Wednesday, 23 April 2014

World War One Soldier's Story - George Alfred Morley from Cudworth

On Monday I met a man in a cemetery ... it's OK, it wasn't an assignation, I was searching for war memorial gravestones with the OH and this chap asked what we were doing.  After a bit of an explanation he got very interested and offered to let me have or copy a First World War memorial card that he had found in his grandfather's effects.  He knew the man was from Cudworth and was probably on the Cudworth War Memorial.  Of course, being me, I was very excited at this, but I tried to hide my urge to do a little dance (I was in a cemetery after all) and exchanged name and contact details with the man; let's call him SG.

SG turned up at the Cudworth Local History and Heritage Group (CLHHG) meeting today after phoning me to double check time and place.  He had brought the little memorial card and very reverently I copied it with my FlipPal scanner.  

Black bordered off white card, text reproduced in caption.
In Ever Loving Memory of
Private George Alfred Morley, 13th York and Lancs Regt.,
The beloved Son of Charles Henry and the late Ellen Lettice Morley, 

and also Step-mother, Mary Ann Morley, 
Who Died of Wounds in Francy, August 1st 1916, Aged 21 years.

(with grateful thanks to SG for letting me copy this card)

Black bordered off white card, image of a white rose and words "In Loving Memory"
Front of the card - folded edge to left (the back was plain)

Black bordered off white card, two sentimental, Christian verses.
Inside of card - left hand face - with two verses

The card was about the size of a large post-it note, 4"x 3" (look I'm old I work in imperial! - that's 10cm x 7.5cm for you modern people!) and it had obviously been kept folded so the dedication was visible.  When I opened it out to see the front the hinged part felt very delicate.  

Now I'm back home I'm going to see what else I can find out about George Alfred Morley.

For starters he's in the CLHHG book, Lest Cudworth Forgets, and he is listed on the Cudworth War Memorial as SG suspected.  His entry in the book includes a little photograph which looks as it it probably comes from the Barnsley Chronicle and notes, "George Alfred Morley, single, was the son of Mr C H Morley of 181 Pontefract Road, Cudworth.  Prior to enlisting at Barnsley he worked as a miner at Grimethorpe Colliery.  Private Morley died of wounds on Tuesday the 1st August 1916 and was buried in St. Pol Communal Cemetery Extension, grave No. B 21."

The above is confirmed by his entry on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website (CWGC), which also tells us that St Pol-sur-Ternoise is in France and was the site of the No.12 Stationery Hospital from 1 June 1916 to 1 June 1919.  There are over 200 war casualties commemorated on the site.
1911 census snip for 189 Pontefract Road, Cudworth (from Ancestry)
The 1911 census on Ancestry shows us the family living at 189 Pontefract Road, Cudworth.  Father Charles and his second wife (as we know from the memorial card) Mary Ann may not have been living in Cudworth for long as only their two youngest children were born there.  All the rest of the family were born in Nottinghamshire.  George Alfred is 16 years old and working as a Colliery Pony Driver below ground.  His ofather and two older brothers also work down the pit.  The house has five rooms and in all ten people are living there, including a boarder John Thackery and a visitor Catherine Ruth Harrison aged 13.  This last is interesting as SG told us his grandfather, who had lived at 16 Charles Street in Cudworth at the beginning of the 20th century was called Tom Harrison and this is the man in whose effects the memorial card was found.  Could there be a closer connection between the men than just comrades in the war?

In 1901 the Morley family are in Carrington, a suburb of Nottingham.  Ellen Morley is still alive at this point and George Alfred aged 6 years is their youngest child.  A search of FreeBMD tells us that Ellen Lettice Morley (thank goodness for the middle names being mentioned on the memorial card) died in Q4 (Oct, Nov, Dec) 1904 in Nottingham aged 37 years.  Charles Henry Morley marries Mary Ann Harrison (ah, ha!) in Q4 1905, also in Nottingham.  

The 1911 census should tell us how long a couple have been married and how many children they have had in total, how many are still alive and how many have died.  Unfortunately Charles and Mary Ann have not filled in these boxes correctly ... if you look back to the 1911 snip above you will see that the box immediately after the word married in Mary Ann's row has a red question mark in it - this looks as if it was added later as a query to the blank box.  They claim there are four children to this marriage and all are still living - yet only two children in the listing can have been born since 1905, Catherine and Arnold.  So where are the others?

