Military

Wiltshire at War: Community Stories

on Friday, 20 June 2014. Posted in Military, Museums

As part of activity taking place across Wiltshire commemorating 100 years since the First World War, museums in the county have been successful in getting Heritage Lottery funding to deliver an exciting project.

Wiltshire at War: Community Stories will invite communities from across Wiltshire to share their stories, memories and artefacts of the impact the First World War had on the county. Working with local museums and heritage centres these will be recorded, stored and shared to create a picture of how Wiltshire life was affected by the conflict.

 

Stories will be presented through a series of travelling exhibitions and also a website.

Alongside this schools and libraries will be hosting activities, talks and events, inspired by the stories from the exhibitions.

DAPper formation for supplying food to the troops in WWI…

on Friday, 06 June 2014. Posted in Archives, Military

While continuing my work of listing the papers of the Earls of Radnor, I came across a file entitled ‘The Directorate of Agricultural Production’ and dated 1917-1919. Not the most enthralling subject at first glance, but as I read through the papers I discovered that they dealt with an almost completely neglected aspect of war on the Western Front.


Amidst the horror and carnage of trench warfare, it is easy to forget that it was an enormous task to keep the troops supplied with food, drink, clothing and ammunition. This demanded a herculean effort by the Army Service Corps to source and transport supplies over the Channel, and by the autumn of 1917 there were almost 2 million men of the British and Empire armies serving in France and Flanders needing to be fed. In addition, unrestricted submarine warfare by the Germans meant that not only were food supplies running low at home, but also shipping losses resulted in fewer ships being available to carry food to France. The answer was for the British Army to grow some of its own food, thus solving both these problems at once.

Life in the Navy

on Tuesday, 03 June 2014. Posted in Military

Among the papers of the Jeffrey family deposited in the Wiltshire & Swindon Archives, (Ref:1369/16) are a remarkable collection of letters to and from John Russell, a man probably best described as an 18th century equivalent to Samuel Pepys.

Working in the first half of that century, Russell became Clerk to the Navy at Deptford from 1730, having already spent much time at sea and went on to become Consul General in Lisbon in 1749.


The letters offer a wonderful insight into naval life during this period and often refer to ‘celebrities’ of the time. Beau Brummel, for instance, gets a mention in one letter. Archivists at the History Centre believe this collection has a national importance.


Unfortunately, the ravages of time, mould and mice have taken their toll leaving the letters extremely weak and fragile and requiring conservation.

The Archive Conservation staff have an on-going programme of repair and another folder of 50 letters (they number hundreds in total), is nearing completion. Because of their precarious condition full, traditional repair has been carried out involving backing, endorsements and infilling. This will prevent further damage and at last make them accessible to researchers.

Mervyn Grist
Conservator

WWI Evacuees: Research Update

on Saturday, 01 March 2014. Posted in Military

Hello, its Jade again!
Its been just over a month since I last wrote my blog and there have been some great, and interesting developments, some as a result of people reading the blog and getting in touch for which I am very grateful! So I thought I had better get in touch and update you all.

I have now been through all but nine of the school admission registers for the whole of Wiltshire - not an easy task I assure you, but being very close to finishing has made me reflect on what has been discovered along the way. I think it is safe to say that some sort of large scale, organised evacuation of young children out of London was occurring during the war.  While there is plenty of evidence to suggest this, it also has opened up new questions such as; why? how? and where? It is also worth noting that although it looks like this must have been organized on a large scale, it is equally clear that it was not anything to do with the government, or local authorities. This is clear from the lack of information available about the evacuees in any official records.

The First World War Home Front – a forgotten part of the war

on Friday, 07 February 2014. Posted in Military

The Blitz, rationing, evacuees, home guard, women’s land army are all such familiar parts of the story of the Second World War. The home front is well documented, the setting for popular television programmes, taught in primary schools and part of our collective narrative for the Second World War, but most people know very little about the home front during the First World War. Prompted by this year’s centenary and the production of a resource pack for schools, volunteers and staff have been looking into the archives for documents about the Great War. At the request of teachers, we looked into the role of children in the war researching the school log books to find out how the war affected their lives.

Wiltshire's Conscientious Objectors

on Thursday, 23 January 2014. Posted in Archives, Military

Some of you may have listened to the Today Programme on BBC Radio 4 this morning (23rd Jan) or have seen newspaper reports on the National Archives recent release of online material relating to World War 1 Military Conscription Appeal Tribunals for Middlesex. http://ht.ly/sPK8W  and http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2014/jan/23/who-conscientious-objectors-first-world-war?CMP=twt_fd

It is suggested that these records are one of only two complete sets of such records to survive as the tribunal papers were supposed to have been destroyed after the war. So we thought our blog readers might be interested to know that the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre also hold a series of tribunal papers.

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