Thursday 30 June 2011

Herbert W Thomas (1895 - 1916) - A Soldier from Spring Hill Sheffield

I've just posted the first new article to the website for nearly two months. In the interim I have been updating earlier articles and content with information from the 1911 Census.

I came across Herbert and his family through the Census - the family were living on "the Hill" one hundred years ago and continued to do so until the mid 1950's and possibly longer. I am now determined to find out all I can about the family and so if anyone can add anything I would be grateful

Wednesday 29 June 2011

The Diary of Corporal John William Ballinger

Having access to the 1911 Census is proving to be a great asset. For instance I have had this newspaper cutting from the Daily Telegraph since 2007 but have never been able to incorporate it into the website
I came across it again when I was compiling the article on Walter Hutchinson and his diary and have now found John in 1911
(click on image to read text)
Name     John William Ballinger
Condition     Single
Gender Male   
Age 21 Estimated Year of Birth 1890
Occupation Nil
Employed No
Working at Home No
Place of Birth     Forest Gate Essex
Military Rank     Private 1st Bn Manchester Regiment
Enumerator Information
Address     Kamptee Town     Kamptee Inhabited     Y
Reference     RG14PN34980 RD641 SD5 ED1 SN9999 Administrative County     Overseas Military
Enumeration District     1 

Like Walter Hutchinson, John's diary makes for sobering reading

Tuesday 28 June 2011

Page Woodcocks Wind Pills - "this most excellent medicine"

This appeared in The Sheffield & Rotherham Independent (Sheffield, England), Friday, June 23, 1899; pg. 7; Issue 13920 as an advertisement. And it started me wondering why these pills are no longer available because they seem to be a cure for those scourges of modern day life - wind, indigestion, liver complaints and biliousness

Sadly  a Google search revealed that Page Woodcock was in fact a purveyor of quack medicine but if that was the case why were his wind pills so successful over many years. Surely if they failed to resolve the symptoms, the patient/user would know about it 

Thursday 23 June 2011

Are You Happy With The Way Things Are In Britain Today?

A letter from Nick Clegg that was sent to me just over a year ago when he was just the leader of the Liberal Democrat party. If there is a reason why people have no confidence in politicians in general and Nick Clegg in particular this letter surely shows you why 

"Rich bankers, millionaires and polluters will all finally be made to pay their fair share" is just breathtaking in its naivety. Rich bankers, millionaires and polluters have never paid their fair share and never will - it is a fact of life and the sooner Nick Clegg grasps hold of this the sooner he and his party can "move" on.

PS I'm still paying tax on my first £10,000 I earn Nick - as it is at the heart of your plans, can you ensure that I don't otherwise you and your party will be seen as heartless!

Tuesday 21 June 2011

Cameron - The Supreme Commander

"David Cameron criticises comments over Libya mission

The prime minister has criticised military chiefs who have spoken out in public about the UK's role in Libya.
It comes after the RAF's second-in-command said "huge" demands were being placed on equipment and personnel.
David Cameron said: "There are moments when I wake up and read the newspapers and think: 'I tell you what, you do the fighting and I'll do the talking'."
He said military leaders were "absolutely clear" the mission could be kept going for as long as necessary.
"Time is on our side, not on Gaddafi's side," he said in a news conference.
Last week, the First Sea Lord, Sir Mark Stanhope, warned that continuing operations in Libya beyond September would mean taking ships away from other tasks".

I know all British Prime Ministers see themselves as re-incarnations of Churchill, the most noticeable examples being Thatcher and Blair, and I think that Cameron and his deputy Clegg are heading that way.
Still if the military do become over-stretched in Libya and are unable to fulfill their "fighting" role, Cameron does have a back-up strategy - "he'll do the talking." Gaddafi you have been warned!!  

The War Graves Photographic Project

As readers of the blog have noticed the last couple of months I have been occupied with "grave matters" and more specifically WW1 graves. Whilst researching articles I came across the following site-The War Graves Photographic Project 
and to quote
"The aim of The War Graves Photographic Project is to photograph every war grave, individual memorial, MoD grave, and family memorial of serving military personnel from WWI to the present day and make these available within a searchable database.
Now working as a joint venture with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, this will enable families, scholars and researchers to obtain, via the CWGC or TWGPP websites, a copy of the photograph of a grave or memorial which for many is impossible to visit due to the location".

