Stop Press: new Kensington & Chelsea WWI website

Lucy Yates, World War One Project Officer, writes:

We’re delighted to announce that the World War One website (mentioned in our previous post!) is now up and running. You can find it here, so please do log on and have a look.

ww1_website

 

You can search the material by personal stories (from the Mayor of Kensington to munitions worker Lottie Meade), by local regiments or by place to find out about the internment of Germans at Olympia or the model trench in Cheyne Walk.

We’ve been busy putting up a wealth of material, which ranges from tickets for the Army Christmas pudding fund to posters from the war-time Chelsea Kitchens. However, a big part of our website is collecting contributions from the public about life in Kensington and Chelsea in World War One so if you’ve got a fascinating family tale about the Great War or interesting photographs please log on and add your memories. We hope to make this a permanent showcase of life in the Borough during this unique period of history.

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Zeppelins over Barbados

Lucy Yates, World War One Project Officer, writes:

The Broughshane scrapbooks have been sitting quietly in a dusty corner of the Local Studies archive for 100 years. These are a wonderful resource, collected by the Mayor of Kensington during World War One. They include samples of khaki for troops’ uniforms from Harrods and poignant personal letters from the commander of the local 22nd Battalion. They have been taken out a few times over the years but part of our project remit is to get the community to engage with them. To this end, we’ve been running workshops and last Monday we were delighted to host the Pepper Pot Club from Ladbroke Grove.

Pepper Pot Day Centre
Pepper Pot Day Centre

The scrapbooks were pored over with great interest and their content prompted memories including Zeppelins being seen over Barbados and one veteran’s more recent service in Aden.

Pepper Pot Day Centre
Pepper Pot Day Centre

We were also keen to hear the group’s thoughts on the direction of our forthcoming World War One exhibition and there was a unanimous feeling among participants that they would like the youth of many of the soldiers to be remembered and to avoid the glorification of war. We will make this one of our community-focused aims and hope this is reflected in the tone of the blog post we’ve already done, on Randle Barnett Barker, 11/12/2014 .

Our project website will be going live in the next fortnight and we would love members of the public in Kensington and Chelsea to contribute their World War One family memories and photographs. You can find us at:

http://www.kcworldwar1.org.uk

ww1website2

 

 

Spotlight on Remembrance Sunday

The second Sunday of November is, every year, a day of reflection, when people of all ages wear a poppy with pride.

Our online Encyclopaedia Britannica has a brilliant Britannica Spotlight on Poppy Day page, which is perfect for helping you (or someone you know) with Remembrance Sunday homework: useful articles and information as well as activities and fun.

Spotlight on Poppy Day
Spotlight on Poppy Day

There is also a Poppy Day article for older students, with a handy double-click on any word to get an instant dictionary definition tool: it also allows you to select different reading levels, and search for and highlight specific words.

Remembrance Sunday on  Encyclopaedia Britannica
Remembrance Sunday on Encyclopaedia Britannica

Check out our Encyclopaedia Britannica page, where you can find links to Britannica Junior, Student and Adult.

Sloane Street 1919: the Peace Parade

We’ve struck gold this week: a guest blog by our Local Studies Librarian, Dave Walker, with some personal- and local- reflections of WWI.

Like many of the people who work in libraries, archives and museums I’ve spent time this year getting ready for the commemoration of the start of the First World War, looking through archive material, going to meetings and workshops, working on exhibitions and events and answering the first flurry of enquiries on the subject. I’ve never experienced any preparation for a centenary like it. Raising awareness of a profoundly significant historical event and getting people interested in history is never a bad thing. But the First World War is not like other historical events. It’s definitely not like the Second World War.

2022

World War 2 was an unambiguous struggle against evil. We may have had some allies we felt dubious about afterwards, and we may feel regret about some of the methods and weapons used by the Allies but it was a necessary war. That seems to be the general consensus. And I know it from my own family. Both my father and my mother were in the armed forces and believed in the cause for which they were fighting.

2023

But World War 1 is less clear cut. We fought an aggressor who was determined on the domination of Europe (and elsewhere). But the origins of the war are caught up in diplomatic machinations and expediency. And there are many areas of disagreement about the conduct of the war. Were our troops “lions led by donkeys” as Allan Clarke famously put it? Or were the allied commanders as competent as could have been expected given that the technology of warfare was changing so rapidly? Was the Great War a just war against an enemy of civilisation? Or simply the result of one gang of would be imperialists attempting unsuccessfully to supplant another? It wasn’t as it turned out “the war to end wars”. But was it just an accidental outbreak of unjustifiable blood-letting?

2029

It’s harder when the event being remembered is reaching the point of being almost past living memory. As far as my own family is concerned there are a few photos of men in uniform seen in old photo albums and I know about my great uncle John James Williamson who died towards the end of the war too late to travel home on compassionate leave when his mother died. (His brother George made it home and survived the war.)

2026

When it comes to what is being commemorated we can agree that it was the courage and sacrifice of ordinary men and women that we want to remember and the details of ordinary lives. The historians and politicians can argue over the rest.

There is no doubt about the suffering and trauma which ended the long Edwardian summer and propelled us into the 20th century. But if it feels disheartening to contemplate pain, misery and injustice we can remember that this is history. We have the whole span of the war to examine, which is why I have chosen these pictures.

2025

This was the Peace Parade of 1919. Men and women who served in the armed forces or in auxiliary forces are seen marching down Sloane Street (just a part of the whole route) to commemorate the end of the war.

We’re rightly avoiding the word celebration this year. But I think it is right to say that these men and women were celebrating one thing – their own survival. They marched in front of cheering crowds to celebrate the peace, proud of what they had done but glad it was finished.

2022a

Home at last. War is over.

 

You can follow Dave’s regular blog here