Monthly Archives: August 2014

50th Anniversary of the arrival of the Parkes Library

Consisting of over 4000 books, 2000 pamphlets and 140 journals, the private library of Revd. Dr James Parkes was transferred to Southampton University Library in 1964, making 2014 the 50th anniversary of the transfer.

Revd Dr James Parkes devoted his life to combating anti-Semitism, which he first encountered in European universities while working for the International Student Service. He helped rescue Jewish refugees during the 1930s and campaigned for the Jews of Europe during the Holocaust. During the Second World War he helped found the Council of Christians and Jews and worked throughout his career in promoting religious tolerance and mutual respect.

Official opening of the Parkes Library

Official opening of the Parkes Library

As part of his campaigning, he built up the Parkes Library and associated archive, and completed a thesis entitled The Conflict of the Church and the Synagogue: a study in the origins of anti-Semitism. This publication of this work established him as a specialist in the fields of Jewish-Christian relations and the history of anti-Semitism.

The Parkes Library is now one of the largest Jewish documentation centres in Europe and the only one in the world devoted to Jewish/non-Jewish relations. It has led to the development of the Parkes Institute, which provides teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate level, as well as having a thriving doctoral programme and a range of outreach activities engaging the general public, local communities and colleges.

Along with the Parkes Library, Revd James William Parkes also transferred his papers to the University of Southampton (MS 60). These contain correspondence and notes relating to his publications, as well as newspaper cuttings on significant events such as the Suez crisis of 1956, the Palestine question, anti-Semitism and fascism. Other sections of the archive include the personal financial papers relating to the administration of the Parkes Library.

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Reflections on war and warfare: Week 26 (25 – 31 August 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.

25 August 1854 Fever devastates allied army
The loss of life during the Crimean war was considerable, but many of those who died did so as a result of disease. Even before the first significant battle of the war, in September 1854, the allied forces found their numbers depleted by a wave of fever and cholera.

“The troops have suffered much from fever and cholera and the French army most dreadfully, we have lost many officers and soldiers and the fleet has also suffered materially… There is no doubt this is the most unhealthy place at this season of the year, in fact the Russians lost half their army when they besieged the town in 1828 and we are fortunate in escaping as we have…”

MS 63 A904/4/34 Letter from Major Edward Wellesley to his sister-in-law Mary, 25 August 1854


26 August 1915 An act of outstanding bravery
During the second Battle of Ypres, 25 year old Acting Corporal Issy Smith of the First Battalion of the Manchester Regiment rescued injured soldiers in the face of unrelenting fire. As a result of putting the safety and welfare of his fellow comrades before his own, Issy Smith was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest military honour a soldier can receive.

“My dear Sir, I am very gratified to learn that you have so bravely distinguished yourself on the field of battle, as to gain the VC the highest honour a soldier can hope for. Such a distinction must be a source of lasting pride to you, your family circle and your friends. Permit me, as the Spiritual Head of the Jewish Communities in the British Empire, to congratulate you most heartily on the success which has attended the noble services you have rendered to your King and Country.”

MS 175 141/2 Letter from Chief Rabbi Joseph Herman Hertz to Acting Corporal, Issy Smith, 26 August 1915


31 August 1813 Storming of San Sebastián
After the decisive victory at the Battle of Vitoria on 21 June 1813, Wellington’s forces moved towards the western Pyrenees and lay siege to the fortress of San Sebastián. A full scale assault was attempted under Lieutenant General Sir Thomas Graham on 25 July, but the fortress proved a difficult target and the assault was beaten off.

After heavy bombardment created two breaches in the walls, a second assault was attempted on the 31 August. However, the main breach, located near the southeast corner of the fortress, was defended by heavy fire. Waves of British soldiers were cut down until Graham ordered the artillery to fire over the heads of the assailants, clearing the ramparts. After a shell hit a quantity of powder, the storming party took advantage of the devastation and confusion to force its way into the town.

