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Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Romantic Novelists' Association Blog: FOCUS ON: Leicester Chapter

Romantic Novelists' Association Blog: FOCUS ON: Leicester Chapter: This month Lizzie Lamb gives us an insight into the Leicester Chapter and how it functions. To begin with perhaps you could tell us a b...



A super blog post shared from the Romantic Novelists Association.


Sunday, 9 August 2015

The secret tunnels of the White Cliffs of Dover

The White Cliffs of Dover were the last sight of England for many British servicemen and women when they left our shores to fight in Europe, during World War Two, and the first thing they saw of home, for those who returned.
"Inside the secret tunnels of the White Cliffs of Dover: Network built to help stop Nazi ships during WWII opens to the public after being hidden for 40 years.

The long-forgotten Fan Bay Deep Shelter was carved out of the White Cliffs of Dover in 1940 at behest of Churchill. He ordered their construction to house gun battery teams as they pounded German ships traversing the Channel. Lying 75ft below the Kent coastline, the 3,500 sq ft of interconnecting tunnels once housed up to 185 soldiers. After remaining bricked up for more than 40 years, they will today open to the public for hard hat and torch-lit tours."

Some great photos in this article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/…/Secret-network-tunnels-constru….


National Trust Project Manager Jon Barker (left) and volunteer Gordon Wise wear head torches to inspect the underground tunnels at Dover



Built in 1940, the tunnels were home to gun battery teams operating on the coastline during the Second World War. Pictured is Mr Wise - one of hundreds of volunteers who helped restore the tunnels




Located 75ft below the coastline, Mr Wise explores the tunnels as the National Trust prepares to open them to the public today

Lying 75ft below the Kent coastline, the 3,500 sq ft of interconnecting tunnels, which are reinforced with iron girders and metal sheeting, accommodated four officers and up to 185 men during the war.

The shelter - which was personally inspected by Winston Churchill in 1941 - was decommissioned in the 1950s before being filled in with rubble and soil and abandoned during the 1970s.





The shelter was carved out of the chalk by Royal Engineers from the 172nd Tunnelling Company in 1940. Pictured is graffiti dated January 20, 1941

The shelter was carved out of the chalk by Royal Engineers from the 172nd Tunnelling Company and had a hospital, secure store and five large chambers providing bomb-proof accommodation. And behind the heavy security doors and the 125 steps descending to the tunnels lie poignant reminders of the tunnel’s war-time history.

Etched into the chalk inside the tunnels is a large amount of graffiti, including names of military personnel, coarse inscriptions and an intricate 3D face of a young man, possibly a portrait.  Some of the inscriptions are accompanied by the regiment of soldiers, most notably from the Royal Engineers - 1941 is the most popular date which features alongside the signatures.  Written in chalk on a steel shuttering alongside where a bunk bed once stood is the phrase 'Russia bleeds whilst Britain Blancos' - a popular slogan adopted by disaffected soldiers referring to Blanco, a substance they used to clean and colour their equipment.

Other finds included pieces of wire twisted into home-made hooks by soldiers to hang their uniforms, and a Unity Pools football coupon dated February 20, 1943, recording 14 football matches. One of the first discoveries made by volunteers when they entered the tunnels was of a needle and thread, believed to be khaki wool, tucked into the tunnel wall.




There has been no public access to the tunnels for more than 40 years, but starting tomorrow, they will be reopened for tour









Pictured is graffiti found etched into the walls inside the tunnels. Pieces of writing, inscriptions and items offer a rare glimpse into wartime Britain





Pictured is one of two First World War sound mirrors which are also located at the site. Sound mirrors gave advanced notice of approaching enemy aircraft but became obsolete with the invention of radar in the 1930s

Bullets, including British .303 cartridges and American 30 calibre ammunition rounds, were also found throughout the tunnels, often tucked into small gaps in metal sheeting.
Two rare First World War sound mirrors also form part of the site.
Regarded as one of the first early warning devices invented in Britain, sound mirrors gave advanced notice of approaching enemy aircraft but became obsolete with the invention of radar technology in the 1930s.

