Monthly Archives: March 2012

Martin Hardie: a finger on Tommy’s pulse

We tend to think of armies as unresponsive organisations, especially when we think of the supposed ‘Donkeys’ who commanded them in the Great War. In fact, those Generals were keen to know about both the reality of modern warfare at the front (information fed back into training) and the morale and gripes of those they commanded. Captain Martin Hardie was one of the men who gave them that knowledge of morale that was vital to keeping the army going.

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Posted by on 31 March 2012 in Ordinary Londoners, People


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Gertrude Jarratt, Victoria Cross widow

Today the latest lists of honours to military personnel have been published; of the 131 medals, 130 were to living recipients. In the Great War, a quarter of the Victoria Crosses (Britain’s highest award for bravery) that were awarded were posthumous. Since these recognised the gallantry of men who died in or shortly after the deeds they were rewarded for, the medals were presented to their families. Among these stand-in recipients were Gertrude Margaret Jarratt and her daughter Joyce. This is a short attempt to tell their story.

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Posted by on 23 March 2012 in Award-winners, Women


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Bill Fosten: immortality on Hyde Park Corner

People who served in the Great War have been immortalised in numerous different ways: some through their own words or art, some through the works of others. Bill Fosten was one of the latter, captured in sculpture by the artist Charles Sargeant Jagger in his monumental Royal Artillery Memorial at Hyde Park Corner.

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Posted by on 19 March 2012 in Ordinary Londoners, War Dead, War memorials


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CO Oglethorpe: Not a spy

Thousands of people were rumoured to be spies for all sorts of reasons during the Great War. Charles Oswald Oglethorpe was one of them – apparently simply for going out late at night.

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Posted by on 11 March 2012 in Events, Ordinary Londoners


Nurses and heroism

Slightly late in the day, but it seems worth posting the story of a few international women for International Women’s Day. In this case this women who travelled from the other side of the planet to care for wounded men in London: the nurses of Harefield Park Hospital, then known as ‘No 1 Australian Auxilliary Hospital’.

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Posted by on 8 March 2012 in Air Raid, People, Places, Women


The Canham murder: love and betrayal

“About two hours before I was to go over the top for the first time I heard that my wife had deserted the little boy.” With this dramatic sentence, Henry Stephen Canham told a court how he had heard of his wife’s betrayal. On 1 January 1918, he shot her in the chest and killed her.

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Posted by on 4 March 2012 in Events, Ordinary Londoners


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