“…the whole of the numerous fire barrels, live shells, hand grenades, and other combustibles, which the garrison had arranged along the ramparts for the close defence of their traverses and interior works, caught fire, and igniting in succession caused a number of explosions along the whole extent of the high curtain, killing and wounding many of the defenders, and throwing the others into the greatest confusion.

The assailants took immediate advantage of this explosion to renew their efforts, and a vigorous rush rendered them masters of the first traverse. The garrison, however, returned to the charges, when a fierce conflict ensued; but the assailants increasing in numbers on the high curtain soon drove them back. The garrison then abandoned the ravelin and left branch of the hornwork and withdrew […] the remainder of the assaulting force entered in rapid succession at one or other point, and vigorously followed up their success, under a most awful storm of thunder, lightning, and rain.”

Journals of sieges carried on by the army under the Duke of Wellington, in Spain, between the years 1811 and 1814 : with notes – Colonel John Thomas Jones (Ward Coll. 126 vol.2)


31 August 1939 The evacuation of children from London
In the first few days of September 1939 over three million people were evacuated from Britain’s cities and towns. The majority of them were schoolchildren. The relocation order was given at 11.07am on 31 August 1939, but in the days prior to its issue schools had been rehearsing the evacuation procedures.

“The news today is ominous – ½ million children to be evacuated from London tomorrow.’’

MS 168 AJ 217/35 Journal of Samuel Rich, 31 August 1939

User perspectives: Examining Palmerston and Shaftesbury through the Broadlands Archives

In the autumn of 2013 Bry Martin, a doctoral candidate at the University of Notre Dame, visited the Archives to conduct research for his dissertation, titled “The Power and the Country: The Earls of Shaftesbury, 1621-1885”. In the passage below he discusses his experience exploring the Broadlands Archives, including examining the relationship between Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, and Anthony Ashley-Cooper, seventh Earl of Shaftesbury.

Cartoon of the seventh Earl of Shaftesbury, operating the vice extinguisher

Cartoon of the seventh Earl of Shaftesbury, operating the vice extinguisher

“Regency and Victorian Britain, torn by the new money and social squalor of the Industrial Revolution, ascendant in the muscular imperialism of a renewed empire, and expansive in its commercial and financial power, rested in the uncertain grasp of a relatively small number of gentlemen and their families. Yet those same families, and particularly those of the South, withstood a political, economic and social assault on many of their traditional roles and values. As organizers of the militia for the maritime counties, their role as Britain’s first line of land defense against a Channel invasion strained beneath the weight of a flourishing professional army and navy. As landed families living close to ports, an ancient interdependence between the covetous energy of the merchant and the staid balance of the manor teetered under industrial pressures of factory and credit. As farmers, rentiers, and politicians, the families of the South gravitated in the season to London’s lure of civil society, political participation, and fashion, but recoiled at its corruption, its slums, and its violence. Looking outward at Europe, the Atlantic and the world, exercising a statesmanship that would leave a British footprint in all of the above, these families also embraced and worried over the immemorial landed England of the country estate.

There are few better windows into the lives and struggle of these families in the Nineteenth Century than the Broadlands Archives at the University of Southampton’s Hartley Library. Organized around the papers, relations and correspondents of Henry John Temple, Viscount Palmerston, Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary, whose seat was the Broadlands Estate in nearby Romsey, the Broadlands Archives are a treasure of both the imperial and the intimate. At the highest level, Palmerston projected his conviction that every Briton should walk and sail the planet bound only by British laws wherever he or she went, and in domestic policy displayed a flexible liberalism, still rooted in the conservative politics of the early nineteenth century, but adaptable to changing times. In his personal letters to his correspondents and family, including his wife and her children, Palmerston’s letters in the Hartley Library display his sense of pragmatic dispatch, eagerness to do favors for friends, a tolerance for sleights and annoyances, and a moral humility always watchful of the world to do his best on its terms rather than imposing his own. His wife Emily, the organizer of polite society’s calendar, buttressed her husband’s political power with a general empathy and courtesy that extended even to political enemies, however much it pained her to see her husband subjected to the sleights accompanying political life.

