Thursday, 29 August 2013

Elizabeth Lucas

Elizabeth was married to the poet E.V. Lucas and was mother to Audrey Lucas. One of Audrey's poems is featured in some of the Exhibitions and in Volume I of Female Poets of the First World War.   Audrey was at Downe House School in Kent during WW1.  

With financial backing from author J.M. Barrie, Elizabeth Lucas took over a chateau at Bettancourt in the war zone on the River Marne in northern France during WW1.   She set up a refuge for orphaned and displaced children.   Her daughter helped out during the school holidays and when she left school, worked as a nurse in Paris.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Inspirational Women who helped Serbia in The First World War

Flora Sandes (1876 - 1956) was born in Yorkshire.  Her father was a clergyman and the family moved to Suffolk when Flora was nine.

When war was declared, Flora volunteered to nurse but was turned down as she had no formal qualifications.   She joined an ambulance unit organised by an American woman - Mabel Grouitch whose husband was Serbian.   Mrs Grouitch took the ambulance unit to the Eastern Front.

In Serbia, Flora joined the Serbian Red Cross before enrolling in the Serbian Army as an ordinary soldier.

Flora's story is amazing.   "A Fine Brother: The Life of Flora Sandes" is by Louise Miller, published by Alma Books.  Definitely worth a read!

Milunca Savic (1888 - 1973) cut her hair and wore men's clothes to take her brother's place in the Second Balkan War in 1913.   Her disguise was only discovered when she was wounded.

Milunca went on to fight in both World Wars, receiving medals for bravery and was in a concentration camp for ten months in WW2.

There were other women who fought during the First World War and I will endeavour to tell you about them as their countries are featured in the Female Poets section.

The exhibitions at The Wilfred Owen Story, 34 Argyle Street, Birkenhead, Wirral, CH41 6AE
(Tuesdays - Fridays during 2013 11 am - 2 pm)

and at

The Ace Centre, Cross Street, Nelson, Lancashire BB9 7NN (Mondays - Saturdays 10 am - 4 pm) until 3rd September 2013

and at

Fleetwood Library, North Albert Street, Fleetwood, Lancashire FY7 6AJ (Mondays - Saturdays 9 am - 5 pm but Wednesdays
9 am - 12.30)

feature Flora, Milunca and other Inspirational Women of WW1, as well as some other interesting facts about the War.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Inspirational Women of WW1

During the course of my research yesterday, I found this weblog which is extremely well researched and interesting: - definitely worth a look.

As WW1 progressed, women began to be taken more seriously.  Early in 1917, they lobbied for the chance to serve their country as their men folk did. The plan was to give women the duties of cooking, mechanical and clerical work and other, more menial tasks that would occupy a man who could be fighting.

For the first time, in the summer of 1917, women were able to wear uniforms and go to work in jobs normally reserved for men. Their pay was less than that of their male colleagues and would remain so for many years. 

And women could not rise to higher ranks. By the end of the war, 80,000 women had volunteered to serve at the front with the WAAC, the Women's Relief Defence Corps or the First Aid Nursing Yoemanry. Their amazing contribution to the war effort deserves recognition.

Photo: Women of the Queen Mary's Auxiliary Army Corps entertain troops with a tug-of-war-match, Etaples, 1918.

For more amazing photographs see the Facebook Page Wipers: A Soldier's Tale from 1914 - 1918

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Inspirational Women

As the main point of my research has been to find women who wrote poetry at the time of the Great War, my list of Inspirational Women is not as long - yet!

I should like to enlist your help - if you know of any women who you feel come under the heading of "Inspirational" for whatever reason during WW1, please let me know and I will add the to the list and give you a mention.

Women like Anna Airy (1882 - 1964) who was born in Greenwich.  Anna was one of the first British women to be commissioned officially as a war artist.

One of the inspirational women featured in the Exhibition at the Ace Centre until 4th September 2013 is Gertrude Bell, an English writer, traveller, administrator, archaeologist and spy.

The Ace Centre
Cross Street

Entry is free and the Centre is open from Mondays to Saturdays 10 am till 4 pm (but not Bank Holidays - but Colne R & B Festival is on over the August Bank Holiday so you definitely won't be stuck for something to do!).

If you've never been to the Ace Centre, they also have a lovely Bistro for breakfast, teas, coffees, lunches and of course afternoon teas.

The poster features inspirational woman Elizabeth Ann Slater whose handwritten book of verse was given to me by her granddaughter Kathleen Holyhead, herself now a great-grandmother.   The poems are, in my view, just as inspirational today as they were when Elizabeth Ann wrote them out.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

An interesting Facebook Page

Many people find Facebook annoying - while there is a great deal that is not relevant, there are also several, in my view excellent, Pages dedicated to remembering the First World War and I salute those who dedicate so much of their time to educating us.   Wipers: A Soldier's Tale from the Great War is an example.

