Open source archive software

I co-organised a workshop in early December at The National Archives (TNA) on ATOM and Archivematica software, along with TNA’s Higher Education Archive Programme  and Artefactual Systems, the Canadian development company which supports both these applications.

The workshop was attended by around 40 archivists and records managers from around the UK, including existing or prospective users of the systems and those simply interested in learning more.

ATOM’s development was supported by the ICA and it is used across the world to manage and publish descriptions of archives. Archivematica manages digital preservation workflows for digitised and born digital content.

Key questions/points that inspired the day included:

  • Examples of the real application of Archivematica – how difficult is it to customise and how easy is it to use?
  • Do regional consortia offer the best opportunity for the application of digital preservation?
  • How can data on other systems such as CALM be imported into ATOM?
  • How is training best delivered?
  • How will these open source systems be best supported given the limitations of institutional IT?

 

The day began with an introduction and overview of both systems from Artefactual’s Justin Simpson and Dan Gillean. Their slides are available here.

There were then a series of five/ten minute presentations from invited speakers. Gary Tuson, County Archivist at Norfolk Record Office (NRO), spoke eloquently about the Eastern Region Archivematica trial that saw a number of archives in that Region, led by NRO, use Archivematica for digital preservation. He offered real encouragement that a regional model might help, although it was only a small-scale trial. Archivematica, unlike ATOM, is not available with multi-tenanted functionality. This places some limitations on the creation of a genuinely collaborative initiative and more work needs to be done to assess the viability of consortia – perhaps involving trials in other regions such as London.

Lindsay Ould, Borough Archivist at Croydon, described her experience of migrating elderly CALM data into a new instance of ATOM. Their existing CALM system was used by Archives, Museums and Local Studies, meaning that the style and structure of data was very diverse and often unclean and out of date. More than 1000 collection and accession records were migrated to a new hosted version of ATOM. Lindsay described working with an external developer to cleanse the data and she pointed out that this took up a disproportionate amount of time. Lastly, she spoke about developing a simple search interface and future plans to also make museum descriptions visible.

David Cordery, of Max Communications, was next up and spoke about the challenges of migrating data into ATOM, similar to those which Lindsay had experienced. He stressed the usability and intuitive controls provided by ATOM, but also the ability for users to customise the front end delivery of archive data and that the system is especially useful when managing images. Max provides a service to extract, clean and re-publish data in new ATOM instances and offers ongoing support.

Jenny Mitcham of York spoke next on the use of Archivematica to manage research data – a proof of concept joint venture between the Universities of Hull and York, The National Archives and JISC. Research data management is a big challenge for universities, as it is a requirement of the Research Councils that such data, for example generated by scientific research, be preserved and managed for a time. Jenny highlighted the concept of ‘parsimonious preservation’ coined by Tim Gollins of The National Archives – essentially doing ‘just enough’ to capture the right information in digital preservation, and avoiding unnecessary processes. Jenny listed a number of pros and cons of using Archivematica, including its versatility, flexibility and ability to integrate with other systems, versus its fiddly processes, unsophisticated user interface and the need to train staff to use it. This impressive project is now hoping to move to a production phase and bring on board the Borthwick Institute and integrate Archivematica more fully with ATOM. Much more information can be found on the project website and digital archiving blog.

Ed Pinsent of the Digital Preservation Training Programme at ULCC, is working with Artefactual to develop more mature training in the use of the two systems. He revealed the results of a survey of the digital preservation community in 2015, which highlighted the need for practical (and less theoretical) hands-on training, especially using real tools. ULCC will be working closely with Artefactual on UK Archivematica training in 2017. Learn more about the work of ULCC’s DP training here.

The second half of the workshop focused on hands-on sessions using the two systems and work-sheets provided by Artefactual. This gave the opportunity for attendees, working in groups, to import, manage and manipulate test data and gain a better understanding of what the systems have to offer. Test instances were set up, enabling attendees and those not present to explore the systems from their workplaces.