I arrived at the Hartley Library, an American graduate student working on a dissertation about a different, but related family: the Ashley-Coopers, Earls of Shaftesbury. The Seventh Earl of Shaftesbury, the “Poor Man’s Earl” commemorated in Piccadilly Circus by its famous statue of Eros, married Lady Palmerston’s daughter, and the Hartley Library has an extensive archive of their family correspondence. Shaftesbury strikes a remarkable contrast to Lord and Lady Palmerston. More saintlike than benign, he was chiliastic in holding unwavering convictions in the face of approaching end times, nostalgic in his longings for the Ancient Constitution and the dissolving harmony of the manor, and inflamed by a near-depressive compassion for the suffering of Britain’s many down-and-outs: lunatics, factory workers, indigent children and street pedlars. That Shaftesbury and Palmerston could not only tolerate but admire each other is a small wonder of British character with big implications for British history. Together they moderated the sharp ideological divisions by which the old divide of Whig and Tory was transforming into that of Liberal and Conservative.

Lord Shaftesbury’s diary for 29 December 1852

Lord Shaftesbury’s diary for 29 December 1852

The key to the personal chemistry, family affection, and political partnership of Palmerston and Shaftesbury lay in their papers at the Hartley Library. There, researchers may read of Palmerston’s continued, weary efforts to reward the cash-strapped Earl with lucrative offices, and the Earl’s refusal to take paid offices that could potentially force him to support even a friendly government against his own judgment. There, Palmerston consults Shaftesbury repeatedly and often decisively on matters ranging from whether Britain should pursue a Christian Zionist foreign policy with the Ottoman Empire to ecclesiastical appointments in the Church of England. In an age when duplicity and ladder-climbing was a given in politics, Palmerston seemed stunned into respect and trust by the selfless sincerity and naked emotion of Shaftesbury, just as Lady Palmerston had been when, as a bizarrely earnest and candid young man, he had courted her daughter. But also in the papers at the Hartley Library one can read Shaftesbury write his wife rebuking her mother’s worldliness and write his son bemoaning Palmerston’s placid flexibility and his religious ignorance. Later, he would grieve just as deeply for them, and never be quite so potent an influence on British political life in their absence as he had been when they had tempered his righteousness with their characteristic forbearance and tolerance for human frailty.

There is much else indispensable for the understanding of Shaftesbury at the Hartley Library. Just a few examples are: the extensive diaries he kept for most of his long life; a pained correspondence about electioneering in 1830s Dorset; letters registering the family heartbreak as they reeled from the premature deaths of children; and the affectionate humor of his surviving children at their intense, old-fashioned father. The Seventh Earl of Shaftesbury presents only the final generation of my study of a great British family, a study detailing the family’s central place in British “country” politics, opposing traditional local institutions to emerging modern pockets of power that threatened their independence and traditions. For most of two centuries, the Earls of Shaftesbury played a leading part in British “country” politics, Whig or Tory. The Hartley Library has been enormously helpful in providing an important archival basis to one of the most remarkable generations of the family.

One advantage of research at the Hartley Library ought not be omitted: the people. While the Hartley Library’s holdings are extensive, it is also a human-scale and personal archive. Perhaps as a result, I found that the archivists had a greater familiarity with the sources that I was using, and a greater depth of learning in the specific scholarship surrounding the manuscripts than is common elsewhere. In the course of academic research that is sometimes unavoidably lonely and stultifying, the Hartley Library offered the camaraderie of an intelligent, friendly staff that had already spent considerable time reading and thinking about many of the documents I was studying. I hope to return to the Hartley Library for a short visit in the Fall, revisiting its records of a remarkable family and the hardworking custodians of their legacy.”

Reflections on war and warfare: Week 25 (18 – 24 August 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 August 1945 The Japanese surrender
Following the devastation caused by the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August respectively, Japan surrendered to the allies on 15 August 1945. The surrender was based on the terms of the declaration to end the war, set out at the Potsdam Conference, 17 July-2 August 1945. Lord Mountbatten, who as Supreme Allied Commander South East Asia oversaw the capture of Burma from the Japanese and received the Japanese surrender at Singapore in September 1945, attended the Potsdam Conference. In the press statements below Mountbatten recalls being told about the dropping of the atomic bomb and reflects arrangements for occupation of Japan and of territories formerly occupied by Japan.

