The Second World War widows were the 'forgotten women', largely ignored by the government and the majority of the population. The men who died in the service of their country were rightly honoured, but the widows and orphans they left behind were soon forgotten. During the war and afterwards in post-war austerity Britain their lives were particularly bleak. The meagre pensions they were given were taxed at the highest rate and gave them barely enough to keep body and soul together, let alone look after their children. Through their diaries, letters and personal interviews we are given an insight into post-war Britain that is a moving testament to the will to surviv of a generation of women. The treatment of these war widows was shameful and continued right up to 1989. This is their story.
This book explores the hidden stories of Swansea's long and dangerous past - stories of death, shipwreck and murder. From Romans to the Red Lady, Viking raids to English attacks, deadly diseases, factory riots, slums, cholera and Nazi bombs, you'll never see the city in the same way again. Did Thomas Nash really throw his daughter from the pier? Why were all those men trapped in the hold when the Caesar hit the rocks at Pwlldu? Compiled by Swansea's own Geoff Brookes, read it if you dare!
Haunted Doncaster contains a selection of the reported sightings and stories from ordinary people in Doncaster who believe they have had an extraordinary experience. The majority of the haunted locations in this book have been investigated first-hand by the authors, who give the reader an insight into their experience and provide information about the stories behind the alleged sightings. Each tale is accompanied by an atmospheric black-and-white photograph. This book is aimed at anyone interested in the spectres that inhabit Doncaster's homes, pubs, and highways.
BRIXMIS (The British Commander-In-Chief's Mission to the Group Soviet Forces of Occupation in Germany) is one of the most little-known and covert elite units of the British Army. They were dropped in behind 'enemy lines' ten months after the Second World War had ended and remained operation their intelligence-gathering missions until the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989. During the period Berlin was a hotbed of spying between East and West. BRIXMIS was established as a legitimate channel of communcation between the Red Army and the British Army on the Rhine, they were trusted by the Russians. Its 'clean status' made BRIXMIS a key part of the Cold War. However, their missions were covert and they acted behind the shadows to steal advanced Soviet equipment and penetrate top-secret training areas. Their vehicles and equipment have continued to hold fascination for military history and vehicle enthusiasts. This unique history of this most elite of units offers a new understanding of the British role in the Cold War.
Millions live there, millions more visit each year - but how many really know London? Do you know when Big Ben first bonged - or even who Ben was? Why the River Thames is so-called? Which top Nazi was locked up in the Tower? Or what runs through the more than 50 miles of train-size tunnels which ring the city, stretch further than the Channel Tunnel and lie deeper than the Tube - and, no, the answer's not trains. The world's first celebrity chef, its oldest club, the worst ever mockney accent, a chapel full of prizefighters and the last Prime Minister to challenge a rival to a duel with pistols - from the truth about Handel's ears to hippos living in Trafalgar Square, it's all in When Did Big Ben First Bong?, the ultimate trivia guide to the greatest city on Earth.
The next ten years - 2012-2022 - have been referred to as 'the decade of centenaries'. This book focuses on three of those centenaries: the signing of the Ulster Covenant (2012), the Easter Rising (2016) and the Battle of the Somme (2016). It consists of sixteen extended interviews with politicians, artists and writers from the north and south of Ireland. (These have been re-written by the author in the style of 'A Life in the Day of' Sunday Times pieces). Among those interviewed are An Taoiseach Enda Kenny (Irish Prime Minister), Gregory Campbell MP, Ian Paisley Jr MP, the author Roddy Doyle, the artist Robert Ballagh, Bernadette McAliskey, Mary Lou McDonald and Danny Morrison. Each interview begins with some thoughts on the interviewee's background and introduction to politics; it goes on to explore their views on the significance of each of the historical events, how they might be commemorated, what opportunities and dangers these commemorations involve. While the core questions for each interview are the same, the responses are unique to each interviewee. Each interview, from these key figures, will be accompanied by a portrait image.
