Universities at War Guest Blog #1

Over the next few weeks Jake Wall, one of our Universities at War project volunteers, will be blogging about his experience of researching the stories of the WWI fallen using the university archives available in the Philip Robinson University Library.


Hello, this will be the first in a series of posts surrounding the Universities at War project, a HLF funded volunteer project hosted by the Special Collections Department in the Philip Robinson University Library. The aim of the project is to research and document aspects of the life history of former students and staff at Newcastle University who fought and died in the First World War. In the coming weeks, I hope to bring you a series of interesting stories around 12 individuals (see below for names) who have been lost in the pages of history and rediscover their forgotten pasts.

  • E. White
  • Samuel S. White
  • Robert Edward White
  • Samuel Walton White
  • George Trevor Williams
  • Charles James Wright
  • Joseph Benjamin Wright
  • William Gladstone Wylie
  • William Stanley Wylie
  • Arthur Cecil Young
  • Cyril Rutherford Moffat Young
  • John Young

More information on the Universities at War project, as well as the stories uncovered by our researchers so far, can be seen at www.universitiesatwar.org.uk.

Universities at War

Over the last two years, a team of volunteers have been using the University Archives to tell the stories of the staff and students from Newcastle University who fought and died in the First World War.

Searching through class lists, course handbooks, registration documents, graduation lists and student magazines, they have slowly pieced together the lives of those who appeared simply as a list of names on our campus war memorials.

These books and ledgers, with plain covers, and lists of information, perhaps wouldn’t normally appear in our Treasures of the Month feature.  But the power of archive documents often lies in seemingly uninspiring lists.  Those lists of names or numbers which can, once you start looking, shine a light on a moment in history, solve a mystery, start a new mystery, be really funny, or heartbreakingly sad.

You can see all of the data gathered so far on the project’s website: www.universitiesatwar.org.uk

And from next week one of our student volunteers, Jake Wall, will be sending us guest blog posts about the stories he uncovers as part of his placement with us.

But for now, this is just a little tribute to those books of lists!

Newcastle University Archive, held at Newcastle University Library, Ref: nua-15-1-roll-of-service

Roll of Service Book: Newcastle University Archive, held at Newcastle University Library, Ref: nua-15-1-roll-of-service

This is the place where all our volunteers start – the Roll of Service. This small and unassuming book lists all those who fought in the First World War, and marks the fallen with a black cross, together with brief military details. From this basic information our volunteers start to follow the leads and try to piece together the story of a fallen serviceman.


Newcastle University Archive, held at Newcastle University Library, Ref: nua-1-4-1-armstrong-calendar-p485

College Calendars: Newcastle University Archive, held at Newcastle University Library, Ref: nua-1-4-1-armstrong-calendar-p485

The Armstrong and Medical Calendars hold a wealth of information about a serviceman’s life whilst he was a student (or member of staff) at the University. Containing student lists, staff lists, course notes, teaching schedules, exam schedules, building maps, and so many other things, they were intended to hold everything a student would need to know for the year.

Of course, for our volunteers, finding out exactly which years a serviceman studied with us is the hard bit. Much painstaking reading of class lists can sometimes be necessary until finally the name you are looking for magically appears.

This list however shows one other impact of the war. Although both Armstrong College and the Medical College already offered places to women before the war, the list here shows how high a proportion of places were taken by women once the War had started.


Newcastle University Archive, at Newcastle University Library, Ref: nua13-1-gazette-p139

An obituary in the student Gazette: Newcastle University Archive,s at Newcastle University Library, Ref: nua13-1-gazette-p139

Often the most heart breaking pieces of the story to read will be the serviceman’s obituary. These obituaries, published in the student journals of the time, were often written by fellow students who had known them during their time at the University.

They are of course desperately sad, but the desire of these men’s fellow students to honour their memory is obvious, and we hope that one hundred years later we are continuing this work.

America enters World War One

6th April 2017 marks the centenary of America entering World War I. Until this point President Woodrow Wilson had outwardly shown a neutral stance whilst allowing the banks to make loans to Britain and France. At this point the majority of American citizens were of European origin, descendants of immigrants who were of previous generations who showed little interest in the war.

