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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

EDUCATION


JoMH

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Joanna, John

AS promised a summary of Poly training activities for the war effort extracted from the Polytechnic Magazine of January 1919page 2. In terms of context the Polytechnic was established by Quintin Hogg in 1881 and by the outbreak of war had become a very large institution providing mainly vocational education. It ran courses in many areas from commerce (accountancy) trough tailoring, to motor body building, engineering and architecture. It’s HQ building at 309 Regent Street, London W1 (for those who know it just down from the BBC) had been rebuilt in 1911 and possessed several floors of modern machine shops in the basement. So what did it do (apart from providing over 3,000 men for the armed forces)

  • Ambulance and first aid training started on the outbreak of war with over 7,000 of the former and 3,000 of the latter trained by September 1916
  • 695 wireless operators were trained for the RFC in the first year of the war (also provided premises but not staff for RFC Bombing and Photographic Schools at Langham Place)
  • Retrained 481 tinsmiths as coppersmiths (and work carried out in training then used in RFC engines)
  • Trained 224 Blacksmiths in response to shortage of same
  • Trained 159 electricians, 103 Magneto repairers and 300 fitters for the RFC. The Poly Director of Education became Director of Technical Education for the RFC
  • In addition to the above trained women wireless repairers (216) fitters (267) grinders (70) and marine compass repairers (58)
  • Also appears to have been some precision munitions work training carried out
  • Designed and built workshops for rehabilitation of the disabled at Roehampton hospital and Queen Mary’s Hospital Brighton. The Poly Director of Education became Director of Technical Training for the Ministry of Pensions. (I have seen a later reference to the Poly itself running training courses for the disabled including barbering but can’t lay my hands on it. At the moment)
All this while carrying on normal education business! AS far as I know all of the above activities were carried out by staff from the Poly

Apparently it also provided air ‘refuge’ during air raids

Hope tjis is of some interest/help

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Anthony: Yes the stats are of great help. Any way to furnish us with FULL bibliogrpahical data on this educational institution's magazine? Did they ever publish a war history and/or articles later?

Thanks again so much for your consideration,

John

Toronto

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John

The Magazine was an internal publication for members of the Poly - I don't think there is any further bibliographic information. The originals are held at the University of Westminster Archives Service and the archivist is E.S.Penn@westminster.ac.uk. There is no war history (as yet hint)

although there is material in Ethel M WOod's book on 'the Polytechnic and it's founder' (1932)

Hope this helps.

Anthony: Yes the stats are of great help. Any way to furnish us with FULL bibliogrpahical data on this educational institution's magazine? Did they ever publish a war history and/or articles later?

Thanks again so much for your consideration,

John

Toronto

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Hello Anthony,

Many thanks indeed for posting the Polytechnic information. To me (not an expert) it is very impressive - particularly if this training was carried out by Polytechnic staff whilst continuing their normal "education business".

Joanna

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Joanna

Hope it was of use. I don't really have a sense (yet) of what other comparable institutions were doing so I don't really know if this is remarkable or typical or distinctly underwhelming. If anyone has any info on what other educational institutions were doing in terms of training it would be nice to see.

Oh forgot to mention, it was also a recrutiment centre (mainly for the RFC) and it's chalets in Switzerland (the Poly had a travel business, later Lunn Poly - anyone remember them?) were turned over for the use wounded and interned/exchanged prisoners. Not to mention the comfort section who seem to have spent the war baking cakes and knitting socks

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Anthony (and Johanna) : Thanks so much for confirming the rarity of such a journal. I am used to it doing this many times with specialized or local Canadian home front publications related to the war. They are fascinating though for social history amongst other topics.

John

Toronto

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I found this photo of a French lesson taken at Brockenhurst! Scroll down to the third photo.

Yes, it would be interesting to hear what other educational establishments might have been up to...

I remember 'Lunn Poly'.

Joanna

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From London South Bank University's website:

By the beginning of the First World War the Polytechnic had almost 7000 students, by the end, only 700. During WW1 the Polytechnic helped manufacture munitions and medical supplies for the War effort and ran special courses for the army. 127 men from the Borough Polytechnic Institute lost their lives in WW1.

