Monthly Archives: December 2014

Merry Christmas: past and present!!

This festive week we wish you all a very merry Christmas and happy New Year.

As we look forward to 2015 we highlight Christmas greetings which were sent more than a century ago and now form part of the Special Collections at the University of Southampton.

Seasonal postcard is by Frank McFadden of Southampton

Seasonal postcard is by Frank McFadden of Southampton

This pretty engraving for a seasonal postcard is by Frank McFadden of Southampton and dates from around 1890 [Cope cq SOU 91.5]. Christmas greetings are coupled with views of the city, including the West Gate and Bar Gate, still an important historic landmark today. This is one of many illustrations in the Cope Collection which together form a visual historic record of Southampton and surrounding areas.

Photographic Christmas card

Photographic Christmas card

Also dating from the late nineteenth century, this photographic Christmas card celebrates Christmas 1887. A small portrait photograph of Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, wearing dress uniform, is surrounded by photographs of ships of the Mediterranean Fleet, including HMS Dreadnought, HMS Sultan, HMS Phaeton, HMS Agamemnon, HMS Edinburgh, HMS Benbow and HMS Colossus. The individual images are placed at jaunty angles, and interspersed with ribbons printed with seasonal greetings, flowers, and ferns. The card was sent to Prince Louis Alexander of Battenberg, later first Marquis of Milford Haven, when commanding HMS Dreadnought, and is part of the Broadlands Archive [MB2/A12/39].


Reflections on war and warfare: Week 43 (22 – 28 December 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. The quotes tie in with the exhibition ‘When “the days of conquest are passed”: reflections on war and warfare’, until recently on display at the Special Collections Gallery.

21 December 1854 Devastating losses at the battle of Balaclava
The battle of Balaclava was fought 24 October 1854.  The port of Balaclava was crucial to the allies to maintain supply lines for their siege of Sebastapol against the Russians. The most famous part of the battle, the infamous charge of the Light Brigade, resulted in devastating losses of men and horses.  It was such a traumatic event that the allies were incapable of further action that day.

“The mismanagement and stupidity, if not utter negligence, at Balaklava, have caused a great amount of loss of life, of property and health.  This was excusable at the outset; it is not excusable now, when the government knows all these things.

MS 62 Broadlands Archives SHA/PD/6  Diary of Anthony Ashley Cooper, seventh Earl of Shaftesbury, 21 December 1854

23 December 1916 Trench foot
First described by French army surgeon Dominique Jean Larrey, trench foot is a medical condition caused by prolonged exposure of the feet to damp, unsanitary and cold conditions. If not treated, it can lead to a fungal infection, and eventually gangrene, which can result in amputation. Acts of prevention include keeping feet clean, warm and dry. During World War One, regular foot inspections acted as a key deterrent, as well as pairing soldiers up. Each soldier in the pair would be responsible for the feet of the other. The application of whale oil was also done to prevent this foot condition.

“It is all very quiet up here, but perfectly filthy as far as mud is concerned. The men all look jolly well. We have large quantity of socks – they have to put on clean ones every day and rub their feet and we have no frost bite. Every day clean socks all sent up for the men in the line and bad feet is a crime (that’s one for you).”

MS 336 A2097/7/2 Letter from Frederick Dudley Samuel to his fiancée and subsequent wife, Dorothy, 23 December 1916

28 December 1939  Rationing and the German-Soviet pact
Christmases for many years to come would be different following the introduction of rationing.  Following limits on the supply of petrol, food stuffs were the next items to be restricted: as from January 1940, sugar and meat were rationed for 14 and 15 years respectively.  Meanwhile, overseas, the Nazis had been given use of a submarine base near Murmansk, a city in northwest Russia, close to her borders with Norway and Finland.

“The news scanty – & of ominous sound.  The French finance minister spoke of millions of Germans in wait & their planes an hour away.  Here, they are to ration sugar and meat very soon.  Old Swinton dithered ab[ou]t howitzers & guns, & doesn’t believe the Russians will give the Germans a submarine base nr. Murmansk.”

MS 168 AJ 217/35  Diary of S.M.Rich, 28 December 1939 


This year, 17 December marks the start of the Jewish festival of Chanukah (or Hanukkah), also known as the Festival of Lights.  This festival commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem in the second century BCE and is observed by the lighting of a special nine branches candelabrum called a menorah or hanukiah for eight nights and days.

Chanukah commences on 25th day of Kislev (Hebrew calendar) which means it falls sometime between late November and late December.  In 1939, Chanukah was celebrated on 10 December.  The avid diarist Samuel Rich, minister and secretary at the South London Liberal Jewish Synagogue, records the occasion: “We had a short Chanukah service first – strange without any children” (MS 168 AJ 217/35 Diary of S.M.Rich).  Due to the outbreak of World War Two three months earlier, many children had been evacuated from Rich’s home town of London.

