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Subject: ‘World War 1’
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Posted in Anniversary, Historical articles, History, London, Religion, War, World War 1 on Monday, 13 May 2013
This edited article about the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 252 published on 12 November 1966.
The Tomb of the Unknown Warrior
After the First World War (1914-18), many countries wanted to express their gratitude to the ordinary men who fought so gallantly in such horrifying conditions.
A British chaplain who had served in Flanders suggested that an unknown soldier be chosen from the many who lay in unmarked graves and buried in Westminster Abbey, as a representative of the multitude who had lost their lives. It was further suggested that the ceremonial burial should take place on the same day as the Cenotaph at Whitehall was formally consecrated – Armistice Day, 11 November, 1920.
Strict, precautions were taken to ensure that the chosen soldier should remain anonymous. A number of bodies were brought from different areas, and from these one was secretly chosen. A coffin bearing the body was brought to Boulogne where it was put on board ship for England.
After the ceremony at the Cenotaph, the coffin was borne in procession to the Abbey. King George V headed those who solemnly trod in its wake. It was buried in soil brought from France amidst famous men whose graves are in the Abbey.
Posted in Adventure, Historical articles, History, Railways, World War 1 on Friday, 3 May 2013
This edited article about the First World War originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 241 published on 27 August 1966.
Everything happened so swiftly that Private Jim Roberts, the hospital train orderly, had no time to think. At one moment he imagined himself alone in an empty coach on the train; the next he was engaged in a desperate hand-to-hand struggle with an Arab train robber.
The year was 1917; the place, Mesopotamia. A British Expeditionary Force was fighting against the Turks, who had been driven back beyond Baghdad. British communications stretched back to Sinbad’s city of Basrah, at the head of the Persian Gulf.
The coach, with Private Roberts in charge, was going up to Amara overnight to bring back fever cases from the front line. He’d been making up the cots and had almost finished his task when some slight noise prompted him to spin round. He was just in time to see a brown hand dragging a blanket through one of the wide-open windows.
Roberts, lithe and wiry, hurled himself forward and managed to grasp one corner of the blanket as it snaked out of the window. He wound it round his wrist, grabbed hold with his other hand, and tugged.
The Arab on the footboard had to use one hand for clinging to the side of the train, but he was a powerful fellow, and Roberts was only slightly built. A fierce tug-of-war followed for the raider was determined not to let go; the orderly was equally determined to hang on.
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Posted in English Literature, Historical articles, History, Medicine, World War 1 on Tuesday, 30 April 2013
This edited article about Hugh Walpole originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 236 published on 23 July 1966.
Sir Hugh Walpole based one of his books on his experiences during the First World War when he tended wounded soldiers for the Red Cross in Russia, by Frank Lea
Sir Hugh Walpole believed that we have two sides to our natures, one good and one evil, and that they are continually fighting each other. This struggle provides the theme for much of his writing, and earned him a reputation as one of the foremost novelists between the two World Wars.
But he wrote many happier books – his family sagas, childhood stories, and a series of novels set in Cornwall helped to add to his wide popularity.
Hugh Walpole was born at Auckland, New Zealand, in 1884, the son of a clergyman who later became Bishop of Edinburgh. When he was five, he sailed with the rest of his family to England, which was to become his true home. He did not enjoy school very much, and it was not until he went to Cambridge that he really settled down in England.
After a short, unhappy spell as a schoolmaster, he worked as a book reviewer, and in 1909 published his first novel, The Wooden Horse, a story of a Cornish family. He quickly followed this with Maradick at Forty, and Mr. Perrin and Mr. Traill, a novel about two schoolmasters, which attracted much attention.
His service with the Red Cross in Russia during the First World War gave him the material for two impressive novels, The Dark Forest, and The Secret City. Then, in 1919, he published Jeremy, the first of three books about childhood, which became very popular.
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Posted in Communications, Historical articles, History, World War 1 on Monday, 29 April 2013
This edited article about Lord Kitchener originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 235 published on 16 July 1966.
