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

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