Saturday, 31 March 2012

Alphabet Of The War

This little article by Aubrey Ford was first published in the London Opinion and was subsequently republished in the Kildare Observer.

Penned in the first few months of the war, it is an excellent patriotic, flag waving article and captures the optimistic spirit of the time.


A Stands for Austria, Awed and afraid.

B Stands for Belgium, so basely betrayed.

C Is for Cossacks that never were cowed.

D ! What the Kaiser's been saying quite loud.

E Is the English for, Amen.

F Stands for French, both the man and the men.

G For the Germans, their graves let them grieve;

H The lost honour they ne'er will retrieve.

I Stands for Indians, imperially true;

J Stands for Joffre, and Jellicoe, too.

K For our king, and our great K. of Ki.;

L For Liece, and lost lovely Louvanin.

M Stands for mines for our merchantmen laid;

N For our Navy that guarding our trade.

O For the outrages, German's shame,

P Is the price to be paid for the same.

Q Is the quid proque Britain had waiting;

R The steam roller, its rush ne'er abating.

S Stands for sausage and sauerkraut, what!

T For the treaties the war lord forgot.

U For the Uhlans we quickly upset;

V Is the victory soon we shall get.

W That's Wilhelm, who'd so much to say,

X Is that 'Xit he'll make one fine day.

Y'S For the years that he's yearned for this fight.

Z Are his Zeppelins served jolly well right.

(The London Opinion replaced Barry Pain's weekly To-Day, in July 1905; it was a digest-sized monthly magazine and it carried some fiction as well as cartoons, humorous squibs, etc.
It absorbed The Humorist in August 1940 and was absorbed by Men Only at some point in the 1950s).

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

British vs Continentals

Even in the 1930’s there was a difference of playing styles between English clubs and their foreign counterparts.

Willy Meisl describes in his book “Soccer Revolution” from 1955, the safety-first approach that didn’t result in the free flowing goal scoring Continentals.

“The British were bent on “safety-first”, on preventing the opponent from scoring goals. The Continentals were out to score goals. Most schoolboys good at arithmetic will tell you that it amounts to the same whether I win by scoring goals, or by giving away fewer to the opponent.

“In football I challenge the axiom. Though it may be the same mathematically, it makes all the difference to the soul of soccer…..”

“A generation of “Safety-first” football created a “Safety-first” mentality, just as the existence of that “Unassailable fortress” created a “Maginot Line” mentality (rearguard complex) in the French nation. In soccer as in politics and warfare “safety-first” meant surrendering the initiative, choosing the passive role. This must lead to decadence and weakening.”

Friday, 23 March 2012

The Early Days of Football

This is a million miles away from the Premiership world that we all know and love. Back in the early days of football there was certainly a variety of rules. John Cottrell in his book, “A Century of Great Soccer Drama,” has these interesting stories.

“Football was not taken quite so seriously. It was not unusual that the 1873 Cup Final should start half an hour late because players were watching the Boat Race, and in 1875, Major Mandarin, one of the Engineers, withdrew from the Cup Final because he was an old Etonian and it would mean playing against his fellow old boys. But once the whistle had blown, the game was on in earnest, with no quarter asked or given, broken bones were commonplace. In the first Cup Final, Lieutenant Cresswell of the engineers broke his collar-bone after ten minutes but played on until the finish. When the Wanderers won the Cup for the third successive time in 1878, goalkeeper J. Kilpatrick played on with a fractured arm.

Before the start of one of the great ‘blood’ matches between Old Etonians and Old Harrovians, C.W, Alcock, captain of the Harrovains and secretary of the Football Association, asked Lord Kinnaird of the Old Etonians, “Look here, Arthur, shall we play fair, or shall we have hacking?”
“Oh, yes let’s have hacking,” cried his Lordship. And, though he never wore shin guards, he proceeded to hack through the match with such gusto that he commented afterwards, “I haven’t enjoyed myself so much for years.”
Lady Kinnaird did not share his enthusiasm. Dreading that he would eventually sustain a fearful injury, his mother once remarked to Major Mandarin (later Sir Francis Mandarin president of the F.A.) that she felt sure he would one day come home with a broken leg. “Don’t worry,” said Mandarin. “If he does, it won’t be his own.”

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Robert E. Lee reflects on the Cruelty of War.

Less than two weeks after his Confederate victory at Fredericksburg, General Robert E Lee wrote home to his wife. In his book “Robert E Lee on Leadership” H.W. Crocker recalls how Lee reflected on all he had seen during the battle, - the civilians displaced, their homes destroyed and the enemy that had slipped away.

“But what a cruel thing war is. To separate and destroy families and friends and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world. To fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbours and to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world. I pray that on this day when “peace and good will” are preached to all mankind, that better thoughts will fill the hearts of our enemies and turn them to peace….Our army was never in such good health and condition since I have been attached to it and I believe they share with me my disappointment that the enemy did not renew the combat of the 15th, I was holding back all that day, and husbanding our strength and ammunition for the great struggle for which I thought he was preparing. Had I divined that was to have been his only effort, he would have had more of it. But I am content. We might have gained more but we would have lost more and perhaps our relative condition would not have been improved.”

Monday, 19 March 2012


We have all seen the film with Charlton Heston, this portrait of the great man is from the book - Famous Men of the Middle Ages by John H. Haaren & A. B. Poland


Late one sunny afternoon one and twenty knights were riding along the highway in the northern part of Spain. As they were passing a deep mire they heard cries for help, and turning, saw a poor leper who was sinking in the mud. One of the knights, a handsome young man, was touched by the cries. He dismounted, rescued the poor fellow, took him upon his own horse, and thus the two rode to the inn. The other knights wondered at this.

When they reached the inn where they were to stop for the night, they wondered still more, for their companion gave the leper a seat next to himself at the table. After supper the knight shared his own bed with the leper. If the knight had not done this, the leper would have been driven out of the town, with nothing to eat and no place in which to sleep. At midnight, while the young man was fast asleep, the leper breathed upon his back. This awakened the knight, who turned quickly in his bed and found that the leper was gone.

