Monday, 25 November 2013

Movember Mondays

Top left: (D/DLI 2/18/24(8)) Top right: (D/DLI 2/18/24(8)) Bottom left: (D/DLI 2/18/24(35)) Bottom right: (D/DLI 2/18/24(43))

I was going to do separate posts on these gentlemen of the 18th (County) Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry, but a seed of doubt was cast in my mind as to who was who.  I tried putting it to other staff in the Record Office with a view to getting a consensus.  Unfortunately, nearly everyone had a different answer. 

I don’t have any names, I only know that the top two are different people, as they are cropped from the same photograph.  The bottom two men may be one of each of the top ones, both one of the tops ones, or completely different people altogether.  With the 18th being a Pals battalion, there is also the possibility that they are related.

In the archives world, we can’t make assumptions.  In some cases we can have circumstantial evidence so we could describe a record as possibly being something.  It also means that we are used to the fact that we don’t always have the answers and that we may never have them.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Movember Mondays

Sergeant Major Chaplin of the 18th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry  taken at Cocken Hall, 1914 (D/DLI 2/18/24(89))
D/DLI 2/18/24(89) Sergeant Major Chaplin of the 18th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry taken at Cocken Hall, 1914
When the Army Order was issued that King’s Regulations paragraph 1696 would be altered so that moustaches were no longer mandatory, the newspapers picked up on it. 

The Times of 7 October 1916 ran an article headlined ‘The Army Moustache.  Optional under new order’, in which it tells how moustaches were not always in favour,

‘…it was not until after the Crimea that the modern world came to tolerate it in polite society.’ 

Lieutenant Leybourne, 8th Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry, utilising a motorcycle mirror as a shaving aid at Ravensworth Park, c.1914 (D/DLI 2/8/60(19))
D/DLI 2/8/60(19) Lieutenant Leybourne, 8th Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry, utilising a motorcycle mirror as a shaving aid at Ravensworth Park, c.1914 

In 1916, it seems that moustaches were falling out of fashion again.  The Times believes news of the order

‘…may come as a surprise to the older, and as a relief to the younger, member of the Service.’

A month later, on 11 November 1916, the change was reported in The Deseret News, a Utah paper, via Associated Press Correspondence.  The article claims that whilst it was

‘…comparatively easy in the old days to control the army mustache [sic …] in the tremendous new fighting machine now martialed under the Union Jack they had […] begun to border on the ridiculous.’

Drawing by Reverend J.A.G. Birch,  5th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry,  thought to be 1916  (D/DLI 7/63/2(142))
D/DLI 7/63/2(142)
Drawing by Reverend J.A.G. Birch, 
5th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry, 
thought to be 1916 
Much as I have enjoyed coming up with ways of describing the beauteous bristles adorning some of the faces of the Durham Light Infantry, so too, I think, has the writer of the news article who goes on to say,

‘It is a salve to the old soldier that the new rule is merely optional.  It would have been a great grief to many of the old sergeants-major to part with the splendid, branching twirlios they have cultivated over five and 20 years.’ 

Given Sergeant Major Chaplin’s carefully tended ‘tache, I doubt he would have been reaching for the shaving foam on hearing the new order.  

Monday, 11 November 2013

Theophilus Jones

Theophilus Jones, from the book ‘The Hartlepools in the Great War’ by Frederick Miller, 1920

Theophilus Jones has been on our research list as the first British soldier to be killed in action on British soil in the First World War, during the Hartlepool Bombardment on 16 December 1914.  James at the North East War Memorials Project has been researching Jones and he alerted me, without knowing about my Movember plans, to this photograph in ‘The Hartlepools in the Great War’ by Frederick Miller, published in 1920, in which Theophilus has a very distinguished moustache.  You can read an extract from the book here about the bombardment , as well as find out about memorials recording Theophilus’ death.

Theophilus Jones was a school master at St. Aidan’s and attested with the 18th (County) Battalion The Durham Light Infantry, on 3 October 1914.  The 18th Battalion were stationed at Heugh Battery during the bombardment.  Five members of the 18th Battalion were killed that day:  Private C.S. Clarke; Private Alex Liddle; Private Walter Rogers; Private C.D. Turner; and Private Theophilus Jones is thought to be the first.  Private Thomas Minks died of wounds the following day.  Men from other army units and the navy also died during the bombardment, as well as over one hundred civilians.  Jones was 29 at the time of his death and is buried in Hartlepool (Stranton) Cemetery

You can also learn about some of the men of the County Hall War Memorial, including Thomas Minks, here:

Each year, a small Remembrance service is held at the memorial on 11 November.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

First World War Event, County Hall

We are holding a drop in event in the Durham Room at County Hall on Saturday 9 November, between 10 am and 2 pm.

There will be information about how the project is progressing, the Colonel Morant records purchased at auction earlier this year, and the photograph collection of the 18th (County) Battalion - the Durham Pals.

The Durham Room is situated behind reception.  There is no need to sign in, just say that you are for the First World War event.  The canteen will not be open but there are vending machines for drinks and snacks in the reception area.  

Officers and soldiers of the 18th Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry, on parade in a field, waiting to begin a march in the United Kingdom, c.1914 (D/DLI 2/18/24(27))

Monday, 4 November 2013

Movember Mondays

(D/DLI 2/18/24 (8))
D/DLI 2/18/24 (8)
This month you may notice something hairy starting to creep over the top lips of many men.  This is for Movember, an initiative where men grow a moustache throughout November to raise money and awareness for men’s health issues.  It began in Australia in 2003 and made its way to the United Kingdom in 2007 where it is partnered with Prostate Cancer UK and The Institute of Cancer Research.  In 2012, the campaign raised just under £27,000,000.

Whilst at our Beamish event in October with the collection of photographs of 18th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry, I was admiring some of the wonderful moustaches on display.  I also remembered that The National Archives [of America] used to do Facial Hair Friday on their blog and I thought it would be a good way to show off some pictures, have a bit of fun, and promote a good cause. 
Groomed moustache with a flick

The photograph at the top is a group of sergeants at Cocken Hall, County Durham, taken in 1914.  
It shows some wonderfully waxed moustaches, as well as some simple, but groomed, bushy ones. 
Natural bristled moustache

However, you can also see that there are some clean top lips.  The King’s Regulations (paragraph 1696) stated that ‘The chin and under-lip will be shaved, but not the upper lip’, 

Moustache waxed to a point
but from our various collections of photographs, we thought this must have been rescinded some time before the First World War.  However, the rules did not change until an Army Order was issued on 6th October 1916.  

With no reason appearing to have been given, speculation includes the inability of many recruits to the new army to grow a moustache, the time taken to maintain one versus just shaving, and the compatibility of facial hair and gas masks.

Full, luxuriant, yet groomed moustache
So how do we account for earlier photographs that show a lack of moustaches?  Hearsay suggests that the rule was not enforced as heavily in the Territorial Forces and new battalions.  Our photographs of the 18th Battalion seem to back this up.  They show that it tends to be the officers, pulled across from the regular army to train new recruits, who tend to have the moustaches.