A search of the burial and baptism records for Cudworth St John's Church shows a very sad story indeed.  

Burials at St John's Cudworth
MORLEY    William Henry Arnold    B    7    W 26    22mths    21/09/1907    189 Pontefract Road
MORLEY    Winifred Mary    B    7    W 26    9mths    24/12/1907    189 Pontefract Road
MORLEY    Catherine    B    12    W 8    2    21/11/1912    189 Pontefract Road
MORLEY    Marjorie Edith    B    12    W 8    2mths    06/09/1917    181 Pontefract Road
MORLEY    George Alfred    B    12    W 8    2    25/01/1923    181 Pontefract Road

The addresses of all the above burials fit the Morley family addresses that we know from the CWGC entry and the 1911 census. William Henry Arnold Morley died in September 1907 aged 22 months, so he was born around November 1905, rather close to the marriage of Charles and Mary Ann.  There is a William Henry A Morley born in Nottingham registration district at the right time. Winifred Mary died in December 1907 aged 9 months, making her born in March 1907.  There is a Winifred Mary Morley born in Barnsley in Q2 (Apr, May, Jun) 1907 who fits.  So these are the other two children born to Charles and Mary Ann who are not on the census return.
A snip from the FreeBMD website showing five births, surname Morley, mmn Harrison, between 1913 and 1920.
FreeBMD results as described

Continuing we see that Catherine Morley dies in November 1912 aged 2 years, this is the older of their two surviving children on the census.  Later a Marjorie Edith dies aged 2 months in 1917 and a George Alfred dies in 1923 aged 2 years (so born 1920 to 1921).  

It is possible, after 1911, to search the birth records on FreeBMD cross referencing Surname with mother's maiden name.  Putting in Morley and Harrison and restricting the search to 1911 to 1930 in the Barnsley area brings back five children born between 1913 and 1920. 

There is Marjorie born Sept Q 1917 and George A born Sept Q 1920.  Plus three other children, Herbert, Francis and Ralph.  Thank goodness, at least some of Charles and Mary Ann's children appear to have survived! 

A quick look in the St John's Cudworth, baptism records confirms the above are all Charles' children.  

I do find it very sad that Charles named his last son after his son who was killed in the war and whose memorial card started off this story, and that little George Alfred only lived a couple of years himself.  A double whammy for the family and after so many other losses.

Going back to the elder George Alfred Morley very luckily his Army Service Records survived the blitz and are available on Ancestry.  He enlisted in October 1915 and appears to have arrived in France in April 1916.  We now know he was 5' 8" tall and weighed 136 lbs, that's less than 10 stone, so he was a bit on the skinny side although the record also states that his physical development was good.   He seems to have joined the 13th Yorks and Lancaster (1st Barnsley Pals) later than many others, his regimental number bears this out, it is 13/1482.  He goes directly to France whereas the rest of the regiment had a period in Egypt first.
A handwritten snip from Army Records, three columns, description, place and date.  Explained in text below.
Snip from George Alfred Morley's Casualty Form (from Ancestry)

We know he died on 1 August of 1916, but the records above show that he was wounded on 1 July 1916, which was the first day of the Battle of the Somme. He was transferred to the 12 Sty Hosp, at St Pol which must be the No.12 Stationary Hospital we noted from his CWGC entry.  I am not sure what the actual nature of his wounds were - but could that note on the 2 July say Shell Wo Head?  A head wound caused by a shell fragment maybe?  If so he was indeed dangerously wounded as it states on 4 July.  Despite some improvement in the first few days he died of his wounds on 1 August in that same hospital.

A letter in his records gives us every clue we need to the reason why his memorial card was kept by SG's grandfather.  
Pre-printed form with hand writing additions - Charles Morley's name and address are given and then there is a note which is quoted in the text.
A snip from the letter from the War Office to the Officer in Charge of Infantry Records at York (from Ancestry)
All of George Alfred Morley's effects and his medals are to be passed to his father, "with the exception of a pocket wallet & contents, a wrist watch and letters which should be forwarded to Miss Amelia Harrison, 16 Charles Street, Cudworth, Barnsley". 

Oh, my!  Amelia is SG's grandfather's sister!  She and George Alfred Morley must have been sweethearts.  Oh, dear, I'm starting to bubble up now, excuse me ....

