Reflections on war and warfare: Week 28 (8 – 14 September 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.

8 September 1914 Success for the Allies in the Battle of Marne
The Battle of Marne was the climax of the German advance into France. After a counterattack by allied forces, the German Imperial Army was forced to abandon its push on Paris. In defeating Germany’s chances of a swift success over France, it set the foundations for four years of armed conflict.

“The war news is exciting; it is said that 250,000 Russians are in France. This news is not official, but it is official that the Germans are retreating.”

MS 168 AJ 217/10 Journal of Samuel Rich, 8 September 1914


8-14 September 1813 Aftermath of the fall of San Sebastián
The diary of George Eastlake covers his visit to northern Spain in September 1813, in company with Admiral Sir Thomas Byam Martin. Martin was sent by the Admiralty to discover Wellington’s requirements for naval assistance. The diary covers their journey to and from the north coast of Spain, meeting Sir T.Graham in his quarters at Urtasun, journeying across the Pyrenees, dining with Wellington, and visiting the army’s camp at Bidassoa. In the below passage Eastlake makes reference to their journey to San Sebastián in the aftermath of the siege.

“Our report being over – we again made for the Spanish Harbour of Passages – on our way the Lieutenant who accompanied gave us some particulars of the fall of St Sabastian – on coming near the shore – he looked round the water and said with the most perfect sangfroid “there were a great many dead bodies floating here to-day but I don’t observe any now” – as anything of this sort was new to me, I confess there was something horrible in it.”

MS 213 Diary of George Eastlake, September 1813


9 September 1939 A long war

“At 9 o’clock we heard the war cabinet’s instructions to departments to prepare for a 3 year war. Only two more years and 51 weeks to September 1 1942!’’

MS 168 AJ 217/35 Journal of Samuel Rich, 12 September 1939


12 September 1939 The routine of living under wartime regulations

“The evening as is, becoming usual (usual!) – Supplies; into the blacked out lounge; the news; the special speed – this time by someone from U.S.A. on their neutrality; a smoke etc. & early to bed’.”

MS 168 AJ 217/35 Journal of Samuel Rich, 12 September 1939

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