WWI Home for Christmas – #ChristmasCountdown Door no. 24

#ChristmasCountdown
Door no. 24

The Newcastle University Special Collections team
would like to wish you all a very
MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Postcard depicting a ward in the First Northern General Hospital

Postcard depicting a ward in the First Northern General Hospital, 1915 (University Archives, NUA/014017-25)

Postcard depicting a ward in the First Northern General Hospital

Postcard depicting a ward in the First Northern General Hospital, 1915 (University Archives, NUA/014017-26)

Postcard depicting a ward in the First Northern General Hospital

Postcard depicting a ward in the First Northern General Hospital, 1915 (University Archives, NUA/014017-27)

These 3 postcards consist of images taken on the wards of the 1st Northern General and feature both patients in flannel suits and ties, Royal Army Medical Corps personnel in uniforms, nurses, and the matron.

During the First World War the building that now houses the Hatton Gallery was requisitioned to house the 1st Northern General Hospital. This was normal practice throughout the war years, as army hospitals were needed across the country and on a large scale. The Fine Art building in which you are now standing was then part of Armstrong College, Durham University.

A note on the back of all 3 tell us they were taken around Christmas 1915 on wards on the ground floor of the Armstrong Building and were sent by a ‘D. Robinson’ to an address in Corbridge, Northumberland.

Find out more about how the First World War impacted on Newcastle University 100 years on through using original photographs and documents from the University Archives in ‘A Higher Purpose: Newcastle University at War‘ online digital exhibition.

Christmas dinner in the trenches – #ChristmasCountdown Door no. 14

#ChristmasCountdown
Door No. 14

Letter from Thomas Baker Brown to his father, 29th Dec 1917 (Thomas Baker Brown Archive, TBB/1/1/1/1/248)

This letter from Thomas Baker Brown to his father is written from France. He describes his Christmas dinner, and remarks that there were ’30 men to a turkey’. See transcript below…

“29.12.17

My dear Father

Just a few lines to let you know that things are all ok and going strong.

Today we had our so called Xmas diner and gee wiz it was some dinn. There were 30 men to a turkey so you can imagine how much we saw of it after the Sergt Major and the NCOs had a dig in. So I made up with Nestles Choc afterwards.

I don’t know whether I told you that the razor blade (singular) arrived all right.

I’ve had a letter from Mr Drew and he proposed drinking my health this Xmas.

Have just to move so will now pip-pip

Love to all

Your loving son

(SB) – Tommy”

Thomas Baker Brown, born 22nd December 1896, a soldier who fought in World War I. In December 1915, he 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.

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’.

This letter is from the Baker Brown (Thomas) Archive.

Read more about Thomas Baker Brown’s story in this Treasure of the Month blog post.

The Hospital at Rounton, New Years Eve – #ChristmasCountdown Door no. 13

#ChristmasCountdown
Door No. 13

Photograph of nurses outside the auxiliary Hospital at Rounton Grange, New Years Eve, 1916 (Charles Philips Trevelyan Archive, CPT/PA/6)

Photograph of nurses outside the auxiliary Hospital at Rounton Grange, New Years Eve, 1916 (Charles Philips Trevelyan Archive, CPT/PA/6)

Photograph of soldiers and nurses around a table at the auxiliary Hospital at Rounton Grange, New Years Eve, 1916 (Charles Philips Trevelyan Archive, CPT/PA/6/)

Photograph of soldiers and nurses around a table at the auxiliary Hospital at Rounton Grange, New Years Eve, 1916 (Charles Philips Trevelyan Archive, CPT/PA/6)

Photograph of wounded soldiers outside the auxiliary Hospital at Rounton Grange, New Years Eve, 1916 (Charles Philips Trevelyan Archive, CPT/PA/6)

Photograph of wounded soldiers outside the auxiliary Hospital at Rounton Grange, New Years Eve, 1916 (Charles Philips Trevelyan Archive, CPT/PA/6)

Nurses outside the auxiliary Hospital at Rounton Grange, New Years Eve, 1916 (Charles Philips Trevelyan Archive, CPT/PA/6/)

Nurses outside the auxiliary Hospital at Rounton Grange, New Years Eve, 1916 (Charles Philips Trevelyan Archive, CPT/PA/6)

Playwright Florence Bell, stepmother of Gertrude Bell was an active Red Cross nurse during the First World War. These images, from her daughter’s (Mary Katharine Trevelyan, nee Bell [Molly]) family photograph album, show soldiers and nurses celebrating New Years Eve at the auxiliary hospital at Rounton Grange, 1916.

