We also have a Facebook page where items are often posted -
Stop Press!! New Dragon's Voice (December 2021)
The latest newsletter is now on this website, with an article on the Canadian War Memorial Fund and two book reviews - click here
For what? by Frederick Varley
WFA Online Events for January
To help members get through what may be a tough January with possible restrictions being ‘on the cards’ the WFA have set out a bumper series of events which we hope members will appreciate. Here’s what’s in store over the next few weeks.
Monday 3 January at 8pm: Webinar ‘From Gallipoli to the Caspian Sea, the Life of Eric Gascoigne 'Kipper' Robinson VC’. In this presentation Clive Harris will describe the life of one of the most intriguing characters of the Great War: Eric 'Kipper' Robinson who served notably in the Gallipoli Campaign, Palestine and The Caspian Sea. To register click here From Gallipoli to the Caspian Sea
Thursday 6 January at 8pm: The Big Quiz. Following the success of the 'Big Quiz' nights several months ago, we are back by popular demand! This will take an hour or so. The Quiz is meant to be light hearted and we are inviting members to think up ten questions which will be asked of those taking part. For more information and registration click here The Big Quiz
Monday 10 January at 8pm: Webinar ‘Official History Gone Wrong: Failure on 2 September 1918 and the Flawed Canadian Official History. The Canadian attack on the Drocourt-Quéant line, and advance over Mont Dury is described in some detail in the Official History of the war, which is supposed to be the authoritative version of events. The purpose of this presentation by Dr Bill Stewart is to advance a different explanation to that which appears in the Canadian Official History of what happened to the 4th Division, and why the official history garbled this event. To register to attend this presentation click here Official History Gone Wrong
Thursday 13 January at 7.30pm: Online virtual tour #3 'The Bitter End: The Highland Division at Beaumont Hamel, November 1916'. This tour will follow the 51st (Highland) Division during their operations in and around Beaumont Hamel during the November of 1916. It will consider the lessons learnt from the 1st July attack and how technology and tactics differed leading to the eventual capture of the village and the high ground towards the Munich and Frankfurt Trench. Through modern, contemporary and personal accounts it will study the leadership, planning and operational effectiveness of the Division as the Somme offensive reached its wintery end after four months of hard fighting. There is no pre-registration for this event, simply join us at 7.30pm in the ‘members area’ of the WFA website using your personal password. To watch these tours just go to this page (there will, a few days before the tour starts, be a 'countdown clock') Virtual Tours
Monday 17 January at 8pm: Webinar ‘The Big Brain in the Army’: The Rise of Sir William Robertson from Trooper to Chief of the Imperial General Staff. Sir William Robertson is an important but under-rated figure in in the story of the British Army. In this presentation, Ross Beadle will look to explain more about 'Wully'. Apart from being a larger than life figure Robertson has two major claims to have shifted the course of history. He remains to this day the only man to have risen from the lowest rank to the very highest – from Private to Field Marshal. To register to attend this presentation click here The Big Brain in the Army
Thursday 20 January at 8 pm: The Big Quiz: The second quiz of the month is being run, with additional questions being invited from those taking part. For more information and registration click here The Big Quiz
Monday 24 January at 8pm: Canadian Nurses on the Western Front: From Passchendaele to Peace. In Casualty Clearing Stations and hospitals, on ambulance trains and in operating theatres, Canadian nurses withstood shellfire and bombing raids, illness and emotional trauma to care for their patients across the Western front. Through the nurses’ own writings and some of their photographs, this talk by Andrea McKenzie illustrates their unique experiences as Canadians, as military officers, and as nurses on the Western Front during the last eighteen months of the war and beyond – from Passchendaele to peace. To register to attend this presentation click here Canadian Nurses on the Western Front
Thursday 27 January at 7.30 pm: Online virtual tour #4 ‘Street Fighting Sailors: The Royal Naval Division at Gavrelle, April 1917'. Following its experiences at Gallipoli and on the Somme the Royal Naval Division were tasked with the capture of Gavrelle on the 23 April 1917, this tour will follow the Division through this operation, an often overlooked if costly achievement for the RND, the Official History records ‘Full justice has not been done to the 63rd Division, because the details of the street fighting, in which it showed great skill and determination, are too intricate for description’ We will also study the attritional assaults on the windmill position a week later. There is no pre-registration for this event, simply join us at 7.30pm in the ‘members area’ of the WFA website using your personal password. To watch these tours just go to this page (there will, a few days before the tour starts, be a 'countdown clock') Virtual Tours
Monday 31 January at 8pm: Webinar ‘War widows and emigration’. Despite the explosion of interest in all things First World War during the centenary period the lives of Britain’s war widows remain largely unexplored. This talk by Andrea Hetherington looks specifically at the issue of war widows’ emigration to the Dominions of Australia and Canada. To register to attend this presentation click here War widows and emigration
Happy New Year!
