William Penn and William Mead, guilty of 'unlawful assembly'. Bushel appealed to the Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas, Sir John Vaughan, who ruled that the jury could not be punished solely because of their verdict.

    In 1719 Catherine Jones was acquitted of bigamy at the Old Bailey after she claimed her second husband Constantine Booth was a not a man but was in fact ‘a Monster, a Hermaphrodite, and had been shown as such at Southwark Fair, Smithfield, and several other Places.’ Witnesses testified that Mr Booth had been brought up a girl until the age of 12, at which point 'he turn’d Man and went to sea.’

    In 1888 the Star newspaper published a story about the mysterious 'Leather Apron', who it claimed was 'the only named linked with the Whitechapel murders'. The Star counted three killings in its article: Emma Smith on 3 April, Martha Tabram on 7 August and Mary Ann Nichols on 31 August. Rumours were sweeping the district that a certain 'Leather Apron' was responsible and the Star claimed that 50 prostitutes had all given similar descriptions of the suspect. He was aged around 40, stood five foot four inches tall, with black, clipped hair and a small moustache. He wore a black cap and, of course, his trademark leather apron. 'He has ranged Whitechapel for a long time,' continued the report. 'He exercises over the unfortunates who ply their trade after twelve o'clock at night, a sway that is BASED ON UNIVERSAL TERROR'. Three days later on 8 September the disembowelled body of Annie Chapman was found in Spitalfields. Leather Apron was later identified as Jewish boot maker John Pizer but he was released after providing solid alibis for two of the murders. 


    Calendar of Crime


    Peter Stubley is the Author of The Calendar of Crime which contains 365 amazing and incredible true crimes from British history. With infamous names – Crippen, Seddon, Haigh, Ellis – alongside lesser-known examples from the British pantheon of crime, it will fascinate, chill and surprise readers everywhere. 


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  • 09/05/14--06:00: The Friday Digest 05/09/14
  • THP Friday digest

    This week's update features the 'animal VC' winner, the burning of Washington and the 'Pompeii of the North'.

     

    Trench (c) Pathe

     

    A collection of rare Staffordshire records document the tribunals for men appealing against conscription.

     

    foto. mGe from http://ww1photographs.wordpress.com/2014/09/02/mutilato-in-guerra/

     

    Mutilato In Guerra- an award given to Italian soldiers maimed during the First World War.  

     

    Brough Scott shows off the honorary PDSA Dickin medal. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA

     

    Warrior, dubbed 'the horse Germans could not kill', is awarded the first ever honorary PDSA Dickin medal (the 'animal VC') in recognition of his bravery.

     

     Side by side: recruitment poster featuring Scottish soldiers

     

     

     

    Scotland and a nationalism born of the Great War



    A painting of the White House on fire by Tom Freeman (c) White House Historical Association


    * The burning of Washington and the odd objects that were looted by British troops in 1814


    Richard III (Photo by Apic/Getty Images)

     

    * New research has shown that Richard III began to drink more wine and enjoyed a diet filled with lavish foods such as swan, crane and heron after becoming king in 1483.


    Roman toilet seat discovered near Hadrian’s Wall. Image from http://www.historyextra.com/news/weird-and-wonderful/roman-toilet-seat-discovered-near-hadrian%E2%80%99s-wall

     

    Archaeologists have uncovered what is believed to be the only surviving wooden toilet seat from the Roman period near Hadrian's Wall.


    Hundreds of people turned out to honour the Royal Navy helicopter carrier HMS Illustrious as it retired following a 32-year career Photo: Steve Parsons/PA


    The Ministry of Defence is weighing three 'strong bids' to provide a new home for Britain's last aircraft carrier, HMS Illustrious. 


    Historical Honey timeline. Image from http://www.historicalhoney.com/timeline/


    * Historical Honey's new timeline feature is brilliant - we have spent a lot of time scrolling through the articles in the office!


    Internet Archive Book Images


    * Millions of historic images have been posted to Flickr thanks to a digitisation project by American academic Kalev Leetaru. 


    Isidor and Ida Straus macys


    * Historical Honey reveal the true story behind the Titanic’s cuddling couple


    © Niki Feijen


    Decaying and abandoned family homes have been captured on film by Dutch photographer Niki Feijen.


    Józef Beck, Polish foreign minister in the 1930s


    * Poland 1939 and Britain's fatal guarantee ...


    Canadian Inuit in his environment. Today's Inuit and Native Americans of the Arctic are genetically distinct from the region's first settlers and had little interaction with them, a new study shows.  PHOTOGRAPH BY CARSTEN EGEVANG



    * Ancient DNA has revealed that the earliest people in the North American Arctic remained isolated from others in the region for millennia before vanishing around 700 years ago.


    Portrait of Queen Victoria in 1887 (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)


    * Could you become a citizen of Victorian England? 


    Pompeii of the North


    * Binchester Roman Fort in County Durham, the ‘Pompeii of the North’, is threatened under plans to sell off the land, which is owned by the Church of England.



    Neanderthal "artwork" (c) Stewart Finlayson


    An engraving found at a cave in Gibraltar may be the most compelling evidence yet for the existence of Neanderthal art.

     

    An orthophoto of Stonehenge taken from the air shows the brown patches of grass where stones may once have completed the circle. Photograph: English Heritage/Damian Grady


    * A recent dry spell at Stonehenge has revealed a secret that has eluded archaeologists for centuries


    The Colosseum

     

    Thirty-eight of the most iconic landmarks as seen from dusk till dawn.


    The London Gazette

     

    * The Great Fire of London broke out on 3 September 1666 and burned for 3 days, destroying 10,000 buildings. See how The London Gazette reported the disaster here


    Ancient and Modern: tattooed Britons model contemporary fashions



    Tattooed Britannia - a history of body art.


     
    Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon in ‘The Front Page’, using an old tech typewriter


    The Times' newsroom set to ring with the sounds of typewriters once more ...  


    Lierary London Map. Pictures copyright: Dex.


    * A stunning map featuring London's literary history


    Roald Dahl and a first edition of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory


    * An unused Roald Dahl draft from 1961 spills Charlie and the Chocolate Factory secrets.


