Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Peace On Earth 1918 - An Archive Advent Calendar #18

Some letters received by Highland Park, whisky distillers today. Most of the folder we looked through contained orders from businesses and offices, 'Please send 3 casks of whisky', 'please send whisky at your earliest convenience', 'we have run out of Scotch and are in great need of more.'

Two letters stood out, however. The first one, from a paint and decorating supplies company declaring that, since the signing of the armistice they were now able to return to providing non-military customers...

Orkney Archive Reference D4/20/6 - click to enlarge
...and the second letter which follows on from Wednesday's blog and is an apology from a printing and stationers explaining that there is a delay in service due to the large number of staff suffering from influenza:

Orkney Archive Reference D4/20/6 - click to enlarge

Monday, 17 December 2018

Peace On Earth 1918 - An Archive Advent Calender #17

100 years ago today, Orkney County Council held their AGM. Towards the end of the meeting, they discussed the need to petition the admiralty to lift war-time restrictions on the waters surrounding Kirkwall. This would affect postal boats and civilian access to the island amongst other things.

Orkney Archive Reference CO3/5 - click to enlarge

Sunday, 16 December 2018

Peace On Earth 1918 - An Archive Advent Calendar #16

100 years ago today, Orcadian poet and marine naturalist Robert Rendall received the letter below from Mrs Alexander McKenzie of Stornoway, Lewis. She addresses him as Bro., presumably short for brother, but I think this is because they were both members of the Christian Brethren

Click to enlarge

Orkney Archive Reference D27/7/6

Rendall served in Scapa Flow aboard HMS Imperieuse and wrote the poem below :

Orkney After The War

Now from the pool the tide of war recedes
And upon the water's surface filtered falls
The old tranquillity. Wave the green sea-weeds
Fanning their fronds fearless of sudden squalls.
Ols patient limpets scythe the meads aquatic
And rosy crinoids radiate starry twinkles
While hermit crabs with scuttlings acrobatic
Dispute the tenancy of vacant periwinkles.
Merchant anenomes spread their hungry tentacles
And earnest cattie-buckies keep their social conventicles.

Saturday, 15 December 2018

Peace On Earth 1918 - An Archive Advent Calendar #15

Today's post continues with the German ships interned in Scapa Flow from the end of 1918. The Orkney Archive holds a typewritten memoir written by John J L Tulloch who was born in 1909. The account was written when Mr Tulloch was an older man and describes what life was like living on a farm on a small island in Scapa Flow during World War 1, the British Fleet, the Hampshire, the Churchill barriers, the Royal Oak.

He describes the arrival of the defeated Germans:

So on a dull November day the German High Sea Fleet with Rear Admiral Ludwig von Reuter in command steamed into Scapa Flow through Hoxa Sound with the dull winter sunshine glinting on their grey hulls. Line ahead they came escorted by British warships, those mighty leviathans of battle that had only ventured out once in full force at the Battle of Jutland from their snug havens in Germany.

The German ships ceased to become a novelty to the young lad:

My home stood near the shore on the West side therefore the battleships...became an everyday scene to me as the months went past, in fact some of them were so near to my home that on a calm day we could hear the sailors talking or singing quite clearly. On a Sunday a brass band on the S.M.S. Frederick derr Grosse used to play their German military tunes when the weather was good, so those great ships became a part of my childhood days...

John also remembers hearing the men at Christmas 1918:

Orkney Archive Reference D1/1100

Friday, 14 December 2018

Peace On Earth 1918 - An Archive Advent Calendar #14

Although the armistice had been signed and hostilities were officially over, Orcadians would experience an even closer proximity to their former enemies at the end of 1918.

The terms of the Armistice demanded that 74 German battleships be interned in a neutral port. After failing to find a neutral country interested in this job, the allies settled for Scapa Flow. In late November, the British Grand Fleet left the Flow and gradually, the 74 German ships were led in to be interned until their scuttling in June 1919.

After the ships had arrived, many of their crew members were repatriated to Germany yet, by the end of the year, 5000 men still remained. The German ships, unlike their British counterparts, were not designed to be lived on for extended periods. The living quarters were grim, food very poor and mail and German newspapers arrived late and heavily censored. The crews were miserable.