“At Potsdam at the end of the first day I was invited by Generals Marshall and Arnold to have dinner with them, but the Prime Minister had nailed me down, so I went along with them for an old fashioned! After General Marshall had got rid of all ADCs, he closed the doors very carefully, looked all around – and then told me about the atomic bomb.”

“The very same evening, while dining with the Prime Minister, with whom I spent some three hours, he waited until the servants had withdrawn, then took me in another room, closed all the doors, looked around – and then told me about the atomic bomb.”

“The next day I visited with President Truman, who took me in a room and closed all the doors. By that time I recognised the routine. Yes he told me about the atomic bomb! He also said that he had told Stalin about it on the previous evening.”

“Our attitude in the reoccupation will be tough; just as tough as we can make it but our manners will be impeccable.”

MS 350 A2096 SACSEA press statements, 18 August 1945


21 August 1808 Battle of Vimeiro
The Battle of Vimeiro took place on 21 August 1808, four days after the Battle of Roliça. After the success at Roliça, the Anglo-Portuguese army faced a much larger French force led by Major General Jean Andoche Junot, near the village of Vimeiro. While the French attempted a series of flanking manoeuvres on the weakest point in the British position, they were badly coordinated and were repulsed by Wellesley’s forces. The battle resulted in a decisive Anglo-Portuguese victory and ended the first French invasion of Portugal.

However, the subsequent agreement made with the French, the Convention of Sintra, allowed their defeated army to return to France complete with their supplies and loot. This caused a massive outcry in Britain and led to Wellesley being recalled from Portugal to face an inquiry, together with Generals Burrard and Dalrymple. While the agreement ended the active military careers of Burrard and Dalrymple, Wellesley returned to command the British army in Portugal in April 1809.

“In this action in which the whole of the French force in Portugal was employed, under the command of the Duke D’Abrantes, in which the enemy was certainly superior in cavalry and artillery, and in which not more than half of the army was actually engaged, he has sustained a signal defeat and has lost 13 pieces of cannon; 23 ammunition waggons; one General Officer (Brenier) has been wounded and taken prisoner, and a great number of officers and soldiers have been killed, wounded and taken.”

MS 61 WP1/211 Letter from Lieutenant General Sir Arthur Wellesley, Vimiero, to Lieutenant General Sir Harry Burrard, 21 August 1808


23 August 1916 Battle of Delville Wood
The Battle of Delville Wood lasted from 14 July to 3 September 1916. Allied aims were to secure one of the small prominent woods which would provide a strategic gain to direct artillery fire and to launch further attacks. The allies suffered a devastating amount of casualties. In addition, the British advance to the north only achieved negligible gains by the close of the battle.

“We are in for hard training, which is necessary after 3 months of trench work, mostly digging etc. The men did the march wonderfully well, only 4 fell out, chiefly owing to eating green apples I fear. They carry a lot of stuff packs, rifles, ammunition etc.”

MS 336 A2097/7/1 Letter from Frederick Dudley Samuel to his fiancée and subsequent wife, Dorothy, 23 August 1916

At the stroke of midnight: Independence for India and Pakistan, 14/15 August 1947

The UK High Commissioner Terence Shone noted in his despatch giving an account of the transfer of power in Delhi that ‘The climax came at the stroke of midnight, when the moment of the transfer of power was marked by the blowing of whistles, hooters and conch shells. In the Assembly itself a cry of “Mahatma Gandhi Ki-jai” was raised.’

Independent India and Pakistan came into being on 14/15 August 1947. The end of empire, what was termed the “transfer of power” from the British perspective, came in carefully managed ceremonies, in Karachi on 14 August at the Legislative Assembly; and at Delhi on 15 August. After attending the ceremony in Karachi, Lord Mountbatten, the Viceroy, flew back to Delhi on 14 August. Late in the evening a resolution was passed proclaiming independence and inviting Mountbatten to be the first Governor General of India.

