Review – City of Sin: London and its Vices

Review – City of Sin: London and its Vices

https://www.amazon.co.uk/City-Sin-London-its-Vices-ebook/dp/B003M69WY4/

 

From the first unfortunate shivering Roman slaves on the banks of the Thames two thousand years ago to modern vice this book covers the history of vice and the sex industry. Discussing the rise and fall of bawdy houses, the city’s attempts to regulate brothels and prostitution, the differing classes of sex workers throughout the time period, and how they were seen. There are comparisons of royal mistresses such as Nell Gwyn and the Countess of Castlemaine, to the sad, short and dangerous lives of street whores. And to cover the more modern cases – the Profumo affair and the repercussions thereof. When men (mostly) of power get their friskies beyond the marriage bed the women concerned can have influence, blackmail the men, and bring government and even monarchy into disrepute. But prostitution and adultery are hardly new.

Not all the accounts are tales of woe – some tell of successful women (mostly women), who left ‘the oldest profession in the world’ rich, and lived to old age; there are some accounts of women who voluntarily became courtesans – having more freedom than their married sisters (although less security). Of course, there were many (and some were young) forced into ‘the trade’ and who died in poverty, shame, riddled with disease and often took their own lives. Male brothels or ‘molly houses’ and homosexual encounters are discussed, with an interesting account of the Cleveland Street scandal and the trial of Oscar Wilder.

Overall the book is interesting and contains a varied set of accounts – but is a little flippant in places.

A useful summary of the times and lives of women (and men) of the street and houses of ‘ill-fame’ from the tragic to the darkly amusing. Not for the prudish!

 

Review – Green Men and White Swans – The Folklore of British Pub Names

3.5 Stars.

This book is a potted history and folklore of some of the names of British Pubs, past and present. Not every pub name is included – it depends on the origin of the name (and the ability to find out what it means).

Some of the names are odd, not obvious and many are reminiscent of attitudes long gone (Such as Quiet Woman – depicting a woman with no head, or wearing a scold’s bridle; or Nags Head – could also be sexist; Saracen’s Head or Black Boy – now viewed as racist.) In many cases the signs or names have been altered in our more enlightened times. Some of the pubs are old – they show which side a local landholder was on in the English Civil War, or whether they supported the Catholics or Protestants during the Reformation.

There are many mythical references – Unicorn, Green Man, Dragon, George and Dragon, Phoenix, etc. Not all in a locale directly related to that creature or hero – and some are named after ships, for example.

The snippets of local history and pride in that history are the most interesting aspect – and some of the references would be largely unknown outside a particular area.

A lot of research has been done for this book, and that shows.

The cons – there were a lot of formatting/typo errors, including a duplicate paragraph and the way certain aspects were laid out with specific topics interspersed did not work well as an ebook, as the formatting was all over the place.

Subject – 4 stars

Technical side – 3 stars.

 

Reviews 2019 – Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths in Bath – Kirsten Elliott

Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths in Bath

This is one of the better ‘Foul Deeds’ series, and all the more interesting as I live reasonably close to Bath. Bath is an ancient city, which has seen its share of blood and wickedness – these cases were, mostly the lesser known from 19 century onwards, there was a chapter outlining older crimes. The research was well done, and the author didn’t sensationalise the accounts (which tends to happen in many true crime books).

I’d recommend this for local historians, true crime buffs and people with an interest in the area.

Nicely done.

First review of 2019! Yay!

Swift Six Author Interview – Mary Anne Yarde – Historical Fiction

Name: Mary Anne Yarde

What attracts you to the genre in which you write?

I grew up surrounded by the rolling Mendip Hills in Somerset — the famous town of Glastonbury was a mere 15 minutes from my childhood home. Glastonbury is a little bit unique in the sense that it screams Arthurian Legend. Even the road sign that welcomes you into Glastonbury says:

“Welcome to Glastonbury. The Ancient Isle of Avalon.”

How could I grow up in such a place and not be influenced by King Arthur and his Knights?