George Alfred's British War Medal and Victory Medal were sent to his father in 1921.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

World War One Soldier's Story - William Huddlestone, his medals and his Police Career

The week before last the OH surprised me with photos of a completely new War Memorial, yes, I know most men bring their wives flowers or chocolate, but photos are cheaper, don't wilt or shed and don't make you fat - so there is something to be said for them.  Plus, given my current obsession with War Memorials it was a very nice present indeed.
A colour photo of the inside of a church - to the right of the pulpit and organ is a five sectioned wooden panelled structure on the wall.
The Wesleyan Methodist Church on Hunningley Lane, Stairfoot, Barnsley.
The Roll of Honour is on the right beyond the pulpit and organ.

This picture shows the inside of the Church at Stairfoot - I went with the OH the following day to take more photos as the pictures he had taken although tantilising were not clear enough to make out the names of the men on the memorial.  As I got up really close to the Roll of Honour I saw that each panel had around 50 names, each with rank, regiment and if applicable cause of death and medals awarded.  Click here to go to a page where you can download a full list.
Just six of the names on the Roll of Honour - Huddleston, Hughes x4 (that must be another story) and Hodson.
William Huddleston(e)'s Entry on the Roll of Honour

This entry caught my eye as you don't often read about someone being awarded a Silver Medal from the King of Montenegro.  To be honest I didn't even know where Montenegro was at that point.    William Huddleston, of the 16th King's Royal Rifles, Lieutenant and Quartermaster, Military Cross and that Silver Medal.  I couldn't wait to look him up when I got home!
Montenegro, sandwiched between Bosnia & Herzegovina and Albania
on the coast of the Adriatic Sea (from Google Maps)
So, Montenegro is in the Balkans ... I know all about them from my OU studies ... or at least I thought I did.  Look, there's Sarajevo where the Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated in June 1914 and Serbia who were thought responsible.  I wonder what William Huddleston(e) was doing there?  Incidently it seems there should be an e on Huddlestone - but it is missing on the Stairfoot Roll of Honour.

I soon found William Huddlestone in the 1911 census on Ancestry.  Aged 28 he was a boarder with a family in Stairfoot, his occupation was Police Constable and he was born in Rosedale, Yorkshire.  Backtracking I found him in 1891 aged 8 at home in Pickering, North Yorkshire with his widowed mother Sarah, a brother Thomas and a sister Lily.  I could not find him in 1901 and had my suspicions that he may have served in the Army before the First World War - many policemen were ex-Army at that time.

On Find My Past, in the British Army Service records I found the very man - William Huddlestone, born in Rosedale enlisting in the Yorkshire Regiment on 1 December 1899 in Pickering.  He was 18 years old and had been a Farm Labourer.  He was 5' 8.75" tall, weight 141 llbs, chest size 33.5", with a fresh complexion, brown eyes and light brown hair.  He had tattoo marks on his left fore arm. 
Pinkish paper headed Military History Sheet - it lists William's service in various countries, see text below.
Part of William's Military History sheet (from Find My Past)
William's service record shows him in South Africa from June 1900 to March 1902 - that's why I couldn't find him in the census!  Military Campaign Medal Rolls on Ancestry confirm that he was awarded the King's South Africa Medal with clasps for 1901 and 1902 and the Queen's South Africa Medal with clasps for the Cape Colony and the Orange Free State.  He then served in India for a year and half, Somaliland for just under a year - he gets another medal for this - then a quick trip home in 1904 for just three months.  Off to India again for another year and a half and back to South Africa in February 1906 for nearly two years then he is transferred into the Reserve in December 1907. 
Similar medals to the ones William was awarded (back and front)
King's and Queen's South Africa Medals (from NorthEast Medals)
In a newspaper cutting from 1935 found on Find My Past reporting on William's police career I see that he was in the Cape Town Police for a while before returning to England in 1908.  I am not sure how this fits with his stated military service - does it mean he was in the Police whilst he was in the Army?  Anyway, he had lots of experience so on his return he joined the North Riding Police and then transferred to the West Riding Force, to be stationed at Stairfoot.  Which brings us nicely back to the 1911 census we have already seen.