In December 1918, The Daily Mail carried a large feature on the fleet which described 'ragged, dirty crews fishing from the side and through portholes... the main impression from the collection of German soldiers who fished was, first, their variegated, ragged and dirty clothing and, secondly, their extremely youthful appearance.'

The crew had begun to ignore their superiors and were amazed to see their British equivalents still parading on board their ships, One remarked in his diary 'We did not do that in time of peace,'
SMS Frederick Der Grosse - first ship to be scuttled in June 1919. Raised in 1937 and broken up for scrap on site.

SMS Dresden - one of the successfully scuttled ships, she remains unsalvaged.

SMS Kaiser - scuttled and raised between 1929 - 1937 to be broken up at Rosyth.

SMS Karlsruhe - scuttled and still remains on her starboard side in the water. Postcards from this ship were rescued in 2003, underwent conservation and are now in the Orkney Archive collection.

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Peace On Earth 1918 - An Archive Advent Calendar #13

We mentioned patient, betinselled Stanley Cursiter in our last post and today we look at his end-of -war experiences. Stanley Cursiter was one of Orkney's best loved painters and served as both Director of the National Gallery of Scotland and the Queen's Painter and Limner for Scotland. He received both an OBE and a CBE.

Orkney Library and Archive Photographic Collection

Cursiter fought at the Somme with the 1st Scottish Rifles and, after being invalided out, used his artistic skills to produce maps for the Survey Unit. Of the time immediately after the end of the war he wrote:

Life in Cologne with the Army of Occupation was very pleasant after years in the area of hostilities... The German mark had gone down to eight-a-penny, so we lived in luxury at a very modest cost. For instance, we shared a box at the Opera with the Army Commander, but as he was not an operatic enthusiast we were able to attend fairly regularly - at a cost of four pence! We indulged in the most expensive Rheinland and Moselle wines at twopence and threepence a bottle.

Perhaps the most extraordinary of a number of coincidences was that the house we occupied as our Battalion Mess had been designed by an architectural firm in Munich - the firm with which Rennie Mackintosh was associated after he left Glasgow. All through the house the influence of Mackintosh was evident; in the dining room, there was a large sideboard with silver panels in repousse, signed 'M.M.M.', the work of Mackintosh's wife.

One day I went to get my hair cut. After the barber had tucked the sheet round my neck, he leaned over my shoulder and said 'What is it like these days on Princes Street, Sir?' He had cut my hair in pre-war days in Tensfeldt's shop in the Caledonian Hotel.

Road in the Battle Area, 1916. (Private Collection)

Watercolour painted by Cursiter whilst in France, 1916. (Private Collection.)

Taken From 'Looking Back - a Book of Reminiscences' by Stanley Cursiter. 1974.

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Peace On Earth 1918 - An Archive Advent Calendar #12

Today's archive nods to the 'Spanish' 'Flu pandemic which swept the world during the last years of World War 1. It had reached Orkney by the end of 1918 as this extract from the Stromness Public School Log Book shows:

Click to enlarge and read.
This is perhaps not the most Christmassy of posts, we admit, so here are the betinselled heads of our beloved Orkney Room dwellers:

Gentle George

Elegant Edwin

Surprised Stanley

And angry, angry Eric.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Peace On Earth - An Archive Advent Calendar #11

Following on from yesterday's post about Orcadian nurse Lily Gunn, today we have some Christmas cards sent to Lily for Christmas 1918. We heartily approve of the phrases 'hearty good wishes' and 'heartiest greetings' - very jolly.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

All items taken from Orkney Archive Reference D1/984/2

Monday, 10 December 2018

Peace On Earth - An Archive Advent Calender #10

Today's archive is a souvenir/ autograph book containing drawings, poems and messages from patients of the British Farmers Hospital and the Number 2 Anglo-Belgian hospital, Calais, France from 1916 to 1918. It was handed in by the descendants of the nurse who compiled the book - Orcadian Lily Gunn.

Lily Gunn (left) and colleague at the front of the former Balfour hospital, now West End Hotel.

