“I feel one can say with some conviction that no man should willingly leave his home to fight, wound, maim or kill other men about whom he knows little and whom he certainly does not hate. When all men refuse to commit such follies the foundations of a true civilisation will have only just started to be laid.”
- Sam Sutcliffe, circa 1974 (extracted from his Memoir)

Sunday, 14 July 2019

July 19, 1919: Good heavens… five years on it’s Sam’s last blog. He and older brother Ted, a fellow Somme survivor, see the war off at the July 19 Peace Parade. Happy onlookers, they see the King… and fall out of their tree!

Dear Visitor, This is the FootSoldierSam blog – the whole of my father Private Sam Sutcliffe’s personal Great War story, Nobody Of Any Importance: A Foot Soldier’s Memoir Of World War I. It runs for 262 episodes (2014-2019), covering his 1914-1919 experience from enlistment at 16, through training, Gallipoli, the Somme, the Spring Offensive, and eight months as a POW to his return home and, eventually, the London Peace Parade – all originally scheduled, rather approximately, 100 years on from the week in which the events actually occurred. Please have a read. If you’d care to buy a Memoir paperback or e-book or one of the battle excerpts the details are below. All proceeds will always go to the British Red Cross who saved his life a couple of times…


Sam’s Memoir(1) – paperback and e-book – and the e-excerpts from it are now available in their third and final editions with added Endnotes and, in the Memoir, added documentation.

For details of how to buy the Memoir or Gallipoli Somme & Arras 1918/POW etc mini-e-books click here plus see reader reviews here and here  and reviews from the Western Front Association and the Gallipoli Association hereFor AUDIO excerpts click Here  Join FootSoldierSam on Facebook Here

The war’s over – and this week, bar the occasional blurt no doubt, so are my father FootSoldierSam Sutcliffe’s blogs, Facebook posts and tweets – it’s the Centenary of the July 19, 1919, Peace parade in London which he attended with fellow veteran brother Ted: “Thus, we reckoned, we had completed our long connection with the forces of war…”

See information on Sam’s son Phil’s readings from the Memoir here

All proceeds from all versions of Sam’s Memoir will always go to the British Red Cross – and the current running donations total as of  Dec 1, 2019, is £4,734.97 (I can't update it in the Donations box below because the "edit" tool has vanished!).

Dear all

A hundred years ago this week, in the aftermath of the Armistice… The Paris Peace Conference process moved another stage with the presentation of the Treaty Of St Germain to the Austrian Government. Continuing in the spirit of retribution rather than reconciliation begun by the more famous Treaty Of Versailles with Germany, it stripped the former Habsburg Empire of territories including Hungary, Poland, Croatia/Serbia/Slovenia and parts of northern Italy it previously held – and the Treaty imposed reparations to be paid to the Allies for the next 30 years (which didn’t work out).
    The UK staged its great Peace Parade on July 19 in London with the King, Queen, Generals and 15,000 soldiers – plus, amid the crowds gathered from all over the country, two former Tommies in my father, FootSoldierSam, and his brother, Ted (see below)…
    The day after the celebration, ex-servicemen in Luton rioted and burnt down the Town Hall (July 20). And over in America, the Washington Race Riot (July 19-24), the latest in a volatile US summer, saw the rumour of a black man being arrested for rape – actually the complainant said she was “jostled” – trigger a white vigilante onslaught soon to be countered by strong, often armed, black resistance. 
    For the rest no major events are reported, but the Russian Civil War (1918-21) continued with the Bolsheviks starting to gain the upper hand… so did the Greco-Turkish War (1919-22)… and the Third Anglo-Afghan War (May 6-Aug 8)…