His presence on a Wesleyan Reform Methodist Roll of Honour suggests he followed that persuasion of religion, so it is not surprising that I can't find his marriage in the West Yorkshire Parish records on Ancestry.  However a William Huddlestone marries an Ethel Ambler in the first quarter of 1914 in Barnsley (found on FreeBMD) ... this might be our man.  If so there are four daughters born to the couple, Ethel in 1915, Hilda in 1917, Margaret in 1920 and Dorothy in 1921, all but Margaret (Doncaster) registered in Barnsley.  This information fits with the newspaper cutting again ... "on rejoining the police after the war he was sergeant at Harrogate for 15 months, from there he went to Goldthorpe in the Doncaster division and later to Royston (which is in Barnsley) as Inspector". 

So what did he do in the First World War ... the same newspaper cutting, it's from the Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer 30 December 1935 by the way, states that, "during the Great War he served with the King's Royal Rifles", well that tallies with the entry on the Roll of Honour, "and the Tank Corps, rising to the rank of Captain."  His service records, even if they had survived the blitz, would no longer have been filed with the ones on Ancestry as they would have been moved when he became an officer.  This leaves me scratting around looking for little clues to put together to try to find out what he did in the war.
William Huddlestone's Medal Card (from Ancestry)
William's Medal Card, above, shows that he was a Warrant Officer First Class in the King's Royal Rifle Corps and then was commissioned on 20 August 1917.  The Roll of Honour says he won the Military Cross - this is a medal for officers so he must have won that after he was commissioned. On the reverse of the medal card is an address - 9 Burngreave Road, Sheffield.  Back to that invaluable newspaper cutting ... "He was for three years Inspector at Sheffield".  Ah, ha! So at the time they were distributing the British War Medal and Victory Medals, in around 1919 to 1921 judging by other records I have seen, William Huddlestone was already living in Sheffield.  

Not having Service records for such an interesting character is very frustrating so I tried a search on the new London Gazette website - I don't know what is going on a the moment but Find My Past's site is coming in for a lot of criticism for being dreadful since its revamp and I found the new London Gazette search much harder than the old one.  It seems that new technology is NOT the answer to everything!

10 April 1918 "W Huddlestone, from temp Qr-Mr and Hon Lt, a Serv Bn., K.R.Rif. C., to be temp Lt. 8 Jan 1918."  Translated I think this means he was still in the King's Royal Rifle Corps in early 1918 and his honorary rank of Lieutenant was being made into a temporary one.  Qr-Mr must be Quartermaster, as mentioned on the Roll of Honour.

10 Oct 1918 "Temp. Lt. W Huddlestone to be Bn. Equip. Offr., and to be actg. Capt. while so empld.  23 Aug 1918."  Unfortunately the regimental heading is missing, there's a bit torn out of the page, but the officers below are Tank Engineers so maybe William has moved to the Tank Corps now. 

7 February 1919 " Tank Corps (Equipment Branch). The undermentioned temp Lts (actg. Capts.) to be temp. Capts.: - 19 October 1918 W Huddlestone, H.N. Fearnley."  William is definitely in the Tank Corps now - but it doesn't sound like role at the front - more in stores and admin.

I can't find any mention of his Military Cross which the newspaper says he won for capturing a German gun and gun team ... but ...
Citation from the London Gazette 9 March 1917 pp.2448-9

Here's the citation for his Montenego Medal!  Won whilst he was the Company Serjeant Major of the King's Royal Rifle Corps.  Interestingly I was told recently that the 16th KRRC was raised from the Church Lads Brigade.  Maybe his connections with the church at Stairfoot influenced his choice of regiment.
The Montenegrin Silver Medal for Bravery (from LiveAuctioneers)
That's pretty!  I don't actually think it means he was in Montenegro though.  I'm getting the impression that the King of Montenegro was one of our allies and presented medals as recommended ... more research needed.

William Huddlestone was promoted to Superintendent in 1927 and in 1935 was in charge of the Doncaster Division of the West Riding Police Force.  In December 1935 he was appointed Chief of the Criminal Investigation Department of the Force at Wakefield.

He was awarded an MBE in the Coronation Honours List in 1937 while he was the Chief Superintendent of the West Riding Constabulary.  Yorkshire Evening Post 11 May 1937.

His claim to fame on retirement in February 1939 is that Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes stories, mentioned him in a book.  "We were on the same ship out East, and apparently he had occasion to remember a Yorkshireman 'telling off' some natives in very plain language, and he explained how and why in one of his books".  The cutting where this is mentioned is from the Evening Telegraph of 1 February 1939.

