November 10, 2014


October. To be honest, I'm running out of steam for this project a little this month. The newspapers are pretty relentlessly reporting lots of information about battles on the Western Front. And they're all pretty much the same. I don't know whether I'm just soft due to being able to look things up on line, but I can't find half the places they write about on my 1909 Atlas of the World (which I have inherited from my Great Grandfather). And it doesn't seem to matter where they are, soldiers are dying in piles (as in, quite literally piles of bodies on the battlefields). The key tactical issue appears to be whether or not you can get your guns into a useful place. Infantry (bayonet) and cavalry charges are for the bit after you've done your best to blow the opposition to smithereens. The defending trenches have machine guns and rifles and will shoot a lot of bullets at you during the charge.

The other striking feature is that when I do recognise a place name, it's almost never good. Ypres - which I know accounted for a decent chunk of the Cambridge student body is being mentioned but I don't know if we've yet had whatever engagement it was which was the one which is now remembered as the really bad one. Similarly Passchendaele turned up in the papers the other day. I can't help wincing, reading how hard they're fighting for it, and knowing it will be remembered for a battle that is still years away.

There has been some very stiff fighting near the coast. The British navy use the guns on the boats to shell the Germans on land, which somehow hadn't occurred to me as being possible. It appears to have been successful.

The Indian component of the British army have arrived in France.

For the Maori contingent - imperial law doesn't want them in Europe, but they're enlisting anyway. Meanwhile the British have dropped the height standard to 5ft 5in.

Of course, it's not just soldiers in uniform who are dying. Justice can be alarmingly swift if you are accused of being a spy. But some sanity prevails in local body politics. Curiously, water meters are advocated. How far we've come.

Charming description of rubbish in the harbour and the first plans for Oriental Bay which sound like something I recognise.

Also, Patea when it had a working harbour.

It's worth noting the flavour of anti-Semitism in this article the jew in music - good god.

Posted by carla at November 10, 2014 08:05 PM