We bumped into Ella the other day - Ella is a former Beauty Queen and she has become a friend - she is a true inspiration.  Life today is just as hard in many ways as it was at the beginning of the 20th Century and I feel very sure that the inspiration of those women who lived through the Great War is helping us all today.

Women like Edith Cavell, Ella Wheeler Wilcox, Mary Riter Hamilton, Mildred Aldrich, Elsie Inglis and Kathleen Scott - to name but a few.

Photo:  Munitions Workers - a panel from the Exhibition at the Ace Centre in Nelson, Lancashire (GB) until 4th September 2013.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Exhibition at the Ace Centre, Nelson, Lancashire - 15th August - 4th September 2013

Apologies - I have not forgotten about Inspirational Women - far from it.  Several of them are featured in the Exhibition at the Ace Centre which we went to set up and launch last week.

One of the Inspirational Women is Elizabeth Ann Slater Weaver who is featured on the flyer.   She was Grandmother to Kathleen Holyhead who lent me a wonderful notebook full of poems written in Elizabeth Ann's own hand.

Another Inspirational Woman featured in the Exhibition at the Ace Centre is Mary Riter Hamilton, the Canadian artist who travelled to France in early 1919 to paint the Aftermath.  Mary lived in a little tin hut among the Chinese workers who were clearing away the mess left when the War ended, spending three years painting what she saw.

Also featured are Edith Cavell, munitions workers. spies, women pilots, nurses and 'VAD's and other Inspirational Women, as well as lots of poets.

The Exhibition is on the first floor of the Ace Centre in the Pendle Art Gallery.  Viewing is from 10 am till 4 pm Mondays to Saturdays (but NOT Bank Holidays) and entry is Free.

Nelson is easily reached by road and parking in Nelson is free but you must have a 'blue badge' which is available free of charge from shops and/or the Reception area at the Ace Centre.

Or you can go by train via Preston, taking the Blackpool South - Colne train.  Nelson is the stop after Brierfield and the Ace Centre is a short walk into the centre of Nelson - opposite the Library and Town Hall.  And while you are there, don't forget to have a look at the War Memorial outside the Library.

The Ace Centre has a lovely Bistro for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea or just a drink or a snack.

The Ace Centre
Cross Street

Monday, 12 August 2013

Kathleen Bruce - 1878 - 1947

Kathleen Bruce married Scott of the Antarctic and it is by that name that she is remembered as a sculptress.

Kathleen was very much ahead of her time - she went to live in Paris on her own and studied with Rodin, meeting many of the interesting people who lived and worked in Paris in the early 1900s.

Kathleen also travelled a great deal on her own - I was reminded of her yesterday at the Rebellion Festival when I met up with Monika from Sweden.  Monika also travels the world on her own.

Kathleen's story has been written by one of her Grand daughters and is published as "A Great Task of Happiness" by Louisa Young (Macmillan, London, 1995).

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Today's question

To coincide with Rebellion, the annual Punk Rock gathering at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool, I have
a question:

"To what extent do Punk Rockers identify with those who served at the Fronts during the First World War?"   

I do not exclude women, as there were many who served, albeit not in the trenches, at the different Fronts. However, having said that, Flora Sandes from Suffolk joined the Serbian Army, fought on the Eastern Front and was wounded and there were many Russian women who fought during WW1.

Food for thought?

Friday, 9 August 2013

Queen Victoria's Daughters

Having seen a television documentary about Queen Victoria's daughters and how strong and independent they were, in spite of their mother's attempts to control them, I have begun to revise my thinking about the situation of women in the early part of the 20th Century.

As I mentioned previously, the play "Hindle Wakes" was written in 1910 and deals with the story of a young lady who works as a weaver in a Lancashire mill.   She goes on holiday with a girl friend to Blackpool.   I had never imagined that young, single ladies living with their parents would have been allowed to go on holiday alone at that time.

However, reading Katherine Scott's biography has also been an eye-opener.  Katherine travelled extensively alone and lived in Paris in 1905, where she studied sculpture with Rodin.

So it seems to me now that it was not the First World War that began to set women free but the Industrial Revolution and the discarding of the distaff.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Something Different again

I explained to Dave of the WW1 Aerodrome Stow Maries in Essex that Grandfather was an 'Old Contemptible' and that I was dedicating my exhibitions to his memory and to that of Great Uncles James Yule who was killed at Arras in 1917 and William P. Yule who survived but died early in WW2.

Dave asked me if I had a photograph of my Grandfather, so I decided to introduce him to you.