I loved history from a very early age, and this passion has grown rather than diminish. I wasn’t ever going to write anything other than historical fiction. I love the research and the romance of bringing a time long gone back to life.

What piece of writing advice do you wish you’d known when you started your writing adventures?

Be patient and be prepared to make a lot of mistakes, particularly when it comes to marketing. It really is a huge learning curve, and there are always new things to learn. Writing a book and publishing it is a marathon, it is not a sprint.

If you could have dinner with any famous person or character, who would you choose?

Just one? Oh no, if we are going to do this, then we are going to do it right. I would host a party and invite everyone!

Who has been the greatest influence on your own work?

That is a difficult question to answer. I am not sure. I think I was fortunate growing up where I did. History and legends surrounded me. Would I have written an Arthurian series if I had not grown up where I had? I am not too sure.

Do you think the e-book revolution will do away with print?

I think there will always be room for both. Personally, I favour ebooks. For the most part, they are not as expensive, and they don’t take up so much room.

Which 3 books would you take to a desert island and why?

Only three?

I am going to have to choose carefully. Let me think…

The first book that I would take is surprisingly not a work of historical fiction. I would take The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans. I love this book. The Horse Whisperer is a very emotional book. It is a story about love, loss and hope.

The second book I would take would be Jane Austen’s, Mansfield Park. Mansfield Park has always been a firm favourite. I am not too sure why I just like the story.

I would also try and sneak a series into my backpack if I could, and that would be Bernard Cornwall’s Sharp series. This is my all-time favourite series. The narrative is so rich, and the story is brilliant.

 

Author bio and book synopsis

Please introduce yourself (250 words or so):

Mary Anne Yarde is the multi-award-winning author of the International Bestselling Series — The Du Lac Chronicles. Set a generation after the fall of King Arthur, The Du Lac Chronicles takes you on a journey through Dark Age Briton and Brittany, where you will meet new friends and terrifying foes. Based on legends and historical fact, The Du Lac Chronicles is a series not to be missed.

Born in Bath, England, Mary Anne Yarde grew up in the southwest of England, surrounded and influenced by centuries of history and mythology. Glastonbury — the fabled Isle of Avalon — was a mere fifteen-minute drive from her home, and tales of King Arthur and his knights were part of her childhood.

 

Tell us about your book(s) – title, genre etc. (short)

The Du Lac Prophecy (Book 4 of The Du Lac Chronicles) By Mary Anne Yarde

Historical Fiction

Blurb:

Two Prophesies. Two Noble Households. One Throne.

Distrust and greed threaten to destroy the House of du Lac. Mordred Pendragon strengthens his hold on Brittany and the surrounding kingdoms while Alan, Mordred’s cousin, embarks on a desperate quest to find Arthur’s lost knights. Without the knights and the relics they hold in trust, they cannot defeat Arthur’s only son – but finding the knights is only half of the battle. Convincing them to fight on the side of the Du Lac’s, their sworn enemy, will not be easy.

If Alden, King of Cerniw, cannot bring unity there will be no need for Arthur’s knights. With Budic threatening to invade Alden’s Kingdom, Merton putting love before duty, and Garren disappearing to goodness knows where, what hope does Alden have? If Alden cannot get his House in order, Mordred will destroy them all.

 

Links

Amazon.com

Amazon UK

Amazon CA

 

Social media

Website/Blog: https://maryanneyarde.blogspot.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/maryanneyarde/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/maryanneyarde

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Mary-Anne-Yarde/e/B01C1WFATA/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15018472.Mary_Anne_Yarde

 

KINDLE The Du Lac Prophecy 7 August 2018 final.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

