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Fascists “Uppish” Again (Tom Driberg)

Found - this cutting from the Oxford Mail - Thursday 4th February 1943 detailing an incident straight out of Foyle's War. While World War II was raging, back in England pro-Nazi 'hooligans' were getting 'uppish.' A good demonstration of fair play and free speech - but 'much to be deplored.' Tom Driberg, now the subject of several biographies, was an openly gay, Communist sympathiser and a lifetime opponent of fascism. Churchill said 'he is the sort of person who gives sodomy a bad name..' Peter Wright of Spycatcher fame said he was a double agent...

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Fascists "Uppish" Again - M. P.

Mr. Driberg (Ind., Maldon) asked the Home Secretary in the Commons today if he was aware that an organisation which advocated peace by negotiation with Hilter, and distributes pro-Nazi, anti-parliamentary and anti-Semitic propaganda, was proposing to hold a public meeting at a London theatre in the near future, and whether he would take steps to prevent the holding of such a meeting as likely to provoke a breach of the peace.

Mr. Morrison said that while watch was being kept on the activities of this organisation, his present information did not suggest that this meeting was likely to attract so much public interest that serious disorder was to be apprehended, and it would be premature for him to decide at this early date whether there were ground to prohibit the meeting, under Regulation 39E.

Mr. Driberg: Will you bear in mind that only last night there was a deplorable exhibition of hooliganism at Finsbury, where a memorial of Lenin was broken up and tarred and placarded with Fascist slogans?
Will you bear in mind that these people do seem to be getting rather uppish again and require a sharp check?

Mr. Morrison: I will certainly look into that incident to which you refer. If true, it is much to be deplored.

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A real match for the Axis

Found, if I recall, among bric-a-brac, in a job lot at an auction in the east of England, is this ‘striking’ packet of matches, only three of which have been used. As there are a number of US air bases in this part of the world, it may have once belonged to an airman who eventually settled here. Presumably, the date of manufacture by The Match Corporation of America in Chicago would be sometime between 1941 and 1945 and it is certainly possible that the US Air Force brought over to England large numbers of such packets for the use of their staff.

Advertising propaganda urging patriots to buy War Bonds dates back to the First World War, but I haven’t yet discovered any satirical British advertising on everyday objects, such as matches or cigarette packets, that dates from a hundred years ago . If any Jot 101 readers know of some, we would welcome further information. [RMH]

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Antonia Kelly World War 2 poet

Found - an album of poems among books and ephemera from the St. Clair Erskine family - sons of Lord Rosslyn (1869-1939) whose Calcot Park and Hunger Hill visitors book we covered recently. These were written by Antonia Mary Kelly (1920? - 1965) of Irish descent and the daughter of Admiral Sir John Donald Kelly. She married David Simon St. Clair-Erskine in 1948 and divorced him in 1958. They had one son. There is  a small amount information about her online, mostly garnered from gossip columns and peerage sites. In 1938 at the age of 18 she launched a warship (destroyer) called 'The Kelly' and she seems, on the evidence of these poems, to have worked at the Foreign Office during World War 2. There is a photo of her (below) on her wedding day in The Sketch 1948; she wore hyacinths in her hair, the best man was the Hon W.K. Davison and the priest was Father J. Bevan (indicating a Roman Catholic service) at the Brompton Oratory.

Her poems written between 1933 and 1947 are mostly highly competent, some are passionate love poems. Many are amusing or satirical and some quite worldly for a young woman of the time - at 16 she wrote these 'Lines Written during a Meagre & Modernist Dinner Party' :

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Colossus – the first true electronic computer

Found - in a paperback novel from the 1980s this press cutting. It is from a glossy magazine (possibly Electronics World) and is a letter from one G.O. Hayward. This is the war hero Gil Hayward who had worked at Bletchley Park and was given a medal by the Prime Minister in 2010 and died a year later aged 93. He had worked on the "Tunny" decryption machines at  at the Post Office Research Station at Dollis Hill, North London, and later at Bletchley Park. These were used to break the code of even higher grade secret messages than the Enigma machine. Towards the end of the war, up to 15 of the Tunny machines were in use at Bletchley Park, providing Allied leaders with around 300 messages from the German High Command a week. Among other things, Tunny provided key intelligence for D-Day. The Colossus computer was developed from it...