The knight called for a light and searched, but in vain. While he was wondering about what had happened, a man in shining garments appeared before him and said, "Rodrigo, art thou asleep or awake?" The knight answered, "I am awake, but who art thou that bringest such brightness?" The vision replied, "I am St. Lazarus, the leper to whom thou wast so kind. Because I have breathed upon thee thou shalt accomplish whatever thou shalt undertake in peace or in battle. All shall honor thee. Therefore, go on and evermore do good."

With that the vision vanished.

The promise of St. Lazarus was fulfilled. In time young Rodrigo became the great hero of Spain. The Spaniards called him Cam-pe-ä-dor', or Champion. The Saracens called him "The Cid," or Lord. His real name was Rodrigo Diaz de Bivar, but he is usually spoken of as "The Cid."

The Goths, after the death of Alaric, had taken Spain away from the Romans. The Saracens, or, as they were usually called, the Moors, had crossed the sea from Africa and in turn had taken Spain from the Goths. In the time of Charles Martel the Goths had lost all Spain except the small mountain district in the northern part. In the time of the Cid the Goths, now called Spaniards, had driven the Moors down to about the middle of Spain. War went on all the time between the two races, and Page 157 many men spent their lives in fighting. The Spanish part of the country then comprised the kingdoms of Castile, Leon, Aragon and others.

The Cid was a subject of Fernando of Castile. Fernando had a dispute with the king of Aragon about a city which each claimed. They agreed to decide the matter by a combat. Each was to choose a champion. The champions were to fight, and the king whose champion won was to have the city. Fernando chose the Cid, and though the other champion was called the bravest knight in Spain, the youthful warrior vanquished him.

When Alfonzo, a son of Fernando, succeeded to the throne, he became angry with the Cid without just cause and banished him from Christian Spain.

The Cid was in need of some money, so he filled two chests with sand and sent word to two wealthy money lenders that he wished to borrow six hundred Spanish marks (about $2,000), and would put into their hands his treasures of silver and gold which were packed in two chests, but the money lenders must solemnly swear not to open the chests until a full year had passed. To this they gladly agreed. They took the chests and loaned him six hundred marks.

The Cid was now ready for his journey. Three hundred of his knights went into banishment with him. They crossed the mountains and entered the land of the Moors. Soon they reached the town of Alcocer, and after a siege captured it and lived in it.

Then the Moorish king of Valencia ordered two chiefs to take three thousand horsemen, recapture the town and bring the Cid alive to him.

So the Cid and his men were shut up in Alcocer and besieged. Famine threatened them and they determined to cut their way through the army of the Moors. Suddenly and swiftly they poured from the gate of Alcocer, and a terrible battle was fought. The two Moorish chiefs were taken prisoners and thirteen hundred of their men were killed in the battle. The Cid then became a vassal of the Moorish king of Saragossa.

After a while Alfonzo recalled the Cid from banishment and gave him seven castles and the lands Page 159 adjoining them. He needed the Cid's help in the greatest of all his plans against the Moors. He was determined to capture Toledo. He attacked it with a large army in which there were soldiers from many foreign lands. The Cid is said to have been the commander. After a long siege the city fell and the victorious army marched across the great bridge built by the Moors, which you would cross to-day if you went to Toledo.

Valencia was one of the largest and richest cities in Moorish Spain. It was strongly fortified, but the Cid determined to attack it.

The plain about the city was irrigated by streams that came down from the neighboring hills. To prevent the Cid's army from coming near the city the Saracens flooded the plain. But the Cid camped on high ground above the plain and from that point besieged the city. Food became very scarce in Valencia. Wheat, barley and cheese were all so dear that none but the rich could buy them. People ate horses, dogs, cats and mice, until in the whole city only three horses and a mule were left alive.

Then on the fifteenth of June, 1094, the governor went to the camp of the Cid and delivered to him the keys of the city. The Cid placed his men in all the forts and took the citadel as his own dwelling. His banner floated from the towers. He called himself the Prince of Valencia.

When the king of Morocco heard of this he raised an army of fifty thousand men. They crossed from Africa to Spain and laid siege to Valencia. But the Cid with his men made a sudden sally and routed them and pursued them for miles. It is said that fifteen thousand soldiers were drowned in the river Gua-dal-qui-vir' which they tried to cross.

The Cid was now at the height of his power and lived in great magnificence. One of the first things he did was to repay the two friends who had lent him the six hundred marks. He was kind and just to the Saracens who had become his subjects. They were allowed to have their mosques and to worship God as they thought right.

In time the Cid's health began to fail. He could lead his men forth to battle no more. He sent an army against the Moors, but it was so completely routed that few of his men came back to tell the tale. It is said by a Moorish writer that "when the runaways reached him the Cid died of rage" (1099).

There is a legend that shortly before he died he saw a vision of St. Peter, who told him that he should gain a victory over the Saracens after his death.

So the Cid gave orders that his body should be embalmed. It was so well preserved that it seemed alive. It was clothed in a coat of mail, and the sword that had won so many battles was placed in the hand. Then it was mounted upon the Cid's favorite horse and fastened into the saddle, and at midnight was borne out of the gate of Valencia with a guard of a thousand knights.

All silently they marched to a spot where the Moorish king, with thirty-six chieftains, lay encamped, and at daylight the knights of the Cid made a sudden attack. The king awoke. It seemed to him that there were coming against him full seventy thousand knights, all dressed in robes as white as snow, and before them rode a knight, taller than all the rest, holding in his left hand a snow-white banner and in the other a sword which seemed of fire. So afraid were the Moorish chief and his men that they fled to the sea, and twenty thousand of them were drowned as they tried to reach their ships.