This is not the end of William's story though - war broke out again in September 1939 and you wouldn't have expected him to fail to volunteer.  He would have been in his late 50's by now but he was appointed to the Local Defence Volunteers.  This time we get a photo.

Yorkshire Evening Post 21 May 1940 (from Find My Past Newspapers)
Of course we know the Local Defence Volunteers better as Dad's Army!  The write up notes that William Huddlestone had 10 police and military medals ... I think I'd need a bigger blog post to get them all in if I could find mention of them all. 

Well done him!  Not bad for a farm labourer from Pickering!

William dies on 3 March 1963 at Pinderfields Hospital and his widow Ethel survives him.  He leaves a will and his Probate record on Ancestry records his home address and the amount he left.  I wonder who got the medals? 

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Beta Testing "Lives of the First World War" from the Imperial War Museum

As you will have probably noticed I've become very interested in the First World War in the last couple of years.  With the OH's family coming predominantly from Barnsley I have found connections to soldiers in the Barnsley Pals along with many others.  As I have access to local resources in Barnsley Archives (newspapers, books, archives from churches and other local research) and an ever growing personal experience researching soldiers my lists of 'favourite' soldiers are getting longer and longer, but most of them are Yorkshire based.  My own family comes from the North East of England and so far I haven't done very well finding out about my own WW1 ancestors.
IWM Lives of the First World War logo

Hopefully this new project, "Lives of the First World War", from the Imperial War Museum will help with that - as a national project they aim to link together the personal stories of everyone who was involved in the First World War; soldiers, sailors, nurses and civilians too!

I subscribed to their email link some months ago and on Thursday last week I received an email asking me to log in to the beta site and give it a try out.  The aim is to collect lots of feedback to iron out bugs before the project goes fully live.

The project has been pre-loaded with information from the WW1 Medal Cards so includes only men who served abroad at the moment - there are plans to add the men who served at home and the other categories as the project progresses.  You search for a man by name, unit or service number and then 'remember' them to add them to your own personal 'dashboard'.  This creates a list of men that you can refer back to easily.

I began by 'remembering' a couple of my favourite Barnsley soldiers, Alonzo Wilson Swallow, Reginald Leslie Duncan and Frank Armitage. Last year I created a World War One Soldiers' Stories tab on my blog and started a list of the stories I had researched in depth and written up with links so that it was easy to find them again.  This was very useful for looking up the work I had already done on these men.  
Medal Card for Alonzo W Swallow (from Ancestry)

Finding Alonzo wasn't actually that easy - the seed information is only as good as the transcriptions of course, that's why they are relying on crowd-sourcing to correct these errors.  On his medal card I must admit Alonzo's name is very hard to read unless you know what you are looking for.   It took some cross referencing with his service number to work out that the entry for George N Swallow was my man ... does the name above look like George to you?  Hmm, struggling ... Cross checking on The National Archives medal card pages I see that this is where the mistake originated.  He is correctly indexed on Ancestry - I wonder if I submitted a correction to that at some point in the past?  It is fairly easy to amend the information on the Lives of the First World War site ... well, once you've worked out that the way to do it is to "improve" an entry. 
Screen shot of Lives of the First World War - record for Alonzo W Swallow - a blank silhouette, and then his date of birth, date of death and Regiment.  See text below.
Alonzo Swallow's page header on Lives of the First World War (beta)

Now he's got the right name and you can see some of the other information I've been adding.  This could be a long job as each source has to be added and verified (by saying what reason you have for connecting it to the soldier).  Then you can click on a source and start picking out bits of information to record, so from Alonzo's WW1 Service Records (as an external link by putting in the Ancestry website address) I have been picking out the dates when he changed regiment from the 2nd/5th York and Lancaster to the West Riding Cyclist Company and then the Army Cyclist Corps.  When I finally managed to get all the dates in the right order the header, shown above, did show his last regiment and service number, the ones indicated on his medal card - the Army Cyclist Corps and no.20486.

It looks as if, when it goes live, people will be able to link to all kinds of data from the DC Thompson stable of websites - I can currently pick census returns and BMD index entries to link directly - of course DC Thompson also own Find My Past and the British Newspaper Archive.  This part of the process will need you to be a subscriber (charges not yet specified) but anyone will be able to add personal information, pictures and stories for free.  During the beta testing there are no charges to the testers (which is good!).  There is a tantalising note that the Commonwealth War Graves Commission information is to be linked directly "allowing you to add this key moment to a Life Story".

