Category Archives: War and warfare

Sir Denis Pack: a Wellington ally

As we enjoy this year’s annual Wellington Lecture today, it is fitting that we announce the acquisition of a new collection of material relating to the career of Sir Denis Pack, one of Wellington’s generals. The collection, which includes maps relating to military actions in which Pack fought, complements both the current collection of his papers held by the Division (MS296) and material within the Wellington Archive (MS61).

Sir Denis Pack [MS296 A4298]

Sir Denis Pack [MS296 A4298]

Major General Sir Denis Pack, K.C.B (d.1823) entered the army in 1791. He served in Flanders, 1794-5, Cape of Good Hope, 1806, and subsequently in South America. He fought at Roliça and Vimeiro, 1808 and Corunna, 1809. Having served on the Walcheren expedition and at the siege of Flushing in 1809, he returned to the Iberian Peninsula to serve with the Duke of Wellington. He commanded a Portuguese brigade, part of Marshal Beresford’s Portuguese forces, at Busaco in 1810 and Almeida in 1811.

Detail from map of Battle of Busaco [MS296 A4298]

Detail from map of the battle of Busaco [MS296 A4298]

Pack took part at the siege of Ciudad Rodrigo and the battles of Salamanca, Vitoria and Orthes. In 1815, he commanded a brigade of Sir Thomas Picton’s Fifth Division at the battles of Quatre Bras and of Waterloo. Pack was Lieutenant Governor of Plymouth, serving alongside Wellington as Governor, from 1819 until his death in 1823.

Pack served with distinction at the Battle of Salamanca, 22 July 1812, and was mentioned in the official despatch of the battle written by Wellington to Lord Bathurst of 24 July. He also honourably mentioned for his part in the operations against Burgos later in 1812.

Amongst the maps in the new acquisition is a hand drawn one of the battle of Salamanca, with handwritten notes, providing us with a valuable new resource to supplement and illustrate the written descriptions of this battle.

Manuscript map of the battle of Salamanca, 1812 [MS296 A4298]

Manuscript map of the battle of Salamanca, 1812 [MS296 A4298]

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Waterloo in the public imagination

It was on this date in 1815 that the first Duke of Wellington and Napoleon Bonaparte faced each other on the battlefield for the first and only time.

Hougoumont, Waterloo [MS 351/6 A4170/7/4]

Hougoumont, Waterloo [MS 351/6 A4170/7/4]

The battle was to exert a powerful influence on the public imagination and commemorations and celebrations ranged from the worthy, such as providing support for those wounded or the families of those killed at the battle, to the frivolous, such as souvenir engravings and maps.

Waterloo subscription, 1815 [MS 61 WP1/487/10]

Waterloo subscription: a printed list of subscribers for the
families of soldiers killed and for soldiers wounded at the battle of Waterloo, 21 September 1815 [MS 61 WP1/487/10]

However, what proved particularly popular with the general public were exhibitions of paintings and artefacts connected with the battle. Fascination in Napoleon Bonaparte became even more intense and he was to feature in a number of exhibitions around London: an estimated 10,000 people daily visited a display of his battlefield carriage.

The Waterloo Museum, which was opened in November 1815, was based at 97 Pall Mall, London, in the former Star and Garter Tavern. It was one of a number of establishments set up to meet the insatiable public demand for Waterloo related memorabilia. Staffed by retired soldiers or those ‘gallant young men who were actually deprived of their limbs in that ever-memorable conflict’, this created a sense of authenticity for the Museum and its collection.

The Museum housed an assortment of armour and weaponry and other military items collected from the battlefield, together with paintings, objects and mementoes of the Bonaparte family.

Catalogue of the Waterloo Museum

Catalogue of the Waterloo Museum
(London, 1816) [Rare Books DC241 CAT]

The first room entered was the armoury, which had walls covered with cuirasses, helmets and caps, swords, guns and bayonets all collected from the battlefield. This included the armour in which Napoleon encased his heavy horse to protect it against sword cuts or musket fire. There were two trumpets, one described as so battered that it bore little resemblance to its original shape.

The Grand Saloon housed items belonging to the Bonaparte family together with paintings and other objects. These included a hat and coat worn by Napoleon in Elba, detailed in the catalogue below.

Items in the Grand Saloon of the Wellington Museum

Items in the Grand Saloon of the Wellington Museum

Amongst the paintings was the huge 15 feet by 6 feet Portrait of Napoleon in his coronation robes by Robert Lefévre (1755–1830) produced in 1811 and the 33 inch by 26 inch The Battle of Waterloo by the Flemish artist Constantine Coene(1780–1841). Depicting the battle at dusk, Coene shows Wellington pointing to a distant spot where the smoke of the Prussian cannon is rising in the horizon. He is dressed in a plain manner, unlike the pomp and imperial glory of Napoleon’s coronation robes. At the rear of the army are wounded soldiers and the widow of an artillery man is shown lamenting over her husband.

The Waterloo Museum was one of a number of such institutions that satisfied a general fascination with the battle. When Messrs. Boydell of St James’ Street in London arranged an exhibition of art that included a portrait of Napoleon they were able to charge one shilling admittance, a considerable sum for many workers at that period.

