Category Archives: War and warfare

“Such a desperate action” – two stories from the battlefield

Print of the Battle of Waterloo (1816) [MS 351/6 A4170/5]

There was widespread rejoicing at news of the Battle of Waterloo – the anniversary of which is today – and the conclusion of the war: this was an occasion equivalent to VE or VJ Day at the end of the Second World War. Wellington was lauded as a victor and hero and esteemed as both one of Europe’s leading generals and as its saviour. Heroic depictions of the military exploits appeared, such as the example below representing the death of Lieutenant Colonel Miller of the Guards at the Battle of Waterloo in  J.A. Atkinson’s Incidents of British bravery during the late campaigns on the continent… (Ackermann, London, 1817).

Death of Lieutenant Colonel Miller of the Guards at Waterloo [MS351/6 A4170/2 no 6]

Yet Wellington understood, as he recorded in his official despatch to Lord Bathurst of 19 June 1815, how victory on the battlefield often came at the cost of the loss of many lives: “Your Lordship will observe that such a desperate action could not be fought, and such advantages could not be gained, without great loss; and I am sorry to add that ours has been immense.”

Extracts from the correspondence of two soldiers held in the Special Collections provides an eloquent picture of the realities of life on the front line during the struggle for supremacy in Portugal in 1811 and on the Western Front in the First World War.

Engraving by Bartolomeo Pinelli of the campaign in Portugal, 1810-11

Lieutenant Colonel John Gurwood (1790-1845), who was the editor of  Wellington’s Dispatches, served under the Duke in the Peninsula from 1810. He was wounded at Sabugal, 3 April 1811, and distinguished himself leading the forlorn hopes at the storming of Badajoz and Ciudad Rodrigo. As a lieutenant of the 52nd Regiment of Foot in 1811, he describes in a letter to his mother of 16 March 1811 the intensity of the action by the British and allied army in expelling the French forces from Portugal during the course of March:

“We have been fighting for the last 4 days. The French retired … on the 6th at one in the morning… On the 11th we drove them through Pombal… On the plain of Redeinha [Redinha] we had 3 off[icer]s and 22 killed and wounded… On the 14th as soon as the fog cleared off… we got into one of the hottest affairs imaginable. We lost 1 officer killed, 3 cap[ains] wounded and a number killed and wounded… On the 15th were at it again…” [MS 321/5]

A career soldier, Lieutenant Colonel Frederick Dudley Samuel, DSO, had served with the Midlands Mounted Rifles in the Boer war. He was appointed a Second Lieutenant in the Third Volunteer Battalion, City of London (Royal Fusiliers) Regiment in December 1902 and served with the London Regiment throughout the First World War, eventually being appointed as commander of the 40th (Jewish) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers in 1918. Dudley Samuel was wounded four times during his service and received mention in despatches. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order in 1917.

Major Frederick Dudley Samuel [MS336 A2097/1]

Major Frederick Dudley Samuel [MS336 A2097/1]

Dudley Samuel was involved in the Battle of Loos (25 September – 8 October 1915). The Artois-Loos Offensive aimed to break through the German Front in Artois. Whilst the British had some initial success north of Loos on the first day, a pause in the attack allowed the German army time to call in reinforcements for the Second position and the British suffered heavy casualties here on 26 September.

On 27 September he wrote to his wife Dorothy that they have come out from the Battle “as usual much depleted” with heavy losses and many killed.

“The Garhwal Brigade was heroic, it is the only word, it has been practically wiped out… Everyone stood to arms at 3.30am Saturday… At about 4.45 the guns started. At 5.50 we exploded an enormous mine the earth shook, a very muffled roar and it looked as if a whole trench went 300 feet in the air, then dense volumes of smoke were released everywhere and the German guns started on us and the Brigade advanced to the attack… Very few of the attackees came back, and I’m afraid all are killed or wounded. Three battalions are practically wiped out…

For us personally it is a great tragedy, so many friends in the Leicesters and Native Regiments gone… Our losses are over fifty, but we can’t tell yet. We of course are fortunate….” [MS336 A2097/5/2]

Part of an envelope, with the mark of the field censor, for a letter from Dudley Samuel to his wife [Ms 336 A2097/8/2/331]

The Battle of Waterloo and the Duke of Wellington were well remembered and received many marks of recognition during the 19th century: a previous blog looks at the battle and the Duke remembered. The Special Collections contains much other material reflecting different aspects of warfare from literary reflections to the service of VADs at the University War Hospital in the First World War.