Queen Victoria and Abdul Karim – A review and summary

I recently watched Victoria and Abdul – what a moving film, for many reasons. The elderly queen was lonely, depressed and wanted someone to treat her as a friend, not just a monarch. I know Victoria had a controlling, cold mother, and lost her father at a young age. She was moulded to be a monarch, as her uncle (William IV) was childless. She was, by many accounts a passionate woman, but unstable (as were many in her family). When her adored husband died young Victoria never got over it, but as she aged and times changed she became more and more separated from her people, and a stable, happy life. In her last few years a young, handsome Indian gentleman became her friend and mentor. This was NOT popular at court. He was a commoner, he was Indian and he was a Muslim. None of which were deemed suitable for the Queen. Victoria, basically, told her family to mind their own business – she liked Abdul Karim – he made her happy and made her laugh. He taught her Urdu, a liking for curry and some Indian history (albeit a little embellished).
Victoria accused the household of racism – which was probably a well-founded accusation at the time. The servants took umbrage that this ‘coloured’ servant was receiving favours and honours above the white household.
The British behaviour in India – that’s another story entirely – but there were some rather despicable practices, and attitudes happening.
When the Queen died Mr Karim was packed off back to India in all haste, and everything connected to his life and friendship with the Queen destroyed. (Except his own diaries.)
Judi Dench was fantastic as Victoria and, surrounded by a notable cast, really brought home the loneliness and separateness the monarch had then. She was a lonely old woman, with no real friends, and he was a clever young man who wanted to please this woman he revered. It was an unlikely friendship but for that it was special. Despite the class, racial, religious, and age difference two people found companionship. For over a decade they remained close, despite the family and household’s best efforts.
Queen Victoria is often seen as the epitome of staid and upright morality – and to an extent she was – or her name was. But she was still a woman and a woman who needed company.  Much of her life was unhappy, marred by duty and service and influenced by grief.
I heartily recommend this film and further research on this extraordinary friendship.

Review – Brighton Crime and Vice #Truecrime #British History

Brighton Crime and Vice

3 stars.

I tend to like this local, more specific true crime books. The general true crime anthologies often cover the same cases/criminals so these localised ones reveal the activities of the more obscure criminals.

The book covers 200 years and features murder, manslaughter, abortion (which was illegal until 1967), wife beating, husband slaughter, theft (often of minor items) and more. Most of the accounts are presented well-enough with a bit of history around the case, and the outcomes (most of which were execution, transportation, or imprisonment). Many of the cases are tragic – unmarried mothers trying to dispose of unwanted babies in a time when single-motherhood could ruin a girl and occupations for women were extremely limited. Some of the perpetrators of these crimes were insane, or of diminished responsibility, but until the late 19th Century such matters were barely recognised.

It’s a good account of crime in the area. Although some of the accounts are a little short, and get a bit tedious.

So why the relatively low rating? Now I don’t often mark down a book for typos – but this book had a lot. All the way through. There was a repeated paragraph and mistakes on every other page.

 

Battlefield 1066 -Spotlights – Victoria Zigler

#SWauthors #History #Childrensauthor

Name: Victoria Zigler, or Tori for short.

Tell us a bit about yourself I’m a blind vegetarian poet and children’s author.  Born and raised near the foot of the Black Mountains of South-West Wales, UK, I now live very close to the town of Hastings on the South-East coast of England, UK.  I share my home with my Canadian husband, and our gang of rodents (which currently consists of 3 degus, 1 gerbil, 2 rats, and 2 chinchillas) and spend most of my time either reading or writing.

Set during the Battle of Hastings tell us a little more about your story

My Battle of Hastings story is about a young boy named Eadweard who, along with his best friend, Cerdic, thought it would be fun to join the ranks of men marching to fight in the battle, even though they officially aren’t old enough and had been forbidden to do so by their Fathers.  They have dreams of being great war heroes, but soon discover the reality of war is nothing like what they imagined it to be.

It’s a children’s historical fiction story, but I’ve put an “eight years and older” warning on the book’s blurb, because some of the scenes in the story really aren’t suitable for readers younger than that, in my opinion.  After all, it is a story about a battle, and I can’t show the reality of war without showing some violence and blood.

What prompted you to write this one?