The photograph albums belonged to Molly Trevelyan. This volume, alongside 38 others are part of the Trevelyan (Charles Philips) Archive.

Flick through the full 1911-1916 photograph album that this page is taken from, along with others from the Philips (Charles) Archive on Page Turners.

Thomas Baker Brown’s Christmas Pantomime Programme – #Christmascountdown Door no. 11

#ChristmasCountdown
Door No. 11

This is a programme for a 1917 Christmas pantomime, ‘Dick Whittington’, produced by army troops and directed by Lieutenant Walter Thomas.

Thomas Baker Brown, born 22nd December 1896, a soldier who fought in World War I. In December 1915, he 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.

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’.

Find out more about the Baker Brown (Thomas) Archive.

Read more about Thomas Baker Brown’s story in this Treasure of the Month blog post.

Thomas Baker Brown – Story of a local Tommy

photograph-baker-brown

Photograph of Thomas Baker Brown in uniform wearing an ‘Imperial Service Badge’. Baker Brown (Thomas) Archive,  TBB/1/3/1

This month, marks 100 years since the end of the 1st World War. Our Treasure of the Month is part of the archive of Thomas Baker Brown. Born locally in Tynemouth, he served in France during the 1st World War, was taken a prisoner of war in 1918 and served as a member of the Home Guard during the 2nd World War despite suffering sight damage attributed to his time in captivity.

A highlight of the archive from the period of the 1st World War is a series of over 300 letters written at regular intervals to his family. These cover the period from when he joined the army as an 18 year old, his training for, and participation in the Great War, his time as a Prisoner of War and his return home from Germany at the end of the war. Together they combine to tell a captivating first hand account of his journey from a civilian to an experienced member of the forces fighting in France and give a fascinating insight into daily life of those who fought for the country.

Thomas Baker Brown was born in Linskill Street, Tynemouth on the 22nd of December 1896 to parents Thomas Baker Brown and J.H. Brown, he had an older brother and would go on to have a younger sister. He remained with his family, living in and around Tynemouth, until he joined the army in late November 1915, a month before his 19th birthday.

After joining the army he spent 4 months training at a base near York at Scarcroft School. Whilst there he regularly wrote to family updating them on his progress through training and his life as a young soldier. At this stage his letters detail the training he has undertaken, life in the barracks and other local men who have signed up to fight.

Letter from Thomas Baker Brown to his mother from a training camp in York. He describes getting used to life the military life and applying for a transfer to the signallers. The letter is written from 9th Platton, ‘C’ Company, 2/6th Northumberland Fusiliers, Scarcroft Schools, York. Baker Brown (Thomas)Archive, TBB/1/1/1/1/42

This letter (above) is typical of those written whilst Baker Brown was at the training camp. In this letter he writes about getting used to military life and requesting a transfer the Signallers.

By July 1916 he’d joined the 2/6th Northumberland Fusiliers, 32nd Division as a signaller and travelled to France with them. Their number included his brother, George, who had signed up after his younger brother. He went on join the ranks taking took repeated turns on the front line, being awarded the Military Cross for his heroism and bravery in March 1917. Throughout this time he continued to keep in regular contact with his family back in Tynemouth whilst fighting and remaining uninjured. His letters home from the front discus his experiences on the front line, the weather in France, replies to the letters and parcels he was receiving from home, and the often sad fate those he knew from his home area who were wounded, or worse, in action.

Letter from Thomas Baker Brown to his father from France. He discusses friends who have died or been wounded, meeting his brother George and his plans to perhaps perform in a concert. The letter is signed Derek, a nickname used by Thomas Baker Brown. This letter is accompanied by an ‘honesty envelope’. Baker Brown (Thomas) Archive, TBB/1/1/1/1/216

In this letter from November 1917 (above), he talks about receiving a copy of the Shields Daily News from his parents and mentions other men from his local area who have died and been wounded recently.