More information about Archivematica can be found here; and on ATOM, a series of YouTube tutorials here.

Overall, this was a very useful workshop, not least in bringing together a diverse collection of archivists and records managers from higher education, local authorities and other sectors, and others such as representatives of Arkivum, the DP specialists. It is hoped that an ATOM user group will be founded as a consequence of the workshop, to complement a thriving Archivematica group.

I would like to thank The National Archives for hosting and helping to organise the day, and Artefactual for their assistance throughout the day and since.

 

 

‘Bone’ up on your history

A ‘tail’ of a house and the emergence of a new breed of dog: the ‘Golden Retriever’, by Barbara Cornford.

In my role as a metadata assistant I have the joy of reading the personal diaries of many a well-known historical figure, the day to day joys, misery, shenanigans; in most cases written by persons from a very privileged strata of British society. I am currently working on the diaries of Lady Jean Hamilton. Through her wonderful writings I can share her day to day thoughts, actions and friendships – she is deliciously explanatory and self- aware, which engenders empathy from the reader.

I have a natural curiosity, it is not enough for me just to know that the object of my work stayed or visited with friends in this house or that house, I like to research to see if I can find out what the house looked like and if it still exists so that I can share a little of what has been described; the approach to such houses, their thoughts and opinions of the exterior and interior and the appreciation of the landscape surrounding them. One such house Lady Hamilton was invited to was Guisachan in Scotland as the guest of Lady Tweedmouth. In 1854 the Guisachan Estate was bought by Edward Dudley Coutts Marjoribank, who later in 1881 became Lord Tweedmouth.

 

Guisachan House

Another view of Guisachan House

Lord Tweedmouth had built lodges for visitors, kennels for his dogs, farm steads and importantly a new village which was called Tomich. He then began to move tenants from their crofts because they were too near the main house: they had no choice but to be relocated. The village was provided with a school, brewery and laundry.

Lord Tweedmouth was very interested in dogs of the hunting and sporting kind and at Guisachan he established a new breed. ‘Nous’, a wavy coated retriever, was bred with ‘Belle’ a Tweed Water spaniel: this created three yellow wavy-coated puppies which were named Primrose, Crocus [a male dog] and Cowslip – the first ‘Golden retrievers’ were born.

‘Nous’ photographed in old age

Nous in old age

Those Golden Retriever owners who are aware of the importance of Guisachan and Lord Tweedmouth go on an annual pilgrimage to what is left of the house and grounds in celebration of the breed. In July 2013, the Golden Retriever Club of Scotland hosted more than 350 people from 15 countries and 222 golden retrievers at a gathering on the Guisachan grounds. Not long afterwards, an organisation called the Friends of Guisachan [www.friendsofguisachan.org] raised money for a statue of a Golden Retriever at Guisachan to commemorate the achievement of Lord Tweedmouth.

Statue commemorating the establishment of the Golden Retriever breed

The GRCS will be hosting a ‘Guisachan Gathering’ in July 2018. The gathering will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Golden Retriever breed at Guisachan House by Lord Tweedmouth. The event will begin on Monday 16th July 2018 and end with a Breed Championship Show at Cannich on Friday 20th July 2018.

guisachan-photo-shoot

To return to the house, it now lies as a ruinous shell, purchased and denuded of its contents, roof and anything of value. Open to the elements and almost totally destroyed, it shines like a beacon to those who know and love the breed called the Golden Retriever.

Ruins

MEMORIAL

 

Bibliography

Clan Marjoribanks Society website http://www.marjoribanks.net/lord-tweedmouths-golden-retrievers/

https://friendsofguisachan.org

Barbara Cornford

 

Mathematical Shakespeare

On 27 June 1854 when seventeen year old Alfred Ainger (1837-1904) picked up his prize for ‘proficiency in Mathematics’ from King’s College London, was he surprised to discover that it was a handsomely bound volume of the complete works of William Shakespeare edited by Charles Knight, complete with the college arms stamped in gold on its cover?  [tape was required eventually]

AA01bookplateAA00To me a connection between a mathematics prize and the complete works of Shakespeare is not obvious.