His Telegraph obituary notes that he was interested in electronics from an early age - "On his own motorcycle.. he built an indicator which integrated a clock with his speedometer and indicated his average speed.

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Zeppelins over literary London

A correspondence on Zeppelins in the letters column of the Times Literary Supplement  prompted a visit to a local Suffolk church where 17 German airmen were buried after crashing their Zeppelin in 1917. The letters have the slightly leaden header 'Led by a Zeppelin' and concern a remark of Katherine Mansfield's about how she was so attracted to the sound and sight of a Zeppelin during a raid on Paris that '…she longed to go out and follow it…' This reminds the correspondent of G.B. Shaw's reaction to a Zeppelin over Potter's Bar in October 1917 -'…  the sound of the engines was so fine, and its voyage through the stars so enchanting, that I positively caught myself hoping next night there would be another raid…'

This letter (from the American writer Stanley Weintraub) prompted a riposte about the metropolitan bias of the T.L.S. letters from Suffolk beer baron Simon Loftus (26/9/2014). He notes that Zeppelin raids were relatively common on the East Coast - "...towns such as Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft and Southwold were bombed more or less ineffectually by these strange  Leviathans of the skies…" He then alludes to the Zeppelin shot down near Theberton, noting that pieces of the aluminium structure, salvaged from the wreckage were auctioned in aid of the Red Cross. The 17 German airmen were buried in the peaceful graveyard at Theberton. Also buried there is the author of Arabia Deserta Charles M. Doughty. The airmen's  bodies have since been moved to a central burial ground in Staffordshire, although a memorial can still be seen in the cemetery across the road from the church.

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Artists as foreign spies

It is a fact that many signposts were temporarily removed, especially in rural areas, during the Second World War, and that countrymen were advised to report sightings of suspicious foreign looking and foreign sounding individuals in their district. What is not generally known, I suspect, is that an artist plying his or her trade as a landscape painter could have come under the gaze of local busybodies, including members of the Home Guard, who may have reported them to the authorities.

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World War 2 free book campaign

Found - a stamp in the front of a book reading: 'Dear Friend, This book comes to you with every good wish from the people of Leicester. May it help you to spend happily some of your hours off duty. GOOD LUCK. From The City of Leicester.'

It was in a copy of Brahms and Simon's A Bullet in the Ballet (Joseph, London 1937.) This was probably part of  a campaign to give off-duty service men and women a free book to read in the latter days of World War 2 - and also to welcome them to towns near their bases. There is slight evidence from online research that this was a British Council initiative. Possibly it was aimed at American troops...

Two books appear in online libraries bearing  this stamp. The first is Lord Raglan's The Science of Peace (Methuen, London 1933) with a similarly stamp but from 'Tunton' (probably a misprint for Taunton). This was at  the Royal Anthropological Institute. The other was a 'Bacon-wrote-Shakespeare'  book that had made its way to the Kirov Order of Honour Universal Regional Scientific Library in Russia. The stamp there is from the Borough of Dagenham. The book was Sir Edwin Duhring-Lawrence's Bacon is Shakespeare (Gay & Hancock, London 1910). Good reading for the war weary soldier...

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Angels at Mons

Found - a small thin 4 page pamphlet Angels at Mons printed in Felixstowe, England about 1920. Its price was ninepence for a 100 and it was almost certainly for distribution in churches. Ours was found in a missal.

There is much elsewhere about the angels that are said to have appeared on the WW1 battlefield at Mons. Arthur Machen's 1915 book The Bowmen and Other Legends of War really started the legend.

Historian A.J.P. Taylor was so impressed by the evidence then available that he felt confident referring to Mons, in his 1963 History of the First World War, as the only battle where “supernatural intervention was observed, more or less reliably, on the British side.”

The Penguin Encyclopedia of Horror and the Supernatural says of Machen's book: "During Machen's lifetime 'The Bowmen' was easily his most influential work of fiction, in ways he never predicted. First published in a 1914 Evening News after the Battle of Mons, it told how British troops, their retreat cut off by the Germans, were miraculously rescued by a ghostly St. George and his bowmen of Agincourt. Widely accepted as true or as a genuine legend, the incident is regularly referred to even today, in books of occult lore and oral histories of the Great War." Fortean Times has this great story of hoaxes and mayhem around the legend with a report on a Hollywood movie that was going to be made on the angels with Marlon Brando.