London during WW1 with Lord Kitchener's face looking down from that famous call-up poster by Frank Bellamy
The stern face of Lord Kitchener, which stared down accusingly from call-up posters all over England during the First World War, was probably the best incentive young men in Britain could have had to join the Army. In his young days, this man had been involved in colourful exploits that had made him famous throughout the British Empire.
The plaque above marks the house at 2 Carlton Gardens, near St. James’s Park, London, where he lived from 1914-1915, during the war for which his poster with the slogan: “Your Country Needs You” helped to recruit troops.
Son of a colonel, Horatio Herbert Kitchener (1850-1916) was brought up in Ireland. After a spell of training at the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich in 1870 he offered to join the French Army to help repel German invaders.
Kitchener’s attempt to get into the French Army was frowned upon in England and he was reprimanded for “a breach of discipline”. His next three years were spent more quietly in the Royal Engineers. Then, quite suddenly, he was sent to explore Palestine – a first small step that was to carry him far.
When Britain acquired Cyprus in 1878, Kitchener was the officer chosen to survey the island. Then he became a temporary vice-consul at Kastamuni, in Asia Minor. In 1882 he asked if he could join an expedition to crush a rebellion in the Egyptian Army. His request was refused, so he took a “holiday” instead, dressing himself up as a Levantine and spending his time reconnoitring the Nile valley.
His “holiday” over, Kitchener returned to Cyprus and to an uncomfortable interview with an angry superior officer. Shortly afterwards he found himself second-in-command of a unit of Egyptian cavalry.
At this time, severe trouble was brewing in the Sudan, where the Mahdi, a Moslem religious leader, had united rebellious Arab tribes against the British.
The Mahdi was a powerful man with a large, determined and skilful army. The important city of Khartoum in the Sudan fell to his men. In 1886, Kitchener, now a recognised authority on the Middle East, was appointed Governor-General of the Eastern Sudan, where for some years he steadily prepared an army to challenge the Mahdi. The result was the battle of Omdurman, 1898, in which the Mahdi was beaten by an army less than half the size of his own.
By 1914, Kitchener, famed and trusted by the public, had unrivalled knowledge of the British Empire. He was made Minister of War and was one of the few who realised that the fight with Germany would not be “over by Christmas”. He set out to expand the British Army to an extent never before attempted, and in three years the Army grew to three-and-a-half times its former size – three million of the men were volunteers. His success probably saved Europe from German domination.
In June, 1916, Kitchener sailed from Scapa Flow to visit the Tsar of Russia, who wanted his advice. He was never seen again. His ship, H.M.S. Hampshire, disappeared in bad weather off the Orkneys, probably sunk by a mine.
Posted in Heroes and Heroines, Historical articles, History, Ships, World War 1, World War 2 on Monday, 22 April 2013
This edited article about World War One originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 230 published on 11 June 1966.
When the stricken Germans boarded the ship fierce hand-to-hand fighting on the forecastle of the Broke
The night of April 20, 1917, was dark and menacing. The sea in the Straits of Dover was calm under a cloudy sky. It would be easy for German sea raiders to sneak up to the English coast.
As the darkness thickened, and heavy clouds obscured the moon, two British destroyers, the Broke and the Swift, began their dangerous night patrol. Their job was a vital one, and they were both equipped with powerful guns and twenty-one-inch torpedo tubes.
The Broke was under Commander “Teddy” Evans. She had originally been built for the Chilean Navy, and had the moderate speed of twenty-nine knots. She was requisitioned by the British Government to help combat the German Navy, and had already tasted battle and been badly damaged at Jutland.
If there was any trouble, Commander Evans knew he could rely on his crew to fight until their ship sank under them. The Broke was eight knots slower than her companion ship, but her bows and flanks were stronger, and if necessary she could take an enormous amount of punishment.
The first indication that six German destroyers had by-passed the patrol, and sailed to within three miles of Dover, came when a series of vivid gun flashes lit up the sombre night sky. The two British destroyers immediately changed course towards the attackers.
The Swift attacked the enemy raiders, her guns blazing and torpedoes striking home. The German destroyers were so concerned with trying to escape from the Swift, that they did not notice the slower British ship steaming into their midst.
