Monthly Archives: June 2014

Reflections on war and warfare: week 18 (30 June – 6 July 2014)

As of March 2014, we are posting weekly extracts of writings on war and warfare drawn from our manuscript and printed collections. Ranging from items on the Maratha wars to the Second World War, the extracts will reflect opinions both from the battle front and from those at home.

1 July 1944 Dealing with the threat of bombing
The effects on the civilian population of the threat of bombing raids on London, bombs from June 1944 had taken the form of “Doodlebugs”, is recorded in the journal of Samuel Rich:

“The frequent procession to the shelter on the approach of each doodle bug – the suspense at the cutting out of the engine and the explosion – the relief on hearing what must mean death to somebody – the emergence – to be repeated n+1 times.”

MS 168 AJ217/40 Journal of Samuel Rich, 1 July 1944

2 July 1813 The “scum of the earth”
At the Battle of Vitoria, on 21 June 1813, Arthur Wellesley, first Marquis of Wellington, broke the French army of King Joseph Bonaparte and Marshal Jean-Baptiste Jourdan near Vitoria in Spain. However, in the aftermath of the battle, his troops broke their ranks to loot the abandoned French wagons. While Wellington often praised the gallantry of his troops he was well aware that the pressures of warfare all too often lead to such bouts of pillaging. This particular incident led him to write his now famous dispatch to Earl Bathurst, referring to his men as the “scum of the earth”.

“It is quite impossible for me or any other man to command a British army under the existing system. We have in the service the scum of the earth as common soldiers, and of late years we have been doing every thing in our power both by law and by publications to relax the discipline by which alone such men can be kept in order. The officers of the lower ranks will not perform the duty required from them in order to keep their soldiers in order and it is next to impossible to punish any officer for neglects of this description. As to the noncommissioned officers as I have repeatedly stated, they are as bad as the men; and too near them in point of pay and situation by the regulations of late years to expect them to do anything to keep the men in order.

It is really a disgrace to have any thing to say to such men as some of our soldiers are.”

WP1/373/6 Letter from Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, first Marquis of Wellington, Huarte, to Henry Bathurst, third Earl Bathurst, Secretary for War and the Colonies, 2 July 1813

1-4 July 1916 A chaplain in the war
As the Anglo-French operations in the Battle of the Somme commenced on 1 July, extracts from the diary of Revd Michael Adler, senior Jewish chaplain to the British Expeditionary Force, recorded some of the human cost of this military action.

Sat 1 July: “Battle begun.”
Mon 3 July: “ Corbie La Neuville to be near the Somme fighting.”
Tue 4 July: “Funeral of Pte L.Levi… 2nd Lieut Seline seriously wounded.”

MS 125 AJ 16/2 Diary of Revd Michael Adler, 1-4 July 1916

3-4 July 1916 Battle of Albert
Taking place in Somme (Picardy, France), the Battle of Albert encompassed the beginnings of the Anglo-French operations in the Battle of the Somme. Lasting from 1-13 July 1916, it began with an attack made by the Anglo-French Infantry on the south bank from Foucaucourt to the Somme, and from the Somme north to Gommecourt. Despite the Infantry achieving a significant victory on the German Second Army, the British attack from Albert-Bapaume road to Gommecourt resulted in approximately 60,000 British casualties.

“All last week there was a heavy bombardment of the German line, getting more and more violent. In fact it was terrible. But the weather was awful and the attack had to be put off for Thursday. The whole Battalion have been working like ants for days past, all night and every night.”

MS 336 A2097/7/1 Letter from Frederick Dudley Samuel to his fiancée and, subsequent wife Dorothy, 3-4 July 1916

Reflections on war and warfare: week 17 (23 – 29 June 2014)

As of March 2014, we are posting weekly extracts of writings on war and warfare drawn from our manuscript and printed collections. Ranging from items on the Maratha wars to the Second World War, the extracts will reflect opinions both from the battle front and from those at home.

24 June 1918 Austria suffer defeat in the Second Battle of the Piave River, Italy
The Battle of the Piave River was the last major attack by the Austro-Hungarian army in Italy in World War One. As a result of Russia withdrawing itself from the war, Germany turned to Austria-Hungry to contribute resources to defeating Italy. Despite German-aided operations being a success at Caporetto in 1917, the troops of Austria-Hungary were in a different condition in 1918. As well as supplies being low, so was morale. Nevertheless, commanders of the Austria-Hungary force favoured an attack. As General Diaz had learned of the exact timing of the Austrian attack, the Italians were well prepared: increasing their numbers along the Piave and receiving shipments of arms from Allied munitions factories. Italy achieved a great victory whilst Austria’s troops suffered 60,000 deaths and 90,000 wounded.