This wartime biography follows the life of a Second World War B-17 bombardier from the beginning of the war to its conclusion. Based on the 150 letters the airman, Fred Lull, wrote home to his mother, much of the horror of what he experienced of the wing of his plane, aircraft destroyed, dismemberment by flak, go unshared. Fred did not want his mother to worry and could not tell her: "I noticed some movement and a flash of light out of the corner of my right eye. The plane that had been flying right next to us had exploded and simply disappeared." Using the bombardier's combat flight record, research data and interviews of former B-17 crewmembers, the story unfolds, breaking through the barrier of an unwillingness and inability to tell loved ones of the smell and taste of war.
Judicial hanging is regarded by many as being the quintessentially British execution. However, many other methods of capital punishment have been used in this country; ranging from burning, beheading and shooting to crushing and boiling to death. This book explores these types of execution in detail. Readers may be surprised to learn that a means of mechanical decapitation, the Halifax Gibbet, was being used in England five hundred years before the guillotine was invented. Boiling to death was a prescribed means of execution in this country during the Tudor period. From the public death by starvation of those gibbeted alive, to the burning of women for petit treason, this book examines some of the most gruesome passages of British history.
From the heat and dust of the Dardanelles to the mud of the Western Front, Corporal Angus Mackay had one constant companion, his diary. He wrote of the battles and campaigns he fought in, names that would go down in history: Gallipoli, the Somme, Ypres and Arras. Serving in the the 1st/5th Battalion (Queens Edinburgh Rifles) Royal Scots and later the 88th Brigade Machine Gun Corps, he left a record of one man's extraordinary and tragic war. In Somewhere in Blood Soaked France, Alasdair Sutherland reveals this previously unpublished account of the First World War, complete with historical context, orders of battle and extracts from official war diaries. This rare source - it was an offence to keep a record in a case of capture - offers a stirring insight into the bravery of Mackay and his companions, who were not afraid to die for their country. 'If I go under it will be in a good cause, so roll on the adventure.'
Commander Edward John Smith's career had been a remarkable example of how a man from a humble background could get far in the world. Born to a working-class family in the landlocked Staffordshire Potteries, he went to sea at the age of 17 and rose rapidly through the ranks of the merchant navy, serving first in sailing vessesls and later in the new steamships of the White Star Line. By 1912, he as White Star's senior commander and regarded by many in the shipping world as the 'millionaire's captain'. In 1912, Smith was given command of the new RMS Titanic for her maiden voyage, but what should have been among the crowning moments of his long career at sea turned rapidly into a nightmare following Titanic's collision with an iceberg. In a matter of hours the supposedly unsinkable ship sank, taking over 1,500 people with her, including Captain Smith.
Canals reached their zenith in the eighteenth century during the Industrial Revolution, before the arrival of the railways usurped their position, whereupon a number of them fell in to disrepair and disuse. For many years forgotten, canals and waterways have enjoyed an enormous resurgence in popularity as the recent leisure industry has placed them once more at the forefront of a lively community. This fascinating book delves into the murkiest criminal cases to occur or be associated with the canals and waterways of Britain, including many high-profile murders, and considering other crimes such as pick-pocketing, robberies, drunkenness and assaults. Also looking at the use of canal crime in film and literature, this illustrated history offers a chilling glimpse into the criminal past.
From a farming background in Cumbria, John Wilkinson's remarkable abilities and ambitions ensured his rise to pre-eminence among the gifted pioneers of the industrial revolution. His colleagues and friends were similarly talented characters, including James Watt, Josiah Wedgwood, Richard Crawshay of Cyfarthfa and Thomas Telford. Wilkinson achieved great leaps in the iron industry and munitions, including the first use of sound castings and accurate boring for cannon manufacture, as well as developing steam railway engines, waterways, and also in copper refining and lead and chemicals. But while Wilkinson's technological triumphs were admired by contemporaries, his personal affairs were complicated and sometimes tragic. This well-informed and readable book gives a unique insight into the character and thinking of this formidable 'king of the ironmasters'..