In 1819, Wellington received an account of the enthusiastic reception received by a panorama of the battle created by E.Maaskamp on display in Brussels. [MS 61 WP1/618/19]

Other more formal annual events arose out of a wish to mark the battle, the Waterloo banquet hosted by the Duke of Wellington at Apsley House being one of these. And Apsley House continues to host a Waterloo weekend of events every year.

Holocaust Memorial Day 27 January 2018

The Power of Words – the theme of this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day – is a conviction which was shared by James Parkes and one which was instrumental in the creation of his Library. Parkes set out ‘to get a picture of past centuries from their actual works’ when researching the history of Jewish-Christian relations in order to confront the anti-Semitic student groups he found in Europe during the 1930s. To this end he began collecting books on the subject and welcomed others working to combat anti-Semitism to the Parkes Library, based at his home in Barley from 1935 to 1964.

Holocaust Diaries and Testimonies

Holocaust Diaries and Testimonies

Books on the Holocaust now form a large section of the Parkes Library and alongside those by historians are the published letters, diaries and testimonies of victims and survivors. These amply demonstrate the power of words in providing both a record of individual experiences and the evidence to confirm that such events did indeed take place. The motives of the writers varied; some sought relief in creating a personal diary, whilst for others the intention was always to document the crimes committed in the hope that in the future, justice would be served on the perpetrators. Great efforts were made to ensure the survival of the manuscripts, some being given to other people for safekeeping, whilst others were buried or hidden within buildings.

Herman Kruk (1897-1944), was one who did his best to ensure the survival of his writings. On 17 September 1944 he made his last diary entry and buried the papers in front of six witnesses, one of whom survived to retrieve them – Kruk and the other inmates of the Lagedi Camp being shot the next day. Published in English as The Last Days of the Jerusalem of Lithuania: Chronicles from Vilna Ghetto and Camps 1939-1944 (2002), Kruk’s writings include diaries, narratives and poems recording his own experiences and providing an eyewitness account of events in the Vilna Ghetto, where he estimated that 29,000 Jews were living in an area previously occupied by 4,000 people.

Cover of Last Days of the Jerusalem of Lithuania

Cover of Last Days of the Jerusalem of Lithuania

Not only does the diary provide evidence of the destruction of a Jewish community, it also stands testament to the importance of the written word in Jewish culture, at such a dark period. Formerly Director of the Yiddishist Grosser Library at the Cultural League in Warsaw, Kruk ran the Vilna Ghetto Library, the popularity of which is apparent from his report for 1942 in which he records a stock of 39,000 books and 200 users a day – a celebration being held to mark the 100,000th loan. Kruk described how the book acted as a ‘narcotic’ for those seeking an escape from their daily existence and ‘carries them over the ghetto walls to the wide world‘. Kruk was also a member of the ‘Paper Brigade’ the members of which risked their lives to preserve the Jewish cultural heritage by hiding books and documents in the Ghetto, whilst ostensibly working for the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg, a Nazi organisation which transported such material back to Germany for study or destruction.

It is fitting that the Memorial Museum of Holocaust in Lithuania and Vilna Ghetto, which will hold Holocaust documents including collections of diaries, is to be established in the building which once housed the Vilna Ghetto Library, bringing into reality a hope which Kruk expressed in a poem, these being the final lines of the English translation:

And let it remain though I must die here

And let it show what I could not live to tell.

And I answer my neighbors:

Maybe a miracle will liberate me.

But if I must die, it must not die with me

To mark Holocaust Memorial Day there is an event at the University of Southampton on Sunday 28 January, Jewish Spaces, before, during and after the Holocaust Study Day, organised by the Parkes Institute.

 

The not so commonplace – commonplace books

Commonplace books have been described as the ancestors of our blogs or our list of favourites. They are essentially handwritten notebooks or scrapbooks that contain collections of quotations arranged in some way, perhaps topically or thematically, for easy retrieval and as an aid of reference for the compiler. Despite their name, there was nothing commonplace about such books, as each was unique to its compiler, reflecting their particular interests and providing an insight into people’s habits of mind.

Illustration and poem from A lady's commonplace book, 1820s [MS242 A800 p.32]

Illustration and poem from A lady’s commonplace book, 1820s [MS242 A800 p.32]

Commonplace books had their origins in antiquity in the idea of loci communes, or “common places,” under which ideas or arguments could be located in order to be used in different situations. They flourished in early modern Europe and continued to develop and spread during the Renaissance period, as scholars were encouraged to keep them. By the seventeenth century, commonplacing had developed into a recognised practice that was taught to university students.

John Locke

John Locke

The philosopher John Locke began keeping his own commonplace books in 1652, the year that he became a student at Oxford University, and in 1685 he published “Méthode nouvelle de dresser des recueils,” which appeared in 1706 as A new method of making a common place book. In this Locke explained his method of indexing and gave advice on how to arrange material by subject and category, using a ‘head’ word.

Commonplace book of poetry "Poems on several occasions by several celebrated authors",c.1739-19th century [MS7]

Commonplace book of poetry “Poems on several occasions by several celebrated authors”, c.1739-19th century [MS7]

The production of commonplace books continues to the present, providing a rich and diverse array of examples, from the uniquely individual to the ready-to-use commonplace books that could be bought with topics and categories already written at the tops of pages just waiting to be filled in. Whilst some examples, such as the volume MS 7, focused exclusively on poetry, others were much more wide ranging in terms of subject matter and formats used.