I guess as I work my way around the system a few times I will learn the ropes and stop having to double back to amend things or add them differently.  That's the whole idea of beta testing I suppose. 

What with all the other stuff I am working I might not be able to give this much time - but it is fun trying out something new and I look forward to the day someone else 'remembers' one of my Barnsley men or I find a link to one of my North Eastern ancestors with lots of information already entered by someone else.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Lining up the next OU essay, planning for the exam, and government cuts affecting disabled students

I've got tired eyes after yesterday's all day note taking marathon ... but now there are only two of the nine (!) books that JW borrowed for me to tackle, although two more still look like hedgehogs with yellow prickles (post-it tabs). They have to be returned on Friday, but as we've arranged to meet for a drink in the Sheffield Tap as part of the transaction I'm quite looking forward to that.  As a result of the malfunctioning eyes I'm trying using the laptop with my new reading glasses on - which is actually working - it probably means I'm not sitting right though!

*** I've just tabbed up from the bottom of this post to add a note that despite my intention to write about my OU study this post has ended up being quite a list of the things I can't do any more because of government cuts to support for disabled people including students.  I do not apologise for that ... I hope I can do something  to raise the awareness of able bodied people to this constant drain on our resources. ***

OU shield logo and title
The question for my next essay is, 'Compare and Contrast the use of propaganda in the First and Second World Wars'.  I could also have chosen a question about changes to women's welfare provision in the twentieth century but as I'd already done a women's history question for TMA3 (Tutor marked assignment for those of you who don't OU), 'How did the Second World War change the lives of European Women?', I thought I'd research an different topic to get maximum coverage (I hope) for the exam.  I'm studying A327 Europe 1914-1989: war, peace, modernity which is a new module this year and I've been keeping in touch with other students via a couple of Facebook pages.

It seems we get given some clues as to which themes will be covered in the exam but as I haven't really worked out what the themes of the course are (which is worrying in week 25 of 32) that doesn't sound very helpful.  OK, so at least this blog post has inspired me to go and look up what the course leaders mean by themes, and here they are:
WW1 poster "Women of Britain say Go!" - Two women in old fashioned dresses (one with a shawl around her shoulders) look out of a window at soldiers marching away.  A small child grasps the skirts of one of the women
WW1 propaganda poster

Mega theme 1 (not my name for it!) - War
with sub themes - How wars began; the balance between military and other factors in the waging of war; technologies and modernisation.

Mega theme 2 - Peace
with sub themes - different kinds of peace; democracy and alternatives; ethnicity, nations and states.

Mega theme 3 - The concept of modernity
with sub themes - the expanding role of the state; changing gender relations; economic change; social and cultural change.

Hmmm ... well at least I feel as if I know what some of these mean.  And the module title doesn't look very imaginative at all now - I wonder if they came up with the title first or the themes?

It also sounds as if for at least one part of the exam we will be expected to have read the 'independent study' for our selected favourite topics, a whole swath of suggested books and journal articles for each unit (week's worth of study) that we are supposed pick four hours reading from, after we've completed the directed study for that week ... many of the books are available from the OU online library - but you can only download them to your computer, tablet, phone, whatever for 24 hours at a time - so you have to decide when you are doing the reading and borrow the book then, you can't plan in advance to do reading the day after tomorrow, say.  Also not much use if you are sitting in the doctor's or hospital waiting room without an internet connection.  Also not much use if you don't have a good, cheap, reliable internet connection - how are students who only have phones expected to study?

I was keeping up with the plan during the WW1 years (well, I do like the topic) and struggling inter-war, but now we've reached the Cold War I am having trouble just digesting the directed study bits - they are topics that are completely new to me and to be honest, not very interesting (student unrest in 1968, economics in the 1970s including stagflation!).  I may be concentrating my exam revision on the period prior to 1948 ...

So far I've spent more money than the OH and I can really afford on buying real hard copies of some of the more interesting books, but as the course has rattled along at a good pace many of them still have bookmarks in them about three or four chapters in.  I was very grateful to JW for offering to borrow some books for me from her brick uni and I'm sure you'll understand that I'm not about to get her into trouble by mentioning which uni it was!  I did request a Sconul card which allows me to become a kind of associate member of some brick unis via my OU student status, but it was the journey from home to find a uni which I was very scared about - if I overtire myself I end up spending a couple of days in bed recovering getting not a lot done.  Where I live everywhere is a bus and a train and another bus at the other end ... and since the end of March my disabled pass doesn't work on local trains anymore so to get to Sheffield from here means a long journey on the 265, about an hour and a half all told.