When we think of Roman Britain we tend to think of a land of togas and richly decorated palaces with Britons happily going about their much improved daily business under the benign gaze of Rome. This image is to a great extent a fiction. In fact, Britons were some of the least enthusiastic members of the Roman Empire. A few adopted roman ways to curry favour with the invaders. A lot never adopted a Roman lifestyle at all and remained unimpressed and riven by deep-seated tribal division. It wasn't until the late third/early fourth century that a small minority of landowners grew fat on the benefits of trade and enjoyed the kind of lifestyle we have been taught to associate with period. Britannia was a far-away province which, whilst useful for some major economic reserves, fast became a costly and troublesome concern for Rome, much like Iraq for the British government today. Huge efforts by the state to control the hearts and minds of the Britons were met with at worst hostile resistance and rebellion, and at best by steadfast indifference. The end of the Roman Empire largely came as 'business as usual' for the vast majority of Britons as they simply hadn't adopted the Roman way of life in the first place.
How Libya has evolved from Ottoman province to international pariah to seething cauldron of rebellion. For more than four decades, Libya has been something of an enigma to outsiders. Ruled by the despotic and unstable Muammar Gaddafi since he led a military coup in 1969, it has vast oil wealth and one of the highest standards of living in Africa. Yet it has also been one of the most prolific state sponsors of terrorism (supplying arms and explosives to the IRA, perpetrating the Lockerbie bombing) and dissent has, until recently, been crushed ruthlessly. In early 2011 a popular uprising against Gaddafi, a dictator nicknamed 'Mad Dog' by Ronald Reagan, finally looks as if he might be toppled from power, as the wind of change blows through North Africa and the Middle East. John Oakes, who lived and worked in Libya for eight years before the revolution, provides an essential guide to the country and its history, including what led Gaddafi to make Libya an international pariah and the events of the 2011 revolt.
From Victorian diarists listing boat-and horse-race results to war diarists mentioning organised games of football, cricket and tennis to the discovery of watch chains with Edwardian cricket medals attached, our family histories are littered with amateur or professional sporting references. Sport, in its many forms, is an important part of our heritage. It opens up a whole new range of sources for the family historian: minute books where teams were chosen and lists of competitors stored, match-day programmes, correspondence and club histories, newspaper reports, team photographs and cartoons. With London hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012, interest in and exposure to sport is likely to increase dramatically, and Sporting Ancestors is the essential guide for anyone wanting to discover how sport figures in their own family history.
After fourteen centuries of military and ecclesiastical heritage, 2005 saw the then-Justice Minister Michael McDowell put in place proposals to turn Spike Island into Ireland's 'Alcatraz', through the construction of a £70 million super-prison. Spike Island, situated proudly in Cobh Harbour, has a long penal history. Cromwell used it as a holding centre for those awaiting transportation to Barbados; their place was to be then taken by those waiting to be shipped to Van Diemen's land. Prisoners of the War of Independence were kept there, before the island was finally handed over to the Irish. In 2007, following extensive campaigning by heritage campaigners, these plans were dropped, replaced by plans for its preservation as a heritage site. The chairman of Cobh Tourism at the time was Michael Martin, the author of this volume, and this is his story of our very own 'Devil's Island'.
As the West finds itself embroiled in conflict with radical Islam at home and abroad it is fascinating to hear the echoes of militant Islam from the Second World War, and the Nazis' attempt to preach 'Jihad' against the British Empire and Stalin. Hitler's Jihadis tells the story of the tens of thousands of Muslims, from as far away as India who volunteered to wear the SS double lightning flashes and serve alongside their erstwhile conquerors. Jonathan Trigg gives an insight into the pre-war politics that inspired these Islamic volunteers, who for the most part did not survive. Those who did survive the war and the bloody retribution that followed saw the reputation of the units in which they served in berated as militarily inept and castigated for atrocities against unarmed civilians. Using first hand accounts and official records Hitler's Jihadis peels away the propaganda to reveal the complexity that lies at the heart of the story of Hitler's most unlikly 'Aryans'.
Edgar Evans was described by Robert Falcon Scott as 'a giant worker...an invaluable assistant'. Having joined the Royal Navy as a boy sailor at the age of 15, he rose rapidly to the rank of chief petty officer, serving with a young Scott on board HMS Majestic along the way. He took part in the Discovery Expedition of 1901-04, and was awarded the Polar Medal on Scott's recommendation. In between expeditions, he trained the Royal Tournament-winning Portsmouth field gun team. He explored more miles of Antartica than any other member of the Terra Nova Expedition, but his contribution has been largely overlooked because of the implication that, as he was the first to die, he slowed up the progress of the return journedy. Isobel Williams's biography of Evans corrects this false impression, as well as redresses the balance of the attention paid to the upper- and lower-deck members of the expedition.