There is a Latin inscription near the tomb of the Cid which may be translated:

Brave and unconquered, famous in triumphs of war,
Enclosed in this tomb lies Roderick the Great of Bivar.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

A Modest House in the Country.

In the book "A breath of Fresh Air" F.C.Ball recalls memories of a country childhood before the First World War. The father of the family takes his brood to live in the countryside in a free cottage.

“The new house was in a country lane, ten feet wide. It was made up of four rooms; all on one floor, with iron bars at the windows, which father said were there to keep them from ever getting out again. There was a little porch at the front door, with a set on each side, and father had to fight back the rambler roses to get the key in the lock. The front door had been made for a family of very small people about 1860.

The ceilings were just above father's head, the windows were three feet square, and mother said how thankful she was that they didn't possess much furniture.

The back yard had a water-closet in one corner, discreetly overhung by a bush of convolvulus or 'piddlepot', a rain water tank in another for flushing the W.C. and a six foot fence all round to keep the family from staring at the ladies in the garden where father was to work.

Across the lane was a dark wood of pines whose branches were swishing over the roof and dripping rain on it.

The lane continued to a place which the children heard mother say must be 'Godknowswhere' and there was another house about half a mile away.

"I'm afraid you can't have a cup of tea," said father, "the drinking water is up at the house. We ought to have brought some with us to-night." Mother said it was all right, she was ready to go to jail, once an or all, because there they had to feed you, and you would be missed if you got lost, but not out here, she said.

In the morning, when Mother happened to glance out of the bedroom window, she saw several cows gazing at her from about three feet away, and she dropped the pot she was carrying. It was a welcome to the country and apparently a genuine one.”

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Eastbourne's Military Tribunals

Military Tribunals came into being in 1915 as a result of the National Registration Bill that required all men and women between the ages of 15 and 65 to register. This Bill paved the way for the Derby Scheme which had a foundation that men between the ages of 18 and 41 should sign up or attest. Originally, they would only be called up for military service as and when needed dependant on marital status and importance of their jobs to the war effort. It was hoped to call up the single unemployed men first.

However, conscription was finally introduced in January 1916 under the Military Service Act and in May 1916, the Second Military Service Act made all men between the ages of 18 and 41 liable for military service. The Act graded all potential recruits according to medical fitness. If a man wanted to apply for an exemption from fighting he had to appear before a local tribunal. Eastbourne had three tribunals running namely: The Eastbourne Borough Tribunal, The East Sussex District Appeal Tribunal and The Eastbourne Rural Tribunal.

The Tribunals were made up of men of influence in the town, mostly councillors and magistrates and met weekly. There were also present representatives from the war ministry, who would put forward the case for conscription. The most famous Eastbourne representative was the formidable Mr. M.H. Beattie who was renowned for his vigour in getting everybody he could to the front. He was often challenged himself, for not joining up but was over the age for military service. However, as soon as the age limit was raised he confounded his critics by volunteering and served in France in 1918 as an officer.

Special mention should be made of Mr. Norfolk Megone, the conductor of Devonshire Park Orchestra who had to attend many, many meetings in order to fight for exemptions for his musicians. In one tribunal defending one of his musicians, he was up against Mr Beattie who was reported to say “This man would not be taken as he is passed fit for garrison duty. As a musician he is of no use to the nation. As a soldier he would be of some use.”

The Eastbourne Gazette, Four page pull-out on 20th December 1916 “How Eastbourne has provided Men and Money” provides an insight (albeit a rather ‘Flowery’ one) into the works of the tribunals and their members:-

"Three Tribunals

Frequent Sittings at Eastbourne

Almost Unexampled Patience

Three tribunals are holding frequent sittings at Eastbourne and naturally enough, their proceedings are keenly scrutinized and subjected to criticism which is sometimes friendly and sometimes very much the reverse. Men who for various reasons consider that they have a right to claim exemption are not likely to accept unfavourable decisions with equanimity. The wonder is not that protests are occasionally made, but that they are not more frequent, angry and empathic.

The Major and the Bootmaker

The Chairman of the Eastbourne Borough Tribunal (Major Harold P. Molineux, J.P), has attended the great majority of the sittings, his absence during a period of some weeks due to regrettable fact that he was summoned to France; where his son (Lieutenant Molineux) had sustained injuries of a very server character whilst engaged in the performance of his military duties on the Western Front. The other members of the tribunal are the Mayor (Alderman C. O’Brien Harding, J.P.), the Deputy Mayor (Councillor C.W. Bolton, C.S.I., J.P.), Alderman Edward Duke, J.P., Mr. Claude Bishop, J.P., Mr. C. Peerless Dennis (representing the Master Builders’ Association), Mr. T.B. Hasdell, Mr. R.J. Mines (representing the Labour interest) and Mrs. Campbell (St. Brannocks).

Deeply moved at the threatened loss of his only workman, a bootmaker uttered some earnest words of expostulation, pointing out the seriousness of the deprivation.
“You have the right to appeal, go and appeal!” exclaimed and irritated member of the Tribunal.
“We believe every word you have said!” These words spoken by Major Moilneux , in his clearest and most kindly tone, had an instant effect on the bootmaker, who went away consoled, if not satisfied. The worthy man deserves every consideration as he devotes himself to making improved footwear for the people who suffer torture when their boots are badly shaped and ill-fitting.

The Military Representative (Mr. M.H. Beattie) always suave and imperturbable has a keen sense of humour and he has assistance from Mr. W.W. Hugill and Mr. Jennison. The clerk is Mr. H.W. Fovargue and the assistant Clerk Mr. E.W. Batchelor.

It should be mentioned that nearly all the members of the tribunals have sons, brothers, or other near relatives at the Front. Mr. Beattie has two sons who have been in the thick of the fray, one of them having been wounded. The much discussed Mr. Beattie finds his work as military representative leaves him practically no leisure; he performs duties gratuitously and believing he is of some use, he retains the position in spite of the fact that he has been offered highly paid appointments.