However, early in 1917 two major events occurred leading President Wilson to break off diplomatic relations with Germany in the first instance, and made a speech to Congress on the 2nd April (copy of speech available at WR 163 ‘America and Freedom being the statements of President Wilson on the War with a Preface by Rt. Hon. Viscount Grey’).

America declared war on Germany four days later.

The first event which led to this was the increased German aggression shown over the Atlantic. Here, all boats heading towards Europe, no matter the nationality or purpose of vessel, were targets for sinking by U-boats.

The second was the incident of the Zimmermann telegram – a communication from Germany to Mexico which proposed a military alliance between the two countries should America join the War. However, this telegram was intercepted by British intelligence.

At the same time in Europe, there were contrasting emotions from two brothers towards the war and America’s involvement.

George Macaulay Trevelyan was based in Italy commanding an ambulance unit for the British Red Cross, and in a letter to his father he expressed his feelings on America entering the war.

Above extracts are taken from a letter in the George Otto Trevelyan Archive GOT 151/1/1 – GOT 151/1/2

Letter from the George Otto Trevelyan Archive GOT 151/1/1 – GOT 151/1/2

SSir!

 I am going out to shake the hand of an American citizen, the first I can find in this Eternal City, on the occasion of his country breaking off diplomatic relations with Germany.

I shall also leave my card at the American Embassy.

My only regret is that by a strange chance I was in New York during the Italians Days? of May 1915 and in Rome during the present American crisis.

I saw our Ambassador yesterday and he told me that he felt sure the war would not go on till next year; he evidently thought the germans were in a bad way unless their submarine campaign can force us to compromise with them. If the war does end this year the affairs of our unit on which H. E. puts a high value, will be relatively easy.

I return to the front tomorrow

Your affectionate son

George Trevelyan
(Extract from GOT 151)

On the other hand, George’s brother Charles Philips Trevelyan, Liberal MP and Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education was against the war.  He had already resigned his post and been a founder member of the Union of Democratic Control – a pressure group containing MPs from both the Liberal and Labour parties and included various influential figures such as author Norman Angell and journalist E. D. Morel. They were against conscription, and wanted more negotiations.

During a speech at Bradford, Charles spoke about the number of casualties and America’s position in the war at that time. Three months later at Hammersmith he spoke about America’s entry into the war.

Above extracts are taken from a letter in the Charles Philips Trevelyan Archive, CPT 46/14 - CPT 46/15

Notes for a speech from Charles Philips Trevelyan Archive, CPT 46/14 – CPT 46/15

Word peace has been spoken
been for many days and months
That is the beginning of the end – 

Only question whether several millions more men killed or maimed before national governments begin negotiations.
……………………..
Present situation
Great change in last month
Began with President Wilson asking belligerents to state terms.
When I think of the abuse levelled against me and my friends –

For 18 months demanding negotiations- negotiated note a dictated pence –
For 18 months for government to state terms.

Cannot ignore President Wilson – voice reverberates throughout world – as the megaphone of will of peaceful millions of America.
(Extracts from CPT 46/14 – CPT 46/15)

At the time of this speech there were eight million dead as a result of the war.

Extract taken from a letter in the Charles Philips Trevelyan Archive, CPT 46/56

Extract taken from a letter in the Charles Philips Trevelyan Archive, CPT 46/56

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Entry of America 
Strike member U.D.C right way and wrong way to go to war. Pres. Wilson made nation confidant – every step of policy overt – acted slowly and deliberately laying down his policy in magnificent declarations. Soberly and with full knowledge. 

Contrast to every European nation. The victim and tool of secret coteries of Kings – ministers- or bureaucrats.

Trevelyan then continues about America bringing a “Breath of healthy idealism to blow away the over…..? ambitions overlaid the finer of our national objects” and wanting nothing from the War.