Look out for further blogs, or why not visit the Archives and Manuscripts to find out more.

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75th anniversary of D-Day: 6 June

Today, we commemorate the 75th anniversary of ‘D-Day’, the largest seaborne invasion in history. Codenamed Operation Neptune, this Allied invasion of Normandy commenced on 6 June 1944 as part of Operation Overlord, during World War II. The operation began the liberation of German-occupied France (and later Europe) from Nazi control, and laid the foundations of the Allied victory on the Western Front.

Days and Polhill

Colonel James O’Donald Mays pictured with fellow Georgian Lt. James Polhill, part of the American Navy’s logistical operations which provided landing craft and other vessels for the war effort [MS 379/3 A4024/10]

We will take a look at Southampton’s role in the operations through the papers and photographs collected by American Colonel James O’Donald Mays [MS 379/3 A4024], whose Army Port unit was assigned to Southampton to direct American military activities for the preparation for D-Day and its follow-up.  He later worked as a diplomat, journalist and author.

During the ensuing summer days and nights, Southampton witnessed a sight unparalleled in all its long momentous history. The military traffic, chiefly U.S.A., roared on in an unending torrent.

Almost every road and street carried its weight of vehicles, two and sometimes three a breast; trucks swept by loaded with soldiers, huge petrol tanks, jeeps, searchlights, DUKWs, great guns, tank-transporters and tanks without number, the giant Shermans roaring and grinding past, shaking the houses as they went.

Local historian Elsie M.Sandell writing for a 40th anniversary commemorative magazine produced by the Evening Echo, June 1984

Southampton was all but taken over by the military in the lead up to D-Day. Southampton Common accommodated large numbers of Allied troops and the foundations of their huts are still visible after long spells of dry weather. The Bargate in the shopping centre was a Military Police post.

Southampton was chosen as the chief supply and troop movement centre for the American army, known as the 14th Major Port of the US Army Transportation Corps. It was the centre of marine operations as the first shipment point for American men and supplies from the UK to the Continent. Southampton was essential in discharging of cargo before D-Day, loading of landing craft and other assault vessels for the European invasion and build up, and shipping of United states-bound troops under the re-deployment programme.

Entrance to the Administration offices of the 14th port

The administrative offices of the 14th Port [MS 379/3 A4024/10]

The 14th Port staff arrived in the United Kingdom on 16 July 1943 and three days later began operations at London, Southampton and Plymouth. Up to 1 February 1944, Port Headquarters were in London. When Allied strategists selected Southampton as the chief loading point for troops and war materials for the invasion, headquarters were moved to Southampton Civic Centre; offices were later relocated to Houndwell Park.

The port of Southampton was selected because of its strategic location. The “double tide” effected by the position of the Isle of Wight at the bottom of The Solent meant the port was perfectly suited for mass loading and sailing of vessels. It also benefited from a huge anchorage space off Cowes as well as deep water docking facilities and spacious loading sheds.

IMG_0237

Members of a U.S. Navy beach Battalion medical unit stow their gear on the deck of an Landing Craft, Infantry (Large). They took park in an invasion rehearsal. [MS379/3 A4024/1]

Some impressive statistics for the period include that 8,300 ships passed through the harbour. Approximately 2,500,000 men were transported to and from the Continent and the United States and 3,000,000 tons of goods were carried to European ports and beaches.

The operation naturally had a huge impact on the city and its civilian population. Three Southampton schools were used as billets for United States Army troops. Swaythling Infant (Mayfield), Taunton’s and Ascupart Road. 

Downthe Hatch)

American soldiers boarding a Landing Craft, Infantry (Large) as part of an invasion rehearsal  [MS 379/3 A4024/10] Credit: U.S. Navy Photograph Public Relations Section, London

This huge flow of men and vehicles required co-ordination. Military police escorts were required and checkpoints established and a checking system was instigated to help prevent congestion in Southampton’s streets. Routes were planned to interfere as little as possible with civilian transport.

The Army Transportation Corps Harbour Craft Companies were attached to the 14th Port and it was their job to operate the hundreds of small tug-boats, floating cranes and other harbour craft assigned to the Port. One of the key vessels was the LST – Landing Ship Tank – a “lifeline” to supply Europe. It was capable of carrying 50 to 75 vehicles; 2,539 LSTs were loaded at Southampton.