I wanted to branch out and try other genres, and this year being the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings inspired me to write a story about the battle.  I quickly decided that I wanted to tell the story of the events of the battle reasonably accurately – as much as can be done without a time machine, which I don’t have access to, unfortunately.  But I also wanted the story to be from the point of view of someone who wasn’t some famous war hero.  Part of my preference for someone who wasn’t a great war hero was because I wanted the person to be a child, and part of it was because I wanted fighting to be new to him.  I wanted to tell the story of the battle, while at the same time showing that war isn’t the amazing adventure some people think it to be.  I also wanted the book to be suitable for middle grade readers, which is why it needed to be a young lad who was the main character.  After looking up everything I could find on the battle, and letting those thoughts simmer in my mind for a couple of months, I sat down to write the story, and “Eadweard – A Story Of 1066” is the result.  To my knowledge, Eadweard and Cerdic themselves never existed.  However, boys like them would have, and the battle itself was very real.

How much research was involved? I already knew some of the details of the battle, partially from doing an essay on it during the time I was homeschooled in my teens, and partially because I live not far from Hastings, and it’s almost impossible to live close to Hastings and not know one or two facts (especially when you have an interest in history, as well as random facts, so pay attention to those kinds of things).  However, I still made sure to spend plenty of time researching my facts as accurately as possible.  I also happen to be very close to someone who is a huge history buff, a fellow writer, and essentially a walking encyclopaedia, so I asked him if he’d be a beta reader for me.  Thankfully, he agreed, so was able to help me out with anything I wasn’t sure about.

What was the most fascinating thing you learned from this experience?

I’m really not sure how to answer this one.  I found the whole thing fascinating; I like history.

Who do you think is one of the most important historical figures in British history?

I think the most important person in history is whoever figured out how to create and manipulate fire, because fire is the most useful thing in the world.  It doesn’t matter if you benefit from the things fire does for us directly by sitting in front of a roaring blaze, or indirectly by benefiting from the power that’s caused by a chain reaction started by burning some kind of fuel, if you’re a human being, chances are you’ll be benefiting from fire in your daily life… Especially in extremely cold weather.  Although, not quite as much as you might have had Thomas Edison not figured out about electricity.

Who do you believe to be the rightful claimant – William or Harold Godwinson? Why?

I think Harold is the rightful claimant.  I know William believes Harold promised him the throne, but it’s William’s word against Harold’s on that one.  Besides, even if he did, Harold was given the crown by people who held enough authority that their choice to do so was accepted.  As far as I’m concerned, that’s that; once he’s king, he’s king.  If everyone thought that way though, the battle wouldn’t have happened, and neither would many others throughout history.

What other books have you written?

How long have you got? Haha! No, I really mean it! OK, I’ll summarize: to date, I’ve published seven poetry collections and 42 stories of various lengths (including “Eadweard – A Story Of 1066” and the story that was published in the “Wyrd Worlds II” anthology).  My “Kero’s World” and “Degu Days Duo” books are semi-fictionalized stories based on the lives of my actual pets, my “Magical Chapters Trilogy” and “Zeena Dragon Fae” books are fantasy stories, my “Toby’s Tales” books are based on my own adjustments after losing my sight, “My Friends Of Fur And Feather” and “Rodent Rhymes And Pussycat Poems” are pet themed poetry collections written for and about real pets I’ve owned or known, the rest of my poetry books are random collections of poetry, all my stand alone stories are aimed at children of middle grade reading level or younger and cover a few different genres (though they’re mainly fantasy stories, fairy tales, animal stories, or some combination of the three) and my story in “Wyrd Worlds II” is a fantasy story.  I have plans for plenty more in the near future.

 

Character Questions

Who are you? Tell us about yourself.

My name is Eadweard, and I’m nine years old, though I’m tall for my age, so look a little older.  My Father isn’t a rich lord, but we have enough money to live comfortably, and for my Father to have two sets of armour.  His new armour is much nicer than the old stuff, but the old armour is still  in good enough condition that he kept it for me; he says I’ll grow in to it properly one day.