    Shelfless … Florida Polytechnic University's new library. Photograph: Rocket Science Photography


     * A bookless library has opened at Florida Polytechnic University but which format do you prefer to read textbooks in?


    Katherine Pickett


    * Five steps to increasing your book’s marketability with research.


    Why writers must embrace social media, no matter what the genre ... 

     

      Which history and publishing stories have you enjoyed reading this week?


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  • 09/05/14--06:00: The Friday Digest 05/09/14
  • THP Friday digest

    This week's update features the 'animal VC' winner, the burning of Washington and the 'Pompeii of the North'.

     

    Trench (c) Pathe

     

    A collection of rare Staffordshire records document the tribunals for men appealing against conscription.

     

    foto. mGe from http://ww1photographs.wordpress.com/2014/09/02/mutilato-in-guerra/

     

    Mutilato In Guerra- an award given to Italian soldiers maimed during the First World War.  

     

    Brough Scott shows off the honorary PDSA Dickin medal. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA

     

    Warrior, dubbed 'the horse Germans could not kill', is awarded the first ever honorary PDSA Dickin medal (the 'animal VC') in recognition of his bravery.

     

     Side by side: recruitment poster featuring Scottish soldiers

     

     

     

    Scotland and a nationalism born of the Great War



    A painting of the White House on fire by Tom Freeman (c) White House Historical Association


    * The burning of Washington and the odd objects that were looted by British troops in 1814


    Richard III (Photo by Apic/Getty Images)

     

    * New research has shown that Richard III began to drink more wine and enjoyed a diet filled with lavish foods such as swan, crane and heron after becoming king in 1483.


    Roman toilet seat discovered near Hadrian’s Wall. Image from http://www.historyextra.com/news/weird-and-wonderful/roman-toilet-seat-discovered-near-hadrian%E2%80%99s-wall

     

    Archaeologists have uncovered what is believed to be the only surviving wooden toilet seat from the Roman period near Hadrian's Wall.


    Hundreds of people turned out to honour the Royal Navy helicopter carrier HMS Illustrious as it retired following a 32-year career Photo: Steve Parsons/PA


    The Ministry of Defence is weighing three 'strong bids' to provide a new home for Britain's last aircraft carrier, HMS Illustrious. 


    Historical Honey timeline. Image from http://www.historicalhoney.com/timeline/


    * Historical Honey's new timeline feature is brilliant - we have spent a lot of time scrolling through the articles in the office!


    Internet Archive Book Images


    * Millions of historic images have been posted to Flickr thanks to a digitisation project by American academic Kalev Leetaru. 


    Isidor and Ida Straus macys


    * Historical Honey reveal the true story behind the Titanic’s cuddling couple


    © Niki Feijen


    Decaying and abandoned family homes have been captured on film by Dutch photographer Niki Feijen.


    Józef Beck, Polish foreign minister in the 1930s


    * Poland 1939 and Britain's fatal guarantee ...


    Canadian Inuit in his environment. Today's Inuit and Native Americans of the Arctic are genetically distinct from the region's first settlers and had little interaction with them, a new study shows.  PHOTOGRAPH BY CARSTEN EGEVANG



    * Ancient DNA has revealed that the earliest people in the North American Arctic remained isolated from others in the region for millennia before vanishing around 700 years ago.


    Portrait of Queen Victoria in 1887 (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)


    * Could you become a citizen of Victorian England? 


    Pompeii of the North


    * Binchester Roman Fort in County Durham, the ‘Pompeii of the North’, is threatened under plans to sell off the land, which is owned by the Church of England.



    Neanderthal "artwork" (c) Stewart Finlayson


    An engraving found at a cave in Gibraltar may be the most compelling evidence yet for the existence of Neanderthal art.

     

    An orthophoto of Stonehenge taken from the air shows the brown patches of grass where stones may once have completed the circle. Photograph: English Heritage/Damian Grady


    * A recent dry spell at Stonehenge has revealed a secret that has eluded archaeologists for centuries


    The Colosseum

     

    Thirty-eight of the most iconic landmarks as seen from dusk till dawn.


    The London Gazette

     

    * The Great Fire of London broke out on 3 September 1666 and burned for 3 days, destroying 10,000 buildings. See how The London Gazette reported the disaster here


    Ancient and Modern: tattooed Britons model contemporary fashions



    Tattooed Britannia - a history of body art.


     
    Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon in ‘The Front Page’, using an old tech typewriter


    The Times' newsroom set to ring with the sounds of typewriters once more ...  


    Lierary London Map. Pictures copyright: Dex.


    * A stunning map featuring London's literary history


    Roald Dahl and a first edition of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory


    * An unused Roald Dahl draft from 1961 spills Charlie and the Chocolate Factory secrets.


    Shelfless … Florida Polytechnic University's new library. Photograph: Rocket Science Photography


     * A bookless library has opened at Florida Polytechnic University but which format do you prefer to read textbooks in?


    Katherine Pickett


    * Five steps to increasing your book’s marketability with research.


    Why writers must embrace social media, no matter what the genre ... 

     

      Which history and publishing stories have you enjoyed reading this week?


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  • 09/10/14--02:00: Great French Passenger Ships
  • A poster issued for the maiden arrival of the Liberté in 1950. (Author’s Collection)


    There is a story behind the evocative and luxurious French ocean liners for the last 100 years, both past and present.

    France produced some of the finest, most luxurious and beautifully decorated passenger ships of the twentieth-century.   Starting with the four-funnel France in 1912 and then with the great and grand trans-Atlantic liners of the French Line, the CGT, including the Ile De France, Normandie, Liberte & France of  1962. There are also the lesser passenger ships of the French Line. We then go away from the North Atlantic and look at Compagnie de Navigation Sud-Atlantique, Transports Maritimes and Chargeurs Reunis operating important South American routes and to Messageries Maritimes operating in Africa, the East & South Pacific. Most importantly it is fun to reminisce about great ships, liners, mail boats to Africa and colonial steamers to Saigon.

    I have over 150 pictures of French Passenger Ships, both colour and in B&W and am an acknowledged world expert in my field. I received the National Maritime History Award in the US and the Silver Riband Award and created the passenger Ships database for the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. Having featured in numerous documentaries and news broadcasts I am now a frequent guest lecturer aboard cruise ships.