Exactly the same things in mind as in his previous utterances”. We of U.D.C. cannot ask for peace on better terms because what we have advocated for two years”
(Extracts from CPT 46/56)

With America’s involvement the war lasted another 19 months, and had been dubbed the war to end all wars. However, Charles Philips Trevelyan’s anti-war stance contributed to his rejection from his constituency and he lost his seat in 1918. Four years later, after changing his political allegiance to the Labour Party, he became M.P. for Newcastle Central becoming President of the Board of Education in 1924. The Union of Democratic Control was eventually disbanded in the 1960s.

Captured, In Flight: An Officer and a Private on the Western Front

Exhibition poster

The below images are taken from the items in the Thomas Baker Brown archive and the Sir Lawrence Pattinson archive. To view these items and many more, please visit the exhibition on Level 1, Philip Robinson Library, Newcastle University.

The exhibition is open to the public from November 2016 – February 2017.


Wars and Rumours of Wars

On 28th July 1914 World War I broke out. It was thought that the war would only last a few months, and the troops would be home for Christmas. A large proportion of men eagerly volunteered to join the forces in the spirit of pride and honour. Some saw it as a way out of unemployment, and others were obliged to go by their employers. Conscription, where men deemed fit and able to go to war were signed up by the nation, was not needed until 1916 when the number of volunteers dwindled.

Thomas Baker Brown and Sir Lawrence Arthur Pattinson both served during World War I and documented their experiences through their correspondence with their families back home. Material below is taken from their archives which have kindly been donated to Newcastle University Special Collections.

Thomas Baker Brown

Thomas Baker Brown was born on the 22nd December 1896 in Tynemouth and later moved to North Shields with his family, where he attended Kettlewell School, and then went on to work as a clerk.

On the cusp of his 19th birthday, Brown joined the H.M. Army at the Scottish Presbyterian Church Hall in Howard Street, North Shields on Friday 26th November 1915.

photograph-baker-brown

Photograph of Thomas Baker Brown in uniform wearing an ‘Imperial Service Badge’

Sir Lawrence Pattinson

Sir Lawrence Pattinson, born on 8 October 1890, had military aspirations long before the outbreak of war. Both he and his brother Hugh Lee IV attended Stubbington House School (considered to be a stepping stone into the forces). Hugh Lee IV studied successfully for the Army Entrance to Sandhurst, but Sir Lawrence failed his exams for the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth. As a result, Sir Lawrence went on to study at Rugby and then Cambridge.

photograph-lawrence-pattinson

Photograph of Sir Lawrence Arthur Pattinson

Hugh Lee IV

It wasn’t until the outbreak of World War I that Sir Lawrence was commissioned Second Lieutenant in the 5th Durham Light Infantry as part of the Territorial Army. However, his brother, who was now on the front line in the Army, warned him of the dangers of becoming a soldier. On his brother’s recommendation, Sir Lawrence Pattinson enlisted in the Royal Flying Corpse.

Unfortunately, shortly after warning his brother of the dangers of being a soldier, Hugh Lee IV was killed in action . He was just one of the 908,371 British fighters to die in World War I.


Pilots and Tommies

Scarcroft Schools

By the 5th December 1915, Thomas Baker Brown was serving in the ‘Clerks Platoon’ for the 6th Northumberland Fusiliers at a training camp at Scarcroft School, York. As a soldier, or “tommy”, training would begin with basic physical fitness, drill, march discipline and essential field craft. Tommies would later specialise in a role and Brown received training in bombing, signalling and musketry. He suffered from poor eyesight and was issued with glasses. After failing to be transferred to the Royal Flying Corps, Brown was placed into the signalling section and later drafted to France alongside his brother George, as part of the 2/6th Northumberland Fusiliers, 32nd Division.

letter-first-sent-home

First letter sent home from Thomas Baker Brown to his mother following joining the army. The letter describes his trip from Newcastle to a training camp in York, and being put into the ‘Clerks Platoon’. Written from 9th Platoon, ‘C’ Company, 6th Northumberland Fusiliers, Scarcroft Schools, York (TBB/1/1/1/1/1)

Aviator’s Certificates

By 20 March 1915, Lawrence Pattinson had received his Aviator’s Certificates. He graduated at the Central Flying School and awarded his Wings on 5 July 1915. By 14 October 1915, he was promoted to Flight Commander RFC Temporary Captain of the Royal Flying Corps.

