Some ran. Some stood and fought. But no-one forgot their first meeting with a tank. A weapon without precedent, which went on to dominate the battlefields of the 20th Century.
And it was designed by two men, in little more than two months, working out of a small hotel room in Lincoln.
Britain and its allies sent as many as 20,000 dogs to the trenches in the First World War, where they did everything from carrying messages to being used to haul guns.
It’s the 70th anniversary of the Blitz. I’ve been following the Battle of Britain Day By Day blog since last month, today it stepped up a gear with a long post about the first day of concentrated bombing on London.
By coincidence, I’m also reading First Blitz, an account of the German bombing campaign against London and the south of England during the First World War. After Zeppelins were no longer effective, the England Squadron flew Gotha and Giant bombers at first in daylight and then, as England’s air defence improved, on night raids. The numbers of aircraft and tonnage of bombs were significantly lower than in the next war, but this was one of- if not the- first time large raids were mounted against an enemy city.
I’m halfway through the book right now. It’s a simple chronological recounting of raids, developments and countermeasures, but told in such a way as to remain interesting and based upon accounts from the attackers and defenders for balance. My only quibble is in its use of the word Blitz. It was my understanding that Blitz came from blitzkrieg and was first used to describe the bombing campaign of 70 years ago. It feels to me like the WW1 campaign has been retroactively renamed as a Blitz, either by the book’s writer or earlier historians, and contemporary writers would have called it something else. That aside, the book is proving an interesting read on early air warfare.
(Wombling shall be an irregular series of posts about interesting stuff members of Team Spinneyhead find which, as the Wimbledon commoners would have it “the everyday folks leave behind”.)
This interesting piece of kit is a Field Clinometer Mark III. Harry found it at the tip whilst scouting for bikes and bike parts. Research (primarily here and here) revealed that it was a device used in the aiming of artillery pieces.
The clinometer was placed on the barrel as it was elevated and the swing arm used to measure the angle. The arm can be adjusted by degrees. The sprung shoe still works well- pull it back to disengage the teeth then move the arm into position.
For greater accuracy the arm has a slight bow so the spirit level can be slid along it to get measurements at the minutes level.
Sadly the spirit level itself has been smashed. Otherwise the clinometer would still work almost as well as when it came out of the factory over a century ago.
The device was built in the Soho M&S Instrument Works in 1906 and was numbered 869. This is one of those “What tales it could tell” objects.
Unfortunately neither Harry nor I have access to any artillery, so the clinometer’s going on eBay to find a good home. (Note The auction has now ended and the clinometer shall be making its way to a new home soon.
Rolf Harris has re-recorded Two Little Boys, to be relesed tomorrow to mark the 90th anniversary of the end of World War 1. This is also of relevance to Spinneyhead as it was the record that was number one the day I was born (making it particularly painful when the RAdio 4 presenter commented that it was “nearly forty years ago”).
The pistol used by Gavrilo Princip to assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the act that eventually lead to World War One, is to go on show in the Imperial War Museum. The show marks the 90th anniversary of the armistice and will include more personal items alongside the historic artefacts.