With her first torpedo, the Broke sank one of the enemy. And then Commander Evans gave the order which was to win him a permanent place in history. He decided not to open fire with his guns, nor to use any more torpedoes. He would simply ram the nearest destroyer, the G.42!
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Posted in Africa, World War 1 on Monday, 22 April 2013
This edited article about World War One originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 229 published on 4 June 1966.
Britain’s strangest naval action of the First World War was fought seven hundred miles from the sea and 2,500 ft. above sea-level – on the choppy crocodile-infested waters of Lake Tanganyika. To fight it, two motor boats had to be shipped from London to Cape Town and then transported through bush, jungle swamp and river, by rail, steam tractor and barge – a Herculean trek of over three thousand miles.
The overland journey took nearly four months, but at the end of it, in a few short sharp encounters, the British Tanganyika Expedition – the smallest and most far-ranging of its kind of the whole war – pulverized a superior German “fleet” and cleared Central Africa of an enemy menace without a single casualty.
Since the start of the war, the Germans had dominated the four hundred mile long lake that separated German East Africa from the Belgian Congo and Rhodesia. Their pocket squadron, the 1,500-ton Graf von Gotson (two 4-inch guns), the sixty-ton Hedwig von Wissmann, and the Kingani (both armed with quick-firing cannon) and a few smaller craft had patrolled these waters unchallenged, playing havoc with the Allies’ African war effort.
In Whitehall, the War Office had grown increasingly infuriated with this state of affairs, and early in 1915 asked the Navy to do something about it.
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Posted in Historical articles, History, World War 1 on Wednesday, 17 April 2013
This edited article about World War One originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 228 published on 28 May 1966.
Colonel Meinertzhagen dropped his haversack in full sight of the enemy by Graham Coton
A Haversack dropped in the desert sand by a decoy horseman, full of documents meticulously faked to mislead the enemy – it seemed pure story-book stuff, as far removed from real war as an episode in a boys’ adventure yarn.
Would the wily Turks be taken in by it? Or would they see it as a clumsy piece of bluff, sponsored by the stupid Britishers?
General Allenby’s Intelligence officers at G.H.Q., Palestine, asked themselves this in October, 1917, the third year of the first World War, as they put the finishing touches to the Baited Haversack.
They need not have worried. The Turks fell for the deception hook, line and sinker. And in doing so they opened the way for a great British victory that ended in Allenby’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem in the December of that year.
In July, 1917, Allenby’s problem, as he faced the Turks across thirty miles of Palestine front, was how to turn the Turkish flank and drive them out of well-nigh impregnable Gaza. Without taking or side-stepping Gaza, a powerful coastal fortress, he could never advance towards Jerusalem. So, direct assault being virtually impossible, he decided to concentrate on the other end of the front, thirty miles inland, and outflank Gaza.
Here, opposite his own waterless right flank, lay well-watered, Turkish-held Beersheba, whose wells, when captured, could supply him as he moved west to attack hostile Sheria and Hereira, in the direction of Gaza.
But to take Beersheba, surprise was essential. The Turks must still think Gaza was the main objective.
It was to create this surprise that Allenby’s Intelligence men hatched up the hoax of the Baited Haversack.
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Posted in Historical articles, History, Weapons, World War 1 on Friday, 5 April 2013
This edited article about World War One originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 219 published on 26 March 1966.
British artillery firing a heavy howitzer in France, World War I, which had a much shorter range than ‘Big Bertha’
At 7.20 on the morning of Saturday, March 23, 1918, the paving stones outside No. 6 Quai de Seine, Paris, erupted with a loud bang. It was the last winter of the first World War, and people dived for cover, thinking the explosion was the beginning of a German air raid. But there had been no alert, and not a single aircraft could be seen in the clear blue sky.
During the next eight hours there were twenty-three more explosions in different parts of Paris, but no signs of German bombers. The military authorities, making a careful examination of the craters, found a number of steel splinters and pieces of grooved copper ring, which they identified as the remains of artillery shells. Yet Paris was sixty-seven miles from the German front-line – three times the range of any gun known to the Allies.
Within a few days the mystery was solved by the French secret service. The Germans had developed a super-gun which was shelling Paris from a place behind the German lines called Laon.