The seven leaders accept the plan for the transfer of power, 3 June 1947

The seven leaders accept the plan for the transfer of power, 3 June 1947

The University of Southampton is the home of the Broadlands Archives (MS 62) which include the papers of Lord and Lady Mountbatten. These Mountbatten papers contain material both of national and international significance, with approximately 250,000 papers and 50,000 photographs. A unique view of the transfer of power in India is provided by Mountbatten’s official papers as the last Viceroy of India. Further material can be found in the archive of Alan Campbell-Johnson (MS 350). In February 1947 Campbell-Johnson became the press attaché to a Viceroy of India, accompanying Lord Mountbatten to India and remaining with him throughout the transition of power and Mountbatten’s time as Governor General of India.

Reflections on war and warfare: Week 24 (11 – 17 August 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.

11 August 1914 Changes in London in the first week of war
“Took a walk with Lal to see the sights – crowds at the Admiralty, War Office, musketry instruction in St James PK, March of London Irish, Horse Guards – Over Hungerford Bridge…War news today: Mulhausen retaken by Germany, French advance checked in Alcace. No news of British fleet.”

MS 168 AJ 217/10 Journal of Samuel Rich, 11 August 1914


12 August 1916
Propaganda and news reports
The war afforded the government wide-ranging powers of censorship and press censorship was used to ensure that the conflict was presented in a pro-Allied light. The War Propaganda Bureau was created in September 1914, its dual role being to maintain morale at home and combat German propaganda. British propaganda during this period was generally considered to be more successful than its more strident German counterpart.

“I believe the German reports are not more false than ours, but I think everybody is prepared for a winter campaign, one feels somehow that if the war were left to the soldiers it would soon be over, but the government have been such swine that they are really more afraid of what will happen to them in peace, than of what happens to us in war.”

MS 336 A2097/7/1 Letter from Frederick Dudley Samuel to his fiancée and subsequent wife, Dorothy, 12 August 1916


14 August 1914 Registration of aliens
At the outbreak of the First World War the British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act was introduced which required, all aliens over the age of 16 to register at local police stations. They had to demonstrate a good character and knowledge of English. In part this was due to a fear of spies.

“Uncle has registered under the aliens Restriction order in Council, but under protest, as he thinks being a Hanoverian, he is a British subject.”

MS 168 AJ 217/10 Journal of Samuel Rich, 14 August 1914


14 August 1851 Guerilla warfare in the Cape frontier wars
“This war has been languishing and all the spirit and daring which distinguished the Kafirs at the commencement have disappeared, they now seldom if ever fight the regular troops, they seem entirely to have deserted their great strongholds of the Amatola Mountains, and have broken into the Colony in small parties of mixed Kafirs and Hottentots where they burn the farm houses, carry off the cattle and sheep and commit every harm and devastation on the unfortunate border farmers…”

MS 63 A904/3/6 Captain Edward Wellesley to his brother Richard, 14 August 1851


17 August 1808 Battle of Roliça
The Battle of Roliça was the first battle fought by the British army during the Peninsular War, and marked Sir Arthur Wellesley’s first victory of the campaign. The battle took place on 17 August 1808 as an Anglo-Portuguese army under Wellesley marched towards Lisbon following a French force under the command of General Henri-François Delaborde.

Delaborde had been ordered by General Jean-Andoche Junot to hold the Anglo-Portuguese until his larger army was ready to fight. Delaborde’s outnumbered French force took up a defensive position near the village of Roliça where they repulsed three enemy assaults before being forced to withdraw. While Wellesley’s attitude towards his troops varied throughout the subsequent campaign, on this occasion he offered high praise for the gallantry of his troops.