‘Personalia’ commonplace book of Revd F.N.Davis [MS269 AO155/3]

‘Personalia’ commonplace book of Revd F.N.Davis [MS269 AO155/3]

The ‘Personalia’ commonplace book kept Revd Francis Neville Davis (1867-c.1946), rector of Rowner, Hampshire, between 1919 and the late 1930s, included not only literary material, but extracts from newspaper articles, family history, brief extracts from diaries, lists of manuscript volumes of Revd Davis, obituaries and a list of receipts from fetes. The focus here reflected the interests and preoccupations of Revd Davis as he considered his family and its antecedents, his legacy and his role in church life.

The lady’s commonplace book compiled between 1820 and 1825 [MS 242] illustrated a preoccupation with the literary and artistic. The volume contains poems, short stories, watercolours, pencil and pen and ink sketches of plants, landscapes and individuals. With entries in a number of hands, it was probably compiled for an individual who spent time in Scotland and in the East Indies.

Illustration from A lady's commonplace book, 1820s [MS242 A800 p.56v]

Illustration from A lady’s commonplace book, 1820s [MS242 A800 p.56v]

The commonplace book has played a role in the way that we organise information. And whether we are aware of it or not, the techniques that they engender continue to influence us as we move into the digital world of information organisation.

Reflections on war

To mark the 50th anniversary of the death of Siegfried Sassoon, this blog will look at a number of collections in the Special Collections reflecting on warfare in the 20th century. These include two poems by the long-time friend of Sassoon, Edmund Blunden.

Edmund Blunden (1896-1974) was the longest serving First World War poet, and saw continuous action in the front line, between 1916-18. According to his friend and fellow poet Siegfried Sassoon, Blunden was the poet of the war “most lastingly obsessed by it”. The period that Blunden served at the front saw some of the most violent and bloody fighting, including the Battle of the Somme and the Third Battle of Ypres. He had very definite views on war writing, insisting that it had to be accurate in detail and  in spirit and he shared with Sassoon a belief that the First World War had been a terrible waste of life.

The Special Collections holds two of Blunden’s poems (MS10): fair copies of ‘Portrait of a colonel’ and ‘The passer-by’. Both were published in Retreat (London, 1928) with the former renamed as ‘On a portrait of a colonel’.

Opening lines of Edmund Blunden's Portrait of a colonel [MS10 A243/2]

Opening lines of Edmund Blunden’s ‘Portrait of a colonel’ [MS10 A243/2]

A more substantial literary collection held at Southampton is MS328, that of Frank Templeton Prince (1912-2003). He is probably best remembered for his collection Soldiers Bathing (1954), the title poem of which is one of the most anthologised poems of the Second World War. His archive collection contains not only notebooks and drafts of poems and prose writing, 1920s-87, but long series of correspondence, including correspondence with Edmund Blunden, 1932-58.

F.T.Prince [MS328 A834/1/11/10]

F.T.Prince [MS328 A834/1/11/10]

The soldier hero has proved to be one of the most durable and powerful ideas of idealised masculinity in western tradition since antiquity. For the poet Martin Bell, however, there was nothing heroic about either soldiering or military service, for him it was a life of crushing boredom. Bell volunteered for the Royal Engineers in 1939, in order, so he claimed, to avoid being called into the infantry. He spent his war service in camp as a hospital orderly both in UK and in the Mediterranean, and later as an instructor. His collection (MS12) of correspondence to Joan Broomfield, who was one of his circle of friends from his days at University College, Southampton, contains scathing comments on army life as well as reflecting his literary progress and including poems he had written. In a letter to Joan Broomfeld, from 1943, he expressed his dislike of army life and the boredom of his duties “we Pavlov’s dogs commended by imperious telephones, we cramp our reluctant flesh into organisation…” [MS12 A767/37]

The collection (MS376) of the poet Judith Lask Grubler provides very different reflections on warfare during the Second World War, drawing as she does a picture from the home front. In her writings, which date from the 1930s onwards, Grubler gives a contemporary account in such war related poems as ‘After the raids’ of the experience of civilians facing bombing raids on London.

This material fits well with a small collection of correspondence of Nora Harvey, a student at University College, Southampton, 1939. She writes of the impact of the war on the University as well as Southampton’s role as a port of embarkation and as a military camp. She noted that: “….Part of the college building is being used for a hospital and ARP depot etc….  The Common is horrid – all roped off, full of soldiers and rest camps. Lorry loads of troops are continually going up and down outside our window, and we can hear troops being drilled at all hours of the day.” [MS310/63 A4028]

Students outside a sandbag protected University College of Southampton, 4 October 1939 [MS310/43 A2038/2]

Students outside a sandbag protected University College of Southampton, 4 October 1939 [MS310/43 A2038/2]

Other papers reflecting on war include: diaries of Revd Michael Adler (MS125); letters and diary of Private Paul Epstein (MS124); correspondence and diaries of Leonard Stein (MS170); correspondence of Fred Salinger, Gallipoli (MS209); and correspondence of Frederick Dudley Samuel (MS336).