Was this prize selected with Ainger in mind or is it the default prize for any number of achievements, so that the prize reflects the enormous esteem in which the Victorians held Shakespeare?

And did this prize have a career-altering effect?  The following year, when he was 18, the Dictionary of National Biography reports of Alfred: ‘Devotion to Shakespeare manifested itself early and in 1855 he became the first president of the college’s Shakepeare Society’.

In fact, in later life it is his literary skills, not his mathematical ones, for which Ainger would be recognised. He went to King’s school with the sons of Charles Dickens and was taken up by the novelist for his skill in amateur dramatics.  He knew Tennyson, became a published authority on Charles Lamb, and, along with producing books, articles and lectures, became an Anglican preacher and chaplain both to Queen Victoria and subsequently to King Edward VII.

His prize Shakespeare volume is quite new to our collection (2016), but already the engravings by William Harvey have provided illustrations for an exhibition I was assembling in January from King’s College London Archives to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.

King’s has not been around yet quite 200 years, so the Archive might not expect to have much relevant to Shakespeare (1564-1616). Fortunately just over a century ago Fredrick Furnivall (1825-1910)  the prolific Victorian scholar, literary editor, lexicographer and rowing enthusiast donated to King’s, along with his impressive library, a collection of papers from the many societies he founded. The New Shakspere Society papers (Furnivall insisted on the variant spelling) proved a good source for Shakespeare in the archives at King’s, the frontispiece from Ainger’s Shakespeare providing the opening illustration.

AA_shrewEach play has a full-page illustration in the volume and it is intriguing to see how an entire play is squeezed into a single frame for such pieces as the Taming of the Shrew where the Sly framework literally frames an inner scene from the shrew taming when Kate and Petruchio encounter the tailor and haberdasher meant to provide her wardrobe.  The insanity of the comedy is conveyed visually by setting the inner frame at a dangerous angle.

AA_dreamThe four interwoven layers of A Midsummer Night’s Dream are stacked on top of each other with the young lovers at the bottom being awakened by hunters Theseus and Hippolyta in the middle of the image while Oberon and Titania and their flight of fairies crowd the upper region with Puck flying in from the left carrying the ass’s head taken from Bottom the Weaver.  The tone is as romantic as anyone could wish.

Provenance and the historical medical collections

st-thoms-booksThe medical books, pamphlets and periodicals held in the Foyle Special Collections Library reflect the rich tradition of medical teaching and research across King’s Health Partners. Many of these items have significant provenances relating to medical figures who have worked for, or been connected with King’s.

In this article, Brandon High, Special Collections Officer discusses some of these that he has noted in his recent cataloguing.

A 1716 treatise on the eye, written in Latin and entitled Tractatus de circulari humorum motum in oculis, is part of the St. Thomas’s Historical Collection and bears the inscription of the physician and popular versifier Nathaniel Cotton (1705-88). His principal claim to fame is that he looked after the poet William Cowper (1731-1800) for two years in his private asylum during one of Cowper’s bouts of mental illness. Cotton’s treatment was apparently successful, as the regime in his asylum was humane, unlike the practices of some of the more notorious privately-owned ‘madhouses’ of that era. There are four other books in the historical medical collections with Cotton’s bookplate or inscription.

Other provenances in the historical medical collections with literary connections include the collection of books with the inscription of the St. Thomas’s surgeon and King’s professor of surgery Joseph Henry Green (1791-1863). Green was a close friend of the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge and was his amanuensis for several of his prose works. Joseph Henry Green’s ideas on the role of medical practitioners in society paralleled those of Coleridge on intellectuals, and both agreed on the importance for social and political order of higher education institutions (like King’s) with strong connections to the Anglican Church.