The super-gun had an enormously long barrel and fired a 9.1 in. shell weighing 228 pounds. The shell left the barrel at a speed of one mile a second and travelled upwards in a great curve to a height of twenty-one miles. After that gravity brought it sweeping down on a curving path until it hit its target at a speed of 3,000 feet per second, 176 seconds after it had been fired.
Germany’s long-range gun was called Big Bertha after Bertha Krupp, head of the armament firm of that name, which had manufactured the gun. Altogether, the Germans built half-a-dozen Big Berthas.
Posted in Engineering, Famous battles, Historical articles, History, Weapons, World War 1 on Monday, 25 March 2013
This edited article about World War One originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 209 published on 15 January 1966.
‘Big Willie’ brought a crucial victory at the Battle of Cambrai in WW1 by Stanley L Wood
The big “landship” bumped and rumbled its way over the closely guarded golf course, and its driver muttered irritably to himself as he worked the large, heavy levers.
Seated next to him on the cramped driving seat was yet another important visitor who had come to see how the new invention was progressing. It was difficult enough just to be steering the landship, thought the driver, without having some unknown bigwig breathing down your neck!
The two men were jammed close together, and as the trial proceeded the visitor became more and more engrossed in the operation. He moved even nearer to the driver to see how the gears were used.
At this, the mechanic really lost his temper.
“Hey you, do you want all the room?” he cried. “Shove up there.”
“I’m awfully sorry,” said King George V, moving back to his proper place. “I didn’t mean to crowd you.”
Later the King recalled with amusement that day in 1916 when one of his loyal subjects told him to “shove up.” But at the time the driver – who had no idea of the identity of his latest guest – was justified in his rebuke.
For weeks “Big Willie,” as the landship was called, had been undergoing a series of secret trials on a golf course at Hatfield, in Hertfordshire. It was hoped that it would be the answer to the German weapon of poison gas, which was used against the Allied troops with horrifying effect during the first World War.
After the first devastatingly rapid advance by the German troops in Belgium and Northern France, the fighting developed into a stalemate. The military leaders on both sides cried out for a new weapon that would bring them total victory, and at home the scientists racked their brains to meet this need.
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Posted in Aviation, Heroes and Heroines, Historical articles, History, Weapons, World War 1 on Thursday, 14 March 2013
This edited article about the Red Baron originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 197 published on 23 October 1965.
Dogfight with the Red Baron in his Fokker Dr.1 by Wilf Hardy
The morning of Sunday, September 16, 1916 – in the middle of the first World War – British aircraft droned deep into the German lines to bomb Marcoing railway station. The great German ace, Oswald Boelcke, leading his newly-formed Albatros squadron into a climb before attacking, counted fourteen bombers and escorting fighters.
Boelcke continued climbing until the sun was behind him. Then, as the first British bombs fell among the rail wagons, he gave the attack signal and dived.
As he had taught them to do, each of his young pilots singled out a definite target and closed in. One Albatros fastened on to a two-seat fighter, but found its fire too hot for comfort. The attacker dropped away into a cloud, then soared up underneath his foe – in the plane’s “blind” spot. A stream of bullets punctured the British plane’s engine and it nosed down and landed shakily. The exultant young German pilot almost crashed his own aircraft in his haste to collect a souvenir. . . .
An aristocratic ex-cavalry officer, Baron Manfred Freiherr von Richthofen, had scored his first victory.
Richthofen’s second victim was a Martinsyde Elephant, and soon he was averaging one kill a week. The souvenirs he collected – pieces of fabric, machine-guns and propellers – began to mount up.
Major Lanoe G. Hawker, V.C., D.S.O., the British victor of nine combats, gave Richthofen a long and fierce fight for his eleventh claim. It was a fight in which two aces challenged each other’s skill, banking steeply into a circling dogfight which spiralled down from 8,000 to 3,000 feet.
The German’s advantages of full fuel tanks, prevailing wind, and of fighting over his own territory at last made Hawker whip out of his bank and dive for home territory. But Richthofen was an adept at a running fight, and a few short bursts sent Major Hawker’s aircraft crumpling into the ground.
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