Thursday 29 November 2012

The Basil Hicks Lecture

I went to The Basil Hicks Lecture last night which I believe was the 12th to be held since its inception

The First World War was the bloodiest, most destructive conflict in British history. The extremely costly campaigns waged on the Western Front and elsewhere led to the loss of unprecedented numbers of British lives and had a profound emotional impact on the civilian population. The Lecture will look at the mass bereavement caused across the British Empire as a result of the First World War and examine the initially controversial role played by the Imperial (now Commonwealth) War Graves Commission in responding to the needs of millions of British subjects in mourning. The work of the Commission in the 21st Century, as the organisation prepares for the centenaries of the milestones of the First World War, will also be explored in detail.

Basil Hicks and the Basil Hicks Lectures
basil hicksBasil Perrin Hicks

Basil Perrin Hicks, the man in whose memory the Basil Hicks Lectures are given, was the younger son of the University of Sheffield’s founding Vice-Chancellor, Professor William Mitchinson Hicks FRS, and his wife Ellen Perrin. He was educated at Rugby and studied at Hanover and Bonn before entering Trinity College, Cambridge: after graduating in 1914 he studied further in Paris before returning to England on the outbreak of war, joined the Inns of Court Officer Training Corps and received his Commission in September 1914. He went to the Front on 7th August 1915 as a Lieutenant in the 8th Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment, and was shot and killed whilst leading his men against the German trenches on the morning of 15th September, the first day of the Battle of Loos. He was one of 380,000 men to fall in the three months of that battle, which moved the German lines back just 1,200 yards – albeit a considerable achievement in its context.
Basil Hicks is commemorated – and pictured – in the Great West Window of St Peter’s Church, Bushey Heath, the Outer London suburb which was home to his mother’s family, and by the Lecture series endowed by his parents. Professor and Mrs Hicks originally envisaged that each Lecture should “deal with some aspect of the Great War, either its origins, its conduct or its social and international consequences....”, though in practice a wide range of topics has been covered by the historians, politicians and military men who have given the Lectures since their time. This 2012 Lecture indeed addresses a direct consequence of the War, which by the unprecedented scale of the killing led to the creation of what is now the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to honour the Fallen and to care for their remains.

Although I am fairly well-aquainted with the work of the CWGC, it was still an interesting and thought-provoking lecture. The speaker was both concise and lucid, and took the audience through the history and the work of the Commission. 

He was particularly thoughtful on the subject of "repatriation" which aroused fierce passions at the time and still does to this day. All in all a really good lecture.   

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Sheffield's Shocking Past 2

Our second book came out this month which portrays events in the first half of the twentieth century

This is a summary taken from our publisher's website

"Sheffield's Shocking Past - Part 2 [2012]
History has a nasty habit of repeating itself.
It was February 1934 and men were screaming for help as the Leppings Lane section of the bulging 72,860 Hillsborough crowd swayed forward and crushed them against iron railings. George Frederick Hill died from multiple fractures and shock.
Tragedy had also struck twenty years earlier when a retaining wall collapsed at the same ground. The match was suspended as scores of injured were rushed to Sheffield Infirmary.
Life-long Sheffielder and historian Chris Hobbs and local author Matthew Bell have once again delved into the archives - this time bringing you some of the most gruesome, grizzly and long-forgotten tragic episodes of 20th century Sheffield.
Sheffield's Shocking Past - Part II leaves no coroner's report unchecked as it uncovers the killer cat of Millhouses; death by chimneystack; one of the city's earliest fatal motor accidents and the story behind the charred remains of a male midget and his mechanical teddy bear female companion.
The events surrounding some incidents are hard to contemplate until you read the full facts: there's death by scalding at Heeley Baths; a Treeton man drowned looking for his chickens; a Low Edges resident who accidentally killed his wife, and the horrific aftermath of an American Air Force jet crashing into Lodge Moor Hospital in 1955.
One of the most tragic cases must be that of 22-year-old nurse Ada Bradley. She thought she was helping rehabilitate a former mental patient by inviting her into her home to live. Instead, "She was found dead with her head battered and her throat cut in the street near the asylum."
Sheffield's Shocking Past - Part II takes you from the time of the horse and carriage to the age of the jet plane, along the way unearthing some of the saddest and most remarkable incidents in the history of the city.

I am very pleased with the end result - as with any book of this nature you have to comprimise and at times be ruthless in the editing. But it hangs together pretty well and I hope that its many readers will find it both interesting and stimulating.

Pte G Sanby Yorks & Lancs Medals

I was researching another branch of the SANBY family when I came across the following

WW1 British War & Victory Medal & ribbons, Marked Pte G Sanby Yorks & Lancs

Sold Date: 05/19/2012
Channel: Online Auction  Source: eBay UK
Category: Militaria & Weapons
WWI British War Medal and Victory Medal with ribbons, marked with the name Pte G Sandy Yorks & Lancs, who I believe was a friend of my Grandmother.
Both medals and ribbons are original and came from her house. Any question please ask.
I've just remembered. my Grandmother said that the G was for George. As adding this note I've noticed that the name I've typed is wrong, it's Sanby not Sandy. 

I should mention that George Sanby was my gran's cousin, and is buried in Walkley Cemetery Sheffield

To say I was dumbstruck with this revelation would be an understatement. 

The seller did include a photograph of the medals which are pictured above.

And so it looks as though the medals are now in the hands of a collector and not the family.
I have also just accessed George's World War 1 Service record. It notes that the medals were sent to THORNHILL UNWIN, George's father in law, who was his next of kin after the death of his wife Maud. I can only assume that the grandmother the seller identifies as the previous owner of the medals must have been either the daughter or grand-daughter of Thornhill Unwin.

Tuesday 6 November 2012

Gran Worked for Uncle

I've just posted an new article to the website, the first for nearly three months. It is not as though I have been slacking though - a second book has just been completed this week and sent to the publishers and I've actually managed to do some research as well. More about that in future blogs.

The article "Gran Worked for Uncle" ties in with the family history side of things, and fills yet another gap in my gran's life. Of course I would be delighted to get any photos of the premises where my gran lived and worked. They were demolished many years ago, and I doubt if there are any available