What faith do you hold? Are you devout?

I’m no priest, nor do I plan to become one.  I believe in God though, of course, and say my prayers.

What is your moral code?

My Father always taught me that a warrior should be prepared to die to defend their leader and loved ones.

Would you die for your beliefs?

I don’t actually want to die.  I know I should be prepared to do so, but that doesn’t mean I want it to happen.  If I’m going to die though, I want it to be in a way that will bring honour to my family, and make my Father proud of me.

Would you kill for them?

I would try to.  Though that’s not as easy to do as it looks.  It turns out fighting with practice swords is a lot easier than fighting in a real battle.

How did you become embroiled in this battle for the crown?

Well… *Looks guilty* I wasn’t supposed to be involved.  My Father said I wasn’t ready for battle, and ordered me to stay home.  My best friend, Cerdic, was told the same by his Father.  We disobeyed though, and found a way to join the ranks of marching men.  You won’t tell our Fathers, will you?

Honestly – who do you think is the rightful claimant?

King Harold is the rightful claimant, of course.  The Witon said he should be King, and they wouldn’t say it if it wasn’t true, would they?

Were you afraid during the battles?

I tried to pretend I wasn’t, so the others wouldn’t think me a coward, but I was afraid throughout most of the battle.  I’m pretty sure Cerdic was too.  Part of my fear was fear of what my Father would do if he found out I’d disobeyed him and found a way to join the battle after all, and part of it was the actual battle itself.

Have you a family?

I’m my parents’ eldest child.  I have three younger siblings.  My eldest sister is only a year younger than me, and often helps our Mother to keep an eye on our younger brother and sister, who are hardly more than babies.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I hope to have already shown my skill in battle, and gained enough notice as a great warrior that my heroic deeds are rewarded.  That would make my Father proud.  Then he won’t be quite so angry that I disobeyed him when he said I wasn’t ready to join a real battle.

Links/cover etc.

Author links:

Website: http://www.zigler.co.uk

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/toriz

Facebook author page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Victoria-Zigler/424999294215717

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/victoriazigler

Blog: http://ziglernews.blogspot.co.uk

 

Buy links for “Eadweard – A Story Of 1066”

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/652726

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/eadweard-victoria-zigler/1124182601

Apple iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/book/eadweard-a-story-of-1066/id1137551399

Also available from other sites Smashwords distributes to… Paperback coming soon!

eadweard-a-story-of-1066-cover-1-1600x2400

Battlefield 1066 – spotlights – Barbara G Tarn

Name: Barbara G.Tarn

Tell us a bit about yourself

I was born in the boot-shaped country dripping into the Mediterranean sea, but having lived abroad at a young age, I currently feel international, a woman with no country that sometimes is quite sick of the whole crazy planet. I love history, especially the Middle Ages (11th to 13th century), and making up stuff, although I learned the value of research even for the craziest idea – be it fantasy or science fiction. I write mostly SFF these days, having exhausted any will to talk about current events and today’s people.

Set during the Battle of Hastings tell us a little more about your story

Here’s the blurb: Nineteen-year-old Robert Malet followed William the Bastard to England to claim the English throne. The battle near the small town of Hastings is the beginning of the Norman conquest of England, but also of Robert’s second life.
A vampire in 12th century Europe traveling, fighting and meeting his siblings in darkness, changing names through the years when his mortal life is gone.
Follow Robert Malet, Brother Geoffrey, Robert Capuchon and Mercadier through the years. History and fantasy based on medieval chronicles for a Vampires Through the Centuries novella.

What prompted you to write this one?