The image is taken from a printed World War Two הילד (Hayeled or “child”) pamphlet “Essays for Jewish Evacuee Children prepared by the Keren Hatorach Committee”.  The item comes from the collection of Rabbi Solomon Schonfeld who, among other roles, was executive director of the Chief Rabbi’s Religious Emergency Council during World War Two.

The Special Collections Division has more than 850 collections of manuscripts of Anglo-Jewish archives. This makes Southampton an important centre in Western Europe for the study of Anglo-Jewish history in the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries and for the relations between Jews and non-Jewish worlds. The Anglo-Jewish Archives contain important holdings for prominent individuals and national organisations. Papers of individuals include those of Cecil Roth, of Sir Basil Henriques and of others within the Henriques family, of Sir Robert Waley Cohen, of Selig Brodetsky and of the poet and psychotherapist Eugene Heimler, private papers of Chief Rabbi Joseph Hertz and of Chief Rabbi Sir Israel Brodie, Neville and Harold Laski and their parents  and correspondence between Mrs Joseph and her sister Lady Samuels.

Archives of organisations include those of the Jewish Board of Guardians, the Anglo-Jewish Association, the editorial correspondence of the Jewish Chronicle newspaper, the Union of Jewish Women, the World Union of Progressive Judaism and the Institute of Jewish Affairs and the British Section of the World Jewish Congress.

Reflections on war and warfare: Week 42 (15 – 21 December 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. The quotes tie in with the exhibition ‘When “the days of conquest are passed”: reflections on war and warfare’, until recently on display at the Special Collections Gallery.

16 December 1914 The German Navy shell British towns
The attack by the German Navy on the north east seaport towns of Hartlepool, Scarborough and Whitby caused public outrage. Rich’s early estimate of 100 killed and wounded is modest; there were 137 fatalities and 592 casualties. The Royal Navy was criticised of the for failing to prevent the attack and “Remember Scarborough” was used in army recruitment posters.

“The war has come to England. Hartlepool, Scarborough and Whitby shelled by German warships this morning. Over 100 killed and wounded!”

MS 168 AJ 217/10 Journal of Samuel Rich

17 December 1942 United Nations proclamation about the Holocaust
On 17 December 1942, the joint declaration by Members of the United Nations, or a statement by the American and British governments on behalf of the allied powers, was issued relating to extermination of Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe.  Anthony Eden, the Foreign Secretary, read this statement to the House of Commons.  The UN statement was made in response to a document The mass extermination of Jews in German occupied Poland addressed to the allied governments by the Polish government-in-exile.

“Two important news items: The United Nations proclamation about the murder of Jews by Germans. The H[ouse] of C[ommons] stood when Eden announced it. (J. de Rothschild spoke for the Jews and the 8th army’s flanking movement).”

MS 168 AJ 217/38 Journal of Samuel Rich, 16 December 1942

19 December 1851 The continuous nature of hostilities

“The colony … is quiet …. No signs of submission are however apparent in any of the chiefs and the war seems as far from its termination as at the commencement of the hostilities.”

MS 63 A904/3 Letter from Captain Edward Wellesley to his brother, Richard, 19 December 1851

20 December 1917 Division following the Balfour Declaration
The League of British Jews was founded in November 1917, shortly after British Foreign Secretary, Arthur Balfour wrote a letter – later known as the “Balfour Declaration” – stating that the British Government would support the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine.  The LBJ aimed to oppose the idea that Jews constituted a political nation. At the time of writing, the British Army had occupied Palestine and Stein was serving in the Palestine Military Administration.

“I have looked at the papers rescued by the League of British Jews and must say I am not much impressed with them. Some of the more violent attendees of the Zionist Leaders certainly have been rather hurtful to English-born Jews, whose English feelings they, having been brought aboard, are naturally unable to appreciate.”

MS 170 AJ244/119 Letter from Leonard Stein to his family

Human Rights and the Women’s Campaign for Soviet Jewry

Human Rights Day is observed annually across the world on 10 December. It marks the date the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (10 December 1948), the first global enunciation of human rights. The Declaration begins by recognising that “the inherent dignity of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world”. It declares that human rights are universal – to be enjoyed by all people, no matter who they are or where they live. Today, the Declaration continues to inspire the human rights movement and has had a profound influence on the development of international human rights law.