Presentation

D-Day marked a key victory in the Second World War: it prevented Hitler launching his new V-weapons against British cities in a last-minute effort to save Germany. For more on Southampton’s role in this momentous event, see the Library’s Cope Collection for additional resources.

Highfield Campus 100: 1940s

The Second World War was a period of both anxiety and opportunity for University College, Southampton. The decision not to evacuate the Highfield site allowed the College to play a full part in wartime training and education, and to undertake research related to the war effort but meant that students and staff were potentially at risk from enemy action.

Above Bar, looking south. December 1940 [Cope photograph SOU 91.5 ABO ph2809]

Lying on the outskirts of Southampton, the College escaped the destruction seen in the town centre and port area, where approximately 2,630 bombs and 31,000 incendiaries killed 631 people and wounded a further 1,882. At Highfield, precautions against enemy attack included nine air raid shelters, blast walls and several static water tanks, with a fire truck standing by for the twenty-four hour fire patrol. Inevitably, the College suffered some damage; in 1940 an incendiary bomb set fire to one of the First World War huts, Highfield Hall received widespread blast damage on two occasions in 1941, South Stoneham House was damaged when bombs fell nearby and on 15 May 1944 the most serious damage was caused when a bomb landed close to the Zoology and Geology Building. Rumour had it that the exhibits from the Geology Museum were swept up with the rest of the rubble.

University College, Southampton A.R.P. Handbook (1941) [Univ. Coll. LF 785.8]

The war saw the College expand. It was urged to take as many undergraduates in science and engineering as possible, courses being reduced to two years, the maximum period of deferment prior to call-up and the period for which new Government bursaries were awarded. At the same time the number of technical students taking certificate and diploma courses also increased. The marine engineering courses and those of the new School of Radio-Telegraphy, which supplied engineers and wireless operators to the Merchant Navy, were particularly important in the war effort. Officers, British and Polish were trained at the Department of Navigation, based at South Stoneham House. In a new departure, training was also provided for the armed services, 2,146 trainees having participated in courses by July 1942. The College was also one of only four university institutions to host intensive six month cadet courses for the Royal Air Force.

Teaching a three year course in two years placed a heavy burden on staff in some departments but in others student numbers fell, with Law and Theology closing. A demand for adult education kept many staff busy. The bulk of the work, undertaken alongside the Workers’ Educational Association, proved to be in providing lectures, short courses and classes on a range of subjects to members of the armed forces stationed locally. By 1943/44 the combined number of extra-mural civilian and service students reached 2,864.

Key members of staff were seconded to the war effort, including Professor Betts of History who advised the BBC on Czech broadcasting, Professor Cave-Browne-Cave of Engineering who went to the Ministry of Home Security as Director of Camouflage, whilst Dr Zepler of Physics moved to the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge. Research directly related to the war continued, including methods of water recovery for desert vehicles, design of assault bridges, equipment for testing gyro navigation instruments and investigations related to poison gases and defence against their use.

New Engineering Building [MS1/Phot/ 22/5/1 p.14]

With all this activity, pressure on space increased and the College was fortunate in having been allowed to complete the new Engineering Building in 1939 and the Union and Refectory in 1940. Wartime spirit saw temporary accommodation offered to others, including the Southampton Food Office and staff from Supermarine, who were housed briefly in the old Refectory and the Geography Hut when the Woolston factory was bombed in September 1940. Halls of residence welcomed, amongst others, French soldiers after Dunkirk, students from University College, London and nurses bombed out of the Royal South Hants Hospital.

The new Union and Refectory Building c.1941 [MS1/Phot/11/4]

For students, the war brought intensive study and a more restricted life. Male students on full-time courses were required to join the Senior Training Corps or the University Air Squadron, the teaching day being extended to accommodate the STC’s daily lunchtime parade. Pressure on time led some student societies to close, whilst travel difficulties affected sporting fixtures. One unforeseen effect of the war was the sanctioning of the first mixed hall of residence, when shortage of space saw men admitted to the women’s Highfield Hall.

Entertainments continued as far as possible, although the Annual Report of 1941 noted ‘considerable feeling’ in the Union about dances ending at 8.30. Presumably this did not apply to the dance held to mark the end of the war which Senate ‘very kindly consented to  … as the most pleasant way of celebration.’

