Changes at IWM

I wrote to IWM setting out concerns about the closure of the IWM Library to which they responded. However, as the letter was marked ‘Personal’ they are not happy for me to include it on the GWAA site. Instead they have directed me to share the following letter which explains what their forthcoming plans are.

If you are concerned about the changes, there are a number of petitions circulating as you may already be aware as well as an open letter which I have copied below for anyone who wishes to use it.

Sir,
Following your article, ‘Imperial War Museum will charge for services’ (24 February 2015), which revealed the museum plans to introduce a fee of up to £14 a day, for use of its research room, and reduce its opening hours, we would like to express our deep concern for these measures.
The printed material, unpublished documents and oral histories, available for consultation in the research room, is a world-class collection. It covers every level of wartime experience, from letters scribbled by a private in the trenches of the First World War through to regimental histories of the armed forces.
This collection has been the bedrock of thousands of history books on twentieth-century warfare. These proposals will deter many researchers and serve only to impair our understanding of modern warfare.
The timing of this is particularly unfortunate. We are a hundred years on from the First World War and seventy years on from the end of the Second World War. More and more of those who lived through the Second World War are disappearing from our world. This is the time when the Imperial War Museum should be doing everything to ensure their voices continue to be heard.
Yours faithfully,

The changes are expected to come into play in April. Bookings for the reading room are being done as staff become aware of what is happening so best to email your request. The Reading Room will only be open 4 days a week but which days is still not clear.
Photocopies etc are taking a long while to get done – from my recent visit, there is at least a 10 week wait.

March Update

1915 was a relatively quiet year in East Africa with the British forces being on the defensive. However, elsewhere in Africa things were on the move: the campaign in South West Africa was well underway and action was still taking place in Cameroons.

2015 however, seems to be a bit busier on the remembrance front with a few conferences and seminars scheduled for the coming months. See Forthcoming Events on the homepage for details.

In case you haven’t checked lately, the In Memory pages listing those known to have been involved in the Great War in Africa have been updated. We now have over 19500 names for East and Central Africa and 3000 for Southern Africa. North and West Africa are lagging behind at under 1000. If you do have lists of names of men and women who were involved in the campaign, please send them in to help complete the lists. Apart from being of help to family members trying to trace information on relatives who saw action in the various theatres, being able to search and sort the information in different ways is opening up new insights into the campaign and avenues for further research.

After a bit of a wait, through no fault of his, Richard Sneyd’s History of the Faridkot Sappers and Miners is now available to access on the website. This can be found, together with some new articles by Harry Fecitt on the 40th Pathans and 30th Punjabis, and one by Mark Thatcher on Lettow-Vorbeck on the site. Thanks to all for their dedication to the cause…

Alan Rutherford has a second edition of Arthur Beagle’s Diary of East Africa out. It can be found online

Photographing in the British Library has been extended:
Guidelines to taking photographs in the British Library

Thanks to Alex Balm for sharing this find on a flight mechanic of 4RNAS
And to Paul Ferguson for drawing attention to the Masonic Great War Project

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission featured SA’s Mendi Day Commemorations
BBC on How British colonies helped war effort (Video footage featuring James Willson)

Review of Michelle Moyd’s Violent Intermediaries

Although not a member of GWAA, Leondard Shurtleff was a history enthusiast with wide-ranging interests including Africa, where he served as Ambassador to a number of countries. His willingness to help and advise will be missed across all the networks he participated in.

January Update

Welcome to another update from the GWAA.
There’s quite a bit in this update, so hopefully you’ll find something of interest/use.

“Focus on…”
A new section on the GWAA site. Add your comments or add a theme…

Harry Fecitt has contributed an article on the 22 Derajat Pack Battery.

Podcast and publication from Ed Paice’s recent talk: How the Great War razed East Africa

The latest Legion of Frontiersman Topic Page is on DP Driscoll. You’ve got until the end of the month to read it…

The SA Legion have published some reminiscences on the German South West Africa Campaign.

The African theatres in the news:

“For the Fallen” – photographic tribute to the unsung heroes of the Great War (thanks to Harry for the link)

The November edition of the CWGC newsletter has two articles on African theatres:
Somaliland marks the centenary and the Battle of the bees, aka Tanga

Member Ann Crichton-Harris has an article in the Christmas 2014 edition of Family Magazine: The campaign to be remembered. If you missed getting a hardcopy, you can purchase the magazine

A slightly neglected African theatre: The Suez Canal

World War 1 through Arab eyes – Recruitment in North Africa

BBC World War 1 interactive on Togoland and East Africa

Edward Clay wrote to the Financial Times about the lack of remembrance of the colonial forces. You need to be a registered FT user to read/access.

You may have heard that there is talk of the Imperial War Museum looking to sell its library stock. A number of members have signed a petition – if you haven’t and would like to, here is one
There are a number circulating by different pressure groups.

And one not quite fully in the news: Roads to the Great War’s The British Empire’s contribution to Victory

Help sought
Norman Parsons Jewell diaries – do you know where they are? Some years ago these diaries were lent to someone and have since disappeared. If you know of their whereabouts, please get in touch as the family are keen to be reunited with them.

The Forgotten Heroes 1914-1918 Foundation is crowd sourcing all Arab Muslims (North African) who fought in World War 1. A number also served in East Africa. If you know of any, please add them
There is also a call for papers out – see the Forum for details.

Gerald Rillings is looking for people to write on different sections on the East African Campaign in WW I. See the Forum for details.

One of the things I’m going to be adding to the site in the next little while are places to see in Africa which are WW1 related. If you have any in your vacinity, please do let me know and also if you are able to accommodate people/show them around etc (or know someone who can). Please feel free to pass on any relevant websites to me or this request to others. I’m going this route as the only person who has been able to organise battlefield tours is James and I have various people asking about where they can go and what they can see. By putting info on the web, they can then create their own tour…

Final bits
And for a slightly different Last Post, you can hear Mark Knopfler on guitar

For users of the British Library, the Library has decided to allow some photography of material in its some reading rooms