Members of the 35’s demonstrating for the release of Raiza Palatnik

Members of the 35’s demonstrating for the release of Raiza Palatnik

The Soviet Jewry movement emerged in response to the Soviet Union’s Jewish policy which was seen as a violation of basic human and civil rights, including freedom of immigration, freedom of religion, and the freedom to study one’s own language, history and culture. The Women’s Campaign for Soviet Jewry, known as the 35’s, was a pressure group established in London in 1971 with the aim of assisting Russian Jews wishing to leave the country but refused permission. It was originally formed in response to the arrest of Raiza Palatnik, a 35 year old librarian from Odessa. Raiza had been sent to prison after being convicted of “slandering the Soviet Union” for applying to leave for Israel. The group was primarily made up of relatively young middle-class Jewish housewives from North West London. They were a unique phenomenon among the Jewish community in Britain and were active at a time when it was unheard of for Jewish women to go out and demonstrate.

They maintained direct contact with refusniks (an unofficial term for Soviet Jews denied permission to emigrate) to give them moral support, and worked tirelessly to highlight their position. They achieved this through a series of active and unexpected demonstrations, particularly at Soviet cultural events. One such demonstration took place at a performance by the Bolshoi Ballet in London where the women revealed slogan t-shirts beneath their blouses as a mark of protest. In addition to such demonstrations they lobbied government officials and Members of Parliament.

The collection held by the Special Collections Division contains files of biographical information and case papers for refusniks; campaign correspondence, including letters to Members of Parliament; master copies of publications produced by the Campaign; newspapers; photographs, banners and other items, including handcuffs, from demonstrations.

Reflections on war and warfare: Week 41 (8 – 14 December 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. The quotes tie in with the exhibition ‘When “the days of conquest are passed”: reflections on war and warfare’, currently on display at the Special Collections Gallery.

9-14 December 1813 Battles of the Nive
By December 1813 Wellington’s army had successfully pushed Marshal Soult’s French forces out of Spain and into southwest France. As the Allies advanced towards the French fortress of Bayonne they were forced to split in two by the river Nive. Soult, having formed a defensive line, launched a series of counterattacks on 9 December. The bulk of the fighting on the part of the Allied forces was left to Lieutenant Generals Rowland Hill and John Hope with Wellington remaining in reserve. On 14 December, after four days of intense fighting, the French were forced to withdraw. Severe weather precluded further action for two months.

“From observation and concurring reports, it appears that the enemy had collected nearly the whole of his force, under Marshal Soult, for this operation. From the fire of our artillery and the gallant resistance the enemy met with at all points, his loss is immense.”

MS 61 WP1/380 Letter from Lieutenant General Rowland Hill, Vieux Mouguerre, to Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, first Marquis of Wellington, 16 December 1813

10 December 1917 Britain liberates Jerusalem

To secure the final objective of the Southern Palestine Offensive of World War One, Britain undertook Jerusalem operations against the Ottoman Empire. Britain had recognised that in order for Jerusalem to be captured, two battles were to be fought in the Judean Hills to the north and the east of the Hebron-Junction Station line. These battles were the Battle of Nebi Samwill and the Defence of Jerusalem. Britain also saw the necessity of advancing across the Nahr el Auja as the Battle of Jaffa. These battles resulted with the British forces achieving victories against the Yildirim Army Group’s Seventh Army in the Judean Hills and the Eight Army north of Jaffa on the Mediterranean coast. As a result of these victories, the British Empire troops captured Jerusalem and established a new strategically strong fortified line.

“Nothing much that is pleasant to record. Jerusalem captured!”

MS 168 AJ 217/13 Journal of Samuel Rich, 10 December 1917

11 December 1939 Finland holds the Mannerheim Line against Russia aggression

The Soviet Union first attacked Finland at the end of November 1939. The final significant act of the League (it was replaced by the United Nations after the end of the war) was to expel the Soviet Union in December. The Finns retreated to the Mannerheim line and held their position until mid-February.

“War news – increased sinkings of ships – the Finns hold out – the L[eague] of N[ations] are “moving”.”

MS 168 AJ 217/35 Journal of Samuel Rich, 11 December 1939

International Day for the Abolition of Slavery

2 December has been designated the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, focusing on eradicating contemporary forms of slavery. It is estimated that 21 million people are still trapped in forms of slavery across the globe.

Plan of a slave ship

Plan of a slave ship

2007 marked the bicentenary of the Act of Parliament abolishing the slave trade. Many events took place in the UK to commemorate this, including an exhibition in the Special Collections Gallery at the University of Southampton. Drawing on material from its manuscript and printed collections, this Special Collections exhibition looked at the origins of slavery and the case for abolition, slavery and the West Indies, abolition in 1807 and the process of abolition throughout the nineteenth century. After 1807, there were continued pressure for further measures against slavery and bilateral agreements were concluded with other powers, European, American and African, in order to bring the trade to a halt. Throughout the nineteenth century anti-slavery societies, the British government, the Royal Navy, enforcing anti-slavery conventions, and the governments of other western powers continued to work for the general abolition of slavery.

