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  • Spotlight: Christmas in wartime


    A fresh-faced young woman stares out from the pages of an old pantomime programme. Her cheeks are lightly rouged and her auburn hair is gathered into a flowing pigtail falling over her left shoulder. If there is something rather too… Continue reading

  • Christmas greetings from the trenches


    For troops at the battlefront during World War I, letters and postcards were the only form of communication with home. Writing to their families and loved ones held particular significance at Christmas. It appears that some army divisions produced their… Continue reading

  • Captain J P Lynch: prisoner of war


    From the heroic image of the doughty captive fictionalised in the film the Great Escape to the sufferings on the River Kwai, the British POW is an instantly recognisable World War II type. The experience of captivity in World War… Continue reading

  • Wounds from the Battle of Waterloo


    A “damned near-run thing” said the Duke of Wellington on his victory over Napoleon at Waterloo on 18 June 1815. The Battle of Waterloo was the the bloody finale of the French Emperor’s 100-day reign. While Napoleon was exiled to… Continue reading

  • Spotlight: Christmas greetings from 5 Field Ambulance


    Christmas cards come in myriad forms, from the reverently pious through the cloyingly schmaltzy to the frankly naff. Humour, where it appears, is usually gently playful (Santa stuck in a chimney, Rudolf held up by celestial traffic lights) or achingly… Continue reading

  • Panto season on the Eastern Front


    Christmas on the front lines during World War I was a time when military personnel were most likely to get home-sick. While entertainment was provided throughout the year to keep spirits up, Christmas was when the troops most needed cheer.… Continue reading

  • Mud, snipers and rats: rescuing the injured from the trenches


    “The spade will be as indispensable to a soldier as his rifle” predicted Ivan Bloch in 1899. This proved to be an accurate prediction for the static and trench bound nature of World War I. With machine gun fire faster… Continue reading

  • “We fought and bled at Loos”


    In the popular view of the Western Front in World War I, 1915 can be something of a forgotten year. By the end of 1914 and the famous Christmas truces, the trench network stretched from the Jura to the Channel,… Continue reading

  • John Silver’s Field Ambulance: images of life in WWI France


    On 3 August 1914 Germany declared war on France, and by the following day, the UK had mobilised divisions of troops, and with them, Field Ambulances to send to the frontline. The Field Ambulance was not a vehicle but the name given… Continue reading

  • Item of the Month, April 2012: ‘On Indigenous Malaria’


    As today is World Malaria Day, our Item of Month for April focuses on one of the thousands of works the Library holds on the disease.  The term ‘Tropical Disease’ can be a misleading one. Take this image: in the book… Continue reading