Egyptian Expeditionary Force
New book reviews
There are also two recent book reviews.
One of November 1918: the German Revolution by Robert Gerwarth - click here.
The second is of The Fortress: the Great Siege of Przemsyl by Alexander Watson - click here.
There are no face to face meetings for the foreseeable future. However, we are able to hold branch Zoom meetings.
New Book Reviews
We have a review of Eugene Rogan's book "The Fall of the Ottomans, the Great War in the Middle East 1914-1920" -here and one on Michael Freemantle's book "The Chemist's War 1914-1918" - here.
WWI graves "lost" in Caernarfon churchyard
See the report on BBC Wales - here
Book review record!!
The review of the John Buchan book "Greenmantle" has now passed 3000 hits. All the other reviews are in the 200 to 500 range. Why on earth has this review been so popular? It must be on a reading list for a course somewhere? The reason for the review being on a WWI website is that it contains one of the few, possibly only, accounts in English of the battle of Erzurum which was between the Ottoman Turks and the Russians. One commentator has written that the book was written as propaganda, as part of Buchan's work in WWI. However, it should also be said that it is racist and anti-semitic, which makes the 3000 hits all the more amazing!
Bangor railwaymen plaque
The plaque listing the 16 men of the Bangor Railway Institute Boys Corps who died in WWI has been moved from St David's church (closed for several years) and has been reinstalled in Bangor railway station. See the article on the memorial - here
Steve and Nancy's latest update
The latest update on their Pilgrimage to visit all Briitsh and Commonwealth grave and memorials on the Western Front is here.
Tillis Haley - now over 6,000 hits!
The most popular article by far on this site is the account of local hero Tillis Haley, where the number of hits is 20 times anybody else's! I presume his fame may be due to his having been a teacher in Caernarfon, and just maybe there is a school history project involving him? His story is here.
We have four new book reviews -
Mark Jones: Founding Weimar; Violence and the Founding of the German Revolution 1918-1919, on the chaos in Germany in the immediate aftermath of WWI
Eugene Rogan: The Arabs; a History, which covers WWI and the post WWI period in the Middle East
Peter Hart: Fire and Movement, on the first four months of WWI;
Vejas Liulevecius: War, Land, on the eastern front, on the German occupation in the East;
Sholto Douglas: Years of Combat, on his reminiscences of WWI in the RFC.
They can be read - here
There is a new article on the memorial to Bangor railwaymen, and names which are on it - here
So, let’s test your knowledge of this period, post 11th November 1918, which was most certainly not the end fighting, commotion, carnage and destruction. Can you answer the following questions?
- 3 VCs were awarded for an action 18 August 1919
- Which armed service?
- Who on earth was the enemy in 1919?
- Was the Versailles Treaty the only one to emerge from the Paris conference?
- Which country lost most land and people in the Paris treaties, and it isn’t Germany?
- Which enemy capital was occupied for 4 years? It wasn’t Berlin.
1. (a) Royal Navy, for an attack using coastal motor boats.
(b) Kronstadt – and it’s not anywhere remotely near Germany, it’s the port guarding St Petersburg.
(c) the Russians, or perhaps Bolshevism – so how do you fight a philosophy?
2. No: there was Versailles, Neuilly, St Germain, Trianon, Sevres, San Remo plus lots of follow-on ones.
3. Hungary, including the loss of 4 million ethnic Hungarians to other countries.
4. Constantinople (Istanbul). You may have forgotten this, but the Turks have not.
These are only some of the bizarre events following on from WWI.
CWGC restoring African memorials
The CWGC is restoring the memorials to the many thousands of black African soldiers who died in WWI, many of whose deaths were not even recorded. The memorials are in Nairobi, Mombasa, Dar es Salaam and Abuja (Kenya, Tanzania and Nigeria). There is also a memorial at Mbala in Zambia to mark the surrender of German forces (who also used black African soldiers) on 23rd November 1918.
Loss of HMY Iolaire 1st January 1919
The CWGC have marked the centenary of another forgotten catastrophe at sea - the sinking of HMY (HM Yacht) Iolaire off the Isle of Lewis when she was bringing home returning servicemen. It is believed that some 200 died, of the 283 on board. They are buried all over the Western Isles, and those not recovered are commemorated on memorials - see here.