[Memoir background: my father, Lance Corporal Signaller Sam Sutcliffe from Edmonton, north London, 16-year-old underage volunteer in September, 1914, fought at Gallipoli with the 2/1st Royal Fusiliers (Blogs September 20, 2015, to January 3, 2016), then on the Somme Front with his second outfit, the Kensingtons (Blogs May 15 to September 25, 2016)… until officialdom spotted his real age – 18, legally too young for the battlefield. They told him he could take a break from the fighting until he turned 19. He accepted, though with an enduring sense of guilt. December, 1916, saw him posted to Harrogate, Yorkshire, and re-allocated to the Essex Regiment Battalion (Blogs November 27, 2016, to November 11, 2017). During this interlude he suffered various illnesses while recovering from trench warfare’s privations. In December, probably, solo, he returned to France – reverted to Private by then, I don’t really know why – and dogsbodied around Arras until mid-March when he ran into his own Essex 2/7th Battalion. They moved into the trenches near Fampoux just in time for the German Spring Offensive. A last stand by the Battalion on March 28, 1918, left 80 alive and “fit” out of the 520 who started the day – the 440 in between being dead, wounded or, like Sam, “missing” and, in his case, a POW (Blog March 25, 2018). For several months he wandered occupied France in randomly-assembled half-starved POW groups doing hard labour, before spending the summer in southern Germany and finally moving westwards to Lorraine – whence, the day after Armistice, his long trek towards the French Front began. He reached safety after tiptoeing through a German minefield (November 15 probably). Then began his recovery from chronic near-starvation – and a brief emotional breakdown – until, finally, on December 10, 1918, he returned to England and another few days in hospital before reuniting with parents and siblings, especially brother Ted, home on a week’s leave but suffering badly from gas damage. Civilian life offered Sam a warm welcome… until, in February, 1919, the Army called him back - though only to a “Dad’s Army” unit. Meaning, at first, a few weeks de factoholiday in Brighton. But then, something completely different… through the spring, Sam and others ex-POWs guard German POWs at a camp in Sussex, while making various attempts to get back to “normal” life until at last… demob – and now it’s the Peace Parade!]

FOOTSOLDIERSAM SPEAKS (100 years on and for the last time)
July 19, 1919, Hyde Park. Last week, in May, my father, Private Sam Sutcliffe – formerly Lance Corporal Signaller, but reverted to the PBI rank he signed up to on September 10, 1914 – did the demob formalities after a medical verdict that he’d become “unfit for service” via the alimentary consequences of malnourishment in the trenches and then, much worse, in his travelling POW band, which had him (temporarily) wasting away and often in pain.
    With the back pay he was owed, he ate and drank, lazed about a good deal – and bought himself a nice civvy suit.
    Now though, it’s the grand goodbye to all that. Sam and fellow Western Front veteran, older brother Ted (then 22) join the massed audience for the post-Versailles-signing Peace Parade in London:

‘With peace declared and signed for(2), my brother and I went up West to view the great procession of all the victorious Armies and associated bigwigs – spectators, we, watching the men who won the war(3).

Gurkhas of the Indian Army on the Mall, 19/7/19. Pic by Arthur Crane,
courtesy of IWM.
      Barmy as kids, at one point, in Hyde Park, to get a good view we climbed a tree. We sat on a bough, high and happy. Below us and slightly to one side, an elderly couple picnicked. The bands played gloriously and the marchers’ feet crunched on the sanded road – it was great.
     Then the bough broke and down we came. Thankfully, the old couple were unhurt, only scared, as the grandpa proved via his shouted opinion that our parents had conceived us in sin.
     We dashed from place to place to catch up with different parts of the show – we saw Queen Alexandra(4) close-up and confirmed what we had read about her beautiful make-up – and generally had a fine old time.
     Thus, we reckoned, we had completed our long connection with the forces of war and could now consider ourselves personally at peace.

King George V (left of centre, bearded), Queen Mary (second from right?, Queen Alexandra (right?) at the saluting base, 19/7/19 by a US official photographer,
 courtesy of IWM
At a stroke, my brother had already translated himself from a war-stained, mentioned-in-despatches-Military-Medal-you’ve-done-your-bit-thankyou-very-much-goodbye ex-soldier into a City gent. Now, on work days, garbed in a blue, pin-striped, well-cut suit with plenty of shirt cuff showing below the fashionable, rather short sleeves, fawn spats, and a dark, fur Homburg hat, he carried a light, knobbly cane or, if the papers forecast rain, a rolled umbrella.
     Somehow, Ted had avoided contact with Army doctors, and so left the Service with what I knew to be a serious lung condition caused by a lengthy exposure to war gas; his breathing remained quicker and shallower than it should have been… He still made nothing of it, though, and, as his work demanded no physical effort, he could cover up his disability(5).
     Above all, he wanted no further connection with anything military. Mass murder to no observable purpose had sickened and saddened him. So he threw himself into his business activities.
     Unskilled me had no highfalutin’ notions as to my prospects, but I was convinced that one method of turning an honest penny would eventually provide me with the price of a crust and a cuppa – to wit, buying something cheaply, adding a modest margin to its cost price, and flogging it(6). Many days, many failures, and a lot of physical distress were to come my way, but youth was on my side.
     It seems such a shame that one must cut loose from boyhood, but the years of adolescence had been consumed in playing at being a soldier and a man. And now it was all finished, I really had attained the official status of manhood.
     I was just 21.’