Picture of number 66 Stagecoach bus running up Eldon Street towards the bus station turning.
Ok, not a 265, but it's a picture of a bus!

 I remember the 265 from when I used to commute to work at Sheffield Hallam Uni - I regularly fell asleep and always worried about missing my stop on the way home.  I just can't read on buses, I get very sick!  Trains are so much nicer, somewhere to prop up your book and I don't get sick at all when I read ... but ah, well, not for me anymore!

The journal articles suggested are much more accessible, you can download most of them as .pdfs and save them somewhere (I use Dropbox) so you can read them later.  Unfortunately I still haven't really got the hang of reading from my tablet or computer and much prefer printing out stuff - and you can scribble in the margins too, which makes me feel as if I'm doing something constructive towards learning the topic!  Printing out has a cost though and I have been trying to reserve it for the stuff I need for essays in the first instance.  I think I will owe the OH for several toner cartridges and a couple of reams of paper by the end of this.  Bearing in mind that I have no income these days, bar a little from history talks (about one a month) I might be a while paying him back for all these text books, the paper and the toner.

Drawing of a pile of printed A4 papers, a very tall pile!
Pile of printed paper
I have worked out that my tutor appears to mark on the weight of my  bibliography - my marks have been improving as my bibliographies are getting longer and longer.  Five pages with 55 (yes you did read that right - fifty-five!) sources for my last essay, but at last he gave me a mark in the highest grade.  Too late to compensate for the other earlier poor marks when I didn't know how to play to his preferences but at least I feel as if I might not be a complete idiot this year.  Bear in mind that these essays are only 2,000 words long and you'll understand the complete disbelief of my fellow OU students on the Facebook pages, it seems they regularly only submit a page or a page and a half of bibliography; their tutors must be measuring some other mysterious element to assign their marks!

The next essay - due in on 8th May - is to be 3,000 words so I've worked out that to get a similar mark, pro rata, I need to submit a seven page bibliography, but that's just taking the p***!  I've done four pages so far and hopefully it won't grow much more, however references to newspaper articles from the various OU databases tend to be quite long, and I do like searching those old newspapers ...

Snip of magazine style page, headed "The Usual German Target! East Coast places of worship hit" above three pictures of damaged chapels and churches.
The Illustrated London News, 26 December 1914 (from GaleNewsVault at the OU)
Yesterday I got quite carried away in copies of the Illustrated London News (see above), The Times, the Daily Express and the Daily Mirror around two important propaganda news stories of the early part of the First World War - the bombardment of Hartlepool and Scarborough in December 1914  (see my very own blog post about this) and the first uses of poison gas in the war in April 1915.   I regularly use the newspaper archive on Find My Past to look up family history stories but their papers seem very sparse for the period of the war, many runs end in 1911 - I am expecting a great launch of new coverage to coincide with centenary but I wish they'd hurry up!  The digitised Barnsley Chronicle I've been using for the last seven months at Barnsley Archives doesn't really go in for photos before about 1920, except for the picture galleries of fallen soldiers during the war years.  Having access to the newspapers from the OU is something I will miss - I wonder how long I will remain an alumni? with access to their library.  I also tend to use Digimaps a lot as it allows you to directly compare maps from two periods on the screen at the same time, something you can't do with Old Maps, which is very good though ... not knocking it, just saying Digimaps is better if you can get at it.  

University Barnsley Campus logo 'part of the ' University of Huddersfield - except it's not any more!
My alumni card from Huddersfield Uni turned out to be not worth plastic it was printed on earlier this year - Barnsley Campus has disassociated themselves from Huddersfield somehow and now I can't borrow books locally anymore - I'd have to travel to Huddersfield, and that brings us back to my transport problems, Huddersfield is two and a half hours away on a bus ... makes Sheffield sound positively neighbourly!