White Cliffs volunteer Gordon Wise said: 'Seeing the tunnels in their raw state when they were first discovered, handling artefacts and giving tours is like standing in the footsteps of history.
'To be part of the digging team, mirroring the work the Royal Engineers originally took to excavate the shelter, was very special. I can’t wait to see what visitors make of Fan Bay Deep Shelter.'
The tunnels - once manned by troops from the 203rd Coast Battery, Royal Artillery, later becoming the 540th Coast Regiment - lie beneath land bought by the National Trust in 2012 following a £1.2million public appeal.

Guides will lead hard hat and torch-lit tours deep below the White Cliffs of Dover, telling people the story of the tunnels’ creation, use and abandonment in the 1970s.

The National Trust is asking for help in identifying the men from the 172nd Tunnelling Company, the 203rd Coast Battery and 540th Coast Regiment, Royal Artillery and asking anyone with information to contact the White Cliffs.


SHELLING NAZI-OCCUPIED FRANCE AT THE BEHEST OF CHURCHILL: FAN BAY DEEP SHELTER

The Fan Bay Deep Shelter extends 75ft underground in the cliffs on the edge of Fan Hole, White Cliffs, Dover.

Despite being more than 60 years old, the tunnels remain in good condition after they were filled in and abandoned in the 1970s.

Following the Allied evacuation from Dunkirk in May and June 1940, Churchill ordered the gun batteries and tunnels to be constructed to not only defend the area against German batteries - located on the nearby French coast at Cap Blanc Nez and Cap Gris Nez - but also to harass enemy shipping that was passing through the English Channel.  At their peak, they could accommodate up to 185 men and four officers, who worked firing shells across the Channel and into Nazi-occupied France.
The site is also home to two sound mirrors - giant relics from the First World War that were once at the forefront of aircraft detection technology. However, with the development of rudimentary radar in the 1930s, they were rendered obsolete by the time the nearby tunnels were constructed during the Second World War. The gun batteries and land were owned by the military until the 1960s, after which it was returned to the original owners who then sold it in 2012 to the National Trust.


This post is Work in progress. To be completed

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Elizabeth Ducie: Author: Elizabeth Chats With...Tina Burton

Elizabeth Ducie: Author: Elizabeth Chats With...Tina Burton: This month's visitor was the first guest on my monthly interview slot back in October 2013. She's a fellow Devonian writer, altho...

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Thirtieth Anniversary of Live Aid Concert - July 13, 1985


The Day The Music Changed The World


It is thirty-years since two rock musicians, Bob Geldof of the Boomtown Rats, and Midge Ure of Ultravox, put on the greatest concert in history, Live Aid.

The media called it the day Rock ‘n’ Roll changed the world.  So how did the unforgettable day in the summer of 1985 come about? 

Do They Know It’s Christmas
In 1984, Bob Geldof saw Michael Buerk’s news report on the famine in Africa and was so moved by it that he decided to do something to help.  Geldof and and Midge Ure, both singer-songwriters, wrote ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’ with ‘Feed The World’ on the B-side.  They enlisted their rock musician friends to record the song under the name of Band Aid, released it on December 7, 1984, and by Christmas it was the UK’s biggest selling single of all time, raising £8 million.
Geldof in Ethiopia

Geldof went to Ethiopia to oversee the distribution of aid and realised that if The Band Aid Organisation owned its own lorries, they could not only transport supplies directly to where they were most needed, they could do it more quickly.  This would cost money, and a lot of it.  It was then that he had the idea for the Live Aid concert. 

As Geldof and Ure had done when they recruited musician friends for the Band Aid single, they sat on the telephone (no mobiles or emails in those days) and telephoned everyone they knew.                                                                                                                                                                                                 
Geldof’s request was more like an order:  Be at Wembley Stadium in London, or JFK Stadium in Philadelphia, on July 10.  The response was huge and in just 10 weeks, the greatest live show on earth was put together. 

Rock stars took time out from recoding records, from their own concerts and tours.  Some came to London for the weekend, some the day, others could only stay for the duration of the concert.  David Bowie, Wham and Dire Straits were flown into Wembley Stadium by helicopter, while Phil Collins, after preforming two songs of his own and a duet with Sting, was flown out of the stadium by helicopter.  Crossing the Atlantic in Concorde, Collins arrived in Philadelphia in time to perform in the JFK stadium later that day.  