GH Savage bookplateA number of books which bear the bookplate of the psychiatrist George Henry Savage (1842-1921) are now in the Institute of Psychiatry Historical Collection at the Foyle Special Collections Library. Savage was one of Virginia Woolf’s doctors during her frequent periods of mental distress, and was very unfavourably portrayed as the psychiatrist Sir William Bradshaw in her landmark modernist novel Mrs. Dalloway (1925), who lamentably fails in his duty of care for Septimus Warren Smith, a veteran of the First World War.

The St. Thomas’s Historical Collection also includes a limited edition copy of W. Somerset Maugham’s first novel, Liza of Lambeth (1897), published to mark the fiftieth anniversary of its first publication. This novel is heavily based on Maugham’s experiences as a St. Thomas’s medical student, caring for pregnant women. He qualified as a medical practitioner, but never practised.

All these provenances can be searched on the King’s Library catalogue using the drop down menu and selecting the ‘Former owners, Provenance’ search option, and typing the name of the relevant person

You can also read detailed guides to the medical collections and other Special Collections on the ‘About our collections‘ webpage.

Sri Lanka: Empire, coffee and tea

Introduction

This article was written by Veera Mo and is posted on her behalf. Veera recently graduated from King’s with a First Class degree in International Relations and has been undertaking an undergraduate fellowship in Archives and Special Collections, researching material related to South Asia in preparation for a new Research Guide.

The new printed and illustrated guide will cover Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burma, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Tibet. It will span the early modern and modern periods and will cover political, military and social history, topography, natural history and culture.

ci_pl022This article relates to her research into the former British colony of Ceylon, now Sri Lanka. The images shown in this article are from the Official Catalogue of the Ceylon Court (1886). Please see the Bibliography for full details of this and other works mentioned in the article.

Veera writes:

It it is safe to say that the introduction of the camellia sinesis plant in 1824 changed the course of Sri Lankan history. Following a failed attempt at coffee production by British planters, tea plantations had incredible success, and eventually superseded the formerly predominant trade in cinnamon, coconut and pearls.

British involvement in Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon, began many years earlier. Indeed, in the late 1700s, Britain was engaged in imperial trade competition with the Dutch and the Portuguese. By 1815 they had captured the island from the Dutch East India Company, and proceeded to expand commercial activities in the non-settler colony.

The Foyle Special Collections Library holds copies of several rare items on the expansion of imperial trade and related works exploring what was termed the ‘Wonderland of the East’ and its potential.

The debate as to the suitability of the island for coffee production is evident in the works held in the Library. Tytler’s 1879 work entitled: The position and prospects of coffee production as affecting the value of Ceylon coffee estates, explains the potential competitiveness of Ceylonese coffee, despite the ravages of Coffee Leaf Disease. Six years later, Ferguson’s work, Ceylon & her planting enterprize in tea, cacao, cardamoms, cinchona, coconut, and areca palms critiques the zeal of the continued, but failing, coffee enterprise:

Theoretically it was shown many years ago that the climate and much of the soil of Ceylon were better suited for tea than coffee; but still the felling and clearing of the most beautiful and tropical forests in the world went on until from 400 to 500 squaremiles of country were covered with the one shrub, Coffea Arabica.

Title page of Officila catalogue of the Ceylon Court, 1886By 1886, faith in the tea plant was evidently growing among British planters. Produced for the Colonial and Indian Exhibition in London, 1886, the Official handbook and catalogue of the Ceylon Court introduces Ceylon through its many resources, particularly emphasising the potential of the tea trade.

Later successes in tea production ensured that Ceylon tea became the glory of the island. The more touristically minded work, A handbook on Ceylon: the Wonderland of the East, even appears to contain a marketing attempt, where other teas are described as ‘rubbishy’ in comparison to those produced in Ceylon.