    2012 was the 80th anniversary of the launching of the Normandie and in 2015 is the 80th anniversary of her record-breaking maiden voyage.


    Great French Passenger Ships


    William H. Miller is the author of Great French Passenger Ships, packed full of nostalgic reminiscence of great ship days gone by, the book explores majestic liners, mail boats to Africa and colonial steamers to Saigon. Presenting many previously unpublished images alongside insightful text and anecdotes, William H. Miller brings the reader on board France’s greatest transatlantic liners.


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  • 09/12/14--06:00: The Friday Digest 12/09/14
  •  

    THP Friday digest

    This week's update features the true identity of Jack the Ripper, homing pigeons of the First World War and exploring the hidden history of an Argentinian ghost town. 


    Has Jack the Ripper's Identity Been Revealed?


    * Has Jack the Ripper's true identity been revealed? Amateur sleuth Russell Edwards and forensic expert Dr Jari Louhelainen believe that they have conclusive proof that Aaron Kosminski was the Ripper but what do you think of their findings?


    Colonel William Holmes and officers of Australian Army at German wireless station Bita Pa. Image supplied from http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/diggers-slaughtered-german-prisoners-in-new-guinea-in-1914-abc-radio-will-claim-tape-recording-appears-to-confirm-rumours-of-executions/story-fni0cx12-1227054610551?nk=d83c91562c0aa4913618b8e659d55f3f


    * On 11 September 1914, ANZAC forces occupied German New Guinea. The ABC have claimed that Australian troops took part in a 'mass execution' of German troops following the battle of Bita Paka in New GuineaThe broadcaster’s Radio National Breakfast programme has obtained a tape recording of a witness to the alleged slaughter, which 'appears to confirm the rumours' of prisoner executions.


    Homing pigeons


    * A short video to remember the homing pigeons of the First World War.


    Medieval people thought the earth was flat

     

    * Fifteen myths about the Middle Ages.


    A 15th-century continental town - Credit Bridgeman Art Library

     

    * A time traveller’s guide to medieval fourteenth-century shopping.

     

     

    * Leo Schneiderman was born in 1921 in Lodz, Poland. After Nazi Germany invaded Poland on 1 September 1939, Leo, his father and his brother set out for Warsaw to help defend the country. He remembers the beginning of the Second World War here


    An over the shoulder view of JFK’s “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech. [1963]


    * Forty-eight alternative views of iconic moments in history


    Gregor Stewart pictured with his book


    * It was a capacity crowd for a ghostly gathering in Kirkcaldy last week ... 


    Audrey Hepburn lipstick

     

    * The most iconic lipstick moments in movie history, from Breakfast at Tiffany’s to The Breakfast Club ...


    Richard Kiel, The Spy Who Loved Me (c) Rex Features


    Actor Richard Kiel - who played steel-toothed villain Jaws in two James Bond films - has died in California, aged 74.


    "What school will be like in the year 2000" (1900)


    * A Victorian view of what school would look like in the year 2000; they aren't far wrong!


    Letters also make regular appearances, some of which are more interesting than others, but recently I found one which made me investigate further. At first glance it is just a regular note, written on shipping line paper, from somebody away on their travels in the 1960’s.  However on closer examination it becomes clear that this is from a couple emigrating from the United Kingdom to Australia in 1965, a time when many went to seek new horizons in these regions.

     

    * The most interesting things found between the pages of books ...


    First ever Range Rover, chassis no.1 (c) Silverstone Auctions


    One of the first Range Rovers ever built has been sold for £115,000 at auction.


    Villa Epecuén: exploring the Argentinian ghost town


    * Exploring the Argentinian ghost town of Villa Epecuén

     

    Google Maps' New Conquest: Street View Takes You to Ancient Egypt. (Photo: Google Maps’ Street View)

     

    * Google Street View has announced new imagery on Google Maps, covering the monuments and history of Ancient Egypt.

     

    Stonehenge

     

    * Stonehenge secrets revealed by underground map


    embankment map © @stnmasterapp


    * Thirty-year-old tube map uncovered at Embankment station.

     

    The History of London's Sewer System Infographic

     

    * The history of London's sewer system


    Two views of the ring. Two views of the ring The engraving on the ring translates as 'look on the giver, not the gift'


    A gold 'posy' ring engraved with a romantic message has been unearthed more than 300 years after it was lost in a County Antrim field.

     

     'Women must read more. Thousands of jobs will be preserved if they do'


    * This is definitely the best advert we have seen this week: 'Women must read more. Thousands of jobs will be preserved if they do'


    You can almost imagine one of H Rider Haggard's Victorian adventurers exploring the wildness of his cheek hair. Nice sharpness at the end, also. Picture: Alamy


    * The top twelve authors' beards ... 

     

    giles


    * The reading course list for Rupert Giles, Master of Library Sciences Candidate, Michaelmas Term 1982. Some of these may come in handy as Halloween approaches!

     

     Book shelf. Image from http://www.flickr.com/photos/39136843@N05/3709418364/

     

    Cheltenham Literature Festival: how to see more for less


    * Amazon to treble London workforce in new office move

     

      Which history and publishing stories have you enjoyed reading this week?


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    Aisne 1914


    The Battle of the Aisne was fought in September 1914. 13,541 British soldiers lost their lives in futile attempts to break through the German lines of shallow trenches dug along the Chemin des Dames ridge, located north of the River Aisne. Opposed by machine gun fire and heavy howitzers, they were unable to penetrate the German positions on the heights north of the river and the war would descend rapidly into stalemate, where neither side could advance. Weapons of modern industrialised warfare would inflict horrendous casualties on an unprecedented scale. A hail of machine gun bullets and a torrent of shell fire would stop the mobile war at the Battle of the Aisne. Unable to make a breakthrough, the opposing sides began to consolidate their ground by digging trenches. The first trenches of the Western Front were dug along the Chemin des Dames and from there they would eventually stretch across Europe from the Swiss border to the North Sea.

