Gas! 22 April 1915

Thursday, 22 April, was a beautiful spring day: warm, sunny, with a faint breeze. German guns shelled French and Canadian trenches throughout the morning but fell silent in the afternoon. The brief period of peace suddenly ended at 4:00 p.m. when the Germans unleashed a violent bombardment, first on the salient and then gradually extending to nearby roads and Ypres, turning the town into a flaming inferno and causing its citizens to flee. An hour later an ominous greenish-yellow wall of fumes was seen drifting slowly across no-man’s-land toward the French line.

Cassar, G.H. (2014), Trial By Gas – The British Army at the Second Battle of Ypres; Potomac Press, University of Nebraska Press.
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We Will Remember Them All!

War memorials from the Great War come in all manner of shapes and designs. I recently came across one that struck me as being particularly unusual and moving. Not surprisingly, memorials are usually dedicated to ‘The Glorious Dead’, but this one, in the Lancashire town of Rawtenstall, has a much wider dedication. Entitled Tribute of Honour, it reads as follows:

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Air Raid!

All was peaceful on Tuesday, February 27th, 1917, until shortly after 4 o’clock in the afternoon, there suddenly appeared what looked like a flock of geese coming from the north. Within seconds, it was realised that they were enemy planes – 15 of them flying in echelon formation. They made straight for Summer Hill camp and the town, dropping one or two bombs on the way on remount depôts.

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Farewell parade of the last British troops in Greece on 22 January …

… 1950!

I acquired this press photo (publication unknown) which shows the 1st Battalion, The Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment, headed by their band, marching through the streets of Thessaloniki, following a ceremonial farewell parade.

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“It’s Panto time again” “Oh no it isn’t!”

For the first time in many years I am supposed to be going to a pantomime this Christmas but, as I write this on the 20th, it’s not looking especially hopeful for ‘Dick Whittington and His Cat’ at Norwich Theatre Royal. A pity as I was looking forward to it, particularly as ‘Dick Whittington’ was the first of the pantos put on for 28th Division by 85th Field Ambulance in 1915. The whole show was put together in just a fortnight, which was quite an achievement. However, 28th Division wasn’t the only BSF division to have multiple talented men in its ranks.

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Grand International Charity Football Match, Boxing Day 1918

One of the amazing survivals from the collection of Herbert Price (ASC) – which has been donated to the Society – is this football programme from a ‘Grand International Charity Football Match’ played on Boxing Day, 1918.

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