Monthly Archives: May 2015

Sacrifice – Latest Post – Leading Seaman Joseph Thompson Clark

The latest addition to the Sacrifice project is the story of Leading Seaman Joseph Thompson Clark, a gunner on the defensively armed merchant ship SS Courtown. Clark was nearby when HMS Natal  blew up in Cromarty Firth in 1915, was present at the Battle of Jutland, and survived being torpedoed in the Mediterranean only to drown in a swimming accident in Baltimore harbour in 1917.

Read about Leading Seaman Joseph Thompson Clark.

Port Covington, Western Maryland Railroad Yards

Port Covington, Western Maryland Railroad Yards

The Loss of a Ship

On the 99th anniversary of the Battle of Jutland, the largest naval battle of the First World War, it is appropriate that my first guest post is by David Gregory, the author of the maritime trilogy ‘The Lion and The Eagle’. He has written a thought-provoking and heartfelt piece about the devastation wrought by the total destruction of a capital ship. This essay gives meaning to that simple and inadequate phrase ‘lost with all hands’.

The battlecruiser HMS Queen Mary

The battlecruiser HMS Queen Mary

The bald accounts of battles cover events and statistics. Personal memoirs describe individual experiences. The death of a ship, involving, as it does, an entire community, is difficult to chronicle when there are often few, or even no, witnesses to its demise. Continue reading

Photo Gallery: Iraq – Historical & Religious Sites

This is part of the the Antoni Paszkiewicz project.

The Lion of Babylon in the ancient city of Babylon, November 1942

The Lion of Babylon in the ancient city of Babylon, November 1942

Notwithstanding the looting that took place following the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the recent destruction of ancient artifacts and religious sites by the grotesque extremists of the so-called Islamic State, Iraq has always been rich in historical antiquities.

Toni collected postcards and took photographs of a number of sites that he visited in November and December 1942. This gallery shows his photographs and more modern images, which show the sites as they are today and provide a short description of them. Continue reading

Photo Gallery: Iraq – Date Palms

This is part of the the Antoni Paszkiewicz project.

'Irak, daktyle, 1942r' - Iraq, dates, 1942

‘Irak, daktyle, 1942r’ – Iraq, dates, 1942

The date palm has always been an important part of the agricultural bedrock of Iraq and the precursor nations and empires in this region. Cultivated for over 5,000 years, the date palm has been used for food, medicine and building materials from the time of the Sumerians. The trees were grown in huge numbers along the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates and in the south around Basra. Iraq became the largest producer of dates in the world and had the largest date forest in the world. Sadly, this important staple crop was largely destroyed in the south of the country during the Iraq-Iran war and subsequent conflicts have prevented its resurgence.

Toni grew up in eastern Poland, was imprisoned in Soviet Russia and was now in the ‘Garden of Eden’. Travelling in Iraq must have been an extraordinary experience. Not surprisingly, he took a number of photos of date palms, which characterise this exotic land. Continue reading

Photo Gallery: Iraq – Baghdad

This is part of the the Antoni Paszkiewicz project.

'Bagdad, XI 1942r' - Baghdad, November 1942

‘Bagdad, XI 1942r’ – Baghdad, November 1942. The Zawraa cinema; the film being shown is ‘Rendezvous’, a 1935 film starring William Powell and Rosalind Russell.

The majority of Polish forces were concentrated at Khanaqin, a little over 250 miles north-east of Baghdad. From the captions on the back of his photographs, it appears that Toni visited Baghdad in November 1942 and February 1943. Continue reading

Photo Gallery: Iraq – The Land of the Two Rivers

This is part of the the Antoni Paszkiewicz project.

Iraq, December 1942

Iraq, December 1942

Through Iraq flow the two great rivers, the Euphrates and the Tigris. They rise in the mountains of eastern Anatolia and course south-east through the gorges of modern Syria and northern Iraq, across the alluvial plain of central Iraq to Al-Qurnah in the south, where they join to form the Shatt al-Arab, the ‘Stream of the Arabs’ (in Persian, the Arvand Rud, the ‘Swift River’). The Shatt al-Arab then flows past Basra and into the Persian Gulf at Al Faw.

Many of Toni’s photographs are of the rivers or the people that worked on them. The Polish captions are Toni’s, written on the back of the photographs; English translations and English captions are mine. Continue reading

Sacrifice – Latest Post – the SS Kerry Range

The latest addition to the Sacrifice project is the story of the SS Kerry Range, which was wrecked in a fire that destroyed Pier 9 at Locust Point, Baltimore on 30 October 1917. A Royal Navy sailor, Leading Seaman Eustace Alfred Bromley, two Mercantile Marine sailors, and a local civilian clerk were killed. Only Leading Seaman Bromley is commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Read about the fire that wrecked the SS Kerry Range.

SS Kerry Range scuttled in shallow water in Baltimore harbour

SS Kerry Range scuttled in shallow water in Baltimore harbour