An Urbane and Debonair Chaiman.

In Major R.L. Thornton, J.P., (High Cross, Framfield), the East Sussed District Appeal Tribunal has an experienced, able and courtly Chairman; and he is supported at the sittings at Eastbourne by Mr. E.J. Gorringe, J.P., (farmer of Chyngton, Seaford), Mr. T. Pargeter (a railway employee from Newhaven) and two Eastbourne town councillors, Mr. Stephen N. Fox, J.P., (barrister), and Mr. F.J. Huggett (town postman). Major W.W. Grantham (a very stalwart and soldierly figure in his perfect fitting khaki uniform) acts as military representative and Mr. Montague Harris (barrister) acts as clerk.

A conscientious objector, who had met with censure and criticism at the Borough Tribunal, was pleasantly surprised at the marked urbanity of Major Thornton, who, of course, has no sympathy with the views of anyone opposed to the resolute prosecution of the war.

An Athletic Military Representative.

Last, but very far from least, we must mention the Eastbourne Rural Tribunal, over which Colonel C.W. Owen, C.M.G., C.I.E., presides with marked ability and unfailing courtesy. The Tribunal also includes the Rev. J.T. Burns (Rector of Berwick), the Rev A.A. Evans (Vicar of East Dean), Mr. Harold Matthews, Mr. J. Birch, Mr. Youell, Mr. F.J. Hickman, Mr. Charles Thomas, Mr. G. Hornsby, Mr. J. Lockhart Reid, and Mr. E.G. Smith. Mr. Alfred Hunt is the military representative and such is his zeal and energy that he seems to have acquired a perfectly astonishing knowledge of the district.

In one instance at least, Mr. Hunt’s kindly intervention was the means, we have reason to believe, of rescuing a family of young children from a position of profound misery and possible danger. The details of the case would be interesting, but under the circumstances it will be wise to withhold them.

Mr. Hunt attends the sittings of the East Sussex Appeals Tribunal. On one occasion a man who had refreshed himself not wisely but sufficiently well, was guilty of smoking and putting his feet on an expensive table in the Council Chamber. Mr. Hunt, who is a man of considerable vigour, suddenly seized the offender by the collar and evicted him bodily from the room. For this useful and unexpected service the athletic military representative in the Rural District received the smilingly expressed thanks of Major Thornton.

Mr. T.E. Varley Kirtlan is the clerk to the Eastbourne Rural Tribunal, which has certainly done its work exceedingly well.

Two Patient Patriots

The patient and patriotic endurance of some long-suffering residents has been subjected to the most severe strain imaginable. For example, the Rev. E.L. Brown is frequently seen at sittings of local tribunals and it is probable that he holds an undefeated record in respect of the number of attendances. The story is often told of Sir Henry Hawkins having sent – to one of the counsel engaged in an almost intolerably tedious lawsuit which was being heard before him – a piece of paper on which was inscribed the words, “Honourable mention, Job; gold medal, Mr. Justice Hawkins.” A list of awards corrected up to date would take this form:-

Diamond Star – The Rev E.L. Browne
Gold Medal – Mr. Justice Hawkins.
Honourable mention – Job.

As the head of St. Andrew’s School, Meads, Mr. Browne is responsible for the education of boys intended for the Navy and unless they are properly grounded in mathematics they are not likely to be able to serve their country to the extent expected of them in these days of scientific warfare. Mr. Browne is only too well aware of the vital importance of this branch of education. Several of his colleagues (former assistant masters) are serving, and some, alas! Have fallen. His object in attending the Tribunal has been to retain the services of a master, who is qualifies to teach mathematics on the most modern lines. At the Eastbourne Tribunal there have been several discussions. Councillor Bolton has spoken of the merits of Todhunter. The Mayor, who is of opinion that modern methods are essential, is regarded as particularly well qualified to speak on the subject, having shown on many occasions that he has what is popularly styled a head for figures.

When the local tribunal decided in Mr. Browne’s favour, the urbane military representative (Mr. M.H. Beattie) intimated that he must appeal. Instead of expressing anger at this announcement, Mr. Browne said he realised that Mr. Beattie was “only doing what he regarded as his duty.”
In due time the military appeal came before the East Sussex Tribunal. The Chairman (Major R.L. Thornton) asked whether there was an objection to his presiding during the hearing of the case as he had sent both his boys to Mr. Browne’s school.

Major W.W. Grantham, speaking on behalf of the military, said he should not think of raising any objection, and he added, “I have a nephew at St. Andrew’s. It is the best school I know of.”
In the performance of his public duties, Major Grantham favours neither personal nor political friends, as was shown in a notable instance some time ago. Having spoken as he did of St. Andrew’s, it might have been supposed that he would alter his attitude; but he said, “Although it is such a good school i must still ask for this mathematical master for military service.”
Mr. Browne, who was neither elated by compliments nor cast down by persistent opposition, acknowledged the friendly remarks recorded by saying that those concerned with the school did their best.

For the present he retains his mathematical master. But the members of the tribunals may see him again and they are evidently found of a discussion with him.

Another patient frequenter of tribunals is Mr. Norfolk Megone, who may possibly succeed in beating Mr. Browne’s record of attendances. The conductor of Devonshire Park Orchestra has to attend to give information in reference to musicians serving under him. He has spent many hours in the Council Chambers at the Town Hall – waiting! waiting! waiting!
When the court is cleared - by the Borough Tribunal – the members of the County Tribunal do not resort to such an inconsiderable practice - Mr. Megone withdraws with the solicitors and others to a more or less cold and draughty corridor. But not a word of complaint ever falls from his lips.

Others may contrast the charming affability and politeness of Major Thornton with the less agreeable action of some of the Borough Tribunal, but Mr. Megone’s good humour is always unruffled. He can ill spare the time which he spends in the Council Chamber, but he realises that it is his duty to give all the information that can be required of him and as might be expected of a gentleman with an Irish patronymic, he has relatives serving with the colours and has a full share of patriotic fervour.