Senior Training Corps on parade outside the Union [MS1/2/4/11]

Many students had contributed directly to the war effort by working with the A.R.P., the Women’s Voluntary Service and Southampton Information Service, where they acted as messengers, drivers, typists and loud-speaker van announcers. Students had also raised funds for the International Student Service which was engaged in relief work with refugee students and prisoners of war. Some twenty-three refugee students had received free tuition at the College, a Committee having been set up in February 1939 to provide assistance to refugee scholars.

Sixty-eight of those who passed through the College prior to armed service lost their lives in the conflict. They are commemorated on the War Memorial Tablet, unveiled by Sir Samuel Gurney-Dixon, Chairman of Council,  on 7th November 1948.

Sir Samuel Gurney-Dixon unveiling the War Memorial Tablet,  University of Southampton Press Cuttings v.2 [Rare Books Univ. Coll. LF 787.62]

As an institution, University College, Southampton had had ‘a good war’ and was certainly in a better financial  position in 1945 than it had been in 1939. Revenue from student fees, a bequest from Professor Lyttel of History and an increase in the County Council grant meant that at the end of war its deficit had decreased from a pre-war figure of £39,000 to £14,000.

The College’s post-war success owed much to forward planning. A 1942 publication, Looking Forward Looking Back, spoke of its aspirations as an educational institution – the importance of independent work in laboratory and library, the need to avoid increases in tuition fees and of promoting a ‘corporate life’ based on knowledge and understanding of the aims and objects of the College. In contrast, The Needs of University College Southampton in the Post-War Period (1944) gave a list of objectives, costed and divided into three phases. The first would see a general strengthening of academic departments, the acquisition of land, extensions to existing buildings, a new Assembly Hall and new Chemistry building, and would require capital expenditure of £258,110. Later phases would bring additional staff, further development of the Highfield site and more halls of residence.

With these ambitious plans, the College found itself pushing against an open door in terms of Government support. There was a scheme of further education for ex-service personnel, a policy of increasing the number of graduates, especially in science and engineering, and financial support available for such activities.

Sir Robert Wood  [MS1/Phot/39/ph 3125]

In 1946 the Principal, Kenneth Vickers, retired and was replaced by Sir Robert Wood, a civil servant, whose skills were well suited to the new era. When the University Grants Committee (which on a visit had commented on the poor accommodation and extremely low academic salaries) requested a statement of needs and proposals, the College was ready with its plan. The number of full-time undergraduates would increase to 1,000 to 1,300 (the current figure being 586) and the related building programme would require £650,000-£700,000 in capital expenditure.

The proposals ultimately proved too ambitious in post-war Britain, but during the next three years the College did receive around £360,000 in capital grants allowing it to achieve many of its goals. It acquired the disused brickfield behind the Union and Refectory Building and the Glen Eyre Estate at Bassett, earmarked for halls of residence. The new Assembly Hall was completed by March 1949, the Institute of Education Building being finished later the same year as were the first student houses at Glen Eyre. The new Chemistry Building was opened in stages between 1948 and 1952.

View of Glen Eyre Wessex News (1st November, 1949) [Univ. Coll. per LF 789.9]

Steps were taken to improve academic departments in part by reducing the number of technical courses and freeing staff time for university work. From the session of 1947/48 basic courses were transferred to Southampton Education Authority, leading to a reduction in number of technical students, which in 1946/7 had stood at almost 3,000 compared with 586 undergraduates.

The College had received a special commendation for its contribution to the war effort in terms of electronics and radio-technology and in 1947 Electronics was recognised as a department in its own right. In 1949, Dr Zepler, who returned from Cambridge after the war, became the department’s first Professor. Both Philosophy and Geography became independent departments, whilst those of Law and Theology were revived. The social sciences faculty envisaged by Professor Percy Ford came closer to realisation with the introduction of courses in public administration, accountancy and social work. The College also became home to the new Institute of Education which was to provide for the organisation of the teacher training in the area, in cooperation with the local education authorities and training colleges.

Institute of Education Building [MS/1/ Phot/22/5/1 p.16]

By 1948, the number of undergraduates had grown from a pre-war figure of 325 to 892. Despite South Stoneham reverting to a men’s hall of residence on the Department of Navigation’s move to Warsash, the College could no longer accommodate its students and by 1947 appeals for approved lodgings for 300 students had to be made in the local press.

Student societies thrived, the Dramatic and Choral being two of the most successful. The session of 1948/49 saw the new Assembly Hall in use for a production of Twelfth Night, as a venue for the Debating Society and for badminton, gym and boxing. Wessex News, which had ceased publication in June 1944, was revived in 1946 carrying all the news of student life.

