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Kate Wills
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Dear Kate. Do you have any other info regarding Algernon Henry Blackwood.According to his biographer he served in British Military Intelligence during WW1.

Regards Steve.

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Thanks for those links Steve.

Sorry to say I know very little about Algernon Blackwood. His war service sounds interesting, and I know a biography has been written in recent years. Has anyone read it?

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Dear Kate. There are several books about AHB,notably by Mike Ashley. I was amazed at the volume of work he produced,It would be a project on it's own to read all his works.

http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/authors/...n_Blackwood.htm

lists his stuff and a potted history.It's fascinating stuff and I must thank you for pointing the way to AHB for me. Regards Steve.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Dear Kate. Don't know if you are still reading this thread, but found another couple of Lena things which rather illustrates the highs and lows of Lena's life.

How sad for someone who dedicated her service to others.

Regards Steve

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Dear Steve,

I have not done much on this Forum, but at least I have recruited a new follower for Lena Ashwell. They also serve who only organise quality entertainment for the troops!! And see what difficulties she had to surmount in her personal business life.

Matthew,

I cannot add much, as your pictures speak for themselves. However:

An Albert N. Bulmer served with 3rd East Anglian Field Ambulance RAMC, and was a student/graduate of the Royal College of Music. What is the betting that they were brothers/cousins? Pte W. Bulmer may be the pianist in your photos, though the bigger question is where did they procure the piano and get it back to camp? Just shows the need for music and entertainment when far away from home.

The concert looks to be quite a spartan affair (unless it is a rehearsal). There are no costumes or props, and it is taking place in daylight (though of course the photograher probably didn't encumber himself with flash equipment or the like for night shots). It could well be a concert of turns, in the manner of the programme you have posted from their training days. The last looks like a comic song of some kind. I notice vitually everyone is wearing a tunic, so it was none too hot at the time. What is even more noticeable is the enjoyment everyone seems to express with so many wide smiles.

Are those little posts rudimentary footlights, do you think? They could well be jam tins, which was one way of achieving the effect.

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Dear Kate. Thanks for your reply. I certainly would like to be in the Lena Ashwell fan club!! She seems, as with so many who " gave" in their lives, to have been overlooked when times and fashions changed, but at least her legacy lives on within this forum. I'm of the opinion that we should call these people's names as often as possible, something which the forum allows me to do because we don't forget. Anyone who made a contribution to the war effort in whatever field should have equality of recognition. If not for their efforts etc. etc.

Anyway....another couple of Lena bits if I can crave your indulgence!!

Regards Steve.

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Hear hear Steve!!

The Home Front and the entire non-military effort is often ignored.

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Henry Blackwood (1869-1951) was a prolific short story writer particulary of children's books and and horror and fantasy stories. He was working for British Intelligence in Switzerland in 1918. He was the son of Sir Arthur Blackwood KCB, and Sydney, Duchess of Manchester. He was educated at the Moravian School, Black Forest, Wellington College and Edinburgh University. Amongst other things, he farmed in Canada, worked in the Rainy River goldfields, ran a hotel and a dried milk business. He was also journalist with the New York Sun and New York Times. He began writing in 1906. His publications numbered over two hundred.

Terry Reeves

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Dear Kate. Just a question about Lena's spiritual views. Do you have, or is there any published stuff about this, because it's a subject we're interested in. I'm sure that Lena's helping you any way she can. Nice obituary from Vi Markham. Regards Steve.

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Terry,

I wish you had not posted that. He makes me feel like an absolute slouch! Shows what you can achieve if there's no TV, Internet, Great War Forum to soak-up the waking hours.

Steve,

I don't know. I can't remember reading any particular views on matters spiritual: but there are more things in Heaven and Earth...

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  • 3 months later...

Hi, Kate,

I noticed in your signature your interest in entertainment at war. I thought you might be interested in a passage from my great uncles diary:

21 july 1918: No work all day (he was a doctor -US Army attached to BEF) so went on a jaunt to Doullens. In p.m. Elsie Janis gave a good concert. Nifty little girl with nifty songs & jokes. How it did make me long to see real wormen and to get to hold one in my arms

Unfortunately. on Oct. 15 or 16, 1918, he was fatally wounded and did not make it home. The diary was passed down to me through the family. I treasure it.

Ann Kimzey

..............

Hi Ann,

Thankyou for this. I'm answering here because this is the place for things musical, and it would be sad to lose your contribution in Utterly, which is swept-out on a regular basis to conserve space.

Elsie Janis was born in Columbus Ohio in 1889, and made her theatrical debut at the theatre there, aged eight. Success in the US, including Broadway, was followed by instant success on her London debut at the Palace Theatre in 'The Passing Show' on 20th April 1914. Throughout the war she travelled back and forth across the Atlantic, continuing to appear in NY and the West End, including 'The Passing Show of 1915', which included Basil Hallam as 'Gilbert the Filbert' Here is a photo.

When America entered the war she won fame as 'The Doughboys' Sweetheart', giving performances as near as possible to the front line. In January 1922 she starred in a version of her troop show at the Gaiety Theatre New York 'Elsie Janis and her Gang'. She wrote an autobiography 'So far So Good' in 1932. I must seek-out a copy to see if she recounts her wartime experiences. She died in Beverley Hills in 1956.

I'd like to add your great-uncle's diary extract to my research notes Ann. What was his name and unit?