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Air Raid Precautions. Hints for Housewives..

A wealth of practical information from a Mrs Creswick Atkinson. This 1941 booklet was aimed at housewives in World War II. In the case of an air raid or the possibility of such you either went to to your own air raid shelter (often an Anderson shelter), a public shelter or 'a table indoor shelter' or refuge room. If sheltering under a table you had to be sure it was the bottom floor or basement. The booklet is good on children and pets (although a child is often referred to as 'it') and says several times that they should be sent to the country, something not always possible. There is advice on gas attacks, incendiary bombs and even what to do if being machine gunned by an enemy plane:

Do not run away from the plane. Throw yourself down on your face at once. If you have to run, run towards the plane, not from it. 

In case your house is bombed:

1. Pack a suitcase of spare clothing and keep it at a friend's house in another part of town.
2. Arrange with a friend at the opposite end of your street or in another part of the town to give you hospitality for a short time in case of need.
3. Arrange with a relative to take you in until you can return to your house or find other quarters.

There is the usual advice about not spreading rumours and to 'keep cheerful yourself, and keep others cheerful too. A long face does not help anyone, but a cheerful face always makes the day seem brighter.' In fact 'Keep Calm and Carry on!'

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Wartime codebreaking—the professorial connection

This article in the January 1986 issue of Cryptologia by leading expert  Ralph Erskine reveals how code-breakers were recruited just before WW2 broke out. In the summer of 1939, due to the fact that throughout the 1930s the Government Code & Cypher School (GCCS) had been starved of funds, there were hardly any cryptologists who could rise to the challenge of deciphering the German codes. So when, in early September 1939, war was looming, the Director of the GCCS, Commander Alastair Denniston, was forced to recruit an emergency team of supposedly large brained cryptologists. Denniston wanted 'men of the Professor type' , which in 1939,  social and intellectual snobbery being what it was, meant academics likely to possess degrees in German, mathematics or classics from Oxford or Cambridge.

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A Johnson and Boswell scholar at the front 1918

From the introduction to R.W. Chapman's scholarly edition of Johnson's Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland... (Oxford 1924.) Chapman survived World War One. While a generation of great  scholars were killed and many books and academic projects were never completed Chapman actually managed to work on editing Boswell while soldiering at the Macedonia front - as he explains.

In the fine tradition of the soldier/scholar he always travelled with his Horace (Odes); just after the war he wrote The Portrait of a Scholar and Other Essays Written in Macedonia 1916-1918 (Oxford University Press, 1920.) He collected silver spoons, and on that subject he regarded 'the speech of Eton and Christ Church as the most beautiful of earthly sounds...' Returning from the Eastern front he stated that there were 'few more exciting pursuits than textual criticism.' He also edited Jane Austen, for which he is now chiefly known.

Mountain gun at Macedonia Front in World War 1

This edition was planned, and in great part executed, in Macedonia, in the summer of 1918. I had a camp behind Smol Hill, on the left bank of the Vardar, and a six inch gun (Mark XI, a naval piece, on an improvised carriage; 'very rare in this state'), with which I made a demonstration in aid of the French and Greek armies, when they stormed the heights beyond the river; I think in June. This was in the early hours of the morning, and a very  pretty display of fireworks. 12 hours later, I remember, Mark XI was still too hot to touch. But long weeks of inactivity follow. I had a hut made of sandbags, with a roof constructed of corrugated iron in layers, with large stones between, to allow perflation*; and here, in the long hot afternoons, when 'courage was useless, and enterprise impracticable', a temporary gunner, in a khaki shirt and shorts, might have been found collating the three editions of the Tour to the Hebrides, or re-reading A Journey to the Western Islands in the hope of finding a corruption in the text. Ever and again, tiring of collation and emendation, of tepid tea and endless cigarettes, I would go outside to look at the stricken landscape - the parched yellow hills and ravines, the brown coils of the big snaky river at my feet, the mountains in the blue distance; until the scorching wind, which always blew down that valley, sent me back to the Hebrides. These particulars are doubtless irrelevant; but I like to think that the scene would have pleased James Boswell."

*Samuel Johnson has the word perflation in his dictionary and defines it as 'the act of blowing through' from perflate 'to blow through.' He uses it in this very book on page 72 -'perpetual perflation' - talking of the drying of oats. See also this excellent posting on Chapman and this book.