Revd Adler was one of a small number of Jewish chaplains attached to the forces in France. He, along with his colleagues worked tirelessly to visit the camps, training areas and hospitals to fulfil their pastoral duties. The four diaries that Adler kept for this period provide a brief record of his activities during his tours of duty rather than an analytical or personal account of his experiences as chaplain. They are detached and sparse in their detail and tone, as befits the type of record they represent, but also perhaps representing the need for detachment in dealing with a traumatic situation.

Private Epstein was a Russian conscript to the Royal Fusiliers (the Jewish Regiment) who served in the Palestine campaign. He suffered greatly from home sickness and this is recorded in his diary and correspondence. His letters describe daily events in great detail and he maintained his diary, even when he had nothing to record. Sometimes he summarises the content of his letters home in his diary. He used his letters as a means to maintain some sense of normality and create a strong link with home. As he noted in a letter to his parents of 16 March 1918: “A line to inform you that I received your second letter last Fri[day] March 13th and the sight of it was worth to me untold wealth…” [MS124 AJ 15/2]

Major Frederick Dudley Samuel [MS336 A2097/1]

Frederick Dudley Samuel [MS336 A2097/1]

Frederick Dudley Samuel, CBE, DSO (1877-1951) served in the South African war of 1901-2 and then with the British Expeditionary Forces in France, 1915-18. His archive consists mainly of correspondence written on an almost daily basis to his fiancée, later his wife, Dorothy, 1909-18. His letters from France depict the grim detail of life at the front line. In a letter of 5 April 1917 he talks of the “frightful waste of men, material and time it all is, all devoted to distruction when it should all be devoted to production”. [MS336 A2097/8/2/31]

Envelope of letter from Fred Samuel to his wife, 1917 [MS336 A2097/8/2/31]

Envelope of the letter from Frederick Samuel to his wife, 5 April 1917 [MS336 A2097/8/2/31]

The collections at Southampton provide a range of material and of experiences of 20th-century warfare and the reflections they contain still speak to us as loudly today as they ever did.

Celebrating the contribution of women: Lady Swaythling

Today marks International Women’s Day which celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women throughout history and across nations. The Special Collections at the University of Southampton holds material for a range of women whose contribution in many spheres is worthy of mention. For this blog post we will focus on Gladys Helen Rachel Montagu, Baroness Swaythling (MS 383).

Photograph of Gladys, Dowager Lady Swaythling, taken by Dorothy Wilding [MS 383 A4000/6/1/5 f2]

Photograph of Gladys, Dowager Lady Swaythling, taken by Dorothy Wilding [MS 383 A4000/6/1/5 f2]

Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 1879, she was the eldest daughter of Colonel Albert Edward Williamson Goldsmid, MVO, and Ida Stewart Beauclerk Hendricks. In 1898 she married Louis Montagu, the eldest son of Samuel Montagu, first Baron Swaythling (MS 117), founder of the banking firm Samuel Montagu and Company. Louis succeeded as second Baron Swaythling in 1911 and inherited the office of president of the Federation of Synagogues (MS 248), an organisation created by his father to promote the acculturation of Jewish immigrants.

Following their marriage they lived at Townhill Park House, Southampton, purchased by the first Baron Swaythling in 1897. Originally dating from the 1790s, they had the house extended and re-designed by architect Leonard Rome Guthrie in the Italianate style. Guthrie also designed the terraced gardens to complement the style of the house, with the plants laid out by the renowned garden designer Gertrude Jekyll. As Lord and Lady Swaythling they were leading members of the Anglo-Jewish community and leading figures in English society, hosting dinner parties and other social events at Townhill Park where visitors included Princess Alice and Queen Mary (with whom Lady Swaythling had a lifelong friendship).

Belgian soldiers and staff at Allington Manor

Belgian soldiers and staff at Allington Manor [MS 383 A4000/6/1/13 ]

They were also active communal workers, with Lady Swaythling applying much of her energy to the local Southampton area. During the First World War she became President of the Women’s Southampton branches of the Auxiliary of the YMCA and Women’s Emergency Corps, as well as the War Hospital Supply Depot, Southampton. In addition, she served on eighteen different committees, including as chair of the Wounded Allies Relief Committee, established for the provision of convalescent homes for wounded Belgian soldiers.

Country houses were required for medical use as the large numbers of wounded meant there were not enough hospitals able to cope with the seriously disabled or even those simply convalescing. These houses were pressed into service or were donated for the purpose, as their clean country air and fine grounds were considered most helpful to rest and recuperation. Allington Manor, a country house in Eastleigh owned by the Swaythlings, was one of the houses donated as a military sanitorium. Lady Swaythling took a deep interest in the welfare of the sanatorium and would sing to the patients during her visits. Later, she was involved in organising hospitality for American soldiers and sailors, with her efforts leading to her becoming known as the “British godmother” among American naval enlisted men. Other activities included working on the executive committee of Queen Mary’s Governess’ Home in Surrey, and assisting the British Women’s Patriotic League.

Certificate granted to Lady Swaythling [MS 383 A4000/2/1]

Certificate granted to Lady Swaythling in recognition of her
charitable services during the First World War [MS 383 A4000/2/1]

After the war she continued her communal actives, with her roles including President of the Southampton Hostel for Unmarried Women and the Southampton branches of the National Society for Combating Venereal Diseases and the University Extension Lectures movement. She was also chair of the conjoint committee of the British Red Cross and the Order of St John of Jerusalem. In 1919 she joined the Council of the Anglo-Belgian Union and continued to support Belgian exiles during the Second World War. She was an active supporter of refugees throughout her life and, in 1925, addressed a letter to President Coolidge pleading for the admission to the United States of Jewish refugees stranded in Southampton.

