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Originally posted on The Library Time Machine.

You may not have heard of the artist John Hassall. But you’ve almost certainly seen his most famous work, the Jolly Fisherman. (You know the one: “Skegness – it’s so bracing”). You may have even have seen his other famous advertising creation, the Kodak Girl.

But have you seen this?

Oddly modern for a WW1 recruitment poster it has the intensity of a panel in a comic, demonstrating Hassall’s ability to create a striking graphic image. Hassall lived in Kensington and was probably known to Sir William Davison, the Mayor of Kensington during the Great War who may have…

via John Hassall: the poster man | The Library Time Machine.

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A moving poem for Remembrance Day by Seumas Gallacher published on my history blog.

First Night History

At the Going Down of the SunAt the Going Down of the Sun © Sarah Vernon

Tell Me, John, Let Me Hear it Once

by Seumas Gallacher

Tell me, John, let me hear it once

From beyond the grave wherein you lie.

Tell me once, that I may know

Why the Hell did you have to die?

Now that I myself am growing old

As you were not allowed to do,

When your country went to War,

Killing them, and us, and you.

Is Humanity so bereft

Of sense and sensibility?

That murder dressed as War

Is the tip of Man’s ability?

Yes, my dear, I understand

There’s times to right the wrong

When Nation pits at Nation

To prove which one is strong.

But feel each mother’s loss

The angst, the grief, the pain

It’s no use telling them,

‘Let them not have died in vain’.

For every priceless child that’s gone,

Every precious son…

View original post 85 more words


Captain Norman Austin Taylor © Sarah Vernon

‘Five foot ten of a beautiful young Englishman under French soil. Never a joke, never a look, never a word more to add to my store of memories. The book is shut up forever and as the years pass I shall remember less and less, till he becomes a vague personality; a stereotyped photograph.’

Poor Norman.

Such a commonplace death.  Shot by a single sniper. Youngest child, only son.  Three sisters and a father left to grieve along with so many other fathers, mothers, sisters…

Continue reading: Great Uncle Norman: ‘shot by a single sniper’ | First Night Design.


Update: I should point out that it’s not as grand as it sounds since they are publishing everyone’s contributions as it is a special UK project to commemorate the First World War.

‘Five foot ten of a beautiful young Englishman under French soil. Never a joke, never a look, never a word more to add to my store of memories. The book is shut up forever and as the years pass I shall remember less and less, till he becomes a vague personality; a stereotyped photograph.’

Captain Noman Austin Taylor © Sarah Vernon

Captain Noman Austin Taylor © Sarah Vernon

My imagined letter to an unknown soldier has now been published on the 14-18-NOW website! Click here.

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Neil Bartlett and Kate Pullinger have set up a grand venture to commemorate WW1. For them ‘it is important to move away from cenotaphs, poppies, and the imagery we associate with war memorials’.

We can all contribute: ‘If you could say what you want to say about that war, with all we’ve learned since 1914, with all your own experience of life and death to hand, what would you say? If you were now able to write to the unknown soldier, a man who served and was killed during World War One, what would you write?’

If you’d like to take part, you can do so now. All contributions will be published on their website from 28 June 2014. To read more about this project, click here.

‘Five foot ten of a beautiful young Englishman under French soil. Never a joke, never a look, never a word more to add to my store of memories. The book is shut up forever and as the years pass I shall remember less and less, till he becomes a vague personality; a stereotyped photograph.’

Captain Noman Austin Taylor © Sarah Vernon

Captain Noman Austin Taylor © Sarah Vernon

This is what I shall be submitting. It is an imagined letter but based on my family.

Darling One,

Do you remember when I said that I would never forgive you if you went across the sea without telling me? I’m sorry now that I said that. I realise it was not what you wanted to hear, that the last thing you needed was to feel pressure to do what your family wanted instead of the freedom to do what was best for you. Please forgive me, my dearest brother.

I miss you so. I miss your cheeky, lopsided smile that used to steal across your face when you were joshing me about something I’d said. Or when Dodo pulled you to her to give you a bear hug, while Barbara looked on impatiently because she wanted us to continue our game of Whist. Do you remember?

With Mother gone, you were almost like a son to me and I was so proud when you joined up to defend our country. At the same time I was fretful beyond imagining. I knew you could take care of yourself, no matter that you were so young, but I know now that all the sense or strength in the world is not enough to protect one from death. I know now that war is senseless, that it can never achieve anything except destruction.

You would have loved the man I married but, of course, you know him now. I was the only one of us three to marry. Dodo looked after Papa until he joined you. All gone now. Except for me.

I did not write any more novels after The Flapper. I should have done. Perhaps it would have helped me to have taken up my pen again after my beloved Chan was struck down in 1940. Perhaps not.

I’m old now. I have always found myself unable to talk of you to my children or grandchildren. They have only photographs by which to know their uncle.