    The German Army was conscripted and amounted to an awesome 9.9 million men. The British Expeditionary Force of 100,000 men was an army of volunteers. The armies used different rifles. The British Tommy was armed with the Short Magazine Lee-Enfield Rifle. Each magazine carried ten rounds and it was named after the American inventor James Lee and the Royal Small Arms Factory located at Enfield in north London. Regarded as an effective service weapon even in the Second World War, British infantrymen were trained to fire it at 15 rounds per minute and hit their target at an effective range of 550 yards. German soldiers used the Mauser Gewehr 98 rifle, which had been in service since 1898. Its bolt action prevented rapid fire. The British Lee Enfield Rifle and the German Mauser Gewehr 98 rifle eventually became the primary weapons used by snipers on the Western Front. Bullets fired from these rifles would travel at twice the speed of sound and the unfortunate soul hit by the shot would not have heard the sound of the bullet until after it had hit home.

    Machine guns would come to dominate the battlefield and instigate the stalemate of trench warfare. This formidable weapon was developed by Hiram Maxim, an American inventor. First produced in 1884, it demonstrated its deadly capability to stop waves of advancing infantry during the Battle of the Aisne. The British Army placed an order for three machine-guns to test during 1887, and surprisingly, despite living up to all requirements, the British never adopted the Maxim.

    The German Imperial Army placed orders for the Maxim machine gun in 1887 and after testing, Kaiser Wilhelm II realised the potential of the machine gun and placed further orders. As early as 1901 the Germans had established a machine gun branch. When war broke out the German Army had 12,500 Maxim machine guns in operation. The Maschinen Gewehr 08 was fixed on a tripod, belt fed, water-cooled and fully automatic. One disadvantage was that these water-cooled machine guns would emit steam, which meant that British soldiers could detect a German machine gun position as the steam rose. The British would then target the barrel jacket and the crew operating the machine gun would be extremely vulnerable. The Maschinen Gewehr 08 was able to fire 7.92 mm rounds at targets at a rate of 600 rounds per minute at a distance of 4,000 yards, but was deadly at 2,200 yards and could tear a soldier in two. The bullets travelled at three times the speed of sound. Their crews were specially selected and were regarded as an elite force.

    The British Army was late in realising the potential of the machine gun. When war broke out there were only two Vickers machine guns allotted to each infantry battalion. The Vickers was an advanced version of the Maxim; it had improved mechanisms and was lighter. British soldiers did not, however, receive adequate training in how to operate the Vickers. The Vickers used .303 ammunition and could fire 450 rounds a minute, but with few of these guns in supply and with those that were being operated by inexperienced soldiers, they did not make any impact during the early stages of the war; and especially at the Aisne. If a Vickers machine gun was fired continually for an hour the barrel would be worn out and had to be replaced. It took a well-trained and skilful soldier to change a barrel in the heat of battle. It was not until October 1915 that the British Army realised the potential of the machine gun and established the Machine Gun Corps.

    Modern artillery would of course have an enormous impact on the course and conduct of the war. All European Armies had field artillery. These field artillery guns were flat trajectory and their purpose was to subdue enemy assaults and to support their own infantry advances at short range. The British Army used the 18 pounder, first produced in 1904. They were developed from lessons learned during the Boer War and would become the standard field gun operated by the British. By August 1914 the British Army had 1,226 in service. They were used throughout the conflict and by the end of the war 9,424 were in operation. The 18 pounder had a calibre of 3.3 inches; it could fire shells weighing between 4.6kg and 8.4 kg and had a range of 6,525 yards. It had a rate of fire of 8 rounds per minute.

    The German Army used the 77-mm (3-inch) field gun and could fire high explosives with a range of 11,250 yards. However they also possessed more formidable examples of artillery in the form of howitzers that could project heavy shells and create enormous craters. German artillery used the 10.5 cm (4 inch) Feldhaubitze 98/09 during the Battle of the Aisne, which could fire the Feldhaubitzgranate 98, a 15.8-kilogram high explosive shell or the Feldhaubitzschrapnel 98, a 12.8-kilogram shrapnel shell. German artillery also used the German 21-cm Langer Morser (long mortar) with a calibre of 8.3 inches and range up to 11,000 yards. Its barrel could be fired at a high angle of elevation, which meant that it could be positioned behind hills and ridges and fire on the enemy positions on the other side. The German howitzer designed for siege warfare fired various types of shell during the Battle of the Aisne including high explosive shrapnel, small, high velocity shells, known as “whizz-bangs” or “Jack Johnsons”. The HE shell fired by German 21cm howitzers emitted black smoke and would cause the most devastation. They could blow a crater 20 feet wide and 10 feet deep. Such explosions destroyed villages, levelled trees and vaporised men.

    The BEF arrived at the southern banks of the Aisne on 12 September 1914 after marching approximately 160 miles for three weeks. They endured their baptism of fire at Mons on 23 August and fought rearguard actions as they retreated south towards the banks of the Marne, where between 5 and 10 September they assisted the French armies in inflicting a defeat upon the German forces. Compelled to withdraw to the River Aisne, the German forces went north across the river and established a defensive position along the wooded heights of the Chemin des Dames, approximately 60 miles north-east of Paris. It was an arduous trek for the British, who were demoralised and suffering from exhaustion and hunger by the time they reached the banks of the Aisne. Some soldiers were suffering so badly that they wrapped their puttees around their bleeding feet in an attempt to alleviate the pain.

    As the BEF advanced towards the Chemin des Dames, German engineers attempted to destroy the bridges across the river. They only caused partial damage to the bridge at Venizel and it was here that Brigadier-General Hunter Weston led the 11th Infantry Brigade across during the night of 12/13 September. Remarkably, these soldiers in their exhausted state crossed this swollen river in full darkness, with only a single lamp to guide them from the north bank. One wrong step could result in these weary soldiers falling into the river and drowning. At daylight German artillery bombarded the River Aisne and those still crossing were further destabilised by fountains of water being thrown into the air around them. By the following morning the 11th Infantry Brigade had established a bridgehead on the northern bank of the river and had consolidated a position along the ridge above Bucy-le-Long. When the rest of the BEF arrived, the majority of bridges had been destroyed or partially damaged by German engineers with explosives, so it was a massive engineering challenge for the Royal Engineers sappers either to repair the damaged bridges or build pontoons, which they did under enemy shellfire.