The centenary of the loss of the RMS Leinster
The story of the RMS Leinster and its centenary commemoration are on this site - here
Old Colwyn war memorial
Steve and Diege are in the "Daily Post" for their work on this memorial - Daily Post article.
A recent post from the group commemorating the sinking of the RMS Leinster has mentioned the sinking of the Hirano Maru on 4th October 1918. She was a Japanese owned ocean liner that was in a convoy from Liverpool to North America when she was sunk by a U-boat UB-91 south of Ireland with the loss of 292 lives. There were 28 survivors. There are 8 bodies buried in the graveyard of Dale Parish Church in SW Pembrokeshire, which were washed ashore between 4th and 29th November 1918. As the bodies were unidenitifable, the CWGC declined to maintain the grave, and the memorial cross was erected by the people of Dale. Other bodies are buried at Angle and Freshwater West.
A memorial is to be erected at Angle in time for the 4th October, financed by the local community and the shipping line Nippon Yusen Kaisha, the original owners of the Hirano Maru, who were delighted to learn of the locals' interest in the whole story. This information has come from the Dale Coastlands History Society and the West Wales Maritime Heritage Society.
Why was there a WWI?
The talk given to North Wales WFA on this theme has now been turned into an article and put on to this website - here
Article on local history
We have a new article by Jerry Rendell on his great uncle, Lawrence Oakley, who was the silhouette artist of Llandudno pier - here.
New Book Reviews
There are two new book reviews on this site. The first is on Mike O'Brien's book "Twilight of the Special Relationship", about Americans in the British forces in WWI, which is here. The second review is on Norman Stone's book "The Eastern Front, 1914-1917" which is still arguably the best work on the Eastern Front, and that review is here.
Medals of Private George William Shaw
We were contacted recently through the website by Mark Shaw who is searching for information about his great uncle, Private George William Shaw, 12364 of 9th battalion Cheshire Regiment. Mark's email reads as follows:
I hope you may be able to help me, as I am currently researching my Family Tree. I have identified George William Shaw as my Great Uncle. He served in A Company 9th Battalion Cheshire Regiment, from 01/09/1914 until his death 22/06/1917. His service number was 12364.
I have found that his medals (with the exception of his BWM), death plaque and associated certificates were sold on Ebay in 2014. I am unable to identify the seller or the purchaser.
I would like to find who it was that bought the items, if only to ask for copies of the documentation and, maybe provide a little background information in regard of my Uncle. Ideally, I would love to buy the items.
I know it is a long shot but I thought that it may be possible that one of your members may be the purchaser. I would be obliged if you could see your way clear to circulating the details to your membership.
Battle of Cambrai centenary
There is an article on the BBC website about the use of tanks at the Battle of Cambrai - see the link here.
"Bloody April" film being made
From Leslie Lord: ASA Productions Ltd are currently making two one-hour documentaries for "Yesterday" channel based on the book "Bloody April" by Peter Hart. On their website there is a trailer for a film on building a Bristol Scout aircraft - Scout trailer.
We now have a specific book reviews section on the website - see Book Review Section.
Tribute to Hedd Wynn
There is a video on the BBC website which is a tribute to Hedd Wynn. It is in English and includes footage of around his home farm in North Wales - Hedd Wynn video
Hedd Wynn's house now open
Hedd Wynn's house has now had the interior restored and the new museum there is open - see Yr Ysgwrn
Easter Rising and WWI
We now have a write-up of the talk given to the branch, and elsewhere, by Trevor and Denis - see here.
Welsh women in WWI
I have just come across a website on Welsh women in WWI - click here
Local memorials and graves
We have some new articles on WWI soldiers from North Wales who are buried or commemorated locally - see Welsh memorials and graves
Book on local soldiers in the Conwy valley
Retired doctor Bridget Osborne has, with others, written a book on the local men from the villages of Eglwysbach and Llansanffraid (Glan Conwy) who served in WWI. Bridget has managed to trace family details of many of the men as well as the circumstances of their death in the case of fatalities. The book was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and copies have been distributed to homes in those two villages.
The Lost Tommies of Vignacourt
A collection of photos of Tommies billeted in the village of Vignacourt has recently come to light and is on the BBC One Show website - One Show site Can you identify any of them?
Welsh WWI casualties
There is an article on the BBC website on a book recording all Welsh WWI casualties and which will be on display at Bodelwyddan castle - see BBC website article
Nurses killed in WWI.
The "Nursing Times" reports on a project to gather information on those nurses who were killed in WWI. See "Nursing Times" article