Sunday, 19 October 2014

First convoy leaves Melbourne

In October 1914 seventeen troop ships left Port Melbourne for Albany, Western Australia. The ships were  A1 HMAT Hymettus, A2 HMAT Geelong, A3 HMAT Orvieto, A4 HMAT Pera, A5 HMAT Omrah, A9 HMAT Shropshire, A10 HMAT Karroo, A15 HMAT Star of England, A18 HMAT Wiltshire, A20 HMAT Hororata, A21 HMAT Marere, A22 HMAT Rangatira, A24 HMAT Benalla, A25 HMAT Anglo Egyption, A26 HMAT Armadale, A27 HMAT Southern and A28 HMAT Militiades. Sixteen of the ships left between 17 and 21 October.

Although the departure of the ships was kept secret family and friends still flocked to Port Melbourne to farewell the troops. The ships departed from three piers - Town Pier, New Railway Pier (Princes Pier) and Railway Pier (Station Pier). The ships carried troops, nurses, supplies, weapons and horses.

See Anzac 2014-2018 Centenary for additional information:
HMAT Orvieto embarkation

Port Melbourne - First Convoy

Also
Troopships to move a nation

First World War Embarkation rolls - Australian War Memorial (In advanced search search for name of ship)

Troopships - Adopt a Digger project

His Majesty's Australian Transports - Desert Column (photos and information about the ships

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Battle of Britain monument

The Battle of Britain memorial was opened on 18 September 2005.
It is located on the Victoria Embankment and overlooks the Thames River. A series of bronze panels depict scenes from the Battle of Britain during the Second World War. The image above shows the impact of the German bombing of London, beneath which is one of Sir Winston Churchill's famous statements: Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.
The Battle of Britain Monument website contains information about the project and detailed images of the monument as seen during the day and at night. It also has a list of allied aircrew during the Battle of Britain.
Other panels show the pilots scrambling to reach their aircraft to take on the German planes.

The panels mounted both sides of two granite walls measures 25 metres and is a most impressive site. The names of the 2,937 men - pilots and ground crew from 14 countries - who served in the airforce during the Battle of Britain are also listed in panels on the monument.

Additional information about the monument:

Bravery in bronze - the Battle of Britain Monument

Cleopatra's Needle, London

When in London in 2011 we were surprised to encounter two large sphinx on the Thames embankment.
The sphinx are either side of an Egyptian obelisk, part of which is shown in the photo below. The models of the sphinx, designed by George Vulliamy and modelled by C. H. Mabey, were added to the site in 1882. Unfortunately they are facing the wrong way - they should be guarding the obelisk, facing away from it.
The obelisk dates back to around 1450 BC and was originally erected at Heliopolis in Egypt on the orders of Thutmose III. It was one of three known structures erected at this time. It is known under the name of Cleopatra's Needle but has no connection with that Queen of Egypt. One of the plaques on base of the monument reads:
The obelisk was presented to the United Kingdom in 1819 by Muhammad Ali, ruler of Egypt and Sudan, in commemoration of Lord Nelson's victory against the French Navy at the Battle of the Nile in August 1798 and the victory of Sir Ralph Abercromby's troops against the French at the Battle of Alexandria in  March 1801.

It was not until 1877 that attempts were made to transport the obelisk to London. It was encased in an iron capsule named the Cleopatra and towed to England. All went well until a storm in the Bay of Biscay when it was thought that the capsule had been lost. However it survived and was towed to England by a second ship. The obelisk was erected on the bank of the Thames on 12 September 1878.

During the First World War on the night of the 4th of November German bombers dropped bombs on London. One of the bombs landed near the obelisk. Shrapnel from the bomb damaged the plinth of the obelisk and also one of the sphinx. The damage on these monuments remains as a memory of that raid. The blog, Great War London, provides information about the German raid and damage that occurred.
The Imperial War Museum has a photo of the sphinx after the air raid showing the damage not only to the monument but also more serious damage close by.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Spanish Civil War

Walking by the Clyde River in Glasgow we came across this statue of Dolores Ibarruri, one of the leaders of the Spanish Civil War (July 1936 until 1 April 1939). Dolores Ibarruri was known as La Pasionaria. A quotation from La Pasionaria reads - Better to die on your feet than live forever on your knees. The sign beneath the statue reads:
The
City of Glasgow 
and the British
Labour Movement
pay tribute to the
courage of those
men and women
who went to Spain
to fight Fascism
1936-1939
2,100 volunteers 
went from Britain,
534 were killed,
65 of whom came
from Glasgow

The British volunteers were part of the International Brigade, volunteers from more than 50 countries, who went to Spain to assist supporters of the republican movement in that country. Members of the International Brigade were primarily trade unionists and members of political organisations from the centre to the left of the political spectrum, including the Communist Party. The Fascist army and supporters were better organised than those fighting for the republican cause. Numbers of new recruits for the International Brigade were declining by 1938 and the group was disbanded in October with the British volunteers returning home in December of that year.