Material on the slave trade can be found in two of the archive collections nineteenth-century politicians held at Southampton: that of the first Duke of Wellington (MS 61) and of third Viscount Palmerston (MS 62). During Wellington’s time as Prime Minister, 1828-30, for instance, endeavours were made to encourage colonial legislatures to adopt measures that ameliorated the position of the slaves. The Palmerston archive includes papers on the abolition of the African slave trade into Brazil.

Album of the Female Society of Birmingham... for the Relief of British Negro Slaves - Rare Books HT 1163

Album of the Female Society of Birmingham… for the Relief of British Negro Slaves – Rare Books HT 1163

The most notable printed collection is the Oates collection of over 220 books and pamphlets on the West Indies and the abolition of slavery, dating from the 18th and 19th centuries. The 1820s and 1830s are particularly well represented as are works of prominent abolitionists such as Thomas Clarkson and William Wilberforce.

Reflections on war and warfare: Week 40 (1 – 7 December 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. The quotes tie in with the exhibition ‘When “the days of conquest are passed”: reflections on war and warfare’, currently on display at the Special Collections Gallery.

2 December 1851 The cavalry arrive in South Africa
The regiment that was to become the 12th Lancers was originally raised in 1715. It served with distinguish in various conflicts. Yet while the appearance of cavalry made an impression in South Africa in the 1850s, the Lancers weaponry did not prove the most suitable for the warfare being undertaken.

“The 12th Lancers who have lately arrived create a great impression amongst the natives who never saw a Lance before in their lives, it is however a weapon perfectly useless against the Kafirs in this warfare…”

MS 63 A904/3/10 Captain Edward Wellesley to his brother Richard, 2 December 1851

2 December 1939 Blackout blinds and Russian aggression

“Willie came to do the kitchen blackout, the W.C. ditto, & the bedroom ditto – all very neat and expert. Lal & he to lunch, & we left Willie at it when I went off to service. S.I.H. read, I preached on, “Oh, that I knew” – there were 31 there, including the Levers – Jack & Ray, back from a weekend from Guildford where they are evacuated. Erna at the service. Lal came back with us for a cosy evening. Our supper in the kitchen, the first fully illuminated since the war began. The whole world aghast at the Russian aggression on the Finns,–: even the Germans (when there’s a different aggressor) are uncomfortable about it.”

MS 168 AJ 217/35 Journal of Samuel Rich, 2 December 1939

3 December 1940 Evacuating students from the University College of Southampton

A special meeting of the Senate held on 3 December 1940:

“Senate considered the situation which had been created by the intensive raids on Southampton over the weekend, particularly in relation to the halls of residence. Although none of the halls had been damaged, apart from the loss of windows at South Stoneham House, Senate were of the opinion that they were not justified in keeping the students in residence at this time in view of the following considerations:

1. The inadequacy of the air raid shelters

2. Possible difficulties in obtaining food

3. The interference with the public service, e.g. electric light, gas and water

4. The impossibility of doing useful study in these conditions

It was agreed that it was impossible to obtain alternative accommodation at short notice and that the Chairman of Council stressed the point that the College would be rendering signal services to the community by placing the facilities of the Halls at the disposal of the local authorities in the vacation for housing evacuees or for some other useful purpose […]

Senate discussed the question as to what action should be taken in the event of the intensive raids on Southampton continuing and conditions becoming worse. The general opinion was that the previous decision of the Emergency Committee to evacuate to Nottingham was not so desirable in the light of recent events and it was agreed that a recommendation be sent to the Emergency Committee to consider the possibility of securing several large houses in the country within easy distance of Southampton, and that these houses be used in the first instance as temporary halls of residence. If the College was damaged and it became impossible to carry on instruction in the existing buildings it would then be feasible to adapt the houses acquired for residential purposes as places of instruction also.”

MS 1 MBK2/1/6 Senate minutes 1937-45, pp. 90-1

4 December 1917 Cease fire agreements made in the run up to Soviet Russia and Central Powers armistice
As a result of the Russian economy being on the brink of collapsing and Tsar Nicholas II’s abdication, Russia was forced to withdraw itself from the war. Following the Bolsheviks accession to power in Russia in November 1917, Vladimir Lenin approached the Central Powers to arrange an armistice. The first cease fire agreement in the run up to the armistice was made on 4 December 1917 between the Russians and the Germans on the Eastern Front. The second cease fire agreement included all Central Powers and was signed on 5 December 1917. The final armistice was signed on 15 December 1917, which signified Russia’s intention to leave the war permanently and begin peace negotiations.

“I so wonder if you have been in all this fearful fighting when the Germans are trying to regain the ground they have lost. One feels if it weren’t for Russia having given in, that they could never have done this vast counter attacking.”

MS 132 AJ 322 2/3 Letter from Sybil Henriques to Basil Henriques, 4 December 1917