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Battle of Waterloo not won on the playing-fields of Eton

Further illusions shattered by this small book The Encyclopaedia of Fads and Fallacies by Thomas Jay (Elliott Rightway Books, Kingswood Surrey 1958.) Apparently bulls are colour blind so red rags do not bother them, Turkish baths are not Turkish (and they are not baths) and alcohol cannot be drunk in any concentration strong enough to kill germs. Even the assertion that 'The Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing-fields of Eton' also appears to be unfounded according to the iconoclastic T. Jay. It seems a pity, as it is one of those poetic ideas like AE's 'In the lost boyhood of Judas / Christ was betrayed.' What Jay actually says is:

The Duke of Wellington is credited with having said 'the The Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing-fields of Eton.' There is no truth in that assertion. There were only a very small number of officers from Eton at the battle.

The quotation may have been taken too literally by Jay -online research reveals this at the Wikipedia entry on Eton:

According to Nevill (citing the historian Sir Edward Creasy), what Wellington (actually) said, while passing an Eton cricket match many decades later, was, 'There grows the stuff that won Waterloo', a remark Nevill construes as a reference to 'the manly character induced by games and sport' amongst English youth generally, not a comment about Eton specifically. In 1889, Sir William Fraser conflated this uncorroborated remark with the one attributed to him by Count Charles de Montalembert's C'est ici qu' a été gagné la bataille de Waterloo ('It is here that the Battle of Waterloo was won.')

Moholy Nagy 'Dusk at the Playing Fields of Eton'

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Sligo’s Markree Castle—a misdemeanour recorded

Markree Castle

An extraordinary memento of Ireland’s bloody Civil War (June 1922 – May 1923) is this blue crayon scrawl in a copy of John Scott’s Visit to Paris (1814). The book came from the library of Edward Joshua Cooper, M.P. (1798 – 1863), one of a long line of Protestant occupiers of Markree Castle dating back to 1663.
During the short war between the Anti-Treaty IRA and the Irish Free State forces, a battalion from the latter occupied the majestic Castle for a short time, presumably to consolidate their hold over County Sligo. No doubt, the Coopers wisely decided to flee their family home during this bloody period, which gave some of the Irish officers the opportunity to avail themselves of a splendid library. It is not known how much a certain Captain Cavanagh read of Mr Scott’s book on Paris, or what he thought of it. However, what we do know is that he found the blank pages a very convenient notebook, as made his mark on at least three pages.

The most interesting entry concerns Corporal George O’Mahoney Rogers who, Cavanagh notes, was found ‘drunk and disorderly in (a) Public House at about 9.45 P.M.’ Perhaps at some time, other records will divulge what happened to Corporal Rogers… Or indeed Captain Cavanagh.

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A thought for Holocaust Memorial Day–The Kitchener Camp, Richborough

Sent in by top jotter Robin Healey who asked me to post this on Holocaust Memorial Day.

Dilapidated training buildings left over from the First World War, on a site just outside Sandwich in Kent, were requisitioned early in 1939 to accommodate thousands of Jewish male refugees fleeing from Hitler. The operation, financed by the Balfour Fund, was designed to give these refugees—who ranged from skilled manual workers to University professors—the chance to train for a new life outside continental Europe. Within a few weeks of the camp opening for business, a magazine, the Kitchener Camp Review had been established to publish the opinions, life stories and impressions of these refugees from Nazi oppression.

I own a full run (nine issues) of this exceedingly  scarce publication, which rarely ran to more than eighteen, sometimes very feint, pages, which were mimeographed on good quality foolscap, and stapled to a printed cover of light crimson coloured paper. Although almost all inmates were German speakers, the journal was published in English, principally because the editor, Phineas L.May, wanted to encourage the refugees to be fluent in the language. So, he either published a translation of the contributions, or occasionally invited those with good English to write in the language of their adopted country without editorial intervention. When we consider how good the language skills were of a refugee like Nikolaus Pevsner, who had fled Germany years before, we should assume that the English of some of his fellow, highly educated, Jewish compatriots at the Camp, probably needed very little correcting. Indeed many of those who wrote for the Review, had previously held high academic posts in Germany, and after the War went on, like Pevsner himself,  to pursue  illustrious careers in the English speaking world. Indeed, I have reasons to suspect that one of these academics, a geophysicist, was the father of an old girlfriend of mine.

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