Friday, 29 May 2015

The First World War through children's fiction

Recently I was asked to compile a list of books held in the library relating to the First World War. This proved to be an interesting exercise especially as I was to look at books for a variety of ages.

Picture books
The library holds a number of picture books with World War I themes for older children. The use of illustration is a powerful and moving way to portray the effects of the war. Some titles are listed below:
  • And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda –Eric Bogle’s song about Gallipoli illustrated by Bruce Whatley
  • Anzac Biscuits by Phil Cummings; illustrated by Owen Swan [As a mother explains the history of Anzac biscuits, World War I battle scenes are also provided]
  • Jack’s Bugle by Krista Bell; illustrated by Belinda Eliot [the journey of a bugle from Australia to Gallipoli and back to Australia] 
  • Lest We Forget by Kerry Brown; illustrated by Isobel Knowles & Benjamin Portas [the story of a boy and his grandfather]
  • Lone Pine by Susie Brown & Margaret Warner; illustrated by Sebastian Ciaffaglione [story of bringing the Lone Pine to Australia]
  • The Poppy by Andrew Plant [story of Australian involvement at Villers Bretonneux]
  • The Soldier’s Gift by Tony Palmer; illustrated by Jane Tanner [one family’s courage during the First World War] 
 Junior fiction
A variety of books with the theme of World War I can also be found in the junior fiction collection.

One of the best known titles is probably War Horse by Michael Morpurgo [This tale of the relationship between a man and his horse on Western Front has recently been performed as a play and also made into a film]

 Once again a selection of the titles is provided in this list of books designed for a variety of ages:
  • Best Christmas Present in the World by Michael Morpurgo [Christmas in the trenches in 1914]
  • The Bomber Balloon by Terry Deary [Zeppelins over England in 1916]
  • In Flanders Fields by Norman Jorgensen & Brian Harrison-Lever [It is Christmas morning and the guns stop firing]
  • Loyal Creatures by Morris Gleitzman [Story of Frank and his horse in the Light Horse]
  • Evan’s Gallipoli by Kerry Greenwood [Evan travels with his father to the Dardenelles]
  • Roly the Anzac Donkey by Glyn Harper & Jenny Cooper [Activities of the NZ Medical Corps & their donkeys]
  • The Red Poppy by David Hill [Two wounded soldiers from different armies in No Man’s Land are rescued with the help of a messenger dog]
  • My father’s war by Sophie Masson [A journey to discover what the war was like in 1918 in France]
  • Do Not Forget Australia by Sally Murphy & Sonia Kretschmar [Australia’s relationship with Villers-Bretonneux forged by war]
  • Stories of WW1 by Tony Bradman
  • Light Horse Boy by Dianne Wolfer [Jim & Charlie join the Light Horse in 1914]

Thursday, 30 April 2015

World War I: a history in 100 stories

Currently I am doing an online course prepared by Monash University and placed online by FutureLearn. It is a five week course and through the One Hundred Stories project we look at aspects of the war through the stories of 100 participants. The stories are portrayed as silent presentations - a series of slide-shows of white text on black background - to tell each story. Fifty of the stories are currently online and another 50 will be added. A book containing more detailed versions of each story will be published later in the year.

Each week we look and discuss stories relating to a theme. Week one - Monuments and Mourning included how families grieved back home, particularly when a body was never recovered. Week two - Women and the War included those who performed unpaid work at home as well as the nurses who served overseas. Week three - The Other Anzac, looked at non-British soldiers who served with the Australian services, particularly indigenous soldiers. Week four - War Wounds, both physical and psychological. Week five - The Old Lie, the politics of war and how war divided society such as conscription debates, how the men were (or were not) helped to settle back into Australian life including soldier settlement schemes. As well as looking at individual stories there are videos where related topics are discussed and each week aspects of the theme may also be portrayed via a poem or piece of fiction, drama, art or music. A feature of the course is the forum where participants are encouraged to share their views. Often additional links or titles of appropriate books are provided via the forum.