I will join you soon and all of us will be together again. I long for the day.

Ever yours,

Joyce

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Eagle-Eyed Editor

Tuskegee Airmen Tuskegee Airmen in Hondo, Texas, with pilot Jeff Hefner, 2000. Public domain image courtesy of Tech. Seg. Lance Cheung, USAF, Wikimedia Commons.

It’s wonderful what you can do when somebody else believes in you. Sometimes you have to struggle to win over hearts and minds; other times you don’t.

John B. Holway wrote a great book about exactly this type of situation. It’s called Red Tails, Black Wings: The Men of America’s Black Air Force.

The book concerns the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of African-American men who began training as pilots in Tuskegee, Alabama in the early 1940s. Jim Crow laws were still in effect and although African-American men were admitted to military service, they were placed in menial labor positions.

But that would change, and Tuskegee was the beginning. The men of Tuskegee not only performed well as pilots in spite of others’ low expectations, they excelled. The Red…

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Culture and Anarchy

20140411-111845 pm.jpg

One of the many commemorations of the start of the Great War is the National Portrait Gallery’s exhibition ‘The Great War in Portraits’. I am reluctant to comment too much as I found that to wander around the rooms and look at the paintings on display was a slightly surreal experience (and consequently I didn’t take as many notes as usual!) but the exhibition shows us what is literally the changing face of war. From individuals involved in the start of the war – military and political figures, as well as a press portrait of the assassin of Archduke Franz Ferdinand – to images intended as propaganda, displaying military might and dignity, the stages of the war are reflected in the work of the artists. Most moving, perhaps, are the faces of the soldiers affected by the conflict20140411-111858 pm.jpg, especially those damaged by shells, which were drawn for hospital…

View original post 93 more words


This charming vintage bride comes from The Old Design Shop and is the cover of a 1915 Easter edition of the American periodical, Pictorial Review.  The Great War (WWI) was being waged in Europe at the time and the United States, many of whose citizens were firmly on the side of neutrality, had yet to join.  American feelings about the war were encapsulated by the popular song, also from 1915, I Didn’t Raise My Boy To Be A Soldier, with lyrics by Alfred Bryan, music by Al Piantadosi and sung by Ed Morton. This sheet music cover comes from Wikipedia.


Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah

Related articles


‘Five foot ten of a beautiful young Englishman under French soil. Never a joke, never a look, never a word more to add to my store of memories. The book is shut up forever and as the years pass I shall remember less and less, till he becomes a vague personality; a stereotyped photograph.’

Captain Noman Austin Taylor © Sarah Vernon

Captain Norman Austin Taylor © Sarah Vernon

Poor Norman.

Such a commonplace death.  Shot by a single sniper. Youngest child, only son.  Three sisters and a father left to grieve along with so many other fathers, mothers, sisters, wives, brothers, children.

“Poor Norman,” said my grandmother Joyce in the 1950s, and turned away so that her youngest son changed the subject.  Was she still, so many, many years later, too saddened by her brother’s death to talk or had he, for her, become nothing but a stereotyped photograph about whom she felt unable to talk?

A stereotyped photograph.  I have two in my possession, both of Norman in Army uniform. The round, boyish face of inexperience looks at me in the one [above]: a bland, almost formal, expression gives way to a makeshift confidence on closer inspection and, with arms folded, suggests a reluctance to be photographed.

In the other [below], he leans against a pillar with engaging insouciance; a cigarette holder, the ash about to drop, rests between sturdy fingers.  Three or four years, maybe less, separate the pictures. The poise in the latter cannot mask the face of a man who has experienced the muck and the noise, the unutterable panic and horror of trench warfare.

Captain Noman Austin Taylor © Sarah Vernon

Captain Noman Austin Taylor © Sarah Vernon

‘He was hit at four o’clock on the morning of 24th March 1918,’ wrote Joyce the following year.  ‘I felt that icy hand on my heart which I shall never now feel again.’   When I first read my grandmother’s words, I took her to mean that only her brother’s death could produce such an icy hand.  I look at the words now and see only that she felt her heart would never feel anything again.  Perhaps that is why she turned away from her son.

We will remember them.

Captain Norman Austin Taylor 1895-1918

@ALBerridge I thought you might enjoy this post about my great-uncle during #WWI http://t.co/p8CYYU8nRz

— First Night Design (@FirstNightArt) May 15, 2014

@FirstNightArt That’s beautifully written and very moving. No high drama, just the reality of human loss in a war. Great post – thank you.

— Louise Berridge (@ALBerridge) May 15, 2014

@ALBerridge I’m so glad you like it.

— First Night Design (@FirstNightArt) May 15, 2014

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Fascinating. I’ve read many books on WWI but I don’t think I knew all the terms or their provenance detailed in this article from The Bright Old Oak. Enjoy!

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah

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