He remained in France until late March 1918 when he was taken prisoner on the Arras Front at Bullecourt and transferred to Germany where he was held in Prisoner of War camps. He spent much of his time as a Prisoner of War in a camp at Limburg where he was required to work as a miner in a coal mine adjacent to the camp. Once he became a prisoner of war the frequency of his communications declined and were restricted to briefer postcards lacking the detail of his earlier letters.

As the war drew to a close and the armistice agreement was signed morale amongst the guards lessened to the extent that Baker Brown and 5 other detainees were able to walk out of camp on the morning of the 17th of November 1918 and attempt to travel home. He, and several other prisoners, made their way to a camp in the Netherlands where he was able to write to his parents letting them know the circumstances of his escape and his expectation of being home in time for Christmas.

Letter written on YMCA headed paper, from Thomas Baker Brown to his mother from a British Concentration Camp in Holland. He writes that he has crossed the frontier along with an Italian man, and they have ‘been dodging about Holland’ and now expect to be home for Christmas. Baker Brown (Thomas) Archive, TBB/1/1/1/1/305

Several years later he suffered damage to his eye sight which doctors attributed to his time as a prisoner of war. This would prevent him from re-joining the army and participating abroad in World War Two. However, he was able to join the Home Guard and play his part in the defence of the country. A number of items including diaries, correspondence and other documents covering his time as a member of the 4th Battalion Northumberland (Hexham) Home Guard form a significant part of the archive.

Images of the letters featured in this post, along with a selection of others written by Baker Brown to family during World War One, are available here on Collections Captured. A full online catalogue of the Thomas Baker Brown Archive is available here, along with the catalogue here of the archive Sir Lawrence Pattinson, another local man whose military career included the First World War.

Edith Stoney – Unsung hero of the Turbinia story…

Letter from Charles Algernon Parsons to George Johnstone Stoney concerning mathematical work undertaken by on the the Stoney’s daughters (GB186/MSA/2/22)

Thank you to the Heaton History Group, whose research into the Stoney family of Heaton solved one of the mysteries in our archive!  A fascinating letter in our Manuscript Album (Letter from Charles Algernon Parsons to George Johnstone Stoney concerning mathematical work undertaken by one of Stoney’s daughters’, GB186/MSA/2/22) was obviously about one of the Stoney sisters, but we didn’t know which one.  Whilst we still can’t be 100% sure, the Heaton History Group have found evidence that one sister, Edith, worked for the Parsons firm whilst living in Heaton in Newcastle, and all evidence points to Edith as our mystery mathematical genius!

You can read the first installment in March 2016’s Treasure of the Month, ‘The Turbinia Steamship and a mystery in the archives…

The following is an extract from the Heaton History Group’s research piece.  A full version, which includes their research about all of the Stoney family, including Edith’s brother George who was also connected to the Turbina story, can be seen here.

The Turbinia

Most people in Newcastle have heard of Sir Charles Parsons, the eminent engineer whose invention of a multi-stage steam turbine revolutionised marine propulsion and electrical power generation, making him world famous in his lifetime and greatly respected still. Parsons’ Heaton factory was a huge local employer for many decades. It survives today as part of the global firm, Siemens.

But, of course, Charles Parsons did not make his huge strides in engineering alone. He was ably supported by a highly skilled workforce, including brilliant engineers and mathematicians, some of whom were much better known in their life times than they are today.

One that certainly deserves to be remembered is Edith Anne Stoney. Edith worked for Parsons only briefly but her contribution was crucial.  This is her story.

Family background

Dr George Johnstone Stoney (1826-1911), Edith’s father, was a prominent Irish physicist, who was born near Birr in County Offaly.  He worked as an astronomy assistant to Charles Parsons’ father, William, at nearby Birr Castle and he later taught Charles Parsons at Trinity College, Dublin. Stoney is best known for introducing the term ‘electron’ as the fundamental unit quantity of electricity. He and his wife, Margaret Sophia, had five children whom they home educated. Perhaps not surprisingly, the Stoney children went on to have illustrious careers. Robert Bindon became a doctor in Australia; Gertrude Rose was an artist;  George Gerald was an Engineer (who also worked on Turbina in his career); and Florence Ada (awarded the OBE in 1919), was the first female radiologist in the UK. But it is Edith Anne whose mathematical genius is shown in the fascinating letter we have here at Newcastle University Special Collections.