Charlestown has long been a town of strategic importance to Mayo. It has provided many prominent and dedicated residents who have made their contribution not alone to their own area but to the county at large through involvement in public life, sport, community development and business. In The Charlestown Chronicles, Cathal Henry has immortalised the people, places and events that have shaped his native place. Painstaking historical research is presented alongside lively and affectionate personal recollections, resulting in a book to be treasured by Charlestown people across the globe.
In late 1940 a group of five young Australian soldiers set out on a secret mission: one of the Second World War's most daring operations and the first for Britain's legendary Special Operations Executive. Leading a small force of Ethiopian freedom fighters on an epic trek across the harsh African bush from the Sudan, the small incursion force entered Italian-occupied Ethiopia and began waging a guerilla war against the 250,000-strong Italian army. One of these men, Ken Burke, was Duncan McNab's uncle. Using a combination of original research and personal anecdotes, McNab tells the little known story of Mission 101, and how a small group of Australians under British command helped to free a nation.
Ballymullen Barracks in Tralee was the regimental depot of the Royal Munster Fusiliers prior to the establishment of the Irish Free State. It was through the barracks gates that Kerrymen enlisted for a career in the Munsters. Kerry and the Royal Munster Fusiliers examines the reasons why Kerrymen enlisted during the Great War, and how these citizens-turned-soldiers endured the World War they found themselves participating in. By using local sources, this book documents the rapidly changing political situation in Kerry, how supoprt for the conflict diminished after 1916 and how this change affected the returning soliders.
In the summer of 1822 a bad potato crop and limited employment opportunities created famine conditions in the west and south-west of Ireland. The Other Famine is the first book to examine these events, and specifically their implications for County Leitrim. Beginning with an overview of life in the county from 1800 to 1821, this book looks at landlord-tenant relationships, the standard of living of the poor, and the impact of the typhus fever epidemic of 1816-18. What follows is a detailed analysis of the summer of 1822 in Leitrim, when more than half the population relied on hand-outs from a variety of charitable institutions, particularly the London Tavern Committee. Among the issues explored are how the mechanism of relief was established in the county, the personalities involved and the problems which arose. Finally, the author assessed the role played by landlords, and the reasons why so many people in the county, and the country as a whole, were left dependent on a single crop for their survival. For The Other Famine, MacAtasney has sourced a rich body of material which enables us, for the first time, to gain an in-depth understanding of the effects of the failure of the potato crop in 1822.
Tunnels, Towers & Temples takes a sideways look at London, revealing the hidden stories, curious histories and sometimes comic associations behind dozens of often quite familiar places. Through their stories, the author reveals a strange side of London most people never come to know, even though they walk its streets every day and take much of what they see entirely for granted. Typical examples include extensive networks of tunnels running beneath high street pavements, secret transport and signalling networks crisscrossing the capital, genuine oddities such as streetlamps powered by sewer gas, a street where you can legally drive on the right, a future Russian Tsar working incognito in a British naval dockyard, even a Nazi memorial sited among the real heroes and adventurers of the British Empire. This companion to 'Spectacular Vernacular: London's 100 Most Extraordinary Buildings' is the best possible start for anyone who wishes to get off the beaten track and under the skin of the hidden city that is modern-day London.
Lifting the lid on London, Spectacular Vernacular reveals the stories behind its 100 strangest and most enigmatic buildings. Some are open to the public, if you know who to ask. Others remain strictly off-limits, thus heightening the sense of mystery surrounding them. But many are so familiar that few of us ever stop to consider just how curious they are. In the heart of Kensington, for example, a 300ft tower attracts few glances that even most locals don't know it's there. South of the river the city's widest building at nearly 1,000ft has been favourably compared to the Winter Palace at St Petersbury. And in Chelsea a medieval hall, once home to a king and moved brick by brick from the City to escape demolition, is now being remodelled as London's largest private house. Elsewhere one finds an arts centre built of old shipping containers, a Victorian explorer lying dead in a tent, literally acres of secret underground government offices, even a private tunnel used for running cable-cars under the Thames. Think you know London? Well, it's time to reconsider.