1947/48 brought the revival of the College Rag – suspended in 1930 for being too riotous. The Rag Procession of around 700 students took place on 10 February 1948, other highlights being the ‘Gaslight Gaieties’ show on the Royal Pier, a Rag Ball and the Goblio, a rag magazine, full of jokes which have not necessarily stood the test of time. After this, Rag once again became a regular event.

Goblio (1949) [Univ. Coll. per LF 789.9]

Goblio (1948) [Univ. Coll. per LF 789.9]

At the end of 1940s the College’s past lingered in the ‘shanty-town’ of First World War huts which remained at Highfield but the new redbrick buildings were a sign of progress. In June 1949 Sir Robert Wood achieved a major breakthrough in the quest for independent University status, when London University agreed to a ‘special relationship’ between the two institutions. This allowed College staff, appointed by London, to cooperate in setting and marking exams in order to establish academic standards prior to Southampton awarding its own degrees. Following the agreement, degrees were conferred for the first time, not in London but in Southampton, at the Presentation Day held at the Guildhall on 5 November 1949.

Find out how ‘the College’ became ‘the University’ next month as we reach the 1950s.

Article on the importance of Presentation Day by Sir Robert Wood Wessex News 1st November 1949 [Univ. Coll. per LF 789.9]

Many digitised sources for the history of the University are available at Internet Archive

The Gertrude Long collection

The Special Collections is delighted to have acquired a new collection of material that sheds further light on the University as a war hospital. This follows the recent exhibition My War, My Story in the Special Collections Gallery in late 2018, that included a notebook of Gertrude Long from her time as a laboratory assistant at the Hospital.

Gertrude Long (2nd from right at back) and colleagues

Gertrude Long (2nd from right at back) and colleagues [MS101/8 A4303/1/2/2]

Gertrude Long, along with her sister, were members of the Volunteer Aid Detachments (or VADs) who provided various auxiliary as well as nursing support at the University War Hospital. Born in Campton Pauncefoot, Somerset, in 1892, Gertrude Long worked in the capacity of chief laboratory assistant at the Hospital from June 1916 until March 1919. She was to continue working in laboratories for the remainder of her career. Captain William Fletcher, RAMC, the pathologist, who is featured in the photograph above, highly rated her organisational ability and credited her with ensuring that the work at Southampton ran more smoothly than in any other laboratory in which he had worked.

Certificate granted to Gertrude Long in recognition of her services during the war [MS101/8 A4303/2/7]

Certificate granted to Gertrude Long in recognition of her services during the war [MS101/8 A4303/2/7]

The new collection, which contains numerous photographs of the staff and patients, provides a valuable new resource that documents the work at the University War Hospital during the First World War.

Work at Hospital Laboratory [MS101/8 A4303/1/3/2]

Work at Hospital Laboratory [MS101/8 A4303/1/3/2]

The University War Hospital was only a ten-minute run from the docks and designated VAD staff met each ship and were responsible for the process of disembarkation and transportation of the wounded to the hospitals in Southampton. A number of women VADs were part of the team who drove ambulances transporting the patients to the War Hospital.

VAD driver with one of the Red Cross ambulances used to transport patients [MS101/8 A4303/1/29]

VAD driver with one of the Red Cross ambulances [MS101/8 A4303/1/29]

Professional nurses employed by the Hospital were assisted by VAD nurses who did much of the less technical tasks in caring for the patients. The work was extremely hard and nursing staff generally worked shifts of up to 12 hours. The Hospital facilities could be cramped and rather spartan.

Wounded being treated at the University War Hospital [MS101/8 A4303/1/35]

Wounded being treated at the University War Hospital [MS101/8 A4303/1/35]

With the original buildings for the University College soon unable to house the quantity of wounded that were being sent for treatment, a number of wooden huts were built to the rear of the main buildings to act as wards.

Sister Paling and patients from hut 13 [MS101/8 A4303/1/28]

Sister Paling and patients from Hut 13 [MS101/8 A4303/1/28]

The wounded treated at the Hospital came from units drawn from across the UK and from overseas. The photograph below is signed from the “New Zealand rowdies, Hut 1”.