The Global Jukebox


The Global Jukebox Poster

Billed as ‘The Global Jukebox’ Live Aid was the biggest live rock event of the twentieth century.  In bright sunshine, the greatest show on earth began at midday with a fanfare for Prince Charles and Princess Diana, followed by Status Quo who opened the concert with ‘Rocking All Over The World.’  


Princess Diana and Prince Charles with Bob Geldof

Sixteen hours of live music was transmitted to 1.5 billion people in 160 countries in what was the biggest broadcast ever known.  As well as donation boxes in every high street bank and shop, call centres were set up to take donations by credit card.  The total amount of money raised, including a £1 million donation from the ruling family in Dubai that Bob Geldof personally took over the telephone, was over £110 million. 

The legendary day

Bands that had not played together for years like, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Crosby Stills and Nash, and Black Sabbath reunited for the day.  American R&B singer, Teddy Pendergrass, who had been paralysed for three years after a motorcar accident was determined to make it to Live Aid, and he did.

The amazing line-up of rock stars and bands was introduced by equally famous comedians, actors and presenters including, Billy Connolly, Jools Holland, Lenny Henry , John Hurt, Bette Midler and Jack Nicholson, to name but a few.  Bob Geldof did a seventeen-minute set with his band, The Boomtown Rats, after which he appeared at regular intervals calling for people to donate saying, “Don’t go down the pub tonight, donate your money to Live Aid instead.”  As the evening went on, his language became less polite.

For an event as big as Live Aid to work, there needed to be armies of back stage staff; producers, electrical and lighting technicians, designers, stage managers, assistants, costume designers,  dressers  and caterers.  Without them, and many more people working behind the scenes, there would not have been a Live Aid concert.  


My Live Aid Experience

I was lucky enough to be one of the 72,000 people packed into Wembley Stadium on that amazing day.  My ticket cost £25 (£20 was donation) and the programme £5. 
  


                                

          My programme and ticket. 





It was scorching on the field in the mid-day sun, getting hotter as the afternoon wore on, and only cooling when night fell.  My friends and I had a great view of the stage.  We stood in front, but to the right, of the portable sound and recording stand, benefitting from a regular hosing of cold water as lads sprayed the crowd to cool them down.  Close-ups of the musicians, the artists introducing them and those asking for donations, film footage showing the plight of the Ethiopian famine victims and later the concert in Philadelphia, were shown on giant screens on either side of the stage.    

Each band performed for seventeen minutes.  It wouldn’t be fair to say one was better than another, although Queen and the magnificent Freddie Mercury were my favourites.  The last artist to perform, before the entire ensemble gathered, was Paul McCartney at around eleven o’clock.  The audience were exhausted and emotional by then, so when McCartney’s microphone broke at the beginning of ‘Let it Be’ we, the audience, sang it for him until a replacement mic was found.  


Meeting Bob Geldof

I had promised my cousin’s children Live Aid T-shirts.  So, during film footage that I had seen before, I pushed my way through the crowds to the nearest exit, ran up the steps of the seated area, through the archway at the top and down into what they called the tunnel; a covered walkway that ran round the inside the stadium.  Having come out of bright sunshine, I stopped to let my eyes adjust to the darkness.  At the same time, a door opened and to my astonishment, Bob Geldof walked out of it.  He smiled at me and I almost fainted.  I said what a brilliant day it was, and thanked him for what he and Midge Ure were doing for the victims of the famine in Africa and he modestly shook his head and asked me if I was having a good time, if I was enjoying the concert?  I had just said, yes, when all hell broke loose.  Dozens of girls were running towards us.  Well, not us, but to Bob Geldof.  Several bodyguards, built like barn doors, intercepted the girls and a couple of other guards hurried Geldof away.  In the madness, I remember touching his arm and him smiling.  I was so excited I forgot all about the T-shirts and I made my way back to the field to tell my friends.  I had been back ten minutes when one friend asked where the T-shirts were.  I stood open mouthed.  I was so overwhelmed, so excited, that I had spoken to Bob Geldof that I completely forgot to tell my friends that I’d seen him.  Madness or what?