(2) Following six months of negotiation at the Paris Peace Conference, the Treaty of Versailles ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied powers on June 28, 1919 – not coincidentally the fifth anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the event which triggered the war. The UK ratified the Treaty two days after the Peace Parade.
(3) “The Peace March For The Glorious Dead” took place on Saturday, July 19, 1919 (Sam had his 21st on July 6). The great event’s title was arrived at after PM Lloyd George opposed the initial proposal of a “Victory Parade” and insisted that it be couched as a tribute to the dead. Architect Sir Edward Lutyens (1869-1944) designed a temporary wood-and-plaster version of the present “Cenotaph” memorial which was erected in Whitehall for the occasion (“The Glorious Dead” being the phrase carved into the permanent version later). Field Marshall Douglas Haig, Commander-In-Chief of the British Army, and soon to be ennobled as an Earl, led 15,000 troops on the march – sources include http://www.forces-war-records.co.uk/blog/2013/07/19/on-this-day-19th-july-1919-peace-day-when-the-boys-came-home(you may have to paste this address into a search engine). Various events and entertainments followed in the Central London parks. In Hyde Park, where my father and his brother Ted ended up, an “Imperial Choir“ of 10,000 voices sang, accompanied by the massed bands of the Brigade Of Guards and “The King and Queen paid a surprise visit” (George V and Queen Mary). Naturally, while the nation generally enjoyed the celebration, many demurred or even protested, with ex-Servicemen often taking the lead according to a web source no longer available.

Field Marshall Haig (whom my father and uncle detested – though it wasn't high on his agenda of worries during WW1) salutes the royals 19/7/19 by US official photographer, courtesy of IWM.
(4) Queen Alexandra of Denmark, then 74, mother of George V and Consort to Edward VII, who had died in 1910.
(5) Philip Broughton Sutcliffe, nicknamed “Ted” (from “Tid” from “Tiddler” as a kid), born October 15, 1896, in Broughton, Salford, died on January 26, 1922, aged 25. Cause of death, tuberculosis, no doubt abetted by the severe lung damage he suffered from being gassed on the Western Front in 1918. When I was born in 1947, my father named me after his beloved long-lost brother, my uncle.
(6) That’s what my father did. Specifically, he worked as a barrow boy in Edmonton market – a draper – in partnership with his younger brother, Alf. The two had a stall there between the wars, then moved into a small corner shop, still selling cloth, which they ran with one assistant until the early ‘60s. During WW2 both my father and my mother, Mona  (20 years his junior), worked as Civil Defence first-aiders and ambulance drivers throughout the Blitz.

All the best– FSS

Next week: There is no next week… war’s over, relish the peace... remember them...

(1) In his 70s, Sam Sutcliffe wrote Nobody Of Any Importance, a Memoir of his life from childhood through Gallipoli, the Somme, Arras 1918 and eight months as a POW to the 1919 Peace parade.

Sunday, 7 July 2019

1919: As Sam’s military career concludes at the “cold and impersonal” Essex Regiment HQ he fondly recalls the boys of his first Battalion… and wonders what the hell he’s going to do next… The penultimate episode of FootSoldierSam’s five-year WW1 blog epic!

Sam’s Memoir(1) – paperback and e-book – and the e-excerpts from it are now available in their third and final editions with added Endnotes and, in the Memoir, added documentation.

For details of how to buy the Memoir or Gallipoli Somme & Arras 1918/POW etc mini-e-books click here plus see reader reviews here and here  and reviews from the Western Front Association and the Gallipoli Association hereFor AUDIO excerpts click Here  Join Foot Soldier Sam on Facebook Here

The war’s over at last – but Sam’s blog, Facebook page and tweets will continue until his Memoir concludes (next week!)  with the Centenary of the July 19, 1919, Peace parade in London…

All proceeds from all versions of Sam’s Memoir will always go to the British Red Cross – and the current running donations total as of July 2, 2019, is £4,329.44 (I can't update it in the Donations box below because the "edit" tool has vanished!).

