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"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…

Trench Raider to Dam Buster: Air Cdre Wilfred Wynter-Morgan CBE MC

In the Summer of 1914, the nineteen-year-old Wilfred Wynter-Morgan was living on his widowed mother's farm in Slimbridge, Gloucestershire. He had evidently shown promise from an early age, attending private school at the nea…

'The Hero of the Rope': Cpl Gordon Seeley, 2nd KRRC

Gordon John Seeley was, in 1914, an ordinary clerk, working in a small legal office of a rural town. In 1918 he returned to home to Dursley a war hero, with a parade in his honour and his actions celebrated in the national pre…

As Long as Cotswold's High or Severn's Deep: Ivor Gurney and FW Harvey's Love of Home

In the war poetry of both Ivor Gurney and FW Harvey, their mutual love of their Gloucestershire home shines through, intensifying as their separation from their beloved county grew. Having grown up in Gloucestershire myself, t…

'The Greatest Story of All' - Easter in the First World War

As each Spring sees the supermarket shelves fill with chocolate eggs and chickens, many Christians begin to fret that the "real" meaning of Easter is being lost. Yet this fear is not new, and even during the First Wo…

The Women of the Y

YMCA poster, 1918 ( source ) During the First World War up to 40% of the YMCA's staff on the Western Front were female. It is likely that the percentage working in the British base camps was even higher. In part, this was…