The introduction of the tea plant to Sri Lanka played a role not only in the island’s own historical development, but also in shaping British beverage habits. In fact, tea was partially popularised in the United Kingdom through Thomas Lipton’s entrepeneurship in Ceylon. He bought himself some Ceylon tea gardens in order to cut out the middle-man and produce ‘an inexpensive blend for the public’ (Wickramasinghe & Cameron 2005:127).

ci_tpfr2The expansion of tea production had several consequences beyond production and consumption, and its success was not only determined by favourable soil and coincidence.

The British planters saw the proximity to India as a source of cheap labour as the key advantage in Ceylonese tea production. Hence, imperial trade expansion of plantations began to influence local hierarchies and structures. In many ways, these developments were to shape the foundations of the Sri Lanka we see today.

Select Bibliography

John Ferguson. Ceylon and her planting enterprise in tea, cacao, cardamoms, cinchona, coconut, and areca palms: a field for the investment of British capital and energy: giving opinions of a number of planters of diversified experience in the colony : also, estimates of the outlay on, and return from, a variety of products. Colombo: AM & J Ferguson, 1885  [Foreign and Commonwealth Office Historical Collection SB108.S72  CEY]

Samuel Nicholas. A handbook on Ceylon “The Wonderland of the East”. H.W. Cave & Co: Colombo, 1939 [Foreign and Commonwealth Office Historical Collection DS489 NIC]

Official handbook and catalogue of the Ceylon Court. London: William Clowes & Sons Ltd., 1886  [Foreign and Commonwealth Office Historical Collection T696.G1 COL]

RB Tytler. The position and prospects of coffee production as affecting the value of Ceylon coffee estates. Aberdeen: Free Press Printing Company, 1879 [Foreign and Commonwealth Office Historical Collection HD9199.S722 TYT]

DW Wickramasinghe & CD Cameron. ‘British capital, Ceylonese land, Indian labour: The imperialism and colonialism of evolution of tea plantations in Sri Lanka’. Critical Management Studies Conference (Management and Organizational History), Cambridge. Vol. 4, 2005

 

Chapbooks: Fleet Street time travellers

lane-at-back-of-Fleet-StI would love to have wandered around Fleet Street and this area of London’s alleyways and lanes before the banking corporations supplanted the newspaper offices and severed the unbroken link to the area’s printing history that had stretched back so many years.

In the back streets of this historic centre of the British book trade, at addresses like Shoe Lane, Bow Church Yard and Red Lion Court, all a stone’s throw from the Maughan Library, small volumes of stories and fables and tales known as chapbooks were once printed – their geographical provenance enduringly visible through imprints like: Printed and sold at the London and Middlesex Printing Office, no. 81, Shoe Lane, Holborn.

ac_tpIn my current cataloguing project I have been adding these little, well-thumbed volumes to the Special Collections catalogue.

The chapbooks I have been working on were printed and produced in the later 18th century, though versions of chapbooks existed from the 17th to the 19th century. These were usually produced on hand operated printing presses in small industrial units, with family members sometimes employed at the stages of production. Chapbooks were normally printed on one single sheet of paper and then folded into 8, 12, 16 or 24 pages. They would usually have been sold unbound and held together by a simple sewing.

When you walk through the narrow, high-walled alleyways around Fleet Street, Holborn Circus and St Paul’s (as I do often on my lunch breaks) it is not difficult to imagine the printers, workshop assistants, agents and delivery boys scurrying through the streets in pursuit of their occupation and living.

