On this day: British troops in France

British air mechanics work on wrecked fuselages on the 12th of July, 1918, as the First World War neared its end. The image was taken at the aircraft repair depot near Rang-du-Fliers in the north of France.

From the collection of the Imperial War Museums.

The_Royal_Flying_Corps_on_the_Western_Front,_1914-1918_Q12073 British air mechanics working on wrecked fuselages at the aircraft repair depot near Rang du Fliers, 12th July 1918.

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On this day: an anniversary of women at war

7th July 1918: British members of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps work on a car in Étaples, France.

Exactly one year earlier the WAAC was formed as the women’s unit of the British Army. In the final sixteen months of the First World War some 57 000 women served.

THE WOMEN'S ARMY AUXILIARY CORPS ON THE WESTERN FRONT, 1917-1918. Fitters of the WAAC at work on a car at Etaples, 7 July 1918.

Women’s London: A Tour Guide to Great Lives by Rachel Kolsky

Women's London A Tour Guide to Great Lives by Rachel Kolsky

Women’s London is the only guidebook that focuses on the women who have shaped London through the centuries and the legacy they have left behind. This new book provides the perfect opportunity to explore sights, statues, plaques and buildings associated with famous and some not so famous women who have left their mark on London’s heritage, culture and society. Their stories include scientists and suffragettes, reformers and royals, military and medical pioneers, authors and artists, fashion and female firsts … and more. The author, a popular London tour guide and lecturer, specialises in women’s history and has provided a series of original self-guided walking tours taking you to historic areas where important women lived, worked and are commemorated. Illustrated with new full-colour photography and specially commissioned maps, Women’s London will inspire visitors and Londoners alike to discover how much London owes to women.

Women’s London: A Tour Guide to Great Lives by Rachel Kolsky

It’s always nice to have historical nonfiction that tells the stories of women. For centuries the world in general has perpetuated the myth that men were the only people who ever achieved anything, which of course is incorrect.

Women’s London gives you information about some of history’s most famous women, but it also tells you some stories about the lesser-known women in the history of the city. For example, we learn of London’s first female cab driver (women were barred from the profession until 1977!).

While interesting, the copy of the book I read had some very problematic formatting. Even big-name guidebook companies like Lonely Planet struggle to make their ebooks accessible, so that’s no surprise.

An interesting book, with some layout issues that will confuse you.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

Cartier: The Exhibition

Cartier The Exhibition National Gallery of Australia Canberra

Just a little bit too much?!

Australia’s National Gallery, which is here in Canberra, has had some pretty amazing “blockbusters” recently (however I’m worried about the new director coming in soon).

The last big one I went to see was the Versailles exhibition, where So Much stuff from the Palace of Versailles, and so many historically significant pieces, were brought out from France for a few months.

Now, we have the Cartier exhibition – which is ending in a few days. We went to see it on Saturday.

And – wow. For starters I can’t believe that there was no security of any sort when there were billions of dollars of diamonds and other precious jewels on display.

They weren’t just any diamonds either; these were pieces from Britain’s royal collection, things the Queen wears, tiaras from royal weddings (e.g. the one Kate Middleton wore for hers), and crowns worn by Queen Victoria’s daughters. And these were pieces from Hollywood: jewels that belonged to Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly etc. There was even a clock belonging to a US President.

These heiresses were seriously rich!

It was also fascinating to see how much money was coming from Gilded Age New York. So many obscenely enormous sets of jewels belonged to the American heiresses who married into the British aristocracy – just like in shows like Downton Abbey, and in all those books I read.

There were also other things, like costumes from the Ballet Russes (the NGA bought most of the world-famous company’s costumes many years ago, before anybody else thought to), and pieces belonging to Victorian/Edwardian opera star Dame Nellie Melba.

I was told that two hours wasn’t long enough to see everything, and I thought that was ridiculous: after all how many diamonds could there possibly be?

It turns out two hours was nowhere near long enough.

DIamond Tiara Cartier The Exhibition National Gallery of Australia Canberra

I’ve seen crown jewel collections in a number of countries in Europe. I’ve been whisked past a handful of crowns at the Tower of London on a travellator a few times. Nothing I’ve seen anywhere else is close to what is on display in Canberra at the moment.

This is how close we got to things – even with a weekend crowd. This is Kate Middleton’s wedding tiara:

I’m really hoping the new director realises what an amazing gallery we have here. His “vision” for the gallery’s future sounds, frankly, like garbage. I want more Versailles and Cartier and Impressionists exhibitions, please. Not “homegrown modern art”!

Belarus after Liberation

194407_abandoned_german_vehicles_belarus_(revised) Nazi tanks stand abandoned near the city of Babruysk, Belarus in July of 1944. The Soviet Red Army defeated the Germans in the region o

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Nazi tanks stand abandoned near the city of Babruysk, Belarus in July of 1944. The Soviet Red Army defeated the Germans in the region on the 29th of June.

Belarus remained under Soviet control until the collapse of the USSR.

On this day: a new Prince of Wales

Prince Charles investiture with his mother, Queen Elizabeth ll. 3rd July 1969

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The investiture of Prince Charles – first in line to the British throne – as Prince of Wales took place at Caernarfon Castle on the 3rd of July, 1969.

Prince Charles being invested by his mother, Queen Elizabeth ll. 3rd July 1969

The ceremony.

Cofia_1282,_a_protest_against_the_investiture_(1537984)1 Prince Charles Prince of Wales Geoff Charles 6th March 1969

Despite the general popularity of the event, some Welsh people felt the investiture was a sign of the subjugation of Wales. A large protest was held several weeks before, on the 6th of March.

Prince_Charles'_Investiture_1_(1559160)Photographs by Welsh photo journalist Geoff Charles Prince Charles' Investiture at Caernarfon Castle 3rd July 1969

Photograph of the procession by Welsh photojournalist Geoff Charles.

The entire event can be seen in footage from the BBC.