    By the morning of the 14th, General Sir Douglas Haig’s I Corps and General Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien’s II Corps had successfully crossed the River Aisne. It was an enormous gamble for Field Marshal Sir John French, commander of the BEF, to push his soldiers beyond the limits of physical endurance to cross and establish a bridgehead. French did not know whether General von Kluck’s First German Army was going to continue to withdraw northwards or establish a defensive line and hold the ground.

    Unbeknown to French, he was sending his exhausted troops into a battle where the enemy were dug in in shallow trenches on the high ground, supported by heavy howitzers and in many cases concealed by woodland. This would be the first time that British soldiers would experience high-calibre German artillery. The calibres of these guns ranged from 15 cm to 21 cm or 6 inches to 8 inches. The British could only deploy old pattern 6-inch howitzers, which were inferior to the German howitzer and were flat trajectory, which meant that they could not reach the German artillery positioned behind the ridges. The inferior British artillery response arrived on 23 September. Neither British nor French artillery could match the enemy’s firepower.

    Waves of British soldiers advanced uphill through muddy beet fields, as heavy rain blew in their faces and shell fire of an unprecedented magnitude was brought to bear upon them. The Battle of the Aisne began on 14 September and would last until the end of the month. Much blood was shed on the first day in the battle for the sugar factory at Cerny, north of Vendresse. During the struggle men of the 2nd Infantry Brigade were pulverised by German shellfire from the howitzers. The morning fog meant that the advancing infantry, labouring uphill, could only see 200 yards ahead.

    Some elements of the 2nd Royal Sussex Regiment were positioned in a nearby wood along the Vendresse Ridge. Many casualties were inflicted by shells exploding when they hit the tree trunks around them. Private Harland was one the casualties: ‘We’d got quite use to them and we lay there talking and telling each other when a shell was coming. One great 90-pounder shell went over us. If it hadn’t hit anything it wouldn’t have mattered for those shells do not explode unless they hit something. This shell hit a tree just behind me. It exploded. That shell killed three men and wounded seven, of whom I was one. A piece of shrapnel went right into my foot. I thought at the time that my leg was gone. There was a chap lying next to me – I think he was one of the men at a Brighton brewery. He lay quite still. A piece of the shell had gone through his head and killed him.’ (Brighton Herald, 26th September 1914).

    The 2nd Royal Sussex Regiment and the 1st Loyal North Lancashire Regiment were sent forward to support the 2nd King’s Royal Rifle Corps to launch a further attack towards the sugar factory. They too suffered heavy casualties. An anonymous 2nd Lieutenant from the battalion recalled: ‘Had only gone about a hundred yards under a perfect hail of bullets when I heard a singing sound on my right. Two eight-inch shells had pitched 20 yards to my left and blew sky high a few of my platoon. The shells emitted a tall cloud of black dust and smoke. Truly terrible missiles. We go on forward, but as yet I can see nothing. At least we reach the firing line. How anyone reached it is beyond comprehending. And such a line. All manner of regiments are there, and the dead and wounded are lying round in scores’. (National Archives: WO95/1270: 1st Loyal North Lancashire Regiment War Diary.)

    Lieutenant-Colonel Walter Lloyd and his adjutant Captain Richard Howard-Vyse led from the front with the 1st Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and were killed by machine gun fire. The assault upon the sugar factory was a savage and costly effort. An estimated 50% of the assault force became casualties as a consequence. They stood no chance.

    Those that miraculously reached the factory, remnants of the 2nd Royal Sussex Regiment, 1st Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and 2nd King’s Royal Rifle Corps, cleared the enemy with the bayonet. They charged through the German artillery batteries that were positioned close to the factory and a struggle inside the two-storey factory ensued. They eventually overwhelmed the German defenders.

    The 2nd Infantry Brigade suffered heavily. Brigadier-General Bulfin lost two out of his four battalion commanders. The 1st Loyal North Lancashire Regiment was decimated. As well as losing CO Lieutenant-Colonel Walter Lloyd, 7 officers were killed, 6 wounded, together with 500 men listed as casualties. Many of the casualties came from B Company: 3 out of 5 officers, 175 out of 200 ranks. The scale of such losses was almost bewildering.

    The 2nd Royal Sussex Regiment had 6 officers killed, including the CO Lieutenant-Colonel Ernest Montresor, along with 11 other ranks killed and 114 missing. They also suffered 3 officers and 79 men wounded. Despite their losses, they were able to capture 250 German soldiers that managed to get into a nearby sunken lane to evade the bullets. They were rounded up and escorted to the rear. The 2nd Royal Sussex dug into positions and held on under heavy bombardment until relieved on 19 September.

    The 2nd King’s Royal Rifle Corps suffered 306 casualties from the ranks, 7 officers wounded and 8 officers killed. The 1st Northamptonshire Regiment lost 2 officers killed, 4 officers and 102 men wounded.

     

    Paul Kendall is the author of The Zeebrugge Raid 1918Aisne 1914 and Bullecourt 1917.


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    George Kerevan


    For months the Scottish independence referendum campaign has been in gridlock.  Opinions polls were frozen, with a solid 57 per cent wanting to keep the Union and 43 per cent seeking Scottish self-government (when undecided are excluded). It looked like game, set and match to the official Better Together Campaign led by Alistair Darling, former Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer.  Independence activists, whom everyone concedes have a more active door-to-door campaign, were getting worried.  

    Now suddenly, with barely a week till the historic vote on September 18, the outcome has been thrown wide open, with a four point rise in support for Yes.  The game changer was the commanding performance of SNP leader Alex Salmond in his second television debate with Darling.  With barely a week till voting day, London politicians have suddenly woken up to what is happening north of the Border.  David Cameron told the Daily Mail he was 'nervous' about the outcome on September 18.

    He has cause to be.  His visit to Glasgow a few days after the second TV debate, to address a dinner organised by the Confederation of British Industry ended in humiliation when CBI president Sir Mike Rake used the occasion to warn that the real danger to Scotland’s and Britain’s businesses comes not from Alex Salmond but from the Prime Minister’s promise to hold an in-out referendum on EU membership.