Today's other interesting (I'm being a bit sarky here ...) news is that the government is planning to make cuts to the Disabled Students' Allowances.  I didn't qualify, but I have met many OU students who do and who depend on their readers and scribes and other helpers to get through their studies.  My daughter was able to get some cash help towards computer software and coloured paper through this scheme when she was diagnosed as dyslexic on arriving at Uni in Leicester (how did her schools and college manage to miss that? - how did I miss that? *guilt*).  All these things are going to be cut - I don't know how we can protest, but this is taking cuts way too far now - we don't get any money to be independent, we can't get to work if we need to travel on a train or arrive before 10am and now we can't even hope for assistance to study to improve our job prospects.  Disabled people - together we are stronger - don't give in!!

Anyway, that's quite enough prevarication for one day, I see an hour and a half has passed since I finished my lunch and all I've done is type this blog post ... back to German cinema during the Second World War, *sigh*

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Get a website! or a blog! They're free and very easy to use, must be, I have three!

When a place or organisation has a website you can look it up, check it out, look for reviews and comments.  When they have a calendar online you can check that the event or occasion you are going to is when you think it is.  You can see if there is an entrance charge or restrictions on entry (no children, disability access). When they have address details or a map you can see where exactly it is taking place and work out a plan for getting there on time.  Reviews and positive comments add to your confidence in going to a place or event for the first time. 

Without a website what did we used to do?

Yellow Pages
We used to ring up.  But the phone book no longer has everyone in it. And little organisations don't have contact phone numbers any more.
We used to look at the event or venue in a newspaper advert or in a diary column in the local paper - but people don't take them out for everything.
We used to ask in the local tourist information - which is alright if you have one or know its phone number and if they have the contacts you want.
We used to ask a friend - but that's not much use if your friends haven't been there either.

In my busy social life (ha!) I have just run across two contrasting instances of the above.  One a talk organised by the Barnsley Civic Trust about Canals and one a birthday meal out with friends.  

The venue for the birthday meal was suggested by the OH - he's keen on the pub (well, being a CAMRA member he's keen on a lot of pubs!), but my friend GB (whose birthday it will be) and I have not been there before so I was unable to answer any of her questions about the place.  However this morning she emailed me, reassured, because she'd been able to find details and favourable reviews of the pub/restaurant we are planning to go to online.  Hooray!

On the other hand ...

A week or so ago we (GB and I) attended a Barnsley Heritage Forum meeting along with representatives of many other Barnsley groups.  We introduced ourselves around the table giving details of forthcoming events and plans for the future.  Many did not have a website.  Some did not even have email contact addresses.  I noted down the details of a talk from Barnsley Civic Trust which was going to be held above the White Bear.

The White Bear, Church Street, Barnsley (photo from WearInns)
For those of you who don't know Barnsley the White Bear (note how I've included a weblink at this point so you can look it up yourselves) is a trendy, foody pub opposite the Town Hall, popular with students from the nearby University (yes, we have a University in Barnsley!) and quite nicely done up fairly recently - I went in there a few times when I was doing my PGCE three years ago.  Its write up, however, is not very conducive to academic historical talks about canals so I must admit GB and I were a bit baffled about this as a venue.  

I tried searching for the Barnsley Civic Trust online - no webpage.  They do have someone who tweets - @BarnsCivicTrust and there were a couple of tweets about the talk so at least I was able to confirm that it was going ahead.  But I still didn't know how to access the venue, or whether there was a door charge or how long it was going to last.

I had arranged to meet GB at the pub ... the OH took me in the car and as he pulled up outside he said, "Do you know where you are going?".  Well, no not really, I was just going to go into the pub and ask.  He parked the car up and got out - he led me down the side of the pub (a bit seedy to be honest) and to a fire escape type door with a huge flight of steps inside.  "Up there," he said.  Really ... I wasn't sure and I didn't like the look of the steps, but he was confident that that was where I wanted to be. 

I shouldn't have doubted him - he was quite right.  GB was already there, she'd done the 'asking in the pub' thing I had been planning.  It was actually a very nice room, large, with plush chairs, a dance floor and a little bar - just the thing for a birthday party or small wedding reception.  And quite good for a talk on Canals too.  Very interesting.  There was no door charge, but those stairs would have made the venue inaccessible to me on a bad day and given the average age of the other attendees (high) I think it is an important point.  The talk finished at 8:30pm, which was OK, but I did have to wait nearly half an hour for a bus home as they are only once an hour now.  I could have made a better plan if I'd had more details in advance.

So, my point is, to get maximum publicity and attendance at an event, to reach more people with your ideas and plans, follow the example of businesses by having a good online presence. It's really not hard these days.