La Pasionaria Memorial - BBC Scotland

La Pasionaria - Glasgow City of Sculpture

La Pasionaria fading icon - HeraldScotland 5 December 2009

Scots who fought against Franco - STV News 23 August 2010

Spanish Civil War monument, Glasgow - Panoramic Earth

Dolores Ibarruri (1895-1989) - Encyclopaedia Britannica

Dolores Ibarruri (1895-1989) - New York Times 13 November 1989

International Brigade - British volunteers

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Nelson Monument, Edinburgh

Located on Calton Hill in Edinburgh is the Nelson Monument, commemorating the victory of the British Fleet over the French and Spanish Fleets and the death of Admiral Lord Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

The 106 foot monument is built to resemble an upside down telescope. One hundred and forty-three steps have to be climbed to reach the top of the tower. It is built on the highest section of the hill and was designed to be viewed by ships on the Firth of Forth. The architect was Robert Burn (1752-1815). The Nelson Monument replaced a signalling mast previously on the sight.  A mast stands at the top of the monument and the famous Trafalgar flag signal 'England expects that every man will do his duty' is flown each year to mark Trafalgar Day (21st October).
Planning for the monument began a month after the death of Lord Nelson. The foundation stone for the monument was laid in 1807 and the main tower was built by 1808. Then the money for the project ran out. Work again began on the project in 1814 and was completed in 1815.

In 1852 a time ball was added to help ship captains reset their chronometers each day. This is dropped at 1 o'clock each afternoon. As the time-ball could not always be seen if the weather was foggy, a cannon at Edinburgh Castle was fired at the same time. The time-ball is still dropped at 1.00 pm six days a week.

Nelson Monument - Calton Hill architecture

Battle of Trafalgar - BBC History

Battle of Trafalgar - History Channel

National Monument of Scotland

The National Memorial of Scotland can be found in the Regent Gardens on Calton Hill in Edinburgh. The building was erected as a memorial to Scottish servicemen who died during the Napoleonic Wars (between 1803 and 1815) but the building was never completed due to lack of funds. Modelled on the Pathenon in Athens, it remains an impressive structure.

The foundation stone for the monument was laid in 1822 and building began in 1826, but building ceased in 1829 when money for the project ceased. The monument was designed by Charles Robert Cockerell (1788-1863) and  William Henry Playfair (1790-1857), who designed many of the well known buildings in Edinburgh including the National Gallery of Scotland, Old College at University of Edinburgh and Regent Terrace, Royal Terrace and Calton Terrace, part of Edinburgh's New Town. Cockerell was the senior architect when the design was submitted but Playfair is the architect most closely associated with the project.
Located on top of the hill the monument provides views of surrounding country side as well as views of the city.
Although only twelve of the pillars were erected, it is a prominent structure on the hill even though locating information about the significance of the building can be a challenge.
 It remains a popular place with tourists and others visiting Calton Hill.

Lost Edinburgh - the Scotsman 17 February 2014

Napoleonic Wars - British Army Research

William Henry Playfair - Undiscovered Scotland

Friday, 19 September 2014

Scottish National War Memorial

Entrance to Scottish National War Memorial
The Scottish National War Memorial is located in the grounds of Edinburgh Castle. It was opened on 14 July 1927.

According to the website, the Scottish National War Memorial commemorates nearly 150,000 Scottish casualties in the First World War, 1914-18, more than 50,000 in the Second World War, 1939-45, and the campaigns since 1945, including the Malayan Emergency, the Korean War, Northern Ireland, the Falklands War and the Gulf War.
It is a most impressive building, inside and outside, and blends in with the other buildings in the complex.
North side of the building
The Scottish National War Memorial website includes a virtual tour of the building.

 Canmore - Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland - provides a site report with photographs of aspects of the building.