“The Austrian news is most thrilling, and may have tremendously far reaching effects.”

MS 132 AJ 322 1/4 Letter from Basil Henriques to his mother, 24 June 1918

25 June 1944 Doodlebugs
Towards the end of the Second World War in June 1944 the Germans started to send V1 Flying bombs, often referred to as ‘Doodlebugs’, to bomb London. These were essentially a bomb with wings, like an aeroplane without a pilot. They flew until they ran out of fuel and then either dropped instantly or glided towards the ground where they would explode upon impact. Thousands were launched against London and they generated huge levels of fear. If the engines could be heard, then most people stopped moving to allow some distance to develop, but if the engines cut out before they reached where an individual was standing, they could not be sure the doodlebug would not drop or glide towards to them.

“After lunch I was asleep in a deck chair in the garden, when I mistook the rumble of a train for a doodle bug in my sleep. For the first time in the war I was overtaken by stark terror; dodged behind the tree and made for the garden shelter – stumbling I grazed my knee. Amy, Connie and Bridget all ran to awaken me. A nasty experience. Like an insect dodging a giant foot!”

MS 168 AJ217/40 Journal of Samuel Rich, 25 June 1944

26 June 1815 Anticipating the cost of victory
Following the Battle of Waterloo, Wellington sent his official dispatch to England on 19 June 1815. It was published in the London Gazette on 22 June. A letter sent to Denis Pack from Brighton, on 26 June, expresses relief on hearing that he has not been killed. The correspondent also anticipates the official publication of the losses that have resulted from the campaign.

“I congratulate you most heartily upon what has passed; and upon the very distinguished share you have (as usual) had in the business. It has been a most glorious victory: indeed I think quite as much so as England has ever had to boast. Our loss seems to have been very severe; tho, even yet, we here do not know the exact extent of it. Of course we are most anxiously looking for returns, and are somewhat surprised they have not yet been published; and cannot help conjecturing their dismal length makes government tardy in their publication.

Whatever their extent may be, I should hope, and indeed I feel confident, that the results will be fully adequate, for I cannot help persuading myself that such a commencement of the campaign will occasion the speedy downfall of Napoleon. It is idle talk of how much I regret Picton, etc. These sort of great results can only be obtained at great expense.”

MS 296/1 Letter sent from Brighton to Major General Sir Denis Pack, congratulating him on the success of the Waterloo Campaign, 26 June 1815

Review of ‘The Early Modern Image: Patronage, Kings and Peoples’ Exhibition

On Thursday 5 June was the private view for the University of Southampton Special Collections current exhibition: ‘The Early Modern Image: Patronage, Kings and Peoples’. Upon visiting the exhibition visitors are greeted with an arrangement of composition drawings on the level 4 gallery, for a set of tapestries of ‘Love and Folly’. Such drawings showcase ‘Folly putting out Cupid’s eyes’ and ‘Folly guiding Cupid to the Garden of Love’. In contrast, the other side of the level 4 gallery displays figure and drapery studies from the album of tapestry designer Francis Cleyn, which feature coloured and tinted drawings focusing on different parts of the human body, and on different species such as fish.

Page 6 of Francis Cleyn's album of sketches, figure and drapery studies  MS 292

Page 6 of Francis Cleyn’s album of sketches, figure and drapery studies
MS 292

As I entered the exhibition gallery, I had already heard comments relating to the intricate detail of tapestry fragments and drawings, enticing me in further. The first object that greets the visitor is the album of Cleyn. Displaying two figures from a tapestry design, the album presents potential links to the Bible: the drawing of an old crone is suggested by art historian Professor David Howarth to be a study for the figure of Falsehood seen on the tapestry St Paul Preaching in Athens.

As well as featuring prints and drawings, tapestry fragments are also displayed so that visitors can see the designs of Cleyn in their final form. Such fragments include parts of the reproduction of the finished Perseus and Andromeda tapestry from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. This fragment has been kindly loaned from the Victoria Albert Museum. Other drawings relating to classical literature include a grey wash brush drawing of ‘The Council of the Gods’, which is from Virgil’s Aeneid, Book 10. Another part of the exhibition focuses on the works of Luca Cambiaso, which are mostly of a religious theme. An example includes a drawing depicting four evangelists each reading his gospel.