Other public offices she held included President of the Electrical Association for Women, established in 1924 to interest women in the electrical development of the country; Honorary President of the Jewish Lads’ Brigade (MS 244), a Jewish youth organisation founded by her father in 1895; President of the Southampton branch of the Girl Guides Association; and Vice-President of the NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children). She travelled widely, touring countries such as India, Australia, China, Japan, the United States, and Canada, and was the recipient of many overseas honours. She was made OBE in 1953.

Lord and Lady Swaythling had had three sons and a daughter. Their eldest son Stuart became the third Lord Swaythling in 1927 on Louis’ death. The family continued to live at Townhill Park until 1939 when the house was handed over to the Red Cross and used as a convalescent home for British and American soldiers during the Second World war. Lady Swaythling died in 1965 at the age of 85.

This year, Southampton is joining in the International Women’s Day (IWD) celebration theme by ‘Being Bold’ and inviting everyone to West Quay and fringe events in town on Saturday March 11 to promote and celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, both locally and worldwide. For further details visit:
https://www.southampton.ac.uk/blog/sussed-news/2017/02/28/celebrate-international-womens-day-on-11-march/

The Suez Crisis of 1956

The Suez Crisis began on 29 October 1956 when Israel invaded the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula. The invasion took place in response to Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s announcement in July 1956 of the nationalization of the Suez Canal Company and the closure of the canal to all Israeli shipping.

The Suez Canal Company was a joint British-French enterprise which had owned and operated the canal since its construction in 1869. The canal, an important maritime route connecting the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, represented the main source of supply of oil for Britain and France. During the post-war period there had been an upsurge of nationalism in Egypt and, in the lead up to the crisis, there was mounting opposition to the political influence of European powers in the region.

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On 30 October, the day after the initial invasion by Israeli forces, Britain and France issued a joint ultimatum for an end to hostilities. The ultimatum was rejected by Nassar and a week later, on the night of 5-6 November, British and French troops joined the Israeli invasion and quickly succeeded in taking control of the area around the canal.

However, while the invasion was a military success, it was a political disaster. Not only was there widespread outrage in Britain, the invasion was condemned internationally. Opposition was particularly strong in the United States which saw the action as opening the possibility of Russian intervention in the Middle East. In response to mounting international pressure, British Prime Minister, Sir Anthony Eden, was forced into calling a ceasefire on 7 November. A United Nations peacekeeping force was then sent in to supervise the ceasefire and to restore order following the withdrawal of British, French and Israeli troops.

Embed from Getty Images

Special Collections holds material relating to both the canal and the crisis. Prior to 1869, the construction of the canal had been long under consideration. Proposals can be found discussed among the papers of Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston. In a letter from Lord Ponsonby, dated 26 March 1841, a scheme for cutting a canal across the Suez is outlined, as are the many serious political evils which may be a consequence of its execution. [MS 62 PP/ GC/PO/508] One of the key objections was the fear that the canal might interfere with Britain’s India trade. In the end, the British decided on an alternative railway connection linking Alexandria and Suez, via Cairo. The Suez Canal Company was later formed by French diplomat Ferdinand de Lesseps in 1858.

Memorandum from Sir G.C.Lewis, J.Campbell, Lord Argyll and Lord Granville, concerning the plans for a Suez canal, 23 January [1860] [MS 62 PP/GC/LE/124]

Memorandum from Sir G.C.Lewis, J.Campbell, Lord Argyll and Lord Granville, concerning the plans for a Suez canal, 23 January [1860] [MS 62 PP/GC/LE/124]

Lord Mountbatten was promoted to Admiral of the Fleet during the crisis. While he co-operated with preparations to send a naval force to the area, he protested against British military intervention, favouring psychological warfare and pressure from the United Nations. In a draft of a letter to Anthony Eden, dated 1 August 1956, Mountbatten strongly advises against the immediate use of force against Egypt, stressing that “the absolutely paramount consideration is the marshalling of world opinion on our side.” [MS 62 MB1/N106] The letter was vetoed by the First Lord and never sent.

The crisis had a fundamental impact on British politics: Britain’s prestige as a world power was dealt a severe blow, with Eden resigning from office on 9 January 1957.

Programme for Promoting Nuclear Non-Proliferation (PPNN)

This Monday 26th September is the United Nations International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. The goal of eliminating nuclear weapons has been pursued for as long as they have been in existence; the very first resolution of the United Nations General Assembly in 1946 called for “…the elimination from national armaments of atomic weapons and of all other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction.

The vision of a world safe from nuclear proliferation inspired the work of the Programme for Promoting Nuclear Non-Proliferation (PPNN); an international initiative co-founded in March 1987 by Ben Sanders (based in New York) and John Simpson, Director of the Mountbatten Centre for International Studies (MCIS) at the University of Southampton. The records of the PPNN are now held by the University’s Special Collections department in collection MS424; they represent a unique and rich resource for students concerned with both the history and theory of nuclear non-proliferation.