In connection with the shortage of labour the question of advertising has been raised at the tribunals and “The Eastbourne Gazette” and “The Sussex County Herald” have been frequently mentioned by would-be employees. One point should ever be borne in mind by members of tribunals and others it is not sufficient to advertise care must be taken to word the advertisement in such a way as to encourage people to reply to it. "

A final note:

The Chairman of the Eastbourne Borough Tribunal (Major Harold P. Molineux, J.P), had a son killed in the First World War.

Captain George King Molineux of the 2nd Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers who died aged 28 on 5th May 1915 near Frenzenberg, Belgium. He has no know grave and is remembered on YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL, Belgium.

(He was born on April 15th 1887, in Meads, Eastbourne and before the war he was a famous cricketer, playing for Oxford University and England).

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Edwardian Court Balls

Edwardian Court Balls were renowned for their lavishness and in Pre Great War Germany these were the highlight of the season. James W. Gerard was the American Ambassador to Germany and the Emperor. In his book “My Four Years in Germany”, James W. Gerard paints this vivid portrait.

“At the court balls, which also began early in the evening, a different procedure was followed. There the guests were required to assemble before eight-twenty in the ball-room. As in the Schleppencour, on one side of the room was the throne with seats for the Emperor and Empress, and to the right of this throne were the chairs for the Ambassadors' wives who were seated in the order of their husbands' rank, with the ladies of their Embassy, and any ladies they had brought to the ball standing behind them. After them came the Ministers' wives, sitting in similar fashion; then the Ambassadors, standing with their staffs behind them on raised steps, with any men that they had asked invitations for, and the Ministers in similar order. To the left of the throne stood the wives of the Dukes and dignitaries of Germany and then their husbands. When all were assembled, promptly at the time announced, the orchestra, which was dressed in medieval costume and sat in a gallery, sounded trumpets and then the Emperor and Empress entered the room, the Emperor, of course, in uniform, followed by the ladies and gentlemen of the household all in brilliant uniforms, and one or two officers of the court regiment, picked out for their great height and dressed in the kind of uniform Rupert of Hentzau wears on the stage,—a silver helmet surmounted by an eagle, a steel breast-plate, white breeches and coat, and enormous high boots coming half way up the thigh. The Grand Huntsman wore a white wig, three-cornered hat and a long green coat.
On entering the room, the Empress usually commenced on one side and the Emperor on the other, going around the room and speaking to the Ambassadors' wives and Ambassadors, etc., in turn, and the Empress in similar fashion, chatting for a moment with the German dignitaries and their wives lined up on the opposite side of the room. After going perhaps half way around each side, the Emperor and Empress would then change sides. This going around the room and chatting with people in turn is called "making the circle", and young royalties are practised in "making the circle" by being made to go up to the trees in a garden and address a few pleasant words to each tree, in this manner learning one of the principal duties of royalty.

The dancing is only by young women and young officers of noble families who have practiced the dances before. They are under the superintendence of several young officers who are known as Vortänzer and when anyone in Berlin in court society gives a ball these Vortänzer are the ones who see that all dancing is conducted strictly according to rule and manage the affairs of the ball-room with true Prussian efficiency. Supper is about ten-thirty at a court ball and is at small tables. Each royalty has a table holding about eight people and to these people are invited without particular rule as to precedence. The younger guests and lower dignitaries are not placed at supper but find places at tables to suit themselves. After supper all go back to the ball-room and there the young ladies and officers, led by the Vortänzer execute a sort of lancers, in the final figure of which long lines are formed of dancers radiating from the throne; and all the dancers make bows and curtsies to the Emperor and Empress who are either standing or sitting at this time on the throne. At about eleven-thirty the ball is over, and as the guests pass out through the long hall, they are given glasses of hot punch and a peculiar sort of local Berlin bun, in order to ward off the lurking dangers of the villainous winter climate.

At the court balls the diplomats are, of course, in their best diplomatic uniform. All Germans are in uniform of some kind, but the women do not wear the long trains worn at the Schleppencour. They wear ordinary ball dresses. In connection with court dancing it is rather interesting to note that when the tango and turkey trot made their way over the frontiers of Germany in the autumn of 1913, the Emperor issued a special order that no officers of the army or navy should dance any of these dances or should go to the house of any person who, at any time, whether officers were present or not, had allowed any of these new dances to be danced. This effectually extinguished the turkey trot, the bunny hug and the tango, and maintained the waltz and the polka in their old estate. It may seem ridiculous that such a decree should be so solemnly issued, but I believe that the higher authorities in Germany earnestly desired that the people, and, especially, the officers of the army and navy, should learn not to enjoy themselves too much. A great endeavour was always made to keep them in a life, so far as possible, of Spartan simplicity. For instance, the army officers were forbidden to play polo, not because of anything against the game, which, of course, is splendid practice for riding, but because it would make a distinction in the army between rich and poor.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Escape From Berlin.

This article was published in the Daily News and describes the correspondent’s escape from Berlin at the start of the Great War.

Mr H W. Nevinson was a hardened professional who had reported on the 1897 war between Greece and Turkey and also the Boer War. He became one of the most notable journalists of his time.

My Way Of Escape

Before dawn on August 6th a string of motors was waiting outside the Embassy, sent by the Kaiser's orders to convey the Ambassador and his staff to a local station, a few miles away from Berlin. Again by the courtesy of Sir Edward Goschen, a few of us correspondents were invited to join the staff, and I hardly realized at the time from what a hideous destiny that invitation preserved me. I suppose I should have been kept shut up in Ruhleben or some similar camp for four and a half years ; I should have seen nothing of the war in Belgium and France at its beginning ; I should not have shared the splendour and the tragedy of the Dardanelles campaign ; I should not have known the intrigues in Athens, or the disastrous uselessness of the early attempt at Salonika, or the meaning of the advance from Egypt upon Palestine ; nor should I have been present at the final advance of the Allied Armies on the Western Front in August, 1918, or have heard the trumpet sound for the armistice in the market-square of Mons, or have accompanied our vanguard in the march up to the Rhine at Cologne. Of all those historic scenes I should have remained ignorant.