To complete the exhibition, a series of engravings and rare books are displayed. As well as depicting biblical images, such as the Holy Spirit descending as a dove to the Virgin Mary, other images take on a warfare theme. One example is the engraving by Giovanni Jacopo Caraglion titled ‘Battle scene with a shield on a lance’. Possibly dating from around 1537, the item catalogue suggests that the engraving may have been a rejected idea for Raphael’s Battle for the Milvian Bridge. The rare books largely include works by Dante Alighieri, which again take on a religious theme. Intricate illustrations are displayed on the pages, depicting the Garden of Eden and the Tree of Knowledge, and Dante being guided through Hell by Virgil.

My favourite item was the image displayed by the rarebook Comento di Christophoro Landino fiorentino sopra la Comedia di Dante Alighieri poeta fiorentino by Dante Alighieri. The image depicts souls being drawn out of Purgatory on carts pulled by griffins.

Page 32 of Francis Cleyn's album of sketches, figure and drapery studies MS 292

Page 32 of Francis Cleyn’s album of sketches, figure and drapery studies
MS 292

The exhibition is on display Monday-Friday 10am to 4pm until Friday 27th July, on level 4 of the Hartley Library.

Reflections on war and warfare: week 16 (16 – 22 June 2014)

As of March 2014, we are posting weekly extracts of writings on war and warfare drawn from our manuscript and printed collections. Ranging from items on the Maratha wars to the Second World War, the extracts will reflect opinions both from the battle front and from those at home.

18 June 1917 Attack of the Gothas leads to new preparations for air raids
On 13 June 1917, London received its first daylight raid by the German planes called Gothas, a biplane with a wingspan the length of two buses. Although the 18 Gothas were opposed by 90 British fighters, none were brought down, leading to the death of 162 people. This figure included 18 children killed as a result of a bomb landing directly on Upper North Street School in Chelsea. These devastation of the raids led to schools in the city tightening up their procedures during bombings, to strengthen the protection of their pupils.

“Talk at the Jewish Free School about new methods during air raids. They are now going to move some classes to the basement and others to unused rooms.”

MS 168 AJ 217/13 Journal of Samuel Rich, 18 June 1917

18 June 1854 Continued siege of Silistria
The Russian troops besieged the fortified town of Silistria from March1854. Despite various assaults, as Edward Wellesley notes below, the Turks managed to hold well into June. The Russian forces eventually withdrew on 24 June after orders for the attack were revoked.

“The Turks are holding out very well in Silistria and the Russians have not as yet made much impression.”

MS 63 A904/4/30 Letter from Edward Wellesley to his brother Richard, 18 June 1854

19 June 1815 Witnessing the cost of victory
The Battle of Waterloo resulted in a decisive allied victory. It not only ended the political and military career of Napoleon Bonaparte but also ended the series of wars which had raged across Europe, and other regions of the world, since the French Revolutionary wars of the 1790s. The decisive victory, however, came with a heavy loss of life on both sides. In the passage below, Wellington laments the cost of victory as he informs George Hamilton Gordon, fourth Earl of Aberdeen, of the death of his brother.

“I cannot express to you the regret and sorrow with which I look round me, and contemplate the loss which I have sustained, particularly in your brother. The glory resulting from such actions, so dearly bought, is no consolation to me; and I cannot suggest it as any to you and his friends; but I hope that it may be expected that this last one has been so decisive, as that no doubt remains, that our exertions and our individual losses will be rewarded by the early attainment of our just object. It is then that the glory of the actions in which our friends and relations have fallen will be some consolation for their loss.”

WP1/471/4 Copy of a letter from Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington, to George Hamilton Gordon, fourth Earl of Aberdeen, informing him of the death of his brother at the Battle of Waterloo, 19 June 1815

22 June 1941 German invasion of Russia
On the 22 June 1941, operation Barbarossa was put into practice and German troops invaded Russia in three parallel offensives: nineteen panzer divisions, 3,000 tanks, 2,500 aircraft, and 7,000 artillery pieces poured across a thousand-mile front.

This invasion occurred despite the fact that Germany and Russia had signed a pact in 1939, each promising the other a specific region of influence without interference from the other. Hitler ignored the warnings from his advisors that Germany could not sustain a war on two fronts. He believed that England was holding out against German assaults, refusing to surrender, because it had struck a secret deal with Russia.