MAJOR LEWIS JACKSON, TD, RA (18th April 1888 - 30th September 1948)

Grandfather, Lewis Jackson TD, RA, was an 'Old Contemptible'.  He joined the Royal Field Artillery in 1905 at the age of 16.  He was a Sergeant when his Regiment was sent as part of the British Expeditionary Force to Belgium on 22nd August 1914.   By 29th November 1914, he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant.   After service in France, Belgium, Mesopotamia and India, he ended the War with the Dunsterville Column (Dunsterforce).  

He became a temporary Captain in January 1918, survived the War, returning home at Christmas 1919.  In 1923, the British Government reduced the Armed Forces and to his great disappointment because he 'only knew soldiering', he lost his job.   He joined the TA the same day with the rank of Honorary Captain, Regular Army Reserve of Officers.  

Grandfather also served during WW2.   While he was in command of 208 Battery at Green Street Green, they made headline news when they shot down two Dornier 17s with one salvo on 8th September 1940. 

He retired from the Army on the grounds of ill health in 1942 and died on 30th September 1948.

He was a past president of the Royal British Legion Crayford Branch, a member of the Old Contemptibles, Woolwich and of the Royal Field Artillery Old Comrades.  He was a Freemason and had a military funeral with pall bearers from the RA Depot, Woolwich, with the gun carriage being accompanied by members of RFAOCA, Q Battery, 458 Heavy AA Regiment and Old Contemptibles Association, Woolwich.   

In the photo Grandfather is a Major - the one in the middle holding a baton - which he became in 1929.

Lucy London, August 2013 

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

The play "Hindle Wakes" (1910) as a backdrop to the situation of women in the UK during WW1

Having watched the 1950s version of the play "Hindle Wakes" by Stanley Houghton, which was written in 1910, I was curious to have a look at the original work.  The play was performed on stage in Manchester for the first time in 1912.

For those who have not seen the play or the film, the story is about a young, unmarried woman who works as a weaver at a mill in Lancashire and the scandal caused when, instead of staying with her girl friend in Blackpool on their annual holiday, she goes to Llandudno with a gentleman.

Fanny, the central character is a strong-willed young woman who lives with her parents.

It is a fascinating insight into what life was like for working class people before the First World War and will be very useful in helping me put into perspective the situation of women in the UK at that time for my project.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Conference: "War Horses of the World"


A weekend Conference at the School of Oriental and African Studies [SOAS], London.

DATES: Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th May 2014

VENUE: Khalili Lecture Theatre, SOAS Main Building, Thornhaugh Street, London WC1H 0XG

AGENDA: This conference is part of an exciting ‘stable’ of biennial conferences first initiated on the Greek island of Hydra and are now held at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London – the Donkey Conference (2005, 2007, 2012), the Camel Conference @ SOAS (2010, 2011, 2013) and the Elephant Conference @ SOAS (forthcoming 2015). Working quadrupeds, studied in social and historical context, and from all disciplinary viewpoints.  

This year we turn our attention to War Horses of the World.

PARTICIPATION: We are concerned to cover the widest possible range of topics, geographical regions and historical periods. In particular, we are keen to right the balance between the 'West' and the 'Rest'. For this conference we welcome papers that include mules as well as horses.

THEMES: The conference will be cross-disciplinary, and our approach is critical rather than celebratory. We are particular interested in what happens at interfaces, in areas of in-betweenness and transition. For instance, the affective relations between fighting people and their mounts; or what happens when horse cultures meet camel or elephant cultures in war; or the change from chariot warfare to cavalry and mounted archers; or horses meeting motorised armoury; or how the horse operates at the cutting edge of colonialism, fighting the as-yet unhorsed; or where the horse as embodiment of power meets the subaltern horse; or how 'martial horseness' is created as socio-cultural practice in given societies.

We invite contributions in that spirit.

SUBMISSIONS: If you wish to propose a paper for this conference, please send your proposal by e-mail to the conference organiser:

The proposal should include a provisional title for the paper; an abstract of the paper (200 words maximum); and a CV of the author(s) (100 words maximum). 

Deadline for submissions: Monday, 4th November 2013.

REGISTRATION: The conference is open to the academic community and to members of the general public. Registration for presenters of papers is free.

William Gervase Clarence-Smith [SOAS, Conference chair]
Ed Emery [SOAS, Conference organiser]

"The Bob"

Searching the Internet for biographical details of French Feminist, poet and writer Henriette Sauret, I came across a very interesting book entitled "Civilization without Sexes:  Reconstructing Gender in Post War France, 1917 - 1927" by Mary Louise Roberts, published by the University of Chicago Press, London and Chicago, 1994.