Letter from Lawrence Pattinson to his mother. Pattinson relates his first experiences flying alone, admitting he was 'desperately nervous' but did 'fairly well', and that it made him appreciate flying with an experienced pilot. Written from The Kings Head hotel, Harrow on the Hill, London (LAP/1/2/1)

Letter from Lawrence Pattinson to his mother. Pattinson relates his first experiences flying alone, admitting he was ‘desperately nervous’ but did ‘fairly well’, and that it made him appreciate flying with an experienced pilot. Written from The Kings Head hotel, Harrow on the Hill, London (LAP/1/2/1)

 


In Flight

Scouts, photographic reconnaissance and bombing

On 3 June 1915, Sir Lawrence was awarded a Military Cross for his fighting as a scout-fighter pilot, and on the 13 June 1915 he was promoted to Officer Commanding No. 57 Squadron on the Western Front. Sir Lawrence remained with the squadron for just under three years, during which time he led scouts, photographic reconnaissance and bombing.

Airplanes played a very important role in military strategy. Sir Lawrence spent a large proportion of his time on duty flying over the landscape to gather information about enemy lines. At the start of the war, this was done by sight only. As technology improved, pilots would take photographic equipment on the flights.

Pages 3 & 4 LAP/1/2/12

LAP/1/2/12/3 and LAP/1/2/12/4 – Pages 3 and 4 of a letter from Lawrence Pattinson to his mother, Mary Pattinson. He describes his morning spent doing mixed patrol and photography, during which time his propellor broke and he was confronted by German planes known as “”two tails””. He states ‘We went on taking photos and being shelled like mad’. He includes detailed drawings and annotations of the “”two tail”” planes.

Acting Lieutenant Colonel

March 1918 saw Sir Lawrence become Officer Commanding No. 99 Squadron, and during September 1918 he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Later that year, in October, he was promoted Acting Lieutenant Colonel and command of 41st Wing, then 89 Wing in France, for the last few weeks of the war.


Captured

Military Medal

By the 1st August 1916, Brown was moved to the 21st Northumberland Fusiliers (2nd Tyneside Scottish 37th Division) and was sent on his first journey to the front line trenches. Later, in March 1917, Brown was awarded the Military Medal for his ‘heroism’ and ‘bravery’.

Newspaper cutting of Thomas Baker Brown being awarded a Military Medal

TBB/1/2/1 – Newspaper cutting relating to Thomas Baker Brown being awarded the Military Medal, alongside his photograph in uniform.

Prisoner

Brown visited the front line tranches many times over the following months, and remained uninjured, but on 21st March 1918 he was taken prisoner by German soldiers on the Arrasfront at Bullecourt. He was taken to Germany where he was placed into a prisoner of war camp in Dülmen and then transferred to Limburg by April 1918. Here, Brown worked at the Pit North Star, a coal mine in Herzogenrath.

TBB-1-1-3-2-4

TBB/1/1/3/2/4 – postcard from ‘Agence Internationale des Prisonniers de Guerre, British Section’. Letter states that Thomas Baker Brown has been included on a list of British prisoners despatched from Berlin on the 18/04/1918, taken prisoner unwounded, and interned at Dülmen on 21/03/1918.

a


Aftermath

Here at last

On the 17th November 1918, on witnessing the command of the German camp breakdown, Brown and a party of five other men walked out of the gates. They made their way to Holland and boarded the S.S. Arbroath, arriving in Hull on the 8th December. Finally, he was able to take a train to a reception camp in Ripon, the last stop before his journey home.

TBB/1/10/1

TBB/1/10/1 – Letter from King George V to release British Prisoners of War.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Years later, in the 1930s Brown was blinded for five years, which specialists attributed it to his time in the prisoner of war camp working in poor mining conditions. He never recovered his sight and as a result was rejected to fight in World War II and served on the home front instead.