But if you want a photograph of a grave or memorial that has been taken by a VOLUNTEER you have to make a donation of AT LEAST £3.00 for an e-mailed print or AT LEAST £5.00 for a 7x5" photograph. The Projects justification for the charges can be found on this link

Two things spring to mind - one is that I think the charges are very excessive especially for the e-mail print. A volunteer takes the photo at his own time and expense, sends the photo to the project who promply claim copyright, and then they sell it on to third parties.
And secondly all the photos on the site are watermarked and copyrighted - to quote
"Small print - Copyright remains with the CWGC/TWGPP/Donor. Those wishing to use photographs for publishing purposes should contact TWGPP for appropriate permission"

This site is a commercial venture that will undoubtedly make livelihood(s) and profits for those that run it.But it leaves a slightly bittter taste in my mouth for some reason. In the introduction they state
"make these available within a searchable database". when they should say "make these available at a cost to the user within a searchable database".

I find content and material from my website all over the place - sometimes people place an acknowledgement and sometimes they don't.But the one thing I will never do on my site is start charging for content and material.(not that anyone would pay me!)  If I did that I would be on par with Rupert Murdoch and that would be hard to stomach  

The Sad Death of Nellie Murfin

The cutting is from the Sheffield and Rotherham Independent dated 20th October 1899. It looks as though Nellie age 3 went on her own to the shop to buy a shuttlecock and on the way back was killed by a dray carrying mineral water.

The two elements of the report that are surprising from a modern day point of view is that young Nellie went to the shop on her own. If that happened nowadays the parents and/or guardians would be prosecuted for severe child neglect as an absolute minimum, and quite possibly manslaughter. And the second element is the mineral water dray. Attercliffe and district in the late C19th could hardly be described as "spa destinations." and so bottling and distributing the local spring water is a non -starter. It is far more likely that the district had to import water given that the local supplies would be heavily polluted by industry  

As for young Nellie she was buried six days later in Sheffield's Burngreave Cemetery

MURFIN, Nellie (Daughter of A Murfin, age 3). Died at 15-4 Attercliffe Road; Buried on October 25, 1889 in Consecrated ground; Grave Number 15, Section K2 of Burngreave Cemetery, Sheffield.

The grave contains 12 other bodies

Harry Poole 1916

I've just posted an article about Harry Poole to the site.

Harry was the eighth soldier that I have identified from Sheffield who enlisted in the British Army in WW1 and was executed for desertion. Harry was working class, just like the other seven soldiers from Sheffield who were executed by the British Army in the Great War. In fact it is now looking a distinct possibility that The British Army was harbouring some deep seated prjudices about the working classes in general, and particularly those who came from the industrial towns in the North.

 Harry's grave is at the front and to the right

I have also posted some information on William Randle who was executed two weeks prior to Harry. He occupies the grave directly behind Harry

Wednesday 1 June 2011

George Orwell's Grave

Many years ago I visited the grave of one of the few writers that I would call a "literary hero" - George Orwell (Eric Blair). The grave is situated in the churchyard of All Saints Church in Sutton Courtenay in Berkshire. Photos were taken and then promptly lost by Tripleprint which meant that I did not have no photographic record of the visit. And since then the other point that has troubled me is why George was buried in Sutton Courtenay as he had, as far as I knew, no significant connection with the village.

However due to Wikipedia I now have both a photo of the grave. I should add that when I visited the grave I was rather dismayed about its general condition and neglect - the rose bush then was a rather a poor specimen to say the least!

His memorial bears the simple epitaph: "Here lies Eric Arthur Blair, born 25 June 1903, died 21 January 1950

AND I also ascertained from the same article why George was buried in Sutton Courtenay in the first place.   
"The churchyard is notable as the location of the burial place of Eric Arthur Blair, better known by his pen name, George Orwell. As a child he fished in a local stream. He wanted to be buried in the churchyard of whichever was the nearest church to where he died. However he died in London and none of the local churches had any space in their graveyards. Thinking that he might have to be cremated against his wishes, his widow asked her friends whether they knew of a church that had space for him. David Astor, a friend of Orwell's who lived in Sutton Courtenay, explained the problem to his local vicar, and arrangements were made".

I have also found George in the 1911 Census as a 7 year old schoolboy

Name     Eric Blair
Relationship to Head of Household     Son
Gender     Male Age    7
Estimated Year of Birth     1904
Occupation     School
Place of Birth     Rotilesri Bengal India
Nationality     British Subject
Enumerator Information
Address     22 Western Road Henley
Parish     Henley Upon Thames
Town     Henley
Type of Building     Private House
Number of Rooms     9
Inhabited     Yes
Reference     RG14PN8046 RG78PN406 RD150 SD1 ED12 SN88
Administrative County     Oxfordshire Registration District     Henley
Registration Sub District     Henley Enumeration District     12