“5:30 a.m. Hitler attacked Russia from the white sea to the Black Sea. Momentous and I really believe a good omen. Of course I listened to every news bulletin throughout this flaming day – 9, 1, 6 and again at 9 to Churchill – giving the government’s decision to help Russia! – If Hitler reckoned on the democracies leaving Russia to its folk because of communism, he now knows he was wrong – Damascus too is taken by the free French.”

MS 168 AJ217/37 Journal of Samuel Rich, 22 June 1941

Reflections on war and warfare: week 15 (9 – 15 June 2014)

As of March 2014, we are posting weekly extracts of writings on war and warfare drawn from our manuscript and printed collections. Ranging from items on the Maratha wars to the Second World War, the extracts will reflect opinions both from the battle front and from those at home.

9 June 1811 The second siege of Badajoz
After failing to capture the Spanish border fortress of Badajoz in the spring of 1811 a second attempt began in May the same year. Once again the main focus was on the fort of San Cristobal. After four days of bombardment a sizable breach had been made in the fort and an assault was attempted. However, unaware that the French had removed all of the debris from the ditch, the British assaulting party were unable to find any part of the wall low enough for their ladders to reach and the assault ended in failure. After further bombardment and a second failed assault, Wellington was forced to abandon capturing Badajoz until a third, successful, siege was attempted in 1812.

“The breach in [San Cristobal] was thought practicable on the 6th and was attempted that night. I hear by detachment of the 51st, 85th and Portuguese under Major McIntosh of the 85th the attack was unsuccessful and cost us 60 men, but two soldiers got into the place and got back again to tell the fact and receive a pecuniary reward from Lord Wellington!!!!! Since that time our batteries have been abandoned towards the old castle wall upon the other side of the river and at this moment the breaching battery upon that side of the Guadiana may be within 450 yards.”

MS 296/1 Letter from Lieutenant Colonel Henry Cadogan, Talavera Real, to Brigadier General Denis Pack, reporting on the siege of Badajoz, 9 June 1811

10 June 1940 German invasion of Norway and Italy declares war
The war took a downward turn for the allies during 1940. On 9 April, German forces invaded Norway with the aim was to capture Oslo. They failed to do this and the Norwegian royal family, the cabinet, and most of the 150 members of the Storting (parliament) made a hasty departure from the capital by special train.

On 10 June 1940, Benito Mussolini, leader of Italy, declared war on France and Great Britain.

The allied reaction was swift: in London, all Italians who had lived in Britain less than 20 years and who were between the ages of 16 and 70 were immediately interned. In America, President Roosevelt broadcast on radio the promise of support for Britain and France.

Nevertheless, it was a worrying time for the civilians of allied countries as Samuel Rich notes:

“Worst day of the war so far. The allies have left Norway; its king and government have come to England. In the evacuation HMS Glorious, 2 destroyers and another ship were lost. Italy declared war on the allies; the Germans have reached Rociem, and the lower Seine has been crossed. The weather has been fitting to the news […] it looks as if freedom is to be eclipsed in Europe for a generation.”

MS 168 AJ217/36 Journal of Samuel Rich, 10 June 1940

13 June 1915 The third battle of Krithia
On 4 June 1915 the third battle of Krithia began at Gallipoli. This event signified the final attack against the Ottoman defences, with the aim of enabling the capture of Alçı Tepe (Achi Baba) which controlled the majority of the peninsula. The result was an Ottoman victory, with the British only achieving little gains in ground.

“What one wants now is an Oliver Cromwell who will send them all about their business and prosecute the war with all the powers of the country. I think that they [politicians] will have to have some sort of industrial compulsion.”

MS 336 A2097/4/3 Letter from Frederick Dudley Samuel to his wife, 13 June 1915

User perspectives: Exploring student activism through the Wessex News

The Wessex News (now known as the Wessex Scene) is the oldest student news provider at the University of Southampton. Published by the Southampton University Students’ Council, now the Students’ Union, it has been in print since 1936.

Wessex News header from 31 May 1968

Wessex News header from 31 May 1968

The editions held by Special Collections form part of the University Collection and date from 25 February 1936 to 16 May 1994. The collection provides student perspectives on life at the University as well as insights into significant developments and events in the University’s history.

Danielle Eddington, a history undergraduate, provided us with a brief rundown of her experience using the collection while working on her final year dissertation.