Dear all

A hundred years ago this week, in the aftermath of the Armistice… Germany finally ratified the Treaty Of Versailles (July 8), but only after new Chancellor Gustav Bauer, President Friedrich Ebert and Field Marshall Paul von Hindenburg seriously discussed resuming hostilities. That is, they believed the Allies’ threat of immediate invasion if they didn’t accept the Treaty and the politicians asked Hindenburg whether the Army could mount effective resistance. Reluctantly, he said no.
    So they recommended acceptance to the Weimar National Assembly who agreed 237-138, then wired acceptance to French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau in time to beat the Allies’ deadline, before bringing it back to the Assembly for ratification. Thus, by common consent, the seeds of WW2 were sown, fed and watered… although the Allies did at last lift the Navy blockade on Germany (July 12) which had brought the population to the brink of starvation.
    In the USA, however, when President Woodrow Wilson personally presented the Treaty to the Senate he met unbending and enduring resistance from those who opposed the Treaty entirely and others who wanted amendments. His pet Treaty project, the League Of Nations did become reality six months later, but his own country never joined it…
    Elsewhere, the Greco-Turkish War (1919-22) proceeded from its small beginning in Anatolia; General Kemal, later Atatürk, had been mustering forces there, but then found himself dismissed by Sultan Mohammed VI (July 8). In Russia, Bolshevik counterattacks interrupted the southern White Army of General Denikin’s Advance On Moscow (July 3-November 18) and the northern White forces’ Siberian leader Admiral Kolchak involved American troops in a minor sequence of actions on the east coast fighting Bolsheviks in the Suchan Valley Campaign, defending the railway (throughout July).
    Otherwise, an array of uproars continued internationally, triggered by WWI’s end to varying degrees, including the demobilisation of millions of servicemen. The Moroccan Insurrection against Spanish rule began (July 11) – marking the start of an Arab resistance movement against colonial powers. In America, the latest in a “Red Summer” of race riots flared up in Longview, Texas (July 10-12). Whites attacked the black part of town in the wake of lynching a black man for having an affair with a white woman. After a lot of shooting and one further black fatality, National Guard troops and Texas Rangers restored order. Many from both sides were charged and nobody prosecuted. The (all-white) local enquiry into the whole event reached one interesting conclusion – that black people should not be allowed to write about white people in the newspapers (a story had appeared in the northern black newspaper The Chicago Defender).
    Also, among a sequence of post-war travel breakthroughs the US Army sent a convoy from Washington D.C. westwards to see if they could drive all the way to the Pacific – it took months, but instigated the massive highway-building programme of the 1920s which featured Route 66, established on November 11(?), 1926… whether or not with commemorative intent I don’t know.

[Memoir background: my father, Lance Corporal Signaller Sam Sutcliffe from Edmonton, north London, 16-year-old underage volunteer in September, 1914, fought at Gallipoli with the 2/1st Royal Fusiliers (Blogs September 20, 2015, to January 3, 2016), then on the Somme Front with his second outfit, the Kensingtons (Blogs May 15 to September 25, 2016)… until officialdom spotted his real age – 18, legally too young for the battlefield. They told him he could take a break from the fighting until he turned 19. He accepted, though with an enduring sense of guilt. December, 1916, saw him posted to Harrogate, Yorkshire, and re-allocated to the Essex Regiment Battalion (Blogs November 27, 2016, to November 11, 2017). During this interlude he suffered various illnesses while recovering from trench warfare’s privations. In December, probably, solo, he returned to France – reverting to Private on arrival, I don’t know why – and dogsbodied around Arras until mid-March when he ran into his own Essex 2/7th Battalion. They moved into the trenches near Fampoux just in time for the German Spring Offensive. A last stand by the Battalion on March 28, 1918, left 80 alive and “fit” out of the 520 who started the day – the 440 in between being dead, wounded or, like Sam, “missing” and, in his case, a POW (Blog March 25, 2018). For several months he wandered occupied France in randomly-assembled half-starved POW groups doing hard labour, before spending the summer in southern Germany and finally moving westwards to Lorraine – whence, the day after Armistice, his long trek towards the French Front began. He reached safety after tiptoeing through a German minefield (November 15 probably). Then began his recovery from chronic near-starvation – and a brief emotional breakdown – until, finally, on December 10, 1918, he returned to England and another few days in hospital before reuniting with parents and siblings, especially brother Ted, home on a week’s leave but suffering badly from gas damage. Civilian life offered Sam a warm welcome… until, in February, 1919, the Army called him back - though only to a “Dad’s Army” unit. Meaning, at first, a few weeks de factoholiday in Brighton. But then, something completely different… through the spring, Sam and others ex-POWs guard German POWs at a camp in Sussex, while making various attempts to get back to “normal” life… and now it’s really here: demob!]