“I cannot sufficiently applaud the conduct of the troops throughout this action. The enemy’s positions were formidable and he took them up with his usual ability and celerity; and defended them most gallantly. But I must observe that although we had such a superiority of numbers employed in the operations of this day, the troops actually engaged in the heat of the action were, from circumstances unavoidable, only the 9th, 29th, 5th, the riflemen of the 60th and 95th regiments, and the flank companies of Major General Hill’s brigade; being a number by no means equal to that of the enemy. Their conduct therefore deserves the highest commendations.”

MS 61 WP1/211 Letter from Lieutenant General Sir Arthur Wellesley, Head Quarters at Villa Verde, to Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh, Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, 17 August 1808

Archivist projects: Cataloguing the papers of Wellington and Palmerston

Tace Fox worked as an archivist in the Special Collections Division from October 2013 to June 2014. In the passage below, she describes her experience cataloguing the papers of the Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington, and Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston.

“My main project since becoming an archivist at Southampton University Special Collections has been to catalogue Wellington Papers from 1815, part of a project to mark the Battle of Waterloo next year. This has involved creating descriptions for correspondence leading up to the battle and those directly after. These are both letters to and from Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington. I can’t really say there were any downsides to this project, although there was a lot of French translation involved which has been a challenge at times for me (I would like to be able to claim fluency now but unfortunately…). A lot of contextual research was necessary to understand the history surrounding the Napoleonic Wars and the early nineteenth century. Also training in relation to the peerage system and military ranks was undertaken to ensure we captured the correct position and titles of the individual we were discussing from the letter at that point in history. This project has been a fascinating learning curve and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I’m glad to have played a part in bringing this information to the public through our catalogues and database.

Signature of the first Duke of Wellington

Signature of the first Duke of Wellington

Before working on the Wellington project however, I was introduced to the Special Collections procedure for cataloguing through a smaller project working with the Palmerston papers. I was introduced to the collections by cataloguing the naval defence papers of Lord Palmerston from the mid-nineteenth century. This involved cataloguing about two boxes of material and initially asking my boss to decipher illegible handwriting (it took a little while for the paleographical skills to kick in). I was given around six weeks to familiarise myself with these papers and to write the descriptions. The collection itself consisted of a number of letters, rapports, lists and maps directed to or from Lord Palmerston. The letters were sent from a variety of sources and as a result the clarity of the handwriting differed on a grand scale. Some were beautifully written whilst others seemed almost illegible at times. However, this was a great way to introduce me to the Wellington project as the Duke of Wellington has famously terrible handwriting! Again this project was an interesting and engaging activity to be involved in and I feel I have learnt a lot from the experience.”

Reflections on war and warfare: Week 23 (4 – 10 August 2014)

On 4 August 1914 Great Britain entered the First World War, declaring war on Germany after Germany had invaded Belgium and Luxemburg. Orders had been given in Great Britain the previous day for troops to mobilise and by the 7 August the first British Expeditionary Forces had landed in France. At the outbreak of war the Territorial units, which were the reserve of the British army, were given the option of serving in France. Many battalions volunteered, but as there was a question of the availability of Territorials for service overseas on 11 August a call was made for the first 100,000 men to enlist in Lord Kitchener’s New Army. It was a call that was answered within two weeks. Not everyone was willing to take up arms to fight and there were an estimated 16,000 conscientious objectors in the First World War. Within this number were those who were willing to serve as “non-combatants” and such service could take the form of work as stretcher bearers or ambulance crews on the front line. Such work was hazardous, as bullets, bombs and shells did not distinguish between combatants and non-combatants.

3 August 1914 Defence of the English Channel
Prince Louis of Battenberg assumed the post of First Sea Lord of the Royal Navy on 8 December 1912. As First Sea Lord, he was responsible to the First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, for ensuring the readiness of the fleet and the preparation of naval strategy. In response to the events of July 1914, Battenberg was instructed to bring the navy’s ships to a state of war readiness. While the move was criticised by some at the time, it did prove beneficial once war was declared. In the passage below, written on the eve of Britain declaring war on Germany, the First Lord requests authorisation to make preparations for the defence of the British Channel.