    The letters pages of Scottish newspapers have become a public battleground for local business chiefs, with the rival camps signing calls for support. First came the No side with 130 business luminaries, including Douglas Flint, chairman of HSBC bank.  HSBC has a tiny presence in Scotland and it was alleged that Mr Flint was using his role in the Better Together campaign to curry favour with Downing Street. The Yes side instantly responded with 200 business leaders declaring their support for independence, including Stagecoach boss Brian Souter, former RBS head George Mathewson, and oil expert Sir Donald Mackay.

    In a last ditch effort to dissuade Scottish voters from independence, David Cameron is offering to give the Scottish Parliament greater control over taxes. He has gone even further than Labour’s Ed Miliband, with a proposal to hand over complete control of income tax in Scotland to the Scottish Government, plus a share of VAT proceeds and even increased responsibility for deciding welfare policy.

    As it is, there is a general feeling in Scotland that a No victory on September 18 will not end calls for independence, especially if the vote is close.  Scotland and mainstream English society are growing apart in political outlook, especially now NHS services in England are being put out to private tender.  This would prove a constitutional flashpoint if NHS spending is cut in England, and the devolved Scottish Parliament is told to raise taxes if it wants to keep a welfare state.  Expect Alex Salmond and his troops to press that point hard in the final days of the campaign ...

     

    Scottish Independence: Yes or No?

     

    For the full debate on a range of issues including defence, culture, governance and, of course, the economy, please see Scottish Independence: Yes or No? by Alan Cochrane and George Kerevan.


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    This evocative memoir recalls the long, heady days of Liverpool in the summer of 1969, as seen through the eyes of eleven-year-old Deejay. Infused with a distinctive Scouse sense of humour, this book tells the story of how Deejay filled his summer holiday having adventures – and misadventures – with his mischievous gang of young friends and working at Wellington Dairy, the family-owned, horse-drawn milk business located in the Liverpool suburb of Garston. Deejay intends to be the next in a long line of dairy farmers and sets about learning as much as he can about the family business. Amusing and entertaining, surprising and sometimes moving, Deejay’s account vividly captures one boy’s growing appreciation of the family history that preceded him and a growing understanding of his place in the world. Key to that understanding is the very special relationship that can exist between a boy and his dad. 
     

    My Family and Other Scousers

     

    My Family and Other Scousers by Dave Joy is the story of his adventures and experiences as an eleven year old by in the summer holidays of ’69. Dave helped out at the family dairy in Garston, where he revelled in spending time with the horses, playing with his friends (the Duke Street Kids) and harboured aspirations to become the next in a long line of Joy’s to run the dairy.

    The story is told from the point of view of David himself, and because of this all events are tinged by his youthful naivety. We learn about his love for the horses and the feeling of importance as he accompanies his charismatic father and quiet Uncle George on the milk rounds and helps out with chores. ‘I took great delight in being there, working with the horses and spending time with the adults.’ His irritation at being a middle child and not being able to do all that his older sister is permitted to do whilst not being able to get away with things that his little brother is allowed to do. ‘Anne had been allowed to ride in the milk float – “you're too young, besides there’s only room for one passenger” I had been told by Mum. I so wished I had been born first.’ And the antics that he and the other local boys get up to when they think that no-one is watching! ‘One of the challenges we set ourselves was to see who could jump off the highest rung on to the hay below.’

    Dave perfectly details the personality traits of his friends and family making the reader feel as though they know the protective and understanding Bonzo or loving and obliging Dad. The journey of growing up and learning of things such as illness, death and compromises make this a very touching novel. Dave also mentions momentous events, such as the assassination of President Kennedy and the Apollo moon landing, that would have left a lasting impression on everyone and make this novel a must read for those growing up in the late 60’s! It would also make an enjoyable read for anyone who grew up in Liverpool around the same time as Dave describes the local area, people and games of children which they may recognise. My Family and Other Scousers contains many emotional highs and lows which draw the reader in and make it impossible to put down.

     

    Book: My Family and Other Scousers 

    Author: Dave Joy

    Review by Rachel Gardner


    Rachel Gardner is a history student at the university of Nottingham. She enjoys reading and horse riding in her spare time, and aspires to become a history teacher.


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  • 09/17/14--00:30: Arnhem: nine days of battle
  • The things that kick off an interest in a particular period or theme or process or a single event in history are not always easy to identify. I could reasonably say that my interest in the Arnhem battle stems from a family connection. My father was a Parachute Regiment chaplain just a few years after the war when many of the more prominent personalities at Arnhem were still serving soldiers, so although I never met any of those men, their names would come up in family conversation from time to time.

    Men of the South Staffordshires, after they were taken hostage 

    Alternatively, I could say that my personal connection to the battle rests with a rather fat black Labrador dog. The dog in question (Judy) belonged to one Jimmy Morrison, a chaplain who was taken prisoner at Oosterbeek while serving with 7th Battalion King’s Own Scottish Borderers. In the early 1950s, Major Morrison was my father’s immediate superior as senior chaplain at Aldershot. One day he asked Dad if he would look after his dog for a few days. We had her for the next 12 years.

    Beyond the influence of Judy – a lovely creature – there are a great many other factors that have drawn me to this remarkable battle. The sheer drama of thousands of men dropping by parachute or landing by glider sixty miles behind enemy lines and fighting a gallant action from a near-impossible position against ever-increasing odds is one of those factors but, more than that, the incredibly optimistic approach of the senior commanders and planners in the face of rational interpretation of the intelligence material, their unwillingness to countenance even the most obvious criticism or to consider even the most obvious suggestions to improve the plan has fascinated me for many years.

    I could say the same about the unscrupulous behaviour of many senior officers who colluded to pass the blame for the failure of the operation onto the shoulders of men who had pointed out all the weaknesses of the plan and the ‘victory happy’ gung-ho attitudes of their superiors, but had still gone into battle and given their all to try and procure a victory from a dreadfully ill-conceived venture.

    The fact that the operation failed to achieve anything of value can hardly be blamed on the men of the 1st Airborne Division. There were certainly weaknesses in the divisional planning and in various elements of the division itself, but the determination of the officers and men who fought so bravely at Arnhem and Oosterbeek for nine days in September 1944 cannot be faulted.