Above, Bob Geldof and Midge Ure in 1985 holding Ivor Novello Awards given to them for writing ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas.’  Below, 30 years after the original Band Aid song, during a press conference before the launch of, BANDAID30, in 2014. 




Bob Geldof and Midge Ure have since raised money for HIV and Aids, with Live Aid 8, and in 2014, with lyric changes, performed by younger, as well as original artists, ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’ was released again, raising £1 million in the first five minutes of its launch, for victims of the Ebola crisis. 

The Band Aid Organisation is still raising money, and still helping people in crisis all over the world.  Recently, after bootleg copies of the Live Aid concert were sold on the Internet, Bob Geldof released an official DVD of the concert, with all proceeds going to the Band Aid Trust.

The official DVD

Live Aid still holds the record for the most watched television event in history.  The main concerts were held in London and Philadelphia, but there were also shows in Austria, Germany, Denmark, Yugoslavia, Russia, Japan and Australia.  In every respect, Live Aid was the most amazing concert in the world – and Bob Geldof and Midge Ure two of the most amazing people.   


Some photographs from the day 









Monday, 23 March 2015

A few photographs from the MacMillan charity event at Hunt's Independent Bookshop, Rugby.



I was sorry that Kelvin Hunt wasn't able to attend the MacMillan charity morning at his bookshop in Rugby on Saturday.  Wishing you well very soon, Kelvin.





From left to right:  The lady who works in the bookshop, Kelvin's son, his wife Pauline, and author Theresa LeFlem




Me in the topper, cheap at 10/-6d and Pauline Hunt




Pauline Hunt, Madalyn Morgan, and Theresa LeFlem




Thursday, 19 March 2015

The RoNA Awards at Romantic Novelists Association March 16th 2015


Photographs of fellow writer friends at the Romantic Novelists' Association Awards Ceremony at The Gladstone Library, Whitehall Place, London, March 16, 2015

It was good to see friends from Caerleon, Fishguard and Leicester, as well as others that I only knew on Facebook, including my lovely friend Debbie Viggiano. Debbie kindly offered to beta read Foxden Acres before it was published in 2012. I still refer to her brilliant notes.


Debbie Viggiano talking to Kath McGurl, Madalyn Morgan, and Sally Quilford


Debbie Viggiano and Madalyn Morgan


Kath and Debbie


Madalyn chatting to lovely Sally Quilford



Natalie Klienman, Elaine Roberts, Elaine Everest, Viv Brown & Francesca Capaldi Burgess.
Friends from The Writers' Holiday - Caerleon and Fishguard.


Carole Matthews and Jill Mansell

As I was leaving, I was able to congratulate authors, Carole Matthews and Jill Mansell who were given, Special Achievement awards.  And I was delighted to bump into Carole Blake who was very encouraging about Foxden Acres before it was published, and who introduced me to the amazing Barbara Erskine.

Karen Aldous and Barbara Erskine


Jane Wenham-Jones and Barbara Taylor Bradford

Jane Wenham-Jones and Barbara Taylor Bradford worked well together; Jane telling us which authors and books were short-listed for awards, and Barbara presenting the awards to the winners.


The Winners of the RoNA 2015 Awards (3rd from left Barbara Taylor Bradford)
Left to right: Joss Stirling, winner Young Adult Category and winner of the Romantic Novel of the Year 2015. Hazel Gaynor, winner Historical Category; Barbara Taylor Bradford; Louise Allen, winner RoNA Rose Award; Ella Harper, winner Epic Category; Lucy Dillon, winner Contemporary Category and Lucy-Anne Holmes, winner of the Romantic Comedy Award.


At the end of the presentations, Barbara referred to writing saying, "... writing a great chapter is better than an having an orgasm."  I think every writer in the room related to that - the great chapter that is! Barbara Taylor Bradford was fantastic. A real woman of substance.