An initial perusal shows up a very interesting discussion about the 1920s short hair cut known as "The Bob"- "Unlike Sampson … quipped Sauret, we may gain total power in shorting our hair" - Roberts, p. 87

I remember years ago a hairdresser suggested a short style for me.   This came with a warning - "short hair seems to empower women". . .  Would you believe it, he was right where I was concerned.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Edith Cavell

I had assumed that pretty well everyone knew about Edith Cavell - who, along with Florence Nightingale, Grace Darling and Elisabeth Fry is one of my all-time star heroines - but looking on the Facebook Group WW1 Buffs, I see this is not the case.

Edith was a British nurse who was working in a Brussels hospital when WW1 broke out.  She helped hundreds of British soldiers to escape after the Battle of Mons.  Edith was arrested by the Germans, tried and shot.  

It seems a little odd to me that Marthe McKenna, who was a secret agent working for the British during WW1, had her death sentence commuted to imprisonment, whereas Edith Cavell who was not a spy did not.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Mildred Aldrich's mysterious 'Captain S"

I have just been informed by the Facebook Group WW1 Buffs that The Western Front Association Thames Valley Branch has details of the 'Captain S" mentioned in Mildred Aldrich's "Hilltop on the Marne", including a photo of 'Captain S":   

There is also a suggestion that the person Mildred corresponded with in America during the early days of the War (her letters form the bulk of the book) is Gertrude Stein, the American poet who lived in Paris. 

However, I thought Gertrude purchased an ambulance during the First World War when she lived in Paris and drove it to take supplies to hospitals in the area.   I think a little more research is needed...

with grateful thanks to the wonderful Facebook Group WW1 Buffs - find them here:

How very sad.   I expect Mildred was devastated.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Scarlet Finders and Lady Helpers

My grateful thanks to Sue Light from the beautiful and most informative website Scarlet Finders -   Sue flew to my rescue when I asked what "Lady Helpers" were in WW1 - one of the poets on my list - Beatrix Brice Miller - was awarded a medal and she was described as a "Lady Helper".  I just had to find out what they did, how they got there and where they stayed while there!   

Beatrix Brice Miller, incidentally, went with the BEF to France in August 1914. 

Sue says:

"The 'Lady Helpers' are an interesting group.  I'm not sure that the term was widely used other than in grouping together a varied selection of women on the medal index cards held by The National Archives - probably finding some difficulty in classifying them, 'Lady Helpers' was used as a catch-all term.

Looking at the women so described, they fall into many different categories.  To take a few of them, Mabelle Egerton started a 'coffee stall' in Rouen for French soldiers; Lady Bradford wrote letters home for soldiers throughout the war; Lady Michelham put a great deal of money into supplying and funding a hospital train (among other things); several were involved in setting up hospitals or mobile medical units, such as Lady Murray, Lady Dudley.  Lady Angela Forbes did a variety of things, but probably most remembered for her soldiers' canteen at Etaples.

They were, on the whole, rich, influential, philanthropic women who wanted to be involved in the war and self-financed various projects to do so.  The War Office had learnt a lesson during the Boer War about rich women who made a nuisance of themselves, and during the Great War were fairly stringent in removing anyone who didn't toe the line, or tried to get involved in anything that might prejudice the reputation of the British army.   So I don't know where Beatrix Brice Miller fitted in - I see there was also a Mary Brice Miller - possibly her sister-in-law? (Note from Lucy:  This was, we believe Sue, Beatrix's Mother).  

There might be an answer within the Women's Work Collection at the Imperial War Museum - most women who did some sort of voluntary job get a mention somewhere.  Also, the actual medal roll, to which the medal index card relates, might give some idea of what her role was, though equally, it might not!

Assuming that they had permission from the War Office to go to France, they would have travelled in the normal way for the time - boat across the Channel, and then probably motor car on arrival.  Of course, they were never 'at the front.'  If working for the British, they would almost certainly have been confined to the base towns - the Channel ports of Boulogne, Calais etc., and those towns that housed British soldiers - Etaples, Rouen, Abbeville, Treport, etc.  If they were working for the French, or wanted to go farther afield, then they would probably cross the Channel into somewhere such as Le Havre or farther south, and would need permission from the French authorities.
Accommodation would depend entirely on what sort of work they were doing.  Many would stay in hotels, private rooms or with friends. If they were involved in hospital work, then probably on the premises.

I suspect that the IWM might be the best bet to get a clue as to what she did, but sometimes it's hard to find out, especially if they didn't stay in France for long.  If her name turns up anywhere on my travels I'll certainly make a note and let you know."
Best wishes - Sue

Thank you very much indeed Sue.   I shall follow up those leads.