So far this has been an interesting and often moving course. Looking closely at the experiences of individuals during the war, and in many cases the back story, brings home a greater understanding of how the war affected individuals, families and Australia.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Whitehorse Remembers

The Anzac Day display at Nunawading Library this year focuses on some of the memorials to those who served in World War I in what is now the City of Whitehorse.
 In conjunction with the Diggers in Whitehorse and Manningham project one of the librarians, Elaine Craig, took a series of photographs of all the memorials she could locate. A selection of the Whitehorse memorials is included in the display.
In the foyer of the Box Hill Town Hall there is a large honour board listing the names of those from the Shire of Nunawading, as the area was then known, who served during the First World War. The centre panel contains the names of those who did not return.
There are a number of official public memorials in the region including the Box Hill War Memorial, now located in the Box Hill Gardens.
Another war memorial is at Morton Park in Blackburn (pictured centre in the above image). The honour board shown on the left is for the Vermont Volunteers. This board was for many years displayed at the Vermont Mechanics Institute. Schools also remembered former pupils and staff who served. Many of the schools had honour rolls which often included information about the military service of students. Honour boards would also be displayed at schools.
Many organisations including churches and businesses also recognised their members who served. Space for the display was limited however the small selection demonstrates a range of memorials in the region. The display also promotes the library's Diggers database containing the names of those who served as well as Whitehorse Heritage Week to be held 10-17 September.

Giant Poppy Art Project

Another Anzac Day project utilising the poppy, this time in Auckland, New Zealand
Giant Poppy Art Project

If the video from the official website does not work the following link takes you to a video about the project.

The aim of the project is to use 59,000 red metal discs, representing New Zealanders killed or wounded during the First World War, to prepare an installation  40 metres wide in the Auckland Domain.
Money raised from the project will be used to assist ex-service personnel and their families.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Tony Robinson's Tour of Duty

Last night I watched the first episode of Tony Robinson's Tour of Duty, the new ten part series produced for the Centenary of Anzac Day and shown on the History Channel. The first one hour episode was filmed at Towoomba and surrounding area. Obviously there is a focus on monuments and stories relating to the First World War but stories relating to service in other wars were also provided.

The stories last night included:
A visit to the 11th Light Horse Darling Downs Troop which is a re-enactment unit established in 2002 commemorating the work of the 11th Light Horse Darling Downs Regiment established in February 1915.

Bill the Bastard, a waler, who carried five soldiers to safety during the Battle of Romani during World War I

The Mothers Memorial which was built from money raised by the women of the town and situated in the centre of the city. In the mid 1980s the memorial was relocated to East Creek Park where it is the focus for remembrance services.

A State War Memorial to Animals has also been proposed for Eastern Creek Park.

Toowoomba and District Aeromodellers who have produced models of World War II planes including the Black Magic, a kitty hawk flown by Len Waters, an aboriginal pilot. There was also an interview with the daughter of Len Waters.

Members of the 25th Infantry Battalion, formed from militia units from Toowoomba and the Darling Downs area, who were sent to defend Milne Bay in Papua New Guinea in 1942. This segment included an interview with a survivor from this campaign.

A soldier from Afghanistan recovering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with the aid of a  dog named Zeus, part of a program set up to assist the treatment of soldiers with PTSD. After the first and second world wars soldiers many soldiers suffered from what was then called shell shock but is now referred to as PTSD.

Each episode also has a road show segment where people are encouraged to show items relating to the war experience of family members.

All in all this was an interesting episode covering wide ranging topics relating to the experience of war in the community. Future episodes will visit other towns in Australia and New Zealand and should be worth watching.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Glencoe Massacre

This year is the 300th anniversary of the 1715 Jacobite Rising. Jacobites were supporters of of the deposed James VII of Scotland and his son, James, the 'Old Pretender'. James VII of Scotland was also James II of England and ruled from 6 February 1685 to 1688 when he was deposed for being pro-Catholic and possibly pro-French. By this time England and Scotland were largely protestant countries. When James fled to France at the end of 1688, his daughter Mary and her husband, William of Orange, were invited to rule England, Scotland and Ireland. The group of people who wanted James and his son to be restored to the throne of England, Scotland and Ireland were known as Jacobites. The greatest support for the return of the Stuart kings was in Scotland.