But from such loss our Ambassador saved me, and for twenty-four hours his train carried us all slowly lumbering through North Germany to the Dutch frontier.

On our way we passed or were impeded by uncounted vans decorated with boughs of trees and crammed with reservists going to the Belgian front. The men had now chalked "Nach Bruxelles" or "Nach London" as well as " Nach Paris " on the vans, and at every station they were met by bands of Red Cross girls bringing coffee, wine, and food.

At all the larger stations, too, the news of our train's approach had been signalled, and to cheer us on our way all the old men, boys and women of the place had flocked down with any musical instruments they could collect, and, standing thick on the platform, they played for us the German national tunes, "Deutschland, Deutschland" predominating. They played with the persistence of the " German bands" known to me in childhood. Sometimes, to impress their patriotism more distinctly upon us, they brought their instruments close up to the carriage windows, and the shitting tubes of the trombones came right into the carriage. Silent and unmoved, as an Englishman should, sat Sir Edward Goschen, looking steadily in front of him, with hands on his knees, making as though no sight or sound had reached his senses.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Sweating Sickness

In 1517 Sir Thomas More was the Master of Requests an office he held from 1514, he was also a member His Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council.

1517 saw the third outbreak of Sweating Sickness’ which was a more severe epidemic. In the midst of this terrible outbreak Thomas More conveys his concerns. -

"We are in grief and danger as never before. Many are dying all round us, and almost everybody at Oxford, Cambridge and London has been laid up within the last few days. Many of our best and most honorable friends have perished: among these - I grieve for the grief it will give you - Andrew Ammonio, in whom good letters and all good men have suffered a great loss. He thought himself protected against contagion by his temperance in food. It was due to this, he thought, that his whole household escaped, whilst almost everybody he met had their families laid up. He boasted to me and to many others of this, a few hours before he died. For in the Sweating Sickness death always comes, if it does come, on the first day. I, with my wife and children, am as yet untouched: the rest of my household has recovered. I tell you, there is less danger on a battle front than in London. And now, i hear, it is beginning to rage in Calais just as we are being driven there on diplomatic business - as if it were not enough to have lived among infection, but one must follow it when it goes."

A description of Sweating Sickness can be found in the Encyclopedia Britannica, published in 1911:


A remarkable form of disease, not known in England before, attracted attention at the very beginning of the reign of Henry VII. It was known indeed a few days after the landing of Henry at Milford Haven on the 7th of August 1485, as there is clear evidence of its being spoken of before the battle of Bosworth on the 22nd of August. Soon after the arrival of Henry in London on the 28th of August it broke out in the capital, and caused great mortality. This alarming malady soon became known as the sweating-sickness. It was regarded as being quite distinct from the plague, the pestilential fever or other epidemics previously known, not only by the special symptom which gave it its name, but also by its extremely rapid and fatal course.

From 1485 nothing more was heard of it till 1507, when the second outbreak occurred, which was much less fatal than the first. In 1517 was a third and much more severe epidemic. In Oxford and Cambridge it was very fatal, as well as in other towns, where in some cases half the population are said to have perished. There is evidence of the disease having spread to Calais and Antwerp, but with these exceptions it was confined to England.

In 1528 the disease recurred for the fourth time, and with great severity. It first showed itself in London at the end of May, and speedily spread over the whole of England, though not into Scotland or Ireland. In London the mortality was very great; the court was broken up, and Henry VIII. left London, frequently changing his residence. The most remarkable fact about this epidemic is that it spread over the Continent, suddenly appearing at Hamburg, and spreading so rapidly that in a few weeks more than a thousand persons died. Thus was the terrible sweating-sickness started on a destructive course, during which it caused fearful mortality throughout eastern Europe. France, Italy and the southern countries were spared. It spread much in the same way as cholera, passing, in one direction, from north to south, arriving at Switzerland in December, in another northwards to Denmark, Sweden and Norway, also eastwards to Lithuania, Poland and Russia, and westwards to Flanders and Holland, unless indeed the epidemic, which declared itself simultaneously at Antwerp and Amsterdam on the morning of the 27th of September, came from England direct. In each place which it affected it prevailed for a short time only - generally not more than a fortnight. By the end of the year it had entirely disappeared, except in eastern Switzerland, where it lingered into the next year;' and the terrible "English sweat" has never appeared again, at least in the same form, on the Continent.

England was, however, destined to suffer from one more outbreak of the disease, which occurred in 1551, and with regard to this we have the great advantage of an account by an eyewitness, John Kaye or Caius. the eminent physician.


The symptoms as described by Caius and others were as follows. The disease began very suddenly with a sense of apprehension, followed by cold shivers (sometimes very violent), giddiness, headache and severe pains in the neck, shoulders and limbs, with great prostration. After the cold stage, which might last from half-an-hour to three hours, followed the stage of heat and sweating. The characteristic sweat broke out suddenly, and, as it seemed to those accustomed to the disease, without any obvious cause. With the sweat, or after that was poured out, came a sense of heat, and with this headache and delirium, rapid pulse and intense thirst. Palpitation and pain in the heart were frequent symptoms. No eruption of any kind on the skin was generally observed; Caius makes no allusion to such a symptom. In the later stages there was either general prostration and collapse, or an irresistible tendency to sleep, which was thought to be fatal if the patient were permitted to give way to it. The malady was ' Guggenbiihl, Der englische Schweiss in der Schweiz (Lichtensteig, 1838).

Remarkably rapid in its course, being sometimes fatal even in two or three hours, and some patients died in less than that time. More commonly it was protracted to a period of twelve to twenty-four hours, beyond which it rarely lasted. Those who survived for twenty-four hours were considered safe.