In the first year of its operation the PPNN was funded through a grant from the University of Southampton as well as through charitable donations from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund; the Ford Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in the USA and the Barrow and Geraldine S. Cadbury Trust in the UK. Many other organizations supported the work of the PPNN over the ensuing years as it sought to promote nuclear non-proliferation through three distinct activities. The first of these involved reporting on the evolving non-proliferation situation through a range of publications including: quarterly ‘Newsbriefs’ from March 1988 until 2001; Briefing Books: Volume 1 – The Evolution of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Regime and Volume 2 – Treaties, Agreements and Other Relevant Documents (published in several editions over the years); annual Issue Reviews; as well as a series of Occasional Papers and Studies. These publications were disseminated to a wide international audience of academic researchers, non-governmental groups, civil servants, parliamentarians and the press in order to reinforce awareness of the global non-proliferation situation.

MS424 A3079/1/2/5/1: Newsbrief No. 1 (March 1988)

MS424 A3079/1/2/5/1: Newsbrief No. 1 (March 1988)

The second activity of the PPNN took the form of a series of biennial meetings held from June 1987 onwards for a Core Group of experts. Academics from a range of backgrounds in nations both East and West and North and South met to discuss the non-proliferation situation. These meetings were often attended by staff of the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Photograph of the members of Core Group 12 at the A-Bomb Dome, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Japan, 1992

Photograph of the members of Core Group 12 at the A-Bomb Dome, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Japan, 1992

The third objective of the PPNN involved briefing the diplomatic community as part of the review process for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), which came into force in 1970.

The three main objectives of this Treaty are: preventing the further spread of nuclear weapons technology; promoting the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and working towards nuclear and general disarmament. The NPT comes under review every five years, was indefinitely extended in 1995 and is regarded as the centerpiece of the international non-proliferation regime. Indeed, the PPNN was established in the spring of 1987 with the following remit: “The specific aim of the Programme is therefore to assist in ensuring that the NPT Review Conference in 1990 and Extension Conference in 1995 have successful outcomes.” [MS424 A3079/2/1/2/2].

Since the dawn of the atomic age in July 1945, when the USA exploded the world’s first atomic weapon, it may appear that an inevitable march towards ever greater nuclear weapons proliferation has taken place over the decades. Since that time, nine other countries have developed their own nuclear weapons capabilities and made their first test explosions in the years as follows: USSR/Russia (1949); the UK (1952); France (1960); China (1964); India (1974); Pakistan (1998) and North Korea (2006). Israel has maintained a policy of deliberate ambiguity concerning its nuclear weapons programme but had probably developed its own capability by the mid-late 1960s. South Africa acknowledged in the early 1990s that it had developed a nuclear weapons capability around 1979, but then subsequently dismantled its own programme.

The NPT could, therefore, be judged pessimistically as having failed to prevent the continued proliferation of nuclear weapons since 1970; given that India, Pakistan and North Korea have since emerged as nuclear powers. But prior to the NPT’s arrival many experts assumed that the number of nuclear weapons states would increase by orders of magnitude as the technical know-how of nuclear weapons technology proliferated throughout the world. As many as twenty other countries that were actively planning or considering their own nuclear arsenals either chose not to pursue them or were thwarted in their clandestine attempts to do so; in part due to restrictions imposed by the NPT, military intervention and other mechanisms of the international community. The aims of the NPT (and by extension the PPNN) in preventing the further proliferation of nuclear weapons must, therefore, be judged as a relative success.

According to Article VI of the Treaty: “Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control”. Although the number of nuclear weapons in the world peaked during the middle years of the 1980s at approximately 70,000, there still exist in excess of 15,000 nuclear weapons at various stages of readiness. Total nuclear or general disarmament has, therefore, failed to materialise after many decades and the NNWS (Non-Nuclear Weapons States) have criticised this state of affairs as a kind of continuing ‘nuclear apartheid’ between the nuclear ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’. Indeed, it was the perceived lack of progress by the NWS (Nuclear Weapons States) in moving towards nuclear disarmament which prevented a substantive Final Declaration from being reached at the NPT review conference held in 1990, which also concluded Phase I of the PPNN’s activities.

Phase II began in 1991 and continued the PPNN’s work until the NPT Review and Extension conference of 1995, which was successful insofar as it was agreed to extend the NPT indefinitely, 25 years after its entry into force. Success in 1995 was reached in part through a general agreement amongst states to move towards a treaty banning all nuclear test explosions, adopted by the UN the following year. 2016 therefore marks twenty years since the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) on 10th September 1996 and since this time only India and Pakistan (in 1998) and North Korea (on several instances from 2006 onwards) are known to have conducted nuclear test explosions.

MS424 A3079/1/3/18/14: draft resolution introduced to the UN General Assembly in October 1995 and calling for a ban on nuclear testing

MS424 A3079/1/3/18/14: draft resolution introduced to the UN General Assembly in October 1995 and calling for a ban on nuclear testing

Paradoxically, it was after the success of the NPT’s indefinite extension in 1995 that the charitable funding the PPNN had come to rely on began to decline.

Phase III ran from 1996 until the NPT Review Conference in 2000 and expanded the PPNN’s remit to focus on “…ways through which the ultimate goal of the NPT might be achieved: the total elimination of nuclear weapons.” [MS424 A3079/2/1/9/1]. The 2000 NPT Review Conference culminated with an agreement amongst the NWS to de-target their nuclear missiles, pointing them away from each other’s territory, marking a departure from the open hostilities of the Cold War. In April 2000 the PPNN launched the Mountbatten Centre International Missile Forum (MCIMF) which sought to ‘assist, promote and advance the current international efforts to develop norms and legal instruments for combating missile proliferation’ [A3079/2/1/10/1].