Click to enlarge

Orkney Archive Reference D1/983

A post card sent home by Lily.

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Peace On Earth 1918 - An Archive Advent Calendar #9

Another reminder that, although peace reigned in December 1918, war-time deprivations still applied. The Orkney Herald of the 4th of December 1918 carried the notice below urging people to stock up on woollens as 'pure woollen goods are practically unprocurable...owing to the great scarcity of wool for civilian purposes.'

I wonder why it was in such short supply?

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Peace On Earth 1918 - An Archive Advent Calendar #8

Impressively, a couple of months after the Armistice, the author of this poem makes a plea for feelings of civility towards the German nation whilst celebrating the coming of peace.

Orkney Herald - 1st January 1919.

Friday, 7 December 2018

Peace On Earth 1918 - An Archive Advent Calendar #7

See below for the 11th (and last) edition of The Concentrator: A Journal of the Land Defences, Scapa Flow. Published by and for the various servicemen and women stationed at various batteries around the flow, the (roughly) monthly journal contained articles both humorous and serious. There were news reports from the various batteries, correspondence, spoof adverts and poetry. The editors often struggled to obtain supplies of paper but, for the last year of the war, The Concentrator helped to rally spirits and spread news between colleagues.

Shelf reference 050Y in The Orkney Room

Click to enlarge.

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Peace On Earth 1918 - An Archive Advent Calendar #6

On this HIDEOUSLY dark and rainy winter's morning, let us think of the attendees of the social dance held at the No. 20 Balloon base at Caldale on Christmas day 1918. They planned to sing, dance, waltz and gallop the night away...

They ended their evening with a rousing rendition of God Save The King as I am sure you all plan to do on your Christmas nights out. The Orkney and Library Archive Christmas party both begins and ends with God Save the Queen but we also sing O' Flower of Scotland for balance, and then Dennis Waterson's I Could Be So Good For You because he makes us.

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Orkney Archive reference D1/88/3

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Peace On Earth 1918 - An Archive Advent Calendar #5

Todays blog is a collection of local adverts in the run-up to Christmas 1918. We are delighted by the mentions of cosy slippers and 'dainty, serviceable novelties' but deeply saddened (yet intrigued) at the thought of tea and coffee made with tablets.

Click to enlarge

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Peace On Earth 1918 - An Archive Advent Calendar #4

Today's archive is a description of the children's Christmas concert held on the island of Flotta, taken from the Orkney Herald dated 1st of January 1919. Our favourite bit is of course "entertained to tea and plenty of good things therewith." In Orkney, a tasty cake or bake is always known as 'a good thing.'

Monday, 3 December 2018

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Peace On Earth 1918 - An Archive Advent Calendar #2

Following on from yesterday's post when we demonstrated that, although war was over, rationing was still in place for Christmas 1918, we are posting an extract from the local teaching union meeting minutes discussing a decision to strike.

Orkney Archive Reference D50/1/1 - Click to enlarge

There had been a lot of industrial unease in 1918 as can be seen from the newspaper snippet below. You will also spot a demobilisation order for teachers and students still far from home in December 1918.

Orkney Herald - 1st January 1919 - click to enlarge

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Peace On Earth 1918 - An Archive Advent Calendar #1

Merry Yuletide, dear readers. It is time to unveil to you our annual advent treat.

 There has been much Chrimbo tomfoolery in the past: Angry, betinselled statues in 2010, Time travelling celebrities in 2013, tormenting poor Killer-singer Seal in 2014, an archive advent calendar in 2016 and we tested you all with ridiculous quizzes last year.

This year, we thought that we would celebrate Christmas of 100 years ago - 1918. The Armistice had been declared and peace on earth was finally a reality. Join us over the next few weeks as we share some archives from that winter.

Our first archive addresses the fact that, although war was officially over, some war time realities still continued. Sugar was still rationed in December 1918 and one still had to produce a card like the one below to procure it:

Orkney Archive Reference D30/2/5

Christmas without loads of sugar? Fear not, the government announced that extra rations were available for the festive season. Phew.

Orcadian 5th December 1918