“As a history undergraduate, I encountered the archives during the dissertation introductory session. I got to look at a range of documents that were from my specialist period, the 1970s. I had been set on studying press freedom in Britain, but with so many sources at my fingertips, I was no longer sure!

I realised that what I had really enjoyed was reading the student newspapers – they were witty and insightful. I used them in my dissertation to examine the forms of student activism at the University in the 1970s, which ranged from a sit-in at the Nuffield Theatre to scholarships being set up for victims of apartheid. They also illustrated some of the problems within the student movement, such as sexism, itself a catalyst for second-wave feminism. Without the help of the archives and the archivists, my dissertation would have been nowhere near as original or fascinating to complete.”

Reflections on war and warfare: week 14 (2 – 8 June 2014)

As of March 2014, we are posting weekly extracts of writings on war and warfare drawn from our manuscript and printed collections. Ranging from items on the Maratha wars to the Second World War, the extracts will reflect opinions both from the battle front and from those at home.

2 June 1915 Providing religious support to the Jewish military forces
As Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the British Empire during World War One, Joseph Herman Hertz was responsible for the Jewish communities residing in Britain and its colonies. The quote below reflects his efforts in ensuring Jewish soldiers were given religious support. His correspondent, Sir Charles Solomon Henry, first Baronet, Member of Parliament for the Wellington division of Shropshire, was instrumental in the formation of a synagogue at Southend and in the organisation of the Soup Kitchen for the Jewish Poor.

“I propose going over to France for two or three weeks in order to visit the Hospital Centres; to hold Services wherever a large number of Jewish soldiers are stationed; and in general to see for myself what is still to be done by us for our brave men at the Front. The leaders of the other Churches have been across to the War Zone, with very gratifying results.”

MS 175 141/4 Folder 2 Letter from Revd Joseph Herman Hertz to Sir Charles Solomon Henry, first Baronet, Member of Parliament of Wellington, 2 June 1915

2 June 1813 Punishment for the depredation of public property
Throughout history looting has been a common consequence of war. To ensure discipline among his troops Wellington applied severe punishment to any soldiers caught thieving or looting. However, bringing those responsible to justice was not always an easy task as is noted by the General Sir Robert H.Kennedy, the Commissariat General in the Iberian peninsula, in the passage below.

“…it appears that eight bullock drivers convicted of stealing public cattle, have, with the exception of one, been released without punishment. I have frequently had reason to lament the difficulty that exists in punishing offenders of this description, and the extensive depredations to which the public property is in consequence exposed, and as in the present case the fact appears to have been regularly proved, I take the liberty to submit it to the notice of the Commander of the Forces.”

MS 271/1/1 Letter from General Sir Robert H.Kennedy, Commissariat General, Toro, to Lord Fitzroy Somerset, Military Secretary to Marquis Wellington, Commander in Chief of the allied army in the peninsula, 2 June 1813

8 June 1854 Problems of transport for the army
The logistics and supply of transport for large armed forces was a constant challenge for commanders. The Duke of Wellington, for whom Lord Fitzroy Somerset had served Military Secretary during the Peninsular War, faced a continual struggle to main sufficient means of transport for his troops in the peninsula. Somerset, by 1854 Lord Raglan, faced a similar challenge as the commander of the British forces in the Crimea, as the comments by a member of Raglan’s staff notes:

“Our principal difficulty is in providing sufficient transport for the Army and when you hear that the Artillery alone require about 2000 carts and 1200 mules for the ammunition alone besides which are the provisions, forage, tents, etc., etc., you will not be surprised at the difficulty.”

MS 63 A904/4/29 Letter from Major Edward Wellesley to his mother, 8 June 1854

8 June 1944 Marking the Normandy landings
The major stages in the battle of Normandy occurred between 6 and 9 June 1944, when significant progress in forcing a point of entry into France was made. The USA join the British and allied forces for a combined attack with the ultimate aim of driving Germany back.

The significant advances made during this offensive resulted in the production of a historical issue of The Times. Key events over the course of the Second World War often resulted in the release of special issues of the paper and Samuel Rich notes the likelihood of the 6 June 1944 issue when the Normandy landings began, being reproduced on the 100 year anniversary of the battle.

“I got Wednesday’s historical issue of The Times, which is destined (I should imagine) to be reproduced in facsimile on 6.6.2044, and which I’ll save.”

MS 168/40 Journal of Samuel Rich, 8 June 1944