New Zealand soldiers treated at the University War Hospital [MS101/8 A4303/1/54]

New Zealand soldiers treated at the University War Hospital [MS101/8 A4303/1/54]

The cessation of hostilities in November 1918 did not mean that the Highfield site immediately stopped functioning as a hospital. The buildings were not formally handed back to the University until well into 1919, making 2019 the centenary of the move of the University to the Highfield campus. Special Collections will be posting monthly blogs documenting the development of University life at Highfield from 1919 onwards. Look out for the first of these later this month.

They came from near and far to do their patriotic duty – staffing the University War Hospital

Staff at the University War Hospital [MS 1/Phot/39 ph3104]

Staff at the University War Hospital, 1918 [MS1/Phot/39 ph3104]

11 November 2018 marks the centenary of the end of the First World War. To commemorate this, we take a look at the contribution of the staff of the University War Hospital at the Highfield campus site.

Under the command of Dr Lauder, who had been the Medical Officer for Health for Southampton, the Hospital was staffed by professional nurses and members of the Volunteer Aid Detachments (known as VADs). As well as nursing, VADs also worked in a range of auxiliary capacities from driving ambulances bringing the wounded to the Hospital, to laboratory assistants, clerks, cooks, housemaids and laundresses.

With the start of the war, Southampton hospitals recruited every nurse, VAD and others who could be spared from auxiliary hospitals in the surrounding counties. But as the war progressed, the need for further staff increased.  Gwynnedd Lloyd, a friend of the daughters of Dr Lauder, was considered too young as a 17 year-old to volunteer in 1914. However, in the aftermath of the battle of the Somme, she was invited to join the VADs and to work at the University War Hospital.

The VADs lacked the training and skill of the professional nurses and tended to perform duties that were less technical. As a new VAD, Gwynnedd Lloyd noted that her duties consisted of “making beds and waiting on sister” as well as taking trolleys around and twice a day collecting rubbish. But as time went on, with the flow of the wounded into the hospitals and the demands it placed on the staff, the line between the professional and the volunteer became far less distinct, leading to recognition that the VAD and nurse differed little beyond the level of training. Gwynnedd Lloyd was assigned to assist with one of the hutted wards at the Hospital and even as a relatively untrained VAD was expected to cover shifts of around 10 hours.

Hutted ward decorated for Christmas, c.1915 [MS1/Phot/39 ph 3108]

Hutted ward decorated for Christmas, c.1915 [MS1/Phot/39 ph 3108]

The women who volunteered as VADs saw their work as a patriotic duty and a useful contribution to the war effort. Whilst some were local to Southampton, others who served as nursing staff at the University War Hospital came from all across the UK, the Channel Islands, Ireland and Canada. It is estimated that somewhere in the region of 4,500 Irish women served as VADs during the war effort, and amongst the staff of the University War Hospital were women from a number of Irish counties including Counties Kilkenny, Limerick, Longford and Tyrone. Canadian VADs were initially only employed in their homeland working in convalescent hospitals. However, as the war dragged on, it became apparent that they were needed overseas and the staff at the Hospital in 1918 included a number of nurses from New Brunswick in Canada.

Amongst the ranks of the VADs were not only nurses, but a myriad of auxiliary roles such as orderlies, stretcher bearers, clerks, cooks, housemaids and laundresses. Most of the women who served in these roles tended to be from the local area. Fanny Street and her two friends, Jennie Ford and Ethel Taylor, who feature in current Special Collections exhibition My War, My Story, were from Southampton. All three worked in the laundry of the University War Hospital for the whole duration, with Fanny Street becoming the Head Laundress by 1917.

Fanny Street (centre) with her fellow VADs Jennie Ford and Ethel Taylor

Fanny Street (centre) with her fellow VADs Jennie Ford and Ethel Taylor [MS416/13]

And we find that members of the same family all worked together at the hospital. Three members of the Trodd family from Southampton and members of the Bailey family from Eastleigh worked as maids and cooks. Annie and Hettie Needham from St. Denys were both employed as clerks. And Barbara and Gertrude Long, who lived in Freemantle, worked as a clerk and a laboratory assistant respectively. The Archives holds a notebook and three scientific reports kept by Gertrude Long during her time at the Hospital (MS101/8).

Notebook of lab assistant Gertrude Long [MS101/8]

Notebook of lab assistant Gertrude Long [MS101/8]

And so, as we come to the centenary of the end of the First World War, we remember all those who made a contribution, not least the young women who, in some cases, crossed an ocean to help staff the War Hospital here at the University.