The disease, unlike the plague, was not especially fatal to the poor, but rather, as Caius affirms, attacked the richer sort and those who were free livers according to the custom of England in those days. "They which had this sweat sore with peril of death were either men of wealth, ease or welfare, or of the poorer sort, such as were idle persons, good ale drinkers and taverne haunters." Causes. - Some attributed the disease to the English climate, its moisture and its fogs, or to the intemperate habits of the English people, and to the frightful want of cleanliness in their houses and surroundings which is noticed by Erasmus in a well-known passage, and about which Caius is equally explicit. But we must conclude that climate, season, and manner of life were not adequate, either separately or collectively, to produce the disease, though each may have acted sometimes as a predisposing cause. The sweating sickness was in fact, to use modern language, a specific infective disease, in the same sense as plague, typhus, scarlatina or malaria.

The only disease of modern times which bears any resemblance to the sweating-sickness is that known as miliary fever ("` Schweiss friesel," "suette miliaire" or the "Picardy sweat"), a malady which has been repeatedly observed in France, Italy and southern Germany, but not in the United Kingdom. It is characterized by intense sweating, and occurs in limited epidemics, not lasting in each place more than a week or two (at least in an intense form). On the other hand, the attack lasts longer than the sweating-sickness did, is always accompanied by eruption of vesicles, and is not usually fatal. The first clearly described epidemic was in 1718 (though probably it existed before), and the last in 1861. Between these dates some one hundred and seventy-five epidemics have been counted in France alone.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Alan Williams arrives in Parliament

Alan Williams was elected as a Member of Parliament with the victorious Labour Party in 1964 for Swansea West.

He recalls his first days as a newly elected member.

“I came in, put my coat in the cloakroom and went to look for my hanger. The fact that i was a marginal member was bitterly rubbed in for me when i found my hanger with 'Williams' on it had one set of initials crossed out and my initials written pencil. They weren't going to waste a good label.

I went to the chamber for the swearing in. You can imagine it. I was thirty-four; there was Harold Wilson and all the cabinet sitting just two rows below me, and there opposite, looking very dejected, all the outgoing famous Tory faces. Tudor Watkins, the Breconshire member, was sitting next to me - he would be in his mid-sixties at that time - and i turned to him and said, "Tudor, it must be marvelous to be on this side of the house after thirteen years over there?"

"Yes, my boy," he said. "The sun gets in your eyes on the other side of the House."

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

The Small 1964 Labour Majority

The 1964 General Election saw a victory for Harold Wilson’s Labour party who secured an overall majority in the House of Commons by 4 seats.

Tony Benn in his book ‘Last Time’ by authors Austin Mitchell and David Wienir, reflects on those early days and the precarious position the majority party had with such a small margin.

“There is an MP for Hartlepool, Ted Leadbetter. He was elected in 1964 and we'd been in power about a week when he wrote to me. He said, "I'm writing to complain about a telegraph pole that is outside the house of a constituent. I've decided to withdraw support from the government until the telegraph pole is removed."

We had a majority of four. I wrote to him asking him to come and have a talk about it. He said, "I'm not coming to see you until the telegraph pole is removed."

So i told the Chief Whip. Ted Leadbetter is a lovely guy, former headmaster, and i said to him, "If the government fell after we'd been out of office for thirteen years, and people asked why it fell, it wouldn't go down too well that it was because Mr. Benn wouldn't remove a telegraph pole from outside a house of a constituent." That's the sort of pressure there was.”

Monday, 5 March 2012

Back From Switzerland

This article published in the Eastbourne Gazette gives an interesting (if flowery and perhaps over patriotic) personal account of how a couple from Eastbourne made their way home from Switzerland in late August 1914.

On a side note I loved the expression – “In times of difficulty everyone can find opportunities of usefulness.” Perhaps a little nudge to prick the conscience of many a reader!

Back From Champery.

Mr and Mrs A.L. Franklin’s Return.

No modern Xenophon will be needed to tell the story of the return, not of 10,000 Greeks, but of a like number of English tourists, who found themselves in Switzerland at the beginning of August, when their means of returning was for a time more or less completely cut off. Some who hastened homewards with the utmost precipitation have already narrated their experiences. Others, whose engagements admitted of their prolonging their stay, were sagacious enough to accept the advice of the English Consuls and thereby avoided many risks and hardships.

Instead of spending three weeks abroad as they intended, Mr. and Mrs. A.L. Franklin (Miller Down, 54, Upperton Road) were away from Eastbourne five weeks. It was on the 26th July that they arrived at Champery, a place in Switzerland close to the French frontier and within three hours of Cal-de-conx, where the Swiss soldiers were guarding the frontier and could be seen coming down with their mules in order to convey provisions to military posts high up on the mountains.

Mr and Mrs Franklin journeyed to Switzerland to see their son Leslie (aged sixteen) who is staying in the house of a major in the Swiss army. In times of difficulty everyone can find opportunities of usefulness. Mr L. Franklin it seems has been busily engaged in cycling backwards and forwards to the post office, where he has been of service to tourists who required assistance in sending telegrams all of which have to written in French.

Hotelkeepers Reduce Their Tariffs

Mr A.L Franklin (who is a member of the firm of Miller and Franklin, Terminus Road) and Mrs Franklin returned to Eastbourne on Thursday Evening and on the following day the former gave a representative of this journal a very concise account of his homeward journey with his wife. Their son remained in Switzerland.

“After the declaration of war,” said Mr Franklin, “We sent a notification to the British Consul at Berne to the effect that we should like to return to England as soon as travelling was safe. We were advised to be as patient as possible, to wait as long as we could and to send particulars as to the destination, age and birthplace. In return we had passports forwarded to us and we were requested to form a committee and range ourselves in groups of five, if possible. A solicitor from Salisbury, who went to see the Consul, exchanged the whole of our return tickets for through tickets. Finally, it was arranged that we should leave Champery by early train, where a special trains would be awaiting us.”

