WW1 Centenary

Great War Centenary 2014-2018 website by Paul Reed


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Book Review: New Gallipoli Titles

10928A Marine At Gallipoli and on The Western Front by Harry Askin

(Pen & Sword 2015, ISBN 978 1 47382 784 4, 248pp, illustrated, hardback, £25.00)

Harry Askin was a 22 year old Sheffield lad when he joined the Royal Marine Light Infantry in 1914 and he then served with them at Gallipoli and on the Western Front with the Royal Naval Division. Later in the war he was commissioned in the RMLI having fought on the Somme, at Arras and then Ypres. This is a very well written account and the chapters on Gallipoli are superb; they describe in some detail conditions on the battlefield and the terrible fighting around Krithia in June/July 1915. One of the best of the ‘new’ memoirs that have been published during the WW1 Centenary.

10981Fatal Charge at Gallipoli (Front Line 2015, ISBN 978 1 84832 902 7, 280pp, illustrated, hardback, £25)

This is the first of three new excellent Gallipoli books by Australian author John Hamilton. This title tells one of the most iconic Australian stories of the 1915 – the charge of the Light Horse at the Nek, as depicted in the famous film Gallipoli. It is a highly detailed and obviously minutely researched account, which adds much to our knowledge of this part of the Gallipoli campaign.

10984Gallipoli Victoria Cross Hero (Front Line 2015, ISBN 978 1 84832 903 4, 304pp, illustrated, hardback, £25)

This next title by John Hamilton looks at the story of Lieutenant Hugo Throssell who was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery at the Nek and Hill 60 while serving with the 10th Light Horse. Throttles survived the war but had been wounded on several occasions. After the conflict he became vehemently anti-war, and quite outspoken on the subject. The book charts his gradual decline as because of his views he was unable to get work, and was forced to pawn his Victoria Cross for the pathetic sum of 10 shillings. Hugo Throssell committed suicide in 1933; as much a casualty of the war as those who had died beside him in the trenches. This is a really fascinating book and illustrates the price of heroism which men like Throssell had to pay. Highly recommended.

10982Gallipoli Sniper (Front Line 2015, ISBN 978 1 84832 904 1, 255pp, illustrated, hardback, £25)

This final book from Ian Hamilton tells the story of Billy Sing who was one of the most famous of the Australian Gallipoli snipers. The static nature of trench warfare at ANZAC brought sniping to the fore and Sing, an Australian of Chinese descent, quickly became known as the ‘ANZAC Angel of Death’ because of his skill with the rile. He was later awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal and also fought on the Western Front as a sniper. Having survived the war he died in poverty in 1943, a forgotten man and his grave went unmarked for many years. Again, like the Throssell book, this is a fantastic story and a sad one, showing how men like these struggled to cope when the war was over. Once more, highly recommended and I hope the author will be writing some more books in the near future.

 

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Work Progressing On New Fromelles Museum

Work on the new Battle of Fromelles War Museum is progressing well, I noted on a visit to the battlefields last week. There is an existing museum in the village which has been there for more than twenty years, located in the attic of the town hall. The growth in interest in Fromelles and the construction of Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery has led to a substantial increase in visitors to the area. This new museum will help tell the story of the battle. The architects, Serero, who are working of the project are

“… aiming at establishing a link between sky and earth, between visitors and the “burial” of soldiers. This is a building with a low profile, which is half-sunk on its northeast facade. The work on natural topography has helped to improve the natural slope of the site and cover, partially, the technical space of the museum.

Only the volume containing the exhibition spaces emerges from the landscape, indicating the trace of a burial. This emergence is in concrete, which evokes the stacking of successive geological stratifications and different types of soil in the basement. The museum is gradually revealed to people accessing the site, with its low profile, which is respectful of the presence of the adjacent cemetery.

Two visual axes generate the plan of the museum. One axis to the cemetery, that allows to connect the room of the last sequence with the resting place of soldiers. The other visual axis opens the lobby area to the church spire of Fromelles, which immediately identifies the skyline of the city. These axes were used to guide and define the “edges” of the octagonally shaped exhibition space.

The museum is organized around a octagonal core which houses the exhibition hall. This form, in the spirit of the adjacent cemetery, evokes both the rigid geometry of military construction, and the pure geometry of the sacral as the octagonal drum of the Church of Fromelles.”

The Museum is due to open in early 2014.