Edith Anne Stoney

Edith was born on 6 January 1869 and soon showed herself to be a talented mathematician. She won a scholarship to Newham College Cambridge where, in 1893, she achieved a first in the Part 1 Tripos examination. At that time, and for another 50 years afterwards, women were not awarded degrees at Cambridge so she did not officially graduate but she was later awarded both a BA and MA by Trinity College Dublin.

After graduation, Edith came to Newcastle to work for Charles Parsons. In a letter sent by Charles Parson to Edith’s father, George Johnstone Stoney, in 1903. Parsons pays tribute to:

your daughter’s great and original ability for applied mathematics… The problems she has attacked and solved have been in relation to the special curvature of our mirrors for obtaining beams of light of particular shapes. These investigations involved difficult and intricate original calculations, so much so that I must confess they were quite beyond my powers now and probably would have been also when I was at Cambridge… Your daughter also made calculations in regard to the gyrostatic forces brought onto the bearings of marine steam turbines…

It looks like the sort of reference someone might write for a perspective employer except that, a sign of the times, it doesn’t mention Edith by name and is addressed to her father.

Stoney Edith,_Florence,_Johnstone_Stoney

Edith, Florence and George Johnstone Stoney. Image courtesy of Heaton History Group

After working in Heaton, Edith went on to teach mathematics at Cheltenham Ladies’ College and then lecture in physics at the London School of Medicine for Women in London. There she set up a laboratory and designed the physics course.

In 1901, she and her sister, Florence, opened a new x-ray service at London’s Royal Free Hospital and she became actively involved in the women’s suffrage movement as well becoming the first treasurer of the British Federation of University Women, a post she held from 1909-1915.

During WW1, both sisters offered their service to the British Red Cross to provide a state of the art radiological service to the troops in Europe. In the x-ray facilities at a new 250 bed hospital near Troyes in France, planned and operated by her, she used stereoscopy to localise bullets and shrapnel and pioneered the use of x-rays in the diagnosis of gas gangrene, saving many lives.

She was posted to Serbia, Macedonia, Greece and France again, serving in dangerous war zones for the duration of the war. The hospitals in which she worked were repeatedly shelled and evacuated but she continued to do what she considered to be her duty.  Her war service was recognised by several countries. Among her awards were the French Croix de Guerre and Serbia’s Order of St Sava, as well as British Victory Medals.

After the war, Edith returned to England, where she lectured at King’s College for Women. In her retirement, she resumed work with the British Federation for University Women and in 1936, in memory of her father and sister, she established the Johnstone and Florence Stoney Studentship, which is still administered by the British Federation of Women Graduates to support women to carry out research overseas in biological, geological, meteorological or radiological science.

Edith Anne Stoney died on 25 June 1938, aged 69. Her importance is shown by the obituaries which appeared in ‘The Times’, ‘The Lancet’ and ‘Nature’. She will be remembered for her pioneering work in medical physics, her wartime bravery and her support for women’s causes. Although her time in Newcastle was brief, she deserves also to be remembered for her contribution to the work in Heaton for which Charles Parsons is rightly lauded.

Thank you to Heaton History Group for this piece.

Link to related article: The-turbina-steamship-and-a-mystery-in-the-archives/

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 Corps.

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.

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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.

4th December – WWI Honour Envelope from Thomas Baker Brown

#ChristmasCountdown

Honour Envelope

Honour envelope from letter sent by Thomas Baker Brown to his father on Christmas Day (TBB/1/1/1/1/114-8)

Honour envelope letter sent by Thomas Baker Brown to his father on Christmas Day, dated 25th December 1916.

Thomas Baker Brown, born 22nd December 1896, a soldier who fought in World War I. In 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.

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’.

In 1918, he was taken prisoner by German soldiers and placed in a prisoner of war camp in Dülmen and later transferred to Limburg.

Find the letter in our collections here. Explore the rest of the Thomas Baker Brown collection here.