MS424 A3079/1/2/5/2: Newsbrief No. 53 – the final issue of the PPNN Newsbrief

MS424 A3079/1/2/5/2: Newsbrief No. 53 – the final issue of the PPNN Newsbrief

Given all these developments, in which the PPNN played a small but worthy role, the story of the non-proliferation movement has been one of incremental and relative success: from the limited proliferation to new states of the weapons themselves since 1970; the overall reduction in their numbers from the 1980s; the decline of weapons-testing since the 1990s; and the reduced role that nuclear weapons now play in the defence strategies of the NWS due to reduced Cold War enmities.

All of these successes, however, seem somehow overshadowed by the failure of the world to move towards complete nuclear disarmament as envisioned in those lofty commitments of the UN General Assembly’s first resolution back in 1946 and echoed a generation later by the NPT in 1970. Why has total nuclear disarmament failed to materialise?

The answer can be found in the complicated tension between the awful and inhumane destructive power of nuclear weapons and the perceived right of a nation to possess them as an ultimate deterrent against aggression, which was encapsulated twenty years ago on 8th July 1996 by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in its advisory opinion: “…the threat or use of nuclear weapons would generally be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, and in particular the principles and rules of humanitarian law; However, in view of the current state of international law, and of the elements of fact at its disposal, the Court cannot conclude definitively whether the threat or use of nuclear weapons would be lawful or unlawful in an extreme circumstance of self-defense, in which the very survival of a State would be at stake.” Twenty years later the deterrent debate rages on without resolution; posing the most serious barrier to total nuclear disarmament.

Special Collections also holds the collection MS 355 Papers of Milton Leitenberg, relating to nuclear non-proliferation.

The dawn of the tank

“It was like hell in a rough sea made of shell holes,” so recorded Lieutenant Basil Henriques of his tank advance at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette, the Somme, on 15 September 1916. It was on this day that tanks were used for the first time in an en masse attack.

While it was not the case that no fighting vehicles existed at the outbreak of war in 1914, the need for a new fighting vehicle soon became apparent: the ditches separating the forces in the Western Front proved an insurmountable barrier creating stalemate. The light armoured vehicles in existence could not cope with the terrain of the Western Front. The development of a new fighting vehicle that might cross such terrain, breaching the trenches, was at the instigation of Lieutenant Colonel Ernest Swinton. The inspiration came from farming vehicles using caterpillar tracks and early designs were based around Holt tractors.

Battle of Flers-Courcelette. A Brigadier and his staff outside Tank 17 of D Company, which was used as his Headquarters. Near Flers, 21st September 1916. © IWM (Q 2487)

Battle of Flers-Courcelette. A Brigadier and his staff outside Tank 17 of D Company, which was used as his Headquarters. Near Flers, 21st September 1916. © IWM (Q 2487)

Called Mark 1, the first tanks were built in two types: the “Male” with two Hotchkiss 6-pounder guns and 4 machine guns and the “Female” carrying 5 machine guns. Their best top speed was 4 miles per hour, but this was rarely achieved on the battlefield and infantry often moved faster. The tanks were crewed by an officer, 3 drivers and 4 gunners in internal conditions of heat, noise and exhaust from engine and violent movements of the tank that were appalling. Early models also proved to be mechanically very unreliable and vulnerable to shellfire. Yet despite any shortcomings, the initial appearance of the tank caused alarm to the German forces.

Portrait of Lieutenant Basil Henriques MS 132 AJ 220/2/1 f.1

Portrait of Lieutenant Basil Henriques MS 132 AJ 220/2/1 f.1

Sir Basil Henriques (MS 132) was a 26-year old lieutenant in 1916. Initially gazetted into the Royal East Kent Regiment or the Buffs, Henriques was selected for the new unit of the Heavy Section Machine Gun Corps (renamed the Tank Corps from 1917) and was thus part of the development of the Corps from its inception. During the first part of 1916, Henriques was stationed at Lord Iveagh’s estate in Elvedon, Norfolk, where he trained with and early tank nicknamed “Mother”. He noted that “no mother has ever enjoyed playing with her child as we all did with her. The ‛training’ was one huge game, and we used to look for trees to knock down, and had one or two craters about a hundred yards in width which we would show off to various ‛brass hats’ who came to look at us.” [MS 132 AJ 195/3/9]

On arrival in France the deficiencies of this training soon became apparent. The tank crew had no experience of working with the infantry, with whom they were to fight at the Somme, had never driven the tanks with the flaps closed nor used the periscope and had only driven with a clear view ahead over perfectly even ground. The tank moved fairly well on good ground, but difficulties arose when it needed to turn as it had to halt, making it a target, and gears often jammed in the process.