When Steph Bennion suggested we write something around the Battle of Hastings, I thought it would be the prefect setting for one of my vampires stories. The original idea was about a Viking woman through the centuries who could be at the battle of Hastings. Just an episode of her long life – she pursues her love through the centuries without turning him into a vampire, simply looking for his next reincarnation! 😉

As the second novel developed, I decided it should be someone actually turned at the battle – with the Viking woman and the berserker passing through Kaylyn’s novel along with Bran the Raven, the maker of them all. You shall encounter Robert also in the novel Kaylyn the Sister-in-Darkness that will come out Nov.2, but this is his story from his point of view.

How much research was involved?

I had already studied the 11th and 12th centuries for a shelved historical novel, so I pulled out my old Histoire de France en Bandes Dessinnées (history of France in comic-book form from the late 1970s) and saw they had William the Conqueror and other interesting characters.

To make sure the battle itself was neatly done, I bought an Osprey Publishing book about that campaign – based on the two or three chronicles of the time.

For later times, I went back to my research on William Marshal and Richard Lionheart.

What was the most fascinating thing you learned from this experience?

That the Normans had ugly haircuts! 😉 My poor cover artist almost gave up drawing Robert, although I had sent her the images of how the French artist had drawn William the Conqueror…

Who do you think is one of the most important historical figures in British history?

History is written down and recorded by winners. And it gets rewritten through the centuries. Robin Hood, Roland or King Arthur – who knows who the actual people were? What were they actually called and what did they actually do?

That said, there are some chronicles left – to be taken with a grain of salt, since usually it’s copies of long lost originals (something that applies to the gospels as well, but I digress). I think that there was no real England as we know it today in the 11th century. The Danes, the Saxons, the Angles all mixed up – and then the Normans, who had managed to get a piece of land from the King of France, decided they wanted a piece of it too…

The Anglo-Norman nobility after the conquest spoke French, not English. Richard Lionheart spent only six months of his short reign in England – he was Norman, he couldn’t care less about what happened beyond the channel! He was too busy trying to keep his continental estates…

Who do you believe to be the rightful claimant – William or Harold Godwinson? Why?

I don’t really have an opinion on this. The great empires (Roman, Frank) had fallen to pieces, but there’s always someone who want to rebuild them, isn’t it?

What other books have you written?

Three more Vampires Through the Centuries (with more to come next year), a science fantasy series called Star Minds and then there’s my fantasy world of Silvery Earth… lots of titles, but also lots of collections and mostly standalone! Full list here.

 

Character Questions

 

Who are you? Tell us about yourself

I am Robert, son of William Malet, one of the few proven companions of Duke William. I was born in Gravelle-Saint-Honorine nineteen years ago.

What faith do you hold? Are you devout?

I am Christian, of course, and I’m as devout as the other knights around me. Bishop Odo celebrated mass and blessed us before joining us in the battle against the English. Yes, bishops can also be fearsome warriors in my time and great landholders as well. I know that Archbishop Baldwin took King Richard’s army to the Holy Land all by himself…

What is your moral code?

I am a knight and a man of honor. I kill only in battle.

Would you die for your beliefs?

I’d die for my lord and liege. I’d die to protect the land, my family and their estates.

Would you kill for them?

If my lord and liege asks me to. Or if someone threatens me or mine.

How did you become embroiled in this battle for the crown?

I followed my father and the Duke of Normandy, whom I admire greatly. It was actually my first real battle and I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Honestly – who do you think is the rightful claimant?

Honestly, I can’t say. You see, my father is related to King Harold… but he still fights by Duke William’s side!

Were you afraid during the battle?

I’m part of the mighty Norman cavalry. No, I’m not afraid, even though the damn English had raised that wall of shields. But then the berserker attacked me…

Have you a family?

Parents, siblings and soon a Norman bride.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

As one of the dozen or so greatest landholders in England.

 

 

Links/cover etc.

blog: http://creativebarbwire.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BarbaraGTarn

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4717133.Barbara_G_Tarn

Author Central http://www.amazon.com/Barbara-G.Tarn/e/B0050P0R2G

Where to find everything: http://www.unicornproductionsbook.com

norman-blood-cover-lowres

The Somme 100

transparent-poppy-field-1621248

 

http://www.cliparthut.com/transparent-poppy-field-clipart-MpS2j2.html

I meant to post this yesterday.