“In consequence of declarations in the House this afternoon, I must request authorisation immediately to put into force the [combined] Anglo-French dispositions for the defence of the channel. The French have already taken station and this partial disposition does not ensure security.

My naval colleagues and advisers desire me to press for this; and unless I am forbidden I shall act accordingly. This of course implies no offensive action and no warlike action unless we are attacked.”

MS 62 MB1/T37/365 Handwritten minute from Winston Churchill to Asquith and Grey on the defence of the English Channel, 3 August 1914


4 August 1914 War is declared
“They were bidding farewell to Territorials. Everything at tension as England has declared war…”

MS 168 AJ 217/10 Journal of Samuel Rich, 4 August 1914


5 August 1914 “England has a good cause”
“Well it has come, and now that war is declared I feel that England has a good cause, I don’t think in view of Germany’s behaviour about Belgium we could hold our hand. The Germans think of themselves as supermen, the waging of war is to them above the decencies and restraints of ordinary people, for them victory is to be strong, no matter by what means it is to be gained.”

MS 336 A2097/1 Letter from Frederick Dudley Samuel to his fiancée and, subsequent wife Dorothy, 5 August 1914


5 August 1914 Service with the Territorials
“It is all very dreadful, but I suppose Nietzsche would approve, meanwhile I feel rather proud that I am one of those who have consistently tried to prepare against the time which has come and that the sacrifices I have made of sport and whatever else I have missed by being a Territorial, are likely to be bear print.”

MS 336 A2097/1 Letter from Frederick Dudley Samuel to his fiancée and, subsequent wife Dorothy, 5 August 1914


8 August 1914 Belgium
“The Belgians are doing wonderful things according to the papers. If only they hold on, the whole course of the war will probably be alleged or the position of Germany made worse than if she had never violated Belgium.”

MS 336 A2097/1 Letter from Frederick Dudley Samuel to his fiancée and, subsequent wife Dorothy, 8 August 1914


8 August 1914 Provision of relief in cases of distress brought about by the war
The declaration of war on Germany caused a great deal of distress among the British public. In particular, it had a sudden impact on dependents of reservists called upon to serve their country, as well as individuals who became unemployed or suffered a loss of earnings as a result of the war. On 7 August, the Prince of Wales announced the formation of a National Fund to provide relief in such cases of distress. Rather than being administered through a central office, the Prince of Wales National Relief Fund worked through Local Relief Committees with the assistance of existing charities and relief organisations. In the case below, a circular letter was sent by the Mayor of Stepney to the Jewish Board of Guardians requesting their assistance in the distribution of relief.

“The President of the Local Government Board has requested me to take immediate steps to establish a representative Local Committee for the Borough of Stepney to consider the needs of the locality and to coordinate the distribution of such relief as may be required in cases of distress brought about by the present war. I should be glad if you could see your way to assist me in this important work by becoming a member of this Committee.”

MS173/1/11/4/985 Circular letter from H.T.A.Chidgey, Mayor of Stepney, requesting assistance in the establishment of a representative Local Committee for the Borough of Stepney to provide relief in cases of distress brought about by the present war, 8 August 1914


11 August 1914 Volunteering to serve as a “non-combatant”
Hope Bagenal was one who felt that he could not bear arms, instead serving with the Royal Army Medical Corps on the Western Front, 1914-16, before being seriously wounded at the Somme in 1916.

“I thought about the matter, and I do not think I am wrong. I could not have joined last week… By Saturday all the London Territorial Regiments were full and had long waiting lists… I found at a meeting at the Red Cross last night that names of men were wanted for stretcher bearers to begin training at once, also for those willing to go abroad when called upon. I have put my name down for both and go to practices in the evenings. There were not many names.

It is true I believe that so many are going or waiting to join regiments of various kinds that there is a real demand for ambulance volunteers. If there is an equal opportunity of serving without contributing to the general slaughter – and a man prefers to choose that – I think he need not be considered less patriotic.”

MS 340 A3067/1/3 Letter from Hope Bagenal to his father, 11 August 1914