In 1690 Scotland officially became a Presbyterian country though other protestant religions were allowed to be followed. Scotland accepted that their rulers were Mary and William. An order was issued that by 1 January 1692 all the chiefs of Scottish clans were to sign an oath of allegiance to William and Mary. Many of the chiefs had already signed an oath to James VII and were not released from this obligation until 28 December, three days before the deadline.
On 31 December the head of the Glencoe branch of the MacDonald clan left for Fort William to sign the oath only to be advised that he had to travel 60 miles to Inveraray to sign the oath before a sheriff. The late signing of the oath was not accepted by the authorities, who were looking for an excuse to punish the highlanders, and an order was given that the MacDonalds of Glencoe were to be killed. Captain Robert Campbell of Glenlyon carried out the order after he and his men had accepted the hospitality of the MacIain, the chieftain of this branch of the Macdonalds, for several days until on 13 February they carried out the order to kill the MacDonalds - men, women and children. Some escaped the slaughter but 37, including women and children, were killed that day.

This action only increased the divide between the highlanders and the lowlanders in Scotland as well as between the highlanders and their king. The Massacre of Glencoe was part of the lead up to the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715.

On the Massacre of Glencoe - time lapse photography - poem by Sir Walter Scott

BBC Scotland - Massacre of Glen Coe

Scotsman - Massacre of Glencoe

Order for the Massacre of Glencoe

The Game of Crowns - the 1715 Jacobite Uprising

History of Glencoe

Wars of the Roses

This week I began a six week online course - England in the time of Richard III - prepared by the University of Leicester and put on line by FutureLearn. During the first week we looked at the Wars of the Roses, a series of battles that took place between 1455 and 1487. The first battles occurred between 1455 and 1464, the second series between 1469 and 1471 while the two final battles occurred in 1485 and 1487.

There are many websites that help to portray the story of this civil war in England between the Lancastrian and Yorkist kings of England and their supporters.

A good starting point is The Wars of the Roses - a website that includes maps and timelines showing the battles and the relevant events in the history of this period. Clicking the links provides summary information about each battle.

Four of the major battles were:
Blore Heath in 1459
Towton in 1461
Tewkesbury in 1471
Bosworth 1485

The battle at Towton resulted in the most deaths in any of the battles. A three minute video, providing a brief summary of the battle, located on the front page of the Towton Battlefield website is recommended viewing.
BBC - Bradford Uni unravels Roses battle puzzle

Re-enactment societies commemorate some of these battles including the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre. Living history groups:
The Wars of the Roses Federation
Towton Battlefield Society
Les Routiers de Rouen
Buckingham's Retinue

Other websites include:
Richard III Society
British Archaeology - The big dig: Discovering Bosworth
Time Team Special (2011) - Wars of the Roses: Relocating the field of the Battle of Bosworth (video)

The Guardian (20 February 2010) - Silver badge and lead shot pinpoint the Battle of Bosworth
York Boar badge as worn by the supporters of Richard III- (video)

The Official Website of the British Monarchy - provides short biographies of British royalty

The letters of the Paston Family of Norwich are a rich resource when studying 15th century history. The letters are available online via the Project Gutenberg website. The book, Blood and Roses, by Helen Castor uses the letters to describe life in 15th century England. See also BBC History: Paston family letters.

Other resources:
National Archives
British History Online - catalogue
National Heritage List for England lists many surviving medieval buildings

The other topics in this online course include Peasants and farmers. Books, literacy and printing, Death and commemoration, Food and The road from Bosworth, including Richard III's reinterment.

This is only one of many online courses on a wide variety of topics, not just history, available on the FutureLearn website - worth having a look at if you have some free time.