The Somme -100

July 1-November 18 1916

The Somme, Picardy, France.

One hundred years ago, on 1st July 1916 the ‘Bloodiest day in the history of the British Army’ began.  The Battle of the Somme – France. The allies of France, Britain and Russia had been at war with Germany/Austro-Hungary for two years but this particular Offensive was the bloodiest yet.  The First World War has been called ‘The War to End All Wars’ – but alas it was not to be so. It was the greatest loss of human life in battle until that date.

Britain and France commemorate the site and the battlefield, but many other countries, including the US, know little of this region and its blood-soaked history.  So why was it so awful?

“The Battle of the Somme was fought at such terrible cost that it has come to symbolise the tragic futility of the First World War. Its first day of conflict remains the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army and it was felt deeply at home.”

http://www.britishlegion.org.uk/remembrance/ww1-centenary/somme-100

F Scott Fitzgerald  describes it poignantly, “This land here cost twenty lives a foot that summer….. See that little stream – we could walk to it in two minutes. It took the British a month to walk to it – a whole empire walking very slowly, dying in front and pushing forward behind. And another empire walked very slowly backwards a few inches a day, leaving the dead like a million bloody rugs.” (Tender is the Night – F Scott Fitzgerald – Chapter 13)

Young men from all walks of life fought, and died that summer. Pals brigades, boys of 14 who had lied about their age, father, brothers, sons, husbands, friends. Death took them without favour. The Grim reaper cares not for ties of family or friendship, and his scythe was busy indeed.

Over 400000 men died in just six miles, and over a million in that battle alone. In the first DAY 19240 men fell in that field. 19420. That’s over twenty men a minute! That is incredible.  And so terribly tragic.

‘The official number of British dead, missing or wounded during that period is 419, 654. There were 72,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers who died at the Somme with no known graves and whose names are recorded on the British memorial at Thiepval.’

Including Allied soldiers over 600000 died, and half a million Germans.

51 Victoria Crosses were awarded for gallantry. 9 in the first day.

Read more about these men here: http://www.hellfirecorner.co.uk/9vcs.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_First_World_War_Victoria_Cross_recipients

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/0/ten-facts-about-the-battle-of-the-somme/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_World_War_I_memorials_and_cemeteries_in_the_Somme

It was believed the weight of the shelling in the week before would reduce the German lines and destroy them before the British even got there. It was a terrible miscalculation. The British shells were not well made, and could not get into the deep German bunkers. The average soldier had to carry 30kg of kit. Many had not seen battle before and were not professional soldiers. They were ordinary men in an extraordinary situation. 90% of a Canadian Battalion died on the first day. 90%.

From Wiki

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Somme

‘The first day on the Somme began 141 days of the Battle of the Somme and the opening day of the Battle of Albert. The attack was made by five divisions of the French Sixth Army either side of the Somme, eleven British divisions of the Fourth Army north of the Somme to Serre and two divisions of the Third Army opposite Gommecourt, against the German Second Army of General Fritz von Below. The German defence south of the Albert–Bapaume road mostly collapsed and the French had “complete success” on both banks of the Somme, as did the British from the army boundary at Maricourt to the Albert–Bapaume road. On the south bank the German defence was made incapable of resisting another attack and a substantial retreat began; on the north bank the abandonment of Fricourt was ordered. The defenders on the commanding ground north of the road inflicted a huge defeat on the British infantry, who had an unprecedented number of casualties. Several truces were negotiated, to recover wounded from no man’s land north of the road. The Fourth Army took 57,470 casualties, of which 19,240 men were killed, the French Sixth Army had 1,590 casualties and the German 2nd Army had 10,000–12,000 losses.[21]