Reception of The Gladstone Library


                    Canapes and pink Champagne


The table before we sat down




The London Eye, seen from Embankment Underground station




Friday, 13 February 2015

Applause by Madalyn Morgan for Valentine's Day

Foxden Acres for Valentine's Day

Applause - Happy Valentine.


Click below for the Applause' Valentine video




Applause - Paperback, eBook, Kindle

Applause: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00J7Y5LCW/

Foxden Acres video 'Happy Valentine'

                                               

                                  Click link below to see Foxden Acres Valentine's Day video
     



On Paperback, eBook - Kindle
Foxden Acres: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00BCX59LE/

Friday, 26 September 2014

Madalyn Morgan on The Wright Stuff – 26/09/2014.

Madalyn Morgan on The Wright Stuff  (Phone in) 
Do You Have A Dream?



My first dream was to be an actress, which I achieved.  Now I have another dream, so I wanted to contribute to the conversation on The Wright Stuff for two reasons. One: To say that no matter how old you are you can change your career and succeed.  Two: To give my novels a plug by having my name, Madalyn Morgan from Leicestershire, on the ticker-tape at the top of the screen.  Then, if any of the 6.1 million viewers Googled me, they would find me and might look at what I write.

I enjoyed the experience, and I hope gave a positive thumbs up for older people, inspiring them to follow their dream - and if it ends, follow another.  However, I didn't manage to get my full name, or even my first name spelt correctly, on the screen.  It just said, Madeleine from Leicester.  There are several writers with the name Madeleine, so you never know, it might do one of them some good. My contribution also ended before I had time to mention the title of my novels. This is how it went:


Matthew Wright

Matthew: Hello Madeleine, Did you have a dream that you achieved, do you have one now, or both?

Me:  Since I was a child, my dream was to be an actress, and I was for 30 years, Matthew.  When I was 40 I gave up acting for love and a mortgage, and when I was 50, love gave me up."

Matthew:  (Laughing) You seem to be pretty happy about that, Madeleine?

Me:  Well... while I was working in an office to pay the mortgage, desperate to do something artistic, I did a writing course.  And I loved it.  At 60, my dream, which I never thought in a million years would come true, was to see my novels published.  And I have.  

Matthew:  Wow!  Thank you Madeleine, that's a great upbeat way to end this section of the show.  
*
I had hoped to say that my first novel, Foxden Acres, was published in 2012 and the second, Applause, this year.  Hey ho!  Should have edited my mouth like I do my novels. x   

NB Not quite verbatim, but almost.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Madalyn Morgan's Fiction Blog: Madalyn Morgan's Author Biography Video

Madalyn Morgan's Author Biography Video:


You wouldn't believe that after being in front of a camera as many times as I have (when I was an actress) that I'd be nervous, but I was.


Madalyn Morgan’s Author Biography Video – and Book Trailers


 Click the link:  http://youtu.be/kKrdjI9JU4U

I thought about making a video biography for my author page on Amazon when Foxden Acres was published in February 2012, and again this year when Applause was published in April.  But you know how it is?  Good ideas are often put on the back burner when you’re busy.  Then, at the September chapter meeting and lunch of the LRNA in Leicester, Lizzie Lamb introduced Sarah Houldcroft of Authors Uncovered.  Sarah gave me her card and I looked AU up when I got home.  

“Authors Uncovered, the place where authors and booklovers can connect, read, write and share.” http://www.authors-uncovered.com/


Sarah has been working as a virtual assistant for authors helping them promote their books online.  She said authors do not want to spend time marketing their books they want to write the next book.  Isn’t that the truth?  Sarah is not an author, she is a prolific reader and booklover and as such, she is uniquely placed to know what readers and authors want. 

From what Sarah says on the website – and the annual fee being reasonable, I decided to go with AU and made my video.   And that’s another story.  Having had a weekend of problems with my computer, I recorded it on my camera.  I had to go with the first rehearsal because I broke the camera. It’s true.  Lips and words would not synchronize after the first take.  Anyway, now it’s done, I shall link it to my Amazon author page with a written biography. 

Uploading to YouTube I found trailers that I had made as an actress and radio presenter, so I created trailers for Foxden Acres and Applause.         
            


