Lest We Forget

The 1st July 2016 marks the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.

At 7.30am on the morning of the battle thousands of young men rose from their trenches and walked across No Man’s Land towards the enemy trenches.

On that single day the British Army suffered 57,000 casualties of which 19,000 men died.  The objective on that first day are shown in the map below:

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For families on the home front, newspapers and magazines provided information. Seeing images of the battle meant reading the papers or magazines.

Here is a typical image of “Going over the Top” from our copy of the Illustrated London News from the later stages of the Battle of the Somme, showing that the dominion troops were heavily engaged:

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Image from the Illustrated London News Oct 26th 1916

 

An edition shows British troops  capturing Montauban in late July:

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The Great British Offensive North of the Somme: Troops Advancing to the Capture of Montauban. Illustrated London News 22nd July 1916

 

You can read daily coverage of the Somme battle in the Times Digital Archive and I selected part of one of the first editorials/ leaders to come out on July 3rd where indications are that the battle was going favourably:

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Contrast this with the Roll of Honour of Friday 4th August 1916:

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Punch Magazine took a different view on the seemingly never-ending battle as we can see from this image of October 25th 1916:

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Punch Historical Archive 1841-1992

 

Having visited the Western Front several years ago I was struck by the openness of the landscape, its tranquillity. The scars remain of course and the area is populated by cemeteries and memorials along the frontline.

Some of the areas which I found very moving on my visit included:

The Lochnagar Mine Crater at La Boisselle on the Somme which was sprung at 7.28am on the 1st July and shows that the war was also waged underground by Royal Engineers and the devastation this caused

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Delville Wood was also an incredibly atmospheric place to visit. It was where battalions of the South African Brigade came under artillery fire from the Germans during their attempt to capture and then defend the wood in mid July 1916

The South African Brigade had gone into battle here on 15th July 1915 with strength of 121 officers and 3,032 other ranks. At roll call on 21st July they numbered only 29 officers and 751 other ranks.

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Military Artist drawing of the battle of Delville Wood July 1917

 

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Abandoned German trench Delville Wood September 1916

 

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Deville Wood at it is today

 

Newfoundland Memorial Park near Beaumont Hamel is one of only a few sites on the Western Front where the ground remains largely untouched from when the First World War ended and there are preserved trenches:

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Image of trenches from the November 1916 attack

 

The Royal Newfoundland Regiment, part of the 29th Division, which had seen action at Gallipoli (1915) arrived in France in April 1916 and attacked on the 1st July 1916 at 9.15am as part of the second wave and suffered great losses in their attempt to Beaumont Hamel with 90% casualties.

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Just in front of the Caribou in the above photo are the trenches from which the Newfoundland’s launched their attack.

During the First World War plans were already being made on how to commemorate the fallen and I would recommend Empires of the Dead by David Crane (2013) if you are interested in the story behind the building of the British and Commonwealth war cemeteries.

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The most poignant and the largest memorial and the focus of commemorations on the 1st July is the Thiepval Memorial to the missing. This commemorates the 72,195 dead of all the  battles fought in the Somme area July 1915-November 1918 who have no known grave.

Total allied casualties during those 141 days were 623,907.

Lest We Forget.

To access all the databases used to research this blog please see:

Punch Historical  Archive 1841-1992

Visit the Times Digital Archive

The Illustrated London News is available at the Central Reference Library

Karen Ullersperger, Tri-Borough Reference Librarian

 

 

Celebrating Charlotte Bronte

Charlotte Bronte was born on 21 April 1816. The eldest of the Bronte siblings to reach adulthood, she was the last to die. She wrote Jane Eyre, Shirley and Villette, and died on 31 March 1855, aged 38. Her bicentenary is celebrated this year, and those of Branwell Brontë in 2017,  Emily Brontë in 2018 and Anne Brontë in 2020.

This post is a quick reminder of some of the resources we have available in the library for Bronte students…look out for more Bronte posts in the future.

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The library holds a wealth of Charlotte Bronte resources for everyone, from students to simply curious browsers: Charlotte Bronte’s entry in the DNB (Dictionary of National Biography) gives a concise but detailed account of the life of this shy, complex and talented writer, with links to additional resources.

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The online Encyclopaedia Britannica’s topic pages  also gives extensive lists of useful sources of further reading.  Britannica Library for students gives an excellent and well-written article about the Bronte family’s difficult and intriguing life.

Don’t forget, with both these resources you are offered links to carefully chosen, credible sites on the internet, as well as primary sources, pictures, and library catalogue entries. You are also able to highlight particular words in the article for a more detailed explanation of their meaning if unsure.

 

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And for further reading, the Times Digital Archive gives us a review of Elizabeth Gaskell’s Life of Charlotte Bronte, an insight into the thoughts and attitudes of her contemporaries.

 

Introducing the Punch Historical Archive!

 

Karen, Reference Manager, writes…

Looking for some political predictions from phrenologists?  How about Victorian era investment advice? If you’re after some scathing commentary on 19th and 20th century society, look no further than the Punch Historical Archive! One hundred and fifty-one years of this legendary satirical magazine have been completely digitised and are now available at your fingertips!

Sketch of Punch by Harry Furniss, from jan 1882 edition
Furniss, Harry. “An Undoubted Old Master.” Punch Historical Archive [London, England] 14 Jan. 1882: 14. Punch Historical Archive. Web.
Spanning from the very first issue in 1841, all the way until the final issue in 1992, the database contains full colour scans of every issue.

Snippet taken from article: Public Affairs on Phrenological Principles"  Aug. 1841

“Public Affairs on Phrenological Principles.” Punch Historical Archive [London, England] 14 Aug. 1841: 57. Punch Historical Archive. Web.
In addition to providing a comprehensive archive, the database also offers a collection of fascinating essays from leading scholars.  For example, Dr Annie Grey has analysed the representations of food in Punch, while Professor Brian Maidment investigates early Victorian comics. Of particular interest may be Dr Mike Benbough-Jackson’s article exploring how Punch handled humour during the First World War.

Cartoon taken from Punch Almanack 1915
Raven-Hill, Leonard. “Almanack.” Almanack. Punch Historical Archive [London, England] 1 Jan. 1915: n.p. Punch Historical Archive. Web.
To access the Punch Historical Archive, simply visit the library’s online databases!