As easy as it is to imagine these scenes of production, it is also no stretch of the imagination to imagine the itinerant ‘chapmen’, from whom the books take their name, bargaining with printers and agents, buying chapbooks wholesale, and then heading out of town with them tucked inside their bags, ready to sell to country folk at fairs and festivals. The soubriquet ‘chapmen’ derives from an Old English word meaning ‘dealer’ or ‘seller’.

rh_tpAs literacy levels grew in the 18th and 19th centuries, the desire for these affordable, pithy tales also grew, and the stories that I have been working on include recognisable derivatives of the literary canon:

The travels and adventures of Capt. Lemuel Gulliver (abridged to a concise 24 pages)
A true tale of Robin Hood (true being an oft used word in titles, not always reflecting the veracity of the content)
The sleeping beauty in the wood

The tales are usually adorned with charming (and sometimes suggestive) woodcut illustrations. This was a cheap and durable method of illustration: woodcuts can be used for long periods and passed from one printer to another and, as Ruth Richardson says in her excellent British Library article on chapbooks, in the more expensive editions, children were sometimes employed to colour these woodcut illustrations.

penny-histories-spineThe chapbooks I have been working on were bound together in the 20th century by an independent firm on behalf of the Library. Each bound volume contains perhaps 10 or 15 of these wonderful tales on cheaply produced paper, that has evidently been thumbed through by readers of London or the country, and perhaps read aloud around a homestead fire as a bedtime treat for the family.

I like these books because I can sense the mechanics of their production in the streets where I work. In the Foyle Special Collections Library we hold examples of works from the infancy of printing (known as incunabula) to the present day, with grand editions, illustrations and provenance marking many out as significant, unique and of immense value to researchers and historians. These chapbooks have their special place in the collection, and there is something wonderful about the mass appeal that they offered, with their eclectic subject content covering heroic tales, ghost stories, battle and adventure and news and politics.

Their popularity is attested to by the well-thumbed pages, and also by the sparsity of detail on some of the imprints. This lack of detail in an imprint like ‘Printed and sold in London’ suggests that some printers may have been none-too-keen to display that they themselves had also ‘cashed in’ on the popularity of a certain tale, with their anonymity ensuring the pirated edition would not be traced back to them.

I have been reporting these editions to the English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC) to ensure they are accessible to researchers worldwide; and of course if anyone would like to have a look at these wonderful little volumes, they are welcome to consult them in the Foyle Special Collections Library.

Select Bibliography

The Bibliographical Society. Chapbooks Working Group.[http://www.bibsoc.org.uk/about/committees/chapbooks] Accessed 20 July 2016

EDPOP. ‘The European dimensions of popular print culture’. [http://edpop.wp.hum.uu.nl/] Accessed 20 July 2016

The National Art Library Chapbooks Collection [http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/n/national-art-library-chapbooks-collection/] Accessed 20 July 2016

Victor E Neuburg. Chapbooks: a guide to reference material on English, Scottish and American chapbook literature of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. London:  Woburn Press, [1972]. Foyle Special Collections [Special Collections Ref.]  Z6514.P7 NEU

Ruth Richardson. ‘Chapbooks’. [http://www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victorians/articles/chapbooks], accessed 15 July 2016

Andrew White Tuer. Pages and pictures from forgotten children’s books. London: The Leadenhall Press, 1898-1899. Foyle Special Collections  [Miscellaneous] PR91 TUE

The Order of the Red Eagle and the German state visit to Britain, 1907

Kaiser Wilhelm signature, 1907On Monday the 11th of November, 1907 Kaiser Wilhelm II the German Emperor and King of Prussia arrived in Portsmouth aboard his imperial yacht, the SMY Hohenzollern, for a week-long visit to Britain. The Emperor was met by a welcoming partly consisting of the Prince of Wales, Lord Roberts, the German ambassador, and one Colonel Henry de Beauvoir De Lisle. The group headed directly to Windsor from the coastal city to be hosted by King Edward VII, Wilhelm’s Uncle and the eldest son of the late Queen Victoria.

De Lisle, who would later achieved the rank of General, had been invited to welcome the Kaiser and travel to Windsor due to his connection to the Prince and Princess of Wales and Mr Connaught, but described himself in a letter to his mother as, “the least important of anyone in the castle.”