Many thanks

Kate

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Dear Kate, My great uncle was Lieutenant Grover Carter, US Army, Medical Officers Reserve Core (at least I think that's what M.O.R.C. stands for). He enlisted in Memphis, Tenn., August 4, 1917. He was attached to the BEF and sent to War Hospital, Dartford, Eng. On Mar. 21, 1918 he was sent to 104th Field Ambulance and on April 19, 1918, to 121st Brigade, Royal Field Artillery. There are 2 or 3 entries mentioning concerts and sports days but this is the only one (so far) that specifically mentioned a performer.

I'd be happy for you to add the extract to your notes and appreciate all the additional information about Elsie Janis. Additional information such as this really makes the "pages come alive".

The members of this forum are so generous and have made the transcription of the dairy so meaningful.

Thanks so much,

Ann

p.s. appreciate your "redirection" of my post. glad it was of interest to you....

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I've never owned a CD but a friend recently found one of Great War songs (surely there must be many others?),called "Kersbestand" or "Christmas Truce 1914", based on a 1998 concert at the In Flanders Museum in Ypres by "Britain's foremost a cappella trio" of Barry Cooper, Jim Boyes and Lester Simpson. It features songs that "grew out of the moment of hope that was the Christmas truce in 1914".

My friend has a marvellous gift of serendipity, locating by chance items relating to my interest in "military Wiltshire". Sure enough, the CD included the "Wiltshire Carol" as a "traditional joyous and optimistic carol which fitted perfectly into the Kersbestand concert". (It's better known as the First Britford Carol, printed in "Wiltshire Folk Songs and Carols", first published in 1904.)

Which reminds me: I've just bought a car with a CD player so I can borrow the CD and hear it again.

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Hi, Kate,

another entry from Grover Carter's diary

2 Aug. 1918

Went to dentist [in Harponville], had two teeth filled. Almost killed me. Later went to divisional concert [location not mentioned]. "Welsh Wails", darn good show. Rained like fury all way home.

regards, ann

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Ann,

'The Welsh Wails' was the 38th (Welsh) Division's Concert Party. From 1917-19 it was run by Eric Blore, an English born actor who was later to find fame in Hollywood as a character actor, specialising in quintessential English roles, such as butlers.

........

Moonraker,

As good an excuse as any for buying a new car!

I think the group are called Coope, Boyes and Simpson. I'm not into folk, but they appeared at the Folk in the Park Festival here in Northampton a couple of years ago.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Kate,

I found one additional entry. At the end of Sept. 1918, Grover received leave to go to Paris. His brother Parvin Carter (also a doctor) was stationed at a hospital in (or near) Juilly so they had a visit. On 1 Oct. 1918 he writes:

"to Marying (sp?, could be Morginy) Theater, American with J.P. Sight seeing during day"

that's all he wrote...maybe he didn't enjoy it as much as he did the earlier mentioned entertainments. Anyway, just thought I'd post, also hoping you might be able to help me with the spelling and/or any specifics about the theater.

Thanks, Ann

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Ann,

I think Grover probably attended the Marigny Theatre http://www.theatremarigny.fr/

Pity he didn't mention what he saw, though you might find out in Parisian newspaper for the time (most of the major international newspaper collections should have some, such as the British Library Newspaper archives at Colindale in north London, and the American equivalent), or you could drop a line to the Theatre. If your French is as pathetique as mine you could compose a letter in English at Reverso.com and translate it at the click of a button for free. The least the Marigny could say is "Non"!

Nice to meet Grover in your avatar.

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  • 3 weeks later...

In a rash moment, I recently promised to present a talk on concert parties for our local Family History Society next year, and thus I will be directing my attentions to this particular subject over the coming months.

Two questions that have crossed my mind long before now are - which unit arranged the first active service entertainment for fellow troops; and when did the first concert party come into being?

I get the impression that many concert parties, especially in the first half of the war, were gathered together and lasted for just one or two occasions before circumstances intervened.

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  • 5 months later...
  • 2 months later...

I just wrote a (short) paper on the subject of British music-hall and the Great War myself. There are many many sources out there. (I am sure you are already familiar with Watkin's book _Proof Through the Night_.) Kathleen R. Smith, who wrote _God bless America: Tin Pan Alley Goes to War_ has a book forthcoming on WWI and American music. I heard a chapter of it at a convention. The LOC has a great collection of sheet music from WWI. There are also about nine CDS of recordings out there, many original (and many which can be found at firstworldwar.com). You might also look at periodicals of the era (_The Era_, the _Stage_). I also know there is a dissertation on French music hall from several years ago and a dissertation in German coming out later about music-halls/night life in Vienna/Prague/Lisbon/Paris/London during the war.

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  • 2 months later...

Hi Kate,

Regarding your interest in concert parties - I was looking through a new purchase of mine recently (the "I Was There" collected magazines) and there is a fair bit on concert parties, including photographs. I realise that it is a fairly common resource but thought that I would ask you if you had seen it. If you haven't, I can trawl through and let you have an idea of exactly what it contains.

Cheers,

Ian

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Hi Ian,

This is a really kind offer. I have some copies of this but not the whole run, so if you could let me have some idea of what it contains, I'd be very grateful. I have a copy of the article by Leslie Henson on The Gaieties, but two am looking out for are:

Part 24, pub. March 14th 1939

Double page photo of the 8th Royal Scots Fusiliers at a concert party in Salonika

Part 50 pub Sept 12th 1939

4 page article about concert parties with photos

I would also be intersted to know about I Was There's first mention of concert parties

Thanks

Kate

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