After 11 November 1918, Sir Lawrence remained in France until March 1919 to demobilize squadrons. In June 1919, Sir Lawrence was awarded his Distinguished Service Order and granted a permanent commission as Squadron Leader RAF. He was sponsored by the RAF to study at the Staff College, Camberley. Following his studies, he became Chief of Staff at RAF Cranwell where he educated officer cadets of the army. In 1933, Sir Lawrence was appointed Air Aide-de-Camp to King George V. He died on 28 March 1955.

LAP/1/4/1

LAP/1/4/1 – Letter from Archibald Sinclair to Sir Lawrence. Sinclair thanks Sir Lawrence, on behalf of the King, for his long and valuable service in the Royal Air Force.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Education Outreach

Thomas Baker Brown World War I Comics Anthology

Thomas Baker Brown World War I Comics Anthology

 

Newcastle University Library’s Education Outreach Team worked with Comic Artist Terry Wiley, Lydia Wysocki from Applied Comics Etc and groups of secondary school students from four local schools to tell Thomas Baker Brown’s wartime story through the medium of comics.

Comic artist Terry Wiley created a comic telling of Thomas’ wartime story. Students from four secondary schools took part in a workshop at Newcastle University Library where they explored the Thomas Baker Brown archive. Students then learnt how to make comics using material and research gathered from the archive for inspiration.

Their comics were brought together into one anthology: The Thomas Baker Brown World War I Comics Anthology.

Click here for more information and to browse the comics online.

The Military Service Act, 1916

The Military Service Act Fully and Clearly Explained, by Philip Snowden (MP), 1916 (20th Century Collection, 343.0122 SNO)

The Military Service Act Fully and Clearly Explained, by Philip Snowden (MP), 1916 (20th Century Collection, 343.0122 SNO)

January 2016 marks the centenary of the enactment of the Military Service Act, which introduced conscription for the first time in Britain during World War I. The Act was passed by parliament on 28th January 1916 and came into operation when passed by Royal Proclamation on 10th February 1916. The Act imposed compulsory military conscription on all single men aged between 18 and 41, who were not eligible for exemption.

Unlike other European countries, Britain relied on volunteers to fight during times of war and when Great Britain declared war on Germany on 5th August 1914, this was no different. Many believed hostilities would be over by Christmas. However, it soon became clear that war would not be won in a matter of months. With this realisation, attention rapidly turned to maintaining the war effort and numerous attempts were introduced to encourage voluntary enlisting.

At the outbreak of war, patriotism was high and volunteers rushed to recruiting stations in order to support King and country. A drive to recruit more men was led by Lord Horatio Kitchener (a British military leader who became Secretary of State of War when World War I was declared), for men to voluntarily join up to the army. He is famously depicted in the army recruitment poster, ‘Your Country Needs You’, which was used in a poster campaign to encourage voluntary enlisting. Numbers did increase, however, as the war went on this voluntary system soon proved insufficient as the number of casualties grew. In October 1915, Lord Derby (appointed Director-General of Recruiting by the Prime Minister, Herbert Henry Asquith) introduced the Derby Scheme in order to raise numbers. Under the scheme men aged between 18 and 40 were informed that they could voluntarily enlist or attest with an obligation to be called upon if required. Despite these attempt, by 1916 the British government believed that compulsory active service was the only way to increase the war effort and in turn win the war.

This month’s Treasure is a pamphlet entitled The Military Service Act Fully and Clearly Explained, by Philip Snowden (seen in the image above). The pamphlet was a circular available for the public to buy for one penny in 1916, which clarifies who the Act applies to, persons outside the Act, claiming exemption and outlines the Tribunal procedures (seen in the image below).