At Thiepval memorial site miles of pristine white headstones (British/Commonwealth) and wooden crosses (French) fill the area around and the fields themselves are filled with shell -holes, and replica trenches.  There is a cemetery in that region with graves as far as the eye can see. And these were just the graves of the men they FOUND.  The memorial itself is the most tragically beautiful thing I have ever seen. I was 16 when I visited that region on a school trip and I can honestly say that I will never forget it. Some of those soldiers were no older than I was then. And they didn’t return.   It’s an astonishing place. I remember – we went in winter and it was snowing, bloody cold but we all stood in the snow and just stared that this could have happened. Thiepval commemorates 72ooo men whose bodies were never recovered but lost their lives in 141 days of hell. That’s three times larger than the population of the town I was raised in. More than the current population of British towns such as Shrewsbury, Aylesbury, Crewe, Tunbridge Wells, and many more. It’s more than the total population of Greenland, and twice the population of Leichenstein. That is ONE memorial. Teenage boys, who like to be seen as tough stood weeping silently.  I think every British child should visit that site. It’s something that will stay with you.

http://www.britishlegion.org.uk/community/calendar/ww1-centenary/somme-centenary-thiepval?gclid=CjwKEAjwzN27BRDFn9aAwLmH2yISJABWuEXcoqcamtNIimT-zQxpEqeSriM71ypmXG0M6phB3pmdexoC9K3w_wcB

This year the Royal British Legion are producing poppy pin badges from shell metal actually found in the battlefield. One for every person who died. I am proud to own one – mine commemorates Lance Corporal William Dengate – London Regiment (Queen Victoria’s Rifle – service number 3408.) He died on 1 July 1916. He was from Clapham, in London. He was likely awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal. https://www.forces-war-records.co.uk

See his profile here http://www.londonwarmemorial.co.uk/view_profile.php?id=29078&limit=20&offset=0&sort=%20ORDER%20BY%20strSurname%20ASC&a=Lived/Born%20In&f=First%20Name&s=Dengate&r=Rank&u=Unit&b=&d=Date%20Of%20Death#sthash.NfGszhAd.dpbs

So far that’s all I have managed to find out about him, but I’ll keep searching. Who was he? What did he do for a living? What was his age? Was he some one’s husband? Was he someone’s father, or brother.

The Somme Offensive was, eventually, a strategic success – the Germans were damaged and it was one of the factors which brought the USA into the war. And the British began to use tanks from September 1916 – modern warfare was born. It relieved the pressure of the French and Verdun and many argue it was a pivotal battle – but at such a cost.

 

Remembering the Great War – because the War to End all War didn’t.transparent-poppy-field-1621248

Review – 1888 – London Murders in the Year of the Ripper

1888 – London Murders in the Year of the Ripper by Peter Stubley

#truecrime #LondonHistory #JacktheRipper

1888 is a year that entered history for all the wrong reasons – the Autumn of Terror was the time the unidentified serial killer known as Jack the Ripper stalked the streets of London. But these were not the only crimes in what was then the capital of the British Empire, and the primary trading port of the world.

This fascinating book recounts a whole year of killings; some were done in pitiful desperation, some for the usual reasons – greed or love, some were done on the spur of the moment, some were done in madness but all were tragic in their own way. In part this is a social commentary – almost all the killers and the majority of the victims were poor. This was a time without many rights for women or children, domestic violence was very common, families were often large and money was scarce. In, what was arguably, the most civilised city on Earth, life was cheap and crime was rife.

Most of these tragic tales are little known – forgotten by time, and overshadowed by the Ripper’s crimes. This is the first time I have seen some of these outlined, and I read a lot of true crime. The author deals with the subject sympathetically, non-judgementally and references particular articles, laws, biographies etc. It’s obvious a lot of research was done to select these accounts and to present them accurately, and in the context of the time. In the case of the Ripper, the author does not speculate on a possible perpetrator, as many crime writers do, he simply presents the facts and states that no one was ever identified as Jack the Ripper.

Overall I’d recommend this to readers of Victorian history, true crime, British history and those interested in the social commentary of the time.

5 stars

 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15931984-1888