FOOTSOLDIERSAM SPEAKS
May, 1919, Essex and home to Edmonton: my father, Private Sam Sutcliffe – formerly Lance Corporal Signaller, but reverted to the rank he signed up to on September 10, 1914 – has spent the spring quite enjoying life as a Royal Defence Corps POW camp guard in East Preston, near Arundel, Sussex. He cast aside hatred and made friends with the former enemies, fellow frontline veterans…
    But come April health problems assailed him: a resurgence of the gastric uproar and pain he’d experienced in the aftermath of Gallipoli and the Somme, then again as a malnourished POW in France and Germany for eight months of 1918 – until he apparently recovered in various hospitals post-Armistice.
    Last week, a doctor recommended his release from the Army “having become physically impaired”…

‘I had to go to Warley in Essex to get my discharge from the Essex Regiment, that being the last one of the several in which I had served(2). The place was cold and impersonal, the people too – particularly the signing-off officer, who might well have had his mind on his post-war problems. So many officers had briefly enjoyed a degree of power which would not be theirs in the keenly competitive civilian market…
     In truth, the only feelings of comradeship still remaining with me after all those seemingly endless years of war were for the brotherly boys of my first volunteer Battalion(3). Months of hard, slogging training in the Mediterranean sunshine(4), living under canvas before and after the inglorious campaign on that scruffy Turkish peninsula… Our total effort, both in Egypt and later in France(5), near Rouen, to so build up our efficiency that the authorities must augment our numbers and restore our depleted strength to that of a Battalion… One knew affection and friendly consideration for one’s mates in that mob, but not in any other(6).
     Still, my discharge yielded quite a bit of money from back-pay, the war gratuity, Corporal’s pay credited to me but never paid over more than two years(7), and a ten shillings a week pension, plus a book of coupons, each worth 29 shillings, which I could cash at the rate of one per week until I started doing some sort of work.
     So I dressed in a fine, new, wool, grey suit. I felt cool and prosperous. Not a clue, at that moment, as to what I might do for a living, but free and able to pay for my keep, and even for the occasional bottle of port wine which some of us favoured in those far-off days – a large bottle, of good quality, cost about three shillings.’
(2) Warley: a military town since the 18th century and HQ barracks to the Essex Regiment from its founding in 1881 until 1960 http://www.forces-war-records.co.uk/unit-info/253/ (may prove hyperlink-resistant; if so, copy and paste into a search engine and it will work!).

Amid the host of scrawled info on this page including various ‘Warley’ references, look at the lower left half under ‘[Dis]embodied on demobilisation” where it records the date he appeared at Essex Regiment HQ in Warley ‘6.5.19’. To the right of that is the official reckoning of his war’s landmark dates – as regular readers will know, not all of them correct by my reckoning, having correlated my father’s account, war diaries and other sources.
(3) The 2/1 Royal Fusiliers, London Regiment.
(4) From February to August in Malta, a place Sam loved the moment he saw it, despite the marches with 90 pounds on his back (normal pack plus Signaller’s gear) – see Blogs February 22, 2015 to August 16, 2015.
(5) From January to late April in Egypt, then maybe three weeks in Rouen before their CO told them they would be disbanded rather than reinforced and restored – see Blogs January 10, 2016, to May 1, 2016.
(6) As editor, I would just add here that my father generalised this overall feeling he had, resulting from the bitter grief of his Battalion’s demise at the hands of remote Army decision-makers in France. But, despite that, everywhere he served, he did form good, trusting relationships with comrades, notably with Neston at Arras with the 2/7th Essex Regiment – see Blogs December 17, 2017 and then January 1 to March 25, 1918.
(7) The story of my father’s rank during WW1 gets confusing. Here’s a quick zigzag through it. I think of him as “Lance Corporal Signaller Sutcliffe”, which he was from spring, 1915, in Malta – until promoted to Corporal in June 1916, while his new outfit, the Kensingtons were in and out of the front line at Gommecourt on the Somme. Thereafter, ups and downs ensued. During the subsequent battle, through to September, he often served as Acting Sergeant too. But when the Army noticed he was still under-age and sent him back to Blighty. Because he detested holding any rank, en route to his new posting in Harrogate he took one stripe off his arm. So when, in Yorkshire, he was transferred to the Essex he appeared to be a Lance Corporal again… although he wasn’t according to the records. Then, strangely, in mid-summer 1917 his Company CO – whom he loathed – offered him training for a commission (the upper- and middle-classes being drained of officer material by then) – see Blog June 30, 1917. Sam refused and, either as punishment or by (genuine) choice, “reverted” to Private for the duration. Regarding the back pay for his period as a Corporal, I presume that, with it happening on the Somme front, the formal notifications didn’t reach the appropriate clerk. 

All the best– FSS

Next week: Good heavens… five years on it’s Sam’s last blog. He and older brother Ted, a fellow Somme survivor but bearing the gas damage that would kill him, see the war off by attending the July 19 Peace Parade, happy onlookers applauding “the men who won the war”…

(1) In his 70s, Sam Sutcliffe wrote Nobody Of Any Importance, a Memoir of his life from childhood through Gallipoli, the Somme, Arras 1918 and eight months as a POW to the 1919 Peace parade.