    From a historiographical viewpoint, the battle is something of a rarity; it is very unusual to be able to study a divisional battle in isolation; one must always be conscious of the neighbouring formations to the left and right, the supporting formation to the rear. The nature of an airborne battle is such that – at least in the early stages– there are no neighbouring formations. The division, brigade, battalion or company committed to battle must stand alone until relieved.

    The battle of Arnhem stands with a handful of iconic engagements which continue to draw the attention of students, scholars and enthusiasts long after defeat or victory have ceased to have any immediate relevance, but which are notable for any one (or several) of a variety of reasons – the audacious or innovative nature of the plan, the execution of the operation, the gallantry of the soldiers, the inspirational leadership of the commander. Arnhem scores highly in all these respects and more, and I have no doubt that it will still be a battle that attracts attention a hundred years from now.


    Arnhem: Nine Days of Battle


    Chris Brown is the author of Arnhem: Nine Days of Battle. The greatest airborne operation in history commenced on 17 September 1944. Nine days later nearly four out five of the British 1st Airborne Division and their Polish comrades would be killed, wounded or captured as Germany secured her last great battlefield victory of the war. The ferocious and gallant actions in Arnhem and Oosterbeek have fascinated historians and students ever since. 


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    David Collins and Gareth Bennett


    Why do football teams do this to you?

    They seize our emotions, capture our hearts..... and build up our hopes.

    Crushing defeats,  embarrassing failures, relegations. They become almost bearable. Almost. But that Hope...

    In the end, it's the Hope That Kills You. 

    Take our lot.

    Cardiff City.

    You must have heard of them.

    As any schoolboy knows, Cardiff City are the only team to have taken the FA Cup out of England. Overlooking the fact that this occurred back in 1927, Cardiff fans, like many others, believe that we are set apart from ordinary clubs; held aloft by history, former Greats, and simply by being Cardiff City FC. The Greatest Team in Football...

    The reality, of course, could scarcely be more different. 

    For more years than I care to remember, Cardiff City have struggled in the lower depths of League Football. A lifetime's wasted Saturdays watching half remembered teams do battle. Yet, sprinkled amongst these ashes, was always that flicker of hope. A promotion here, a cup run there. Was The Sleeping Giant about to awake...or merely turning in his sleep?

    Finally though, after years of sleepless nights, Vincent Tan set the club's alarm for 2013...and we roared into the Premier League. The Promised Land. All our worries were over.

    Yeah, right.

    That 2013/14 season started well enough. A useful point against Everton, narrow defeat to Spurs and a tub-thumping victory over eventual champions Manchester City. We even crept above Manchester United, as nights in Halifax and Chester became distant memories.

    This simply could not last.

    Tan's Golden Egg had been laid at enormous cost. The price of fame was...our very soul & identity. The fans' resentment of his rebranding of the club from blue to red consumed the season. Wild behind-the-scenes antics saw a manager sacked and crazy back-room shenanigans. Our Goalie became a Super Hero as Cardiff City plummeted into disarray. Brazilian full backs, Icelandic midfielders and Despair from every town in South Wales. The Cardiff City Stadium became a Torture Chamber. Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here. But stirring end-of-season trips to West Bromwich and Southampton yielded unlikely success. Suddenly there was a chance. Suddenly there was Ho.......well, y'know.   

    Every game now seemed a four hour drive away, as the Long & Winding Road took us to the brink. As we always knew it would. And in far off Newcastle & Sunderland, Cardiff City were eventually relegated. The red shirts had not proved lucky. Mr Tan, your dream was over. 

    Dreamer. You know you are a Dreamer. Ashes to Ashes. A Million Love Songs later...

    But, like a jilted wife sticking by an unfaithful husband, we know we can never leave our club. Unlike the players, managers , even the owner, we do not have that luxury of choice. 

    We are stuck with our lover and will cling to ... the Hope. 

    Why do football teams do this to you, eh?
     

    The Secret Premier League Diary of a Cardiff City Fan


    David Collins and Gareth Bennett are the authors of
    The Secret Premier League Diary of a Cardiff City Fan.  2013/14 was Cardiff City’s first season in the top flight for more than fifty years, and they kept a diary every step of the way, recording all the highs and lows. Cardiff City enjoyed victory over the champions, success in the first ever All Wales Premier League derby, and visits to the finest stadiums in the country. But there were oh so many off-the-field misadventures, weren’t there? They were led by a chairman who looked like a Bond villain, running a club torn apart by Red v.Blue.  They spent more time on the front pages than the back pages as CCFC became Car Crash Football Club. This is David and Gareth's version of a crazy season. 


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  • 09/19/14--02:30: The Friday Digest 19/09/14
  •  

    THP Friday digest

    This week's update features pin-up girls, retro sweet recipes and Shakespeare's plays in their original English accent.


    Jessica Meyer


    * A fantastic article from Jessica Meyer on being a woman and a war historian.

     

    ©Come Step Back In Time.


    * From tea dresses to trousers: a look at fashion for women in the First World War.


    Original cover and poster


    * Kitchener and the truth behind the most famous pointing finger in history ...


    Refugees attending mass

     

    * The UK was home to 250,000 Belgian refugees during the First World War, so how and why did they vanish without a trace?

     

    Linda Stratmann

     

    * A typical day in the life of Linda Stratmann, the bestselling Mystery Press author


    whiteheat200


    * Crime Fiction Lover has shared their twenty greatest classic crime movies of all time but which others would you add to this list?

     

    Why today's most exciting crime novelists are women

     

    * Why today’s most exciting crime novelists are women.

     

    Pin-up girls through history - in pictures 

    * Pin-up girls through history - in pictures ... 

     

     

    Amazing history pictures: Hitler in disguise


    * Amazing history pictures: Hitler in disguise.   


    Files at the National Archives (c) Getty Images

     

    Wartime records have revealed the secret 'Agent Fifi' test for spies.


    Florence (c) AP

     

    * 'I never lost hope': a startling interview with the woman featured in the iconic Great Depression image talking just five years before her death in 1983.   