Foxden Acres - Kindle and paperback - on Amazon:   http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00BCX59LE/  Trailer for Foxden Acres: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBox21aU8TY



  



                       
Applause - Kindle and paperback - on Amazon:

Madalyn Morgan  links: 









Friday, 8 August 2014

Romantic Novelists' Association Blog: Romantic Fishguard

Romantic Novelists' Association Blog: Romantic Fishguard: Elaine Everest tells us about Writers’ Holiday and its move to Fishguard. The view from my bedroom window over Fishguard Bay   ...

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

On August 4 2014 it is one hundred years since the beginning of World War One

World War One Centenary, 1914 – 1918
by Madalyn Morgan

My novels are set in WWII and, during a recent interview, I was asked if war excited me.  War doesn’t excite me, I am a pacifist, however, WWI, WWII, and the years inbetween, were the most important in history for women – and that excites me.  The greatest change for women and society happened during the First World War.  When tens of thousands of men were sent overseas to fight, women had to do their jobs.

Women on the Front Line

There was only one female soldier in WW1.  Flora Sandes, a vicar’s daughter from Yorkshire, joined St. John’s Ambulance as a volunteer.  She swapped her first aid bandages for a rifle during fierce fighting in Serbia and was accepted into the Second Infantry Regiment of the First Serbian Army, as a Private.  In 1916, during the Serbian advance on Bitola (Monastir), Sandes was seriously wounded by a grenade in hand-to-hand combat.  She received the highest decoration of the Serbian Military, the Order of the Karađorđe's Star - the equivalent of the Military Cross.  By the end of the war, she was mentioned twice in Dispatches for exceptional bravery – and later promoted to Captain.  

Captain Flora Sandes

Another woman to go to the front was battlefield surgeon Elsie Inglis, who worked for the Scottish Women’s Hospitals.  She was a formidable woman, talented surgeon, compassionate doctor and militant suffragette.  Dr Inglis was a pioneer who fought the prejudice of male-dominated Victorian society, where women were expected to become wives and mothers and leave doctoring to the menfolk.  In 1914 the Army did not permit women doctors, so she set up a medical unit in France and sent 14 teams of women volunteers to give medical help on the battlefields.  In 1915 she went to Serbia where Serbs were fighting Germans and Austrians.  She faced many hardships, dangerous battles, freezing weather and being arrested as a spy.  From Serbia, Elsie went to Russia to work as a war doctor.  She returned home to Scotland in November 1917 because she had cancer.  She died shortly afterwards.

Dr Louisa Garrett Anderson, also a battlefield surgeon, set up Endell Street Military Hospital in London with Dr Flora Murray – both were suffragettes.  Run entirely by women the hospital treated more than 24,000 soldiers between 1915 and 1918.  The daily admittance rate was around 80 casualties, and surgeons performed as many as 20 operations in one day.

The Endell Street Military Hospital opened in May 1915

Women on the Home Front
As fathers, husbands and sons, who did essential work in power stations, shipyards and munitions factories were sent overseas to fight, mothers, wives and daughters, replaced them.  Middle class girls abandoned their social calendars to drive ambulances – often during air raids, originally by Zeppelins – and the invisible in society, working class women, were suddenly seen as a valuable work force.

Women worked across the economy – from postal workers to police patrols – and tram drivers to train cleaners.  Cleaning a steam train’s boiler meant wearing trousers – another first.  Women worked as window-cleaners, milkmen, butchers, delivery drivers - and they shovelled coke.

A young woman delivering a sack of coke. 


To keep up production, women worked 12-hour shifts, for 13 days without a break.  Conditions were hard and could be dangerous.  Filling shells with TNT often caused explosions, and chemicals turned girls’ skin yellow.  They were nicknamed Canary Girls.

Women preparing projectile heads at Cunard Shell Works, Merseyside, 1917

Work on the land was backbreaking.  Land Girls worked from dawn until dusk, in all weathers, and without the help of horses.  Heavy horses that pulled the ploughs had been sent to France to pull field artillery.

