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Geoffrey Malins and the Battle to Film the Somme

Just before Zero Hour on 1st July 1916, thousands of soldiers stood in wait, ready to go over the top in the much-anticipated Big Push. They fixed their bayonets and readied their rifles, awaiting the sound of the whistle to s…

My Great Great Grandfather, Pte Percy William Parsons

On my first battlefields trip with my school in 2009 we paid a special visit to Athies Communal Cemetery to visit the grave of my great great grandfather. My mum had printed me his information from the Commonwealth War Graves Co…

Snapshots From the Front: Celebrating Easter during the First World War

This Easter is unlike one we have experienced before. As we stay home to stay safe, we are without many of the holiday's traditions, with even churches being closed. Naturally enough, this got me thinking about how Easter wa…

'Till We Have Built Jerusalem': The Holy City in the Imperial Imagination

One of my favourite paintings in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford is Edward Lear's Jerusalem . For me, it perfectly encapsulates the nineteenth century British imagination of the ancient city, mythologised and idealised in the…

Captain JT Blount-Dinwiddie, Man of Empire

When James Travers Blount-Dinwiddie was born in Dumfries on 25th April 1891, he appeared the typical middle class boy. His father, also James, was a writer to Her Majesty's Signet, as a Scottish solicitor. Despite his deat…

"Duty Nobly Done" - Inscribing Meaning to the First World War

When visiting the battlefields, one of the things I find most interesting to look out for in the cemeteries is the choice of inscriptions on the headstones, selected by the soldiers' families. As expected, themes of love a…

The Flying Kangaroos: Australian Pilot Training in the Cotswolds

In the cemetery of the small Cotswold village of Leighterton, there lies a large plot of Commonwealth War Graves, one of the few lasting signs of the village's war history. These 24 Australian graves represent Leighterton&…

The National Drink or National Sin? Temperance Campaigning in the First World War

In one of my very first blog posts about the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) during the First World War, I wrote on the row within the Association over the sale of alcohol within its recreation huts. The Associati…

The Way of Peace They Have Not Known: The Peace Programme of the YMCA

This week marks 100 years since the celebration across Britain of 'Peace Day', the Bank Holiday to celebrate the end of the First World War and the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. A Victory Parade in central Londo…

The Spirit of Victory: Robert Baden-Powell and the YMCA

'To do good rather than be good' was how founder of the Scouting Movement, Lieutenant-General Robert Baden-Powell described the First World War work of the Young Men's Christian Association. In a 1916 letter he hai…