Florence Nightingale, nursing and the Crimean War

In 1825 Henry Holmes, agent for the third Viscount Palmerston reported to his master:

Embley has been sold to a Mr. Nightingale from Derbyshire. He is related by marriage to Mr. Carter the MP for Portsmouth and married to a daughter of William Smith, MP for Norwich.

Embley Park in East Wellow, near Romsey, was a stone’s throw from Palmerston’s Broadlands estate. William and Frances Nightingale moved in with their two young daughters, Parthenope, and Florence who would have been 5 at the time of the purchase.

Watercolour of the entrance into the Walis Orchard from the gate of the Forest Lodge, Embley [Cope Collection cq 91.5 EMB]

William was an enlightened man.  He stood as a Whig candidate for Andover, supported the Reform Bill and moved in the same circles as his neighbour, Palmerston.  In 1830 he wrote asking to see his speech on the “Catholic question” [i.e. Emancipation]. [BR113/12/5].  William seconded Palmerston’s candidacy for his Romsey seat in 1830 and they hunt and shot together. 

William chose to tutor his daughter Florence at home, something which was unusual for the period.  Florence felt her vocation in life to be nursing but her family, particularly her mother, were unsupportive.  However, in 1853 she became superintendent to the Institution for the Care of Sick Gentlewomen in Distressed Circumstances in London.  Her father had granted her a generous allowance of £500 a year to enable her to take up this position and she impressed everyone with her skills as a nurse and organiser.

Sketch of “Miss Florence Nightingale, the Soldier’s Friend” drawn by Elston, and published by Ellis,1856 [Cope Collection cq 95 NIG]

The Crimean War broke out in March 1854.  The public were appalled by the reports of inadequate nursing of wounded soldiers and the secretary of state at war, Sidney Herbert, was held accountable.  Florence Nightingale was close friends with Sidney and his wife, (Mary) Elizabeth since a meeting a few years previously and thus, on 21 October 1854, she was sent out to the Crimea, with a staff of 38 nurses.  It was during this period that Florence Nightingale began her pioneering work in modern nursing.

After her return from the Crimea, Florence focused on her sanitary and statistical work.  We have three letters she sent to her Hampshire neighbour Palmerston while he was Prime Minister. In May 1862 she writes concerning a reorganisation of the War Office a started by her late friend Sidney Herbert:

This plan ensured direct responsibility in the hands of all departments instead of shifting unstable responsibility hitherto the curse of W.O. administration.

[MS 62 Broadlands Archives GC/NI/5]

The following year she contacts Palmerston again, having been “thinking all night on this matter” [Herbert’s sanitary reforms] in which she is “deeply interested.” [MS 62 Broadlands Archives GC/NI/7]. 

The Crimean War had highlighted the need for an additional hospital.  A site at Netley, on the Southampton Water, was chosen for ease of landing invalids direct from the transport ships.  The plans for the hospital had been made and building started before Nightingale returned from the Crimea.  She wrote a report regarding what she considered to be fundamental flaws in its construction, lighting and ventilation, suggesting alternatives, but Lord Panmure, the [Secretary of state for War / Secretary at War], was unresponsive.  She therefore went over his head to the Prime Minister, her Lord Palmerston but the hospital was built following the original plans.

The Royal Victoria Hospital, Netley. Taken from The Leisure Hour, April 1833 [Cope Collection c NET 45]

Another influential friend of Nightingale’s was Inspector-General Maclean, a Professor of Military Medicine at the Netley Military Hospital.  Here we find a link with the University as Maclean gave the Hartley Institution – a forerunner to the University –  help and counsel in the later nineteenth century.

The University has a long affinity with the health sciences.  In 1894, the Institution was recognised by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons as a place of instruction for students preparing for their first medical examination.  It was not until 1982 that some 20 students joined the University as the first cohort for a nursing degree.  A new school of Nursing and Midwifery was formed in 1995 by the amalgamation of the NHS College of Nursing and Midwifery with the exiting nursing group in the Faculty of Medicine.  Nursing at the University is now ranked 9th in the world and third in the UK according to the QS World Rankings by Subject 2018.

The Nightingale Building on the Highfield Campus which houses the School of Nursing and Midwifery [MS 1 University Collection Phot/19/352]

Florence’s Nightingale’s achievements in the field of nursing are commemorated on campus by the Nightingale Building which opened in September 2000 to house School of Nursing and Midwifery.

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]

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.