On a lighter note, because it’s the 2014 World Cup
“We make shells and we’re also terrific at scoring goals.”  Professional players had been called up, so women took over the football pitches.  This team from the AEC Munitions factory in east London played seriously, attracted large crowds and held the Munitionettes’ Cup Final at St. James’ Park in Newcastle

The AEC Munitions Factory Eleven

The AEC played for charity, to help wounded men coming home from the war.  They wore their frilly munitions mobcaps with pride – and at a time when many women still wore skirts to the ground – they were wore shorts and showed their knees.

ANIMALS IN WWI
In 1914, soldiers fought on foot or horseback.  Eight million horses were killed on the Western Front, about the same number as human casualties.  A baboon named Jackie served in South Africa, and on the battlefields of France dogs were used as sentries and messengers.  Mercy dogs with medical supplies strapped to them were trained to find wounded and dying soldiers.  A Mercy dog would keep a fatally injured soldier company by lying next to him until he died.

The British Army used more than one hundred thousand pigeons to carry messages.  When the war ended, homing pigeons became a protected species.  Killing or wounding them was punishable by six months in prison, or a £100 fine.  

A Portable pigeon loft in WW1

The First World War was a time of military innovation.  By 1917, the British Armed Forces were fighting with tanks and aeroplanes – and battlefield communications were by radio.

Women - Recognised at last
Women did the same work as men but for less than half the pay.  Men, often in charge of the female workforce, usually disagreed with equality for women.  In engineering skilled work was broken into smaller individual tasks so women did not challenge men’s skilled status.  However, on February 6, 1918, the Representation of the People Act giving the vote to women over thirty received Royal Approval.  It was the beginning of equality for women.

WSPU founder Annie Kenney and Christabel Pankhust

After WWI men’s attitudes towards women began to change.  Men had the vote at 21, the suffragists at 30, but as voters, they could exercise direct influence on parliament – and they did.  It took many years before men recognised women as equals.  Some still don’t.
     One of the biggest improvements in the lives of women during the First World War was health.  Women lived longer and had healthier lives.  After the war infant mortality was reduced by two thirds – and smaller households and earnings rising faster than food prices meant there was more food to go around.  However, many women were forced from their jobs once the men returned and had to go back to domestic life.  Many women had earned the right to vote, but such things as higher education, going to university, having a career as a lawyer, doctor, or MP, were still overwhelmingly the preserve of men.

The Great War.  The war to end all wars 
And it may well have been, if a Gefreiter (corporal) in the Bavarian Army named Adolf Hitler hadn’t been so lucky.  In 1916, Hitler was wounded in the left thigh at the Somme when a shell exploded in his dugout, and in 1918, he was blinded in a mustard-gas attack.  Hundreds of young men faced a lifetime in darkness after they were blinded by mustard gas, but Hitler got away with it.  How different the world would have been if Hitler hadn’t had the luck of the devil.

Lest We Forget   On August 4, 2014, it is the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War, one of the costliest conflicts in history.  The war started and ended in Africa.  The first shot fired by a British soldier came from a Ghanaian in the Gold Coast Regiment on August 7, 1914.  And the last German troop to surrender was in present day Tanzania on November 25, 1918.
    The tragic and horrific statistics of the First World War are hard to take in.  The total number of military and civilian casualties was over 37 million.  Over 16 million deaths and 20 million wounded make it one of the deadliest conflicts in human history. 
     The total number of deaths is estimated at 10 million military personnel and 7 million civilians.  The Allies lost 6 million military personnel, and the Central Powers lost 4 million.  At least 2 million died from diseases and 6 million went missing, presumed dead.  Around two-thirds of military deaths in World War I were in battle, unlike the conflicts that took place in the 19th century when the majority of deaths were due to disease. 

The young men who went off to war in 1914 left behind an old world.  Those lucky enough to return in 1918 came home to a new world, a modern world, a world that was full of changes.  Soldiers like my grandfather, who survived although he was shot through the knee in 1918, had a new society to come to terms with.  Sadly, some men never managed it.  It is because of the brave servicemen of the First and Second World War who gave their lives for us, that we are able to enjoy freedom today.  It is for this reason that our generation, and future generations, must never forget the sacrifices that so many millions made for us. 

They shall not grow old,
As we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them,
nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun
And in the morning
We will remember them.