Pages 2-3 of The Military Service Act Fully and Clearly Explained, outlining Penalties for Disertion of Aiding Disertion, To Whom the Act Applies and Persons who are Outside the Act, by Philip Snowden (MP), 1916 (20th Century Collection, 343.0122 SNO)

Pages 2-3 of The Military Service Act Fully and Clearly Explained, outlining Penalties for Desertion of Aiding Desertion, To Whom the Act Applies and Persons who are Outside the Act, by Philip Snowden (MP), 1916 (20th Century Collection, 343.0122 SNO)

The pamphlet also details the six Grounds of Exemption; men who are better employed in their usual work (such as in food supply or the export trade), work that is more suited elsewhere for the war effort (such as in agriculture or engine drivers), youths being educated or trained, financial and domestic obligations, ill-health or infirmity and the Conscientious Objection. Conscientious Objection is noted to be ‘perhaps the most important of all, and is likely to prove the most difficult in administration’. The Act made limited allowance for men who objected to serve. Conscription was seen as a controversial issue but those who objected to combatant service were known as Conscientious Objectors. They claimed the right to refuse military service on the grounds of freedom, conscience, disability and/or political and religious views and could attest by means of a Tribunal system.

Detailed in the pamphlet on the Tribunal of Conscientious Objectors:

‘Men who apply on this ground should be able to feel that they are being judged by a Tribunal that will deal fairly with their cases.

 …If the certificate is granted as a certificate of exemption from “combatant duties” only, then the individual would be liable to serve in certain branches of the Army, as in the Royal Army Medical Corps for instance’.

Page 1 from News Sheet, No. 8, c. 1917 (20th Century Collection, 343.0122 CEN)

Page 1 from News Sheet, No. 8, c. 1917 (20th Century Collection, 343.0122 CEN)

Those who objected to provide their service towards any part of the war effort, whether that be ‘economic, commercial, or other activities’, were sent to prison where the conditions and treatment were harsh. A News Sheet (seen in the image above) issued by The Central News Bureau, c. 1917, includes text on the death of the Conscientious Objector, Albert Leverson James (aged 30 from Kingston-on-Thames). The text explains that Albert was arrested on November 17th 1916, where he later attended a Tribunal and was sent to complete 112 days imprisonment with hard labour. His mother describes his health whilst at Wormwood Scrubs, as ‘…completely ruined. He has to fight for his breath, and has brought up a quantity of blood’ (seen in the image below). After 12 weeks he was transferred to Wakefield Work Centre, where he broke down with haemorrhage double pneumonia and later died on 4th March 1917.

Parliament raised Albert’s death, which was used as an example of the Government’s disregard and mistreatment of men who refused to kill. Albert is commemorated on the Conscientious Objectors’ plaque (1 Peace Passage, London, N7 0BT) along with 69 other Conscientious Objectors who died during World War I.

Death of Albert Leverson James, extract from No. 8. News Sheet, issued by The Central News Bureau, c. 1917 (20th Century Collection, 343.0122 CEN )

Death of Albert Leverson James, extract from No. 8. News Sheet, issued by The Central News Bureau, c. 1917 (20th Century Collection, 343.0122 CEN )

Draw More Comics!

Over 200 copies of the Thomas Baker Brown World War I Comics Anthology, produced by the young people who took part in our World War I Comics workshops just before the summer holidays have arrived from the printers, ready to be given out to the students who created them when they return to school shortly.

Photos of comics

Thomas Baker Brown was a man from North Shields, Tyne and Wear, who served as a signaller in World War I.  His archive, held here at Newcastle University Library, includes original comics from the time of the First World War and so it seemed fitting for us to use this medium to open up Thomas Baker Brown’s archive to a wider audience and to tell his wartime story.

Working with Applied Comics Etc and our archives and education outreach teams, comics artist Terry Wiley created a comic telling Tommy’s wartime story. Next we ran workshops in which local secondary school students explored the Thomas Baker Brown archive and worked with Terry to create their own comics. All of the comics have been published together in an anthology and can also be seen separately on our website, http://www.ncl.ac.uk/library/services/education-outreach/thomas-baker-brown.

Students working

On our website you will also find some of the resources we used in our workshops. We hope that by making these resources available online for teachers to use in the classroom, more young people will be given the opportunity to understand how archives help us write and draw history through creating their own World War I Comics.