Despite this, De Lisle’s collection of papers relating to the state visit provide an interesting insight into the visit and a personal story about how he was decorated by the Kaiser.

After arriving at Windsor De Lisle was greeted by the King who joked he did not recognise him as hitherto he had only seen De Lisle at formal occasions in his military uniform. What he did recognise though was that De Lisle was not wearing a German decoration for this occasion and asked him why that was the case, to which De Lisle replied that he did not have one.

On hearing this Edward VII said “I will tell the Emperor he must decorate you,” and De Lisle woke up the very next day to find he had been awarded the foreign honour of the Order of the Red Eagle by the Kaiser.

Above you will see the hand signed Order for De Lisle by the German Emperor, 16 November, 1907. De Lisle was given private permission by his Majesty to wear the Insignia of the Red Eagle at events with the presence of German Emperor or members of the royal family of Prussia.

By Adam Cox – Archives Assistant

13 Days: An Escape from a German Prison

While adding metadata to the album of photographs and ephemera of Brigadier John Alan Lyde Caunter (1889 – 1981) I became interested in the fact that during World War One he had escaped from captivity in a German prisoner of war camp. I would like his achievement to be brought to the fore through this blog as in 2017 it will be a century since he made ‘his great escape’.

Caunter 00092

Our room at Crefeld camp (Caunter 92)

Captain (later Brigadier) John Alan Lyde Caunter of the 1st Battalion the Gloucestershire Regiment was taken prisoner during World War One by the Germans, captured at Gheluveld on the 31st October 1914 while on active service near Ypres. Upon capture he was confined in Crefeld prisoner of war camp and then with 400 other officers of differing nationalities moved to a camp at Schwarmstedlt, Hanover; eventually managing to escape in the summer of 1917.

During the journey to get back to England he met two other escapees, one of whom was Captain Fox D.S.O (an Irishman) of the Scots Guards. Together the two men managed to reach the Dutch frontier and safety – although during the last 24 hours they became separated. Upon their return to England on July 7th 1917 they were photographed together outside the Guards Club in the clothes they had worn during their hard won journey to freedom.

Caunter 00003 Caunter 00004

Outside the Guards Club (Caunter 3 and Caunter 4)

On the 18th July 1917 both men were invited to Buckingham Palace for an hour long audience with King George V.

Caunter 00015

Seeing the King (Caunter 15)

Captain Caunter wrote of his adventures in a book entitled 13 days an escape from a German prison, published in 1918, which also contained hand drawn illustrations by the author. The book is now out of copyright and can be downloaded free from various internet eBook providers for those that are interested in his story. The following is a review of the book copied from a newspaper cutting that was in an album of photographs and ephemera belonging to Caunter.

BRITISH OFFICER’S THIRTEEN DAYS JOURNEY TO FREEDOM

ESCAPE FROM GERMANY

Life and letters by J.C Squire published in Land and Water October 10th 1918.

“Captain Caunter was taken in 1914; he went to Crefeld and thence to Schwarmstedlt, in Hanover. His escape from the camp was extraordinarily ingenious and of the prolong nerve racking kind. He got on a top shelf in the parcels room, before the very eyes of a German; lay there, cramped and stifling, for hours; then stole out of the window while a sentry on each side turned his back. He crossed two rivers – there is a thrilling account of his wait by one bridge while the sentries carried on a conversation with two girls who seemed as though they would never go away and leave the men free to move or doze – and then, under a hedge, amazingly met two brother officers who had escaped after him. His chapters on the crossing of the Weser, the long walk along a railway track, and the final agonising wait in the marshes by the Dutch frontier, are wonderfully vivid; one’s heart stands still when a townful of dogs starts barking at him in the moonlight, and when Major Fox, an Irishman used to bogs, side-tracks the frontier guards into a morass. Major Fox slightly sketched is revealed as something of a Titan for strength and audacity. Captain Caunter’s exact wash drawings greatly elucidate his tales”.

