Race riots


Great War London

So far, the black history month posts have been fairly positive stories – two young officers of mixed race, and a  successful propaganda speaker. Sadly (if unsurprisingly) it was not all plain sailing where race relations in Great War London were concerned. There were several incidents of race riots.

It was not quite all quiet on the home front. At least two race riots took place in London during the Great War.

In July 1917, the Times reported a ‘disturbance’ on Victoria Dock Road in West Ham. A police sergeant told magistrates that “in consequence of the infatuation of the white girls for the black men in the district, some of the inhabitants are greatly incensed against the coloured men.”

The previous Saturday night, a gang of white youths attacked houses inhabited by black men in Victoria Road causing considerable damage. In response, several black men came out into the…

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The new victims of WW1


Some WW1 Photographs...

This post is dedicated to the new victims of the Great War: our families. My wife and my (now 9-year old) daughter are obliged to live with our passion, which means that our home is full with dusty books, photographs, military maps, and even uniforms (which were for a while in our closet).

This means too that a good part of the vacation time is dedicated to the visit of battlefields and war cemeteries. We almost never go in a new place by chance, as there’s always a link with the Great War. They know that our journeys can be marked by several stops, if some monuments are spotted.

This means that a (good) part of the home budget is dedicated to this passion and that we in fact don’t live in 2012, but some time between 1914 and 1918. But they accept it because they love us and they…

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October 15 1917 Mata Hari executed


Craig Hill Training Services

On October 15th 1917, Mata Hari, the archetype of the seductive female spy, was executed for espionage by a French firing squad at Vincennes outside of Paris.

She first came to Paris in 1905 and found fame as a performer of exotic Asian-inspired dances.

She soon began touring all over Europe, telling the story of how she was born in a sacred Indian temple and taught ancient dances by a priestess who gave her the name Mata Hari, meaning “eye of the day” in Malay.

In reality, Mata Hari was born in a small town in northern Holland in 1876, and her real name was Margaretha Geertruida Zelle.

She acquired her superficial knowledge of Indian and Javanese dances when she lived for several years in Malaysia with her former husband, who was a Scot in the Dutch colonial army.

Regardless of her authenticity, she packed dance…

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Forgotten Fronts: War Horses on the Eastern Front 1915


Great War Photos

The Eastern Front in the Great War is something few are aware of; the Eastern Front of a generation later in Hitler’s war has eclipsed it and the fact that at any given time more than a million German soldiers faced potentially millions of Russian troops, both deadlocked in the East in the same way there was deadlock in the West. The Eastern Front became a mirror of France and Flanders in some ways; trenches, No Man’s Land, barbed wire, shelling and attrition. Joined by troops of the Austro-Hungarian Empire more than 800,000 Germans died in the East along with 1.15 million Austro-Hungarians; opposite them more than 2.2 million Russians died before the Russian Revolution changed everything.

This photograph comes from a collection of a young German gunner who served on the Eastern Front between 1914 and 1917, before he moved to France where he died in 1918. Here two…

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The Forgotten Armies of the Western Front – 1914 to 1918


Military History Now

Eight million men in total fought in the British Army during the First World War. More than half of them (5 million) served in France and Flanders on the Western Front. [1] These men came from the U.K. as well as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India and even the West Indies. Another 8 million soldiers fought for France. [2] The United States sent 4.7 million to war with Germany in the last two years of the war [3] and as many as 11 million Germans fought in France and Belgium as well between 1914 and 1918. [4] Interestingly enough these weren’t the only nations’ armies to have taken part in the fighting there. There were other, smaller, often overlooked contingents to the Western Front that history has largely forgotten. Here are their stories.

Portugal
When war between the powers of Europe erupted in the summer of 1914, Portugal…

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War Horses in Gas Masks 1918


Great War Photos

Gas was a weapon that will be forever associated with the Great War. First used at Ypres in April 1915, it caused many casualties among the front line troops. But gas did not just linger on the battlefield – it drifted. And in drifting it moved into areas that were used to bring up supplies and ammunition, and as the war progressed, these areas became often as much targeted as the front line.

As the majority of transport in every army during WW1 was horse or mule transport, then these animals became as much affected by the gas as their human masters. Just as gas masks were developed for the troops, masks were equally introduced for horses; this image shows a British soldier wearing a Small Box Respirator, introduced in 1916, checking the gas masks of two horses pulling a service wagon. Gas warfare was a bad enough experience for…

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