“The additional time we spent in Switzerland was not disturbed by any alarming incidents, Provisions were plentiful and fruit was cheap. The only food that went up in price – as far as I could see – was potatoes. The hotel-keepers were anxious for us to stay in Switzerland and voluntarily reduced their charges by two francs per day.

900 Passengers from Montreux.

“We left Montreux at 9.30am on Tuesday morning, August 25th. All the passengers- over 900 in number - were counselled to take provisions for three days and this was a necessary precaution as all, we could get on the journey was coffee. Before we left Montreuz water was being sold at the rate of three bottles for a franc. After that supply was exhausted there was a rush to fill the bottles at the taps, the journey to Paris which occupied 31 hours instead of 11 or 12 hours.”

“On reaching Geneva we changed onto another train. An English gentleman with a megaphone instructed us to walk two abreast to the other station, the approach to which was lined by soldiers with fixed bayonets. We found place in a special train with numbered carriages and we were informed that a number of gentlemen would accompany us (by arrangement with the Consul) as far as Dieppe.

“At last the train was in motion and the first large town at which we halted was Lyons, where we had a splendid reception from the French troops, who cheered heartily. In response, we sang the Marseilles and the French people sang the National Anthem. When the train left there was renewed cheering and the French officers and men waved their caps to bid us farewell.

“Owing to the congestion of traffic on the main line we had to make a detour of about 200 miles. The next stopping place was Montargis, where we saw a number of French wounded from Mulhausen, including one poor man who was stated to have had both his hands cut off by the Germans after he was wounded. We also saw a German lady who had been arrested as a spy.

A German Spy Shot.

“A few miles south of Paris we ran into a station where there was great excitement; and on enquiry we found that a German spy, who had been loitering about for days had attempted to blow up a bridge. He was pursued by French soldiers, plunged into the Seine and was shot by a soldier.”

“On our arrival at Paris, we halted an hour, and were taken from one platform to the other. We saw a large number of French troops, including some from Savoy. The ladies gave the troops chocolates and the gentlemen gave them cigars, cigarettes and money.”

“It was remarkable to see the way in which the soldiers divided the gifts. The recipients instead of putting as many as they could into their won pockets distributed them among their own comrades.”

“There were thousands of people, including French troops, to see our train start. The National Anthem was sung and for a good mile out of Paris people were seen at the windows waving their hands and in some cases, the Union Jack. The passengers in their turn displayed the French and Belgian flags.

From Dieppe to Folkstone.

“The train did not pass through Rouen but proceeded to Dieppe by another route.”

“Leaving the train at Dieppe, we went to the quay and spent the night on the ‘Paris’ one of the fastest channel boats.”

“We reached Folkstone at 1pm on Thursday and proceeded to Charing Cross. Fortunately Mrs. Franklin and I caught a train to Eastbourne via Tunbridge Wells and 6pm.

“I should like to express the warmest thanks to the British Consul at Montreux and Berne, for their excellent arrangements for the return journey.”

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Attila The Kaiser's Model

This great article appeared in the Kildare Observer in September 1914, giving the reader of the day an insight to The Kaiser's role model.


Those who imagine that the German Barbarities are the result of outbreaks of brutality on the part of the troops, and that they are not ordered by the highest authorities, would do well to remember that the Kaiser issued the following command to his troops on June 27th, 1900, an their departure for Pekin.

"When you come into contact with the enemy, strike him down. Quarter is not to be given. Prisoners are not to be made. Just, as a thousand years ago, the Huns, under their King Attila, made themselves a name which still appears imposing in tradition, so may the German name become known in China in such a way that never again will a Chinaman dare to look at a German."

Friday, 2 March 2012

A Story of the Kaiser

This is a gem of a story from The Eastbourne Gazette on 19th August 1914.

Apparently the Great War can be put down to an Eastbourne toy maker giving in to the spoilt demands of a young Kaiser. If only he had made the Kaiser wait perhaps he would have leant his lesson and not have been so intent on global domination!

I love all the stories that came out at the beginning of the war.

A Story of the Kaiser

Speaking at a meeting of Sunday school scholars and workers on Sunday afternoon at South Street Church. Mr. George Brown related an incident which ought to interest all Eastbournians at the present time.

Some years ago a young Prince (a cousin of the Kaiser) was spending some time at the Cavendish Hotel. Some friends in Eastbourne had presented the Prince with a beautiful toy yacht which he highly treasured. While the young Prince was staying there his cousin the Kaiser came over to stay a few weeks in Eastbourne. When he saw his cousin’s yacht he became jealous and wanted to fight him for it. This came to the ears of those who had presented it to the Prince, they decided for the sake of peace, to give the Kaiser a similar yacht made by the same man and they had arranged to make the presentation on a certain Monday afternoon. The young Kaiser heard all about it and insisted on his tutor taking him on the previous Sunday afternoon to see the new yacht. On arriving at the maker’s house, the tutor explained that the Kaiser gave them no peace; he was too impatient to wait until Monday afternoon and he must have the yacht at once. They gave it to him so there was no public presentation.

Mr. Brown pointed out the moral; that what was in the boy was also in him when he became a man. As a boy the Kaiser was jealous and impatient and would fight for toys that did not belong to him. He was manifesting the same spirit today.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Mr Reith arrives at the BBC.

The wireless was here to stay and on the 30th December 1922 at 9 o'clock John Reith the newly appointed Managing Director of the B.B.C arrived. John Montgomery in his book "The Twenties" paints this portrait.

"From the earliest days Mr. Reith insisted on the announcers wearing evening dress. A man of strong religious convictions, he was determined that broadcasting should be conducted as a national service, with definite standards, and not used for entertainment alone. He wanted the service to reach the greatest possible number of houses, and to provide "all that is best in every department of human knowledge endeavour and advancement."

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