Barbara Cornford

Sergeant Albert Rumbelow: the Royal Albert Hall connection

Albert Rumbelow

Albert Rumbelow

In 2014 I was working as usual adding metadata to the photographic images on the Serving Soldier database. The albums, paperwork and ephemera I annotated at the time were donated by the family of the late Major General Charles Howard Foulkes CB CMG DSO (1ST February 1875 – 6th May 1969) to the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, a leading repository founded in 1964.

While adding metadata and keywords to the images the handwritten notes written by Major General Foulkes caught my eye. Underneath a photograph of a not so youthful moustachioed Sergeant were written the words ‘Sgt Rumbelow 4 Platoon A company, 7th RB at Arras March 1916, DCM Gazette 6.6.16.’

I am not a researcher but curiosity caught hold of me and I decided to do a quick internet search firstly to find out what a DCM was (part of the learning curve when working with photographs of the Military so that I can give correct information) then to see if I could find out more about this rather more mature soldier who looked quite hauntingly tired as he gazed into the camera lens.

Upon entering his name, I was directed to a website dedicated to holding information about ‘fallen’ military personnel of Buckinghamshire http://buckinghamshireremembers.org.uk. Low and behold there was a record of Sergeant Rumbelow with details of his name, regiment, where he enlisted, where he died and the location of the memorial on which his name is displayed. I took it upon myself to send an email to the person who ran the website to ask if they had a photograph of Sergeant Rumbelow, in actuality they had all of his information but didn’t possess a picture of him. I forwarded a photograph and was met with a lovely response ‘I just cannot thank you enough for helping me to discover the full details of this brave man, I would never have discovered these extra details’.

My discoveries did not stop there: from the information I had gleaned I then knew that Albert Rumbelow worked at the Royal Albert Hall as a cleaner and hall attendant; he was one member of a quarter of the staff employed at the Royal Albert Hall who volunteered to fight during World War I, enlisting in 1914 at the age of 35 leaving behind a wife and four children. I contacted the organisers of an exhibition planned at the Royal Albert Hall in which I knew that Sergeant Albert Rumbelow was mentioned and asked if they would like a photograph of him. The response was they would because they did not have one.

In the summer of 1916 (we know it was in June) Albert gained the Distinguished Conduct Medal for ‘Conspicuous Gallantry’. His citation reads that he ‘exposed himself to machine gun and shell fire when going across the open to rescue a wounded man. Later he went under fire to fetch a stretcher’.

Albert was returned to England badly injured and died two months before Armistice Day in a military hospital in Ashford, Kent, at the age of 39. He was one of the few soldiers to be buried on English soil because the government had taken the decision not to repatriate the bodies of those killed in battle. His grave is located in the churchyard of St Peter Parish Church, Aylesford Kent and his name is alongside many others on the War Memorial at High Wycombe Hospital.

Barbara Cornford

 

Reggie’s Honour

An article in the Daily Herald in which Mr J Dixon Taylor recalled Reggie’s appearance at the Lord Mayor’s Procession of 1931 when he inadvertently scared some elephants (see King’s Alumni Official History of Reggie the Lion), led to one of Reggie’s many outings. The show organiser mistakenly referred to Reggie as a ‘toy tiger’ and greatly offended King’s students of the time. On the 27 October 1938 the engineering and medical students gathered a large crowd, headed by Reggie, and marched on the Daily Herald’s office. The crowd was reportedly greeted by the paper’s editor, who promised that the complaint would be passed on to the gentleman responsible for the insult. Following the incident the students wrote that ‘Reggie is once more on his perch, once again his tail wags with all its old ferocity, yet once more he has risen triumphant overcoming all his foes!’

Reggie the Lion marching on the Daily Herald.

This outing was recorded in the scrapbooks of David Leete which are held at King’s College London Archives.