    Battle of Bosworth (Ann Ronan Pictures/Print Collector/Getty Images)


    Richard III was killed by skull and pelvis injuries – but mysteries still remain about his death.

     

     How to be a Georgian Court beauty

     

    Washing with mercury and urine: how to be a Georgian Court beauty ... 


    James McAvoy and Keira Knightley in Atonement


    * Stylist magazine share the most fashionable characters in literature.  

     

    mir 

     

    * As Scotland voted no in the Scottish referendum, see how the newspapers reported the historic vote here.


    St Mary Cray (c) Steve Woodmore


    'I loved/loathed my 1960s high-rise block'.

     

    L0064590 Children walking up a grassy knoll

     

    Parents – are you bad or just misguided? 


    (University of Leicester Archaeological Services)


    The remains of a man and a woman who had been buried holding hands have been uncovered at the Chapel of St Morrell, an ancient pilgrimage site in Hallaton.


    Film favourite: Dwayne Johnson as Hercules in this year's big-screen epic


    * Why Latin and Greek are still so relevant to us all.  


    Discovered … Member of the African Choir, London Stereoscopic Company, 1891. Photograph: Courtesy of © Hulton Archive/Getty Images

     

     * Astonishing portraits of the first black people ever photographed in Britain.


    Curly wurly


    * Bake your own retro sweets with these brilliant recipes - anyone fancy making some curly wurlys? 


    yorkshire follies


    * A look at some of the curiosities, follies and oddities of Yorkshire

     


    Here’s what Shakespeare’s plays sounded like with their original English accent.


    William Golding


    It's sixty years since Lord of the Flies was first published and the book still hold true all this time later


    The British Museum

     

    * How do you promote museums to young people?



    * The books with (almost) identical covers ...


    4. Cleverly printed in pairs

     


    Library book checkout card. ‘Many school librarians are seen purely as minders of a spare IT suite or as date label stampers.’ Photograph: Alamy


     

      Which history and publishing stories have you enjoyed reading this week?


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  • 09/20/14--07:00: Q&A with Stephen Wade
  •  Here at The History Press we are big fans of crime fiction and we jumped at the chance to ask one of our authors some questions about the ins and outs of writing historical crime fiction. From social media to writer's block, Stephen Wadeshares the secrets of successful crime fiction writing. Set in London in 1890, A Thief in the Night and Other Adventures of the Septimus Society sees seven amateur sleuths turn their hand to investigating the crimes and criminals in Victorian London.


    Stephen Wade

     

    Why write crime fiction?

    I write in this genre (which is new to me by the way) because it offers a unique way of seeing a particular society. Crime, in all its guises, opens up the shadows beneath life as it has always seemed on the surface. Also, I’m fascinated by transgression, as I think we all are.


    Where did the inspiration for A Thief in the Night come from?

    It came from my love of the 1880s and from, of course, amateur sleuths originating in Conan Doyle and others. My favourite character is my literary critic detective, based loosely on a scholar called Churton Collins.


    How important is location (i.e. London) in your book? 

    Very important of course. I’m always careful to study the geography of the city at the time, and I use lots of old photos. I stare at them for ages, trying to imagine the reality they had around them so long ago.


    What is your favourite book/What do you enjoy reading?

    My favourite reading falls into two categories: hard-boiled crime fiction (Phillip Kerr and Chandler) and theatre history. Again, I’m keen on Victorian and Edwardian theatre, and I intend to use that background in the next set of stories.

     

    Do you have a favourite author? Do you have a favourite fictional character?

    My favourite author- I have two. They are Christopher Isherwood and Samuel Johnson. In poetry, the late Seamus Heaney is someone I read and re-read. My favourite fictional character is Isherwood’s Mr Norris, closely followed by Dr Watson.


    How easy/difficult is it to write historical crime fiction?

    For me, it’s really hard, but fun. After writing so much non-fiction crime, the shift to fiction is a real challenge. I hope the next book is easier!


    Do you agree with David Baldacci that it is your responsibility as the author to write inaccuracies into your fiction, so that potential criminals do not replicate crimes?

    No, I think that readers like to have details of crime – they like to know about motivation and they like the repercussions of a deviant act.


     How do you avoid your characters becoming clichéd (e.g. the femme fatale, the jaded detective)?

    Actually, I don’t mind cliché in some respects. But I prefer to think of my sleuths as composites. There is something of Holmes and Watson in my main ones. The others detectives in the Septimus Society are ‘types’ with small individual touches, I think.


    Do you ever suffer from writers’ block? If so, how do you cope with it?

    No, I’m fortunate in that respect. But it does depend what I’m writing. My next fictional work is a collection of humorous short stories called Tales from Uncle Albert, and those flowed smoothly. I find that a novel sometimes presents a block, and this often takes the shape of a plot element. I find that sitting and staring into space in a coffee shop with a note-book handy does the trick, when the block strikes!


    Have you ever based characters on people you know (e.g. an old enemy as the villain)?

    In my Uncle Albert stories, yes. They are based on a real Uncle Albert. But in crime stories, only occasionally do I do that. I have based a few characters on people I met while working as a writer in prisons, but obviously, I can’t mention any names.


    How has social media helped you to market your book/you as an author?

    I have a lot to learn in this respect. I find that I have very little time to give to blogs etc. This is because I always have deadlines. I’m currently writing a biographical work called The Justice Women, which is the story of women lawyers, police officers and prison officers. In addition, I’m completing my second crime novel – hard-boiled, and set in Cardiff. It’s nothing at all like the Septimus Society. But I have the Septimus lot going well, joined by a new detective- very grumpy- called Gooch, and he’s good fun.


    A Thief in the Night


    Stephen Wade is the author of A Thief in the Night and Other Adventures of the Septimus Society in which a group of seven amateur criminologists based at the Septimus Club in Piccadilly set out to investigate a series of mysterious crimes committed in the capital. Including a professor, a Lord, an ex-jockey, an actress, a talented rogue, a Scotland Yard detective and a society lady, the sleuths become embroiled in the murder of an artist, an attempted assassination and even come up against some Russian anarchists. In these, their first six adventures, the society take on some challenging cases, relishing the thrill of the chase as enemies mount against them and old vendettas return ...


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