J

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Joanna

Thanks for these two - I think I'll have a squirrel around on the University of London College Websites, although many University websites are by no means user freindly

Tony

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Joanna et al

A quick look round on various University of London websites and ex Poly websites proves two several things

1. Several need a radical overhaul for ease of use.

2. An obsession with narrow institutional history rather than an interaction with the wider world (which I suppose you could categorise their participation in WW1 as)

Off to have a look wider. I suppose it was inevitable that Imperial (with it's scientific, engineering and technical bent) would be engaged in the kind of war related research described on it's web site.

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Major school district or board and university archives can have great stuff in them. Unfortunately they typically do NOT have the staff or money to catalogue everything or to put stuff accessible online. This is slowly changing but one still needs to have time during normal (read historical!) business hours and also know what, whom and how to access their collections. As you pointed out Tony universities see themselves as competitive businesses and focus on narrow areas in part to attract "niche" targeted audiences. This regretably means that their historical materials are neglected.

John

Toronto

P.S. I have photographed Issues 1 and 2 of "Social Welfare" the two issues published in October and November 1918 here in Toronto. There is great stuff by the way on the war, Canada and education including a good article on "Vimy University" formed apparently in the fall of 1917 in Europe.

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1] The Khaki colleges of the camps in France and England [microform] : smaller calendar Khaki University of Canada (Great Britain)

Publisher: [s.n.],

Pub date: 1918.

Pages: 1 microfiche (30 fr.)

ISBN: 0665979886

Corporate author: Khaki University of Canada (Great Britain)

Title: The Khaki colleges of the camps in France and England [microform] : smaller calendar / Khaki University of Canada for Soldiers of the Canadian Overseas Forces.

Series: (CIHM/ICMH Microfiche series = CIHM/ICMH collection de microfiches ; no. 97988)

Corporate subject: Khaki University of Canada (Great Britain)

LC Subject: Soldiers--Education, Non-military.

2] Khaki University of Canada [microform] : report for the Rt. Hon. Sir Robert L. Borden, G.C.M.G. (Prime Minister of Canada ) Tory, H. M. (Henry Marshall), 1864-1947.

Publisher: s.n.,

Pub date: 1918?]

Pages: 1 microfiche (19 fr.)

ISBN: 0665653786

Personal author: Tory, H. M. (Henry Marshall), 1864-1947.

Title: Khaki University of Canada [microform] : report for the Rt. Hon. Sir Robert L. Borden, G.C.M.G. (Prime Minister of Canada / prepared by H. M. Tory.

Series: (CIHM/ICMH Microfiche series = CIHM/ICMH collection de microfiches ; no. 65378)

Corporate subject: Khaki University of Canada (United Kingdom)

LC Subject: Soldiers--Education, Non-military.

Corporate author: Khaki University of Canada (United Kingdom)

Hope these bibliographical items help you and others.

John

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I found quite a lot of stuff I forgot I had at home

As I only have the internet at work during my breaks I will have to "trickle" it on to the forum

One interesting fact

Haig was very interested in Education. When he was at Aldershot Command in 1913 he personally bought, and distributed among his officers, 1,000 copies of a book called "Psychology for Teachers"

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John,

Many thanks for the references for 'Khaki University'

Tintin,

I'd heard that Haig was interested in education - and that he perhaps encouraged padres' participation, particularly towards the end of the war. His distributing 'Psychology for Teachers', at his own expense, speaks volumes...

Many thanks to all,

Joanna

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I found this little thing when I was trawling yesterday:

Letter from J M Donn (1st Canterbury Inf.)

'April 22nd 1916

Somewhere in France

...I got reckless and spent 3d on a book of French, up to the present can shrug my shoulders and turning eyes and hands heavenwards say Bonsoir Monsieur...'

Joanna

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And more trawling found me this - photos of limbless men, presumed to be taken at Oatlands Park near No 2 NZ General Hospital at Walton-on-Thames and Queen Mary Convalescent Home at Roehampton. Activities include: woodwork, typewriting, cobbling, chicken rearing... More photos on subsequent pages.

Joanna

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