Although part of a section of three tanks, Basil Henriques and his tank crew were ultimately to proceed on their own to the British front line on 15 September after the other two tanks broke down. Henriques’ tank arrived at the front line ahead of the infantry advance scheduled for 6.20am. After waiting a short time, Henriques, as he recounts, decided to advance forward, encountering a blistering attack from the German lines, wounding himself and his crew:

“As we approached the Germans they let fire at us with might and main. At first no damage was done and we retaliated, killing about 20. Then the smash against my flap in front caused splinters to come in, and the blood to pour down my face. Another minute and my driver got the same. Then our prism glass broke to pieces; then another smash – and I think it must have been a bomb, right in my face. The next one wounded my driver so badly that he had to stop. By this time I could see nothing at all.…” [MS 132 AJ 195/3/9]

While the surprise and, in some cases effect, of the tanks helped the attack at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette, they did not prove the decisive factor. They helped break into an enemy position but did not break through the enemy lines. Nevertheless, the potential of the tank as a weapon was recognised and with the action of 15 September 1916 a new era of warfare was begun.

Basil and Rose Henriques on their wedding day MS 132 AJ 220/2/1 f.1

Basil and Rose Henriques on their wedding day MS 132 AJ 220/2/1 f.1

A memento from the battle, one of the glass shards that injured Henriques, and which he then had set in stone in a ring for his wife, will be on show at the Tank Museum in Dorset as part of an exhibition marking the centenary of the tank.

The Spanish Civil War

The Spanish Civil War began on 17 July 1936 when rebel Nationalists led a military uprising against the Popular Front government, a coalition of left wing parties which had been elected earlier in the year.

The Popular Front aimed to continue the reforms which had begun with the establishment of the Spanish Second Republic in 1931. With the ambitious agenda of eliminating deeply-rooted social inequalities, the republican programme encompassed land and education reform, improved rights for women, restructuring the army, and granting autonomy to Catalonia and the Basque Country.

Photograph of a tiled wall in Guernica showing Picasso’s painting, originally produced in response to the bombing of the town during the Spanish Civil War

Photograph of a tiled wall in Guernica showing Picasso’s painting, originally produced in response to the bombing of the town during the Spanish Civil War

Threatened by these far-reaching changes, diverse political groups rallied together in the so called ‘two Spains’, determined to annihilate each other. The government was supported by workers, a large number of the educated middle class, militant anarchists and communists. In contrast, the Nationalists were supported by landowners, conservative elements in the clergy and military, and the fascist Falange. While government forces successfully quelled the uprising in most regions, the Nationalists continued to control parts of North West and South West Spain, naming General Francisco Franco the head of state.

Britain was among the 27 countries to sign a Non-Intervention Agreement. Despite this, hundreds of Britons, many of them communists, went to fight against the fascists in Spain. In a letter from Professor Dan Pedro to Professor H.Brian Griffiths, Department of Mathematics, University of Southampton, dated 15 Jun 1981, he mentions David Hadden Guest, a former student of the University who was killed fighting in the war:

‘We heard that he was leaving us, and when I enquired whether it was an educational venture, he replied, with a mysterious little smile: “Yes! I suppose that you could say it was educational!” Only when I heard that he was killed fighting against Franco did I understand this remark.’ [MS88/11]

With Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy helping the Nationalists, Communist Russia the Republicans, and Chamberlain’s Britain leading a policy of appeasement amongst Western democratic nations, the war was to last three bloody years. In this bitter conflict, there was a third Spain, which did not want to take up arms, but to live in peace. War, hunger, revolution, counter-revolution, denunciations, persecution, summary trials and executions, and mass repression often resulted in the disintegration of family and community life, desolating a country and forcing thousands of its people into exile.

On 26 April 1937, General Franco, with the support of the German Condor Legion, attacked Guernica and Durango, one of the first bombings of a civilian population in Europe. In April/May 1937, the Basque government and the National Joint Committee for Spanish Relief, co-ordinating relief in the UK, organised an evacuation of children from the north front of the war zone. No public funds were made available for the expedition, nor for the care of the children in the UK. Their maintenance was provided for entirely by private funds and those raised by voluntary groups and organisations.

The Habana with children on board [MS 404 A4164/7/1/1]

The Habana with children on board [MS 404 A4164/7/1/1]

Approximately 4,000 children, known as the niños vascos, came to Southampton in May 1937 by boat from Santurce, the port of Bilbao, fleeing the conflict. They were part of a movement which saw more than 30,000 children leave the war zone, dispersed to countries across Europe and overseas.

During the course of the following year the Nationalists continued to gain territory. By April 1938 they reached the Mediterranean and succeeding in splitting the republic in two. This resulted in 250,000 Republican soldiers, together with a comparable number of civilians, fleeing into France. In March 1939 the Republican government was forced into exile. As the remaining Republican forces surrendered, Madrid finally fell to the Nationalists on 28 March. The aftermath of the war saw the establishment of a dictatorship led by General Franco that lasted almost until his death in 1975.

The Special Collections holds archives for the Basque Children of ‘37 Association UK (MS 404), together with small collections relating to Basque child refugees (MS 370) that have come from individuals. Further details on the collection can be found on our website at:
http://www.southampton.ac.uk/archives/resources/basquecollections.page

There are also a series of interviews of the niños vascos conducted as part of an oral history project undertaken by the University of Southampton:
http://www.southampton.ac.uk/archives/projects/losninos.page

Next year commemorations will be taking place to mark the 80th anniversary of the arrival of the niños in the UK. Further information can be found on the website of the Basque Children of ‘37 Association UK:
http://www.basquechildren.org/