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 Following the Drum

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Caro
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PostSubject: Following the Drum   Sat 05 Apr 2014, 06:16

My husband is listening to a talking book about women following the military, Following the Drum by Annabel Venning.  Yesterday on a long drive we listened to some of it, and he told me some other parts.  I wasn't aware that there was some sort of ballot for wives to accompany their husbands when they would then get housing and rations, but women who came along anyway were not entitled to this.  And there was little in the way of support if men or women died leaving a family.  The most remarkable thing he mentioned was a soldier who took his 2-month old baby into battle with him when his wife died! 

This type of book tends to have so many fascinating stories that it is hard to remember them all even when reading it, and it is arranged thematically.  There was one Irish woman who was so keen to help her husband and ensure his well-being that she rode on a donkey ahead of the army to get there first and have things ready for him.  It wasn't appreciated by the commanders, but she seemed to take little notice of them.   

I remember reading Georgette Heyer's The Spanish Bride about Harry Smith's 14-year-old (when he married her, naturally she got older) wife who went with him and was very popular with the other soldiers.  Annabel Venning's book also mentioned women being very much liked by the soldiers (not just for their sexual favours), for their personalities, their perseverence and their help with practical matters like sewing and cooking.  I see she wrote for the Daily Mail, and not all reviews have been favourable, but it was a very entertaining, if rather dense, listen.

At the moment I am rather up to my ears in war accounts - as well as listening to this I am reading Life After Life by Kate Atkinson which has been mostly about WWII, either as a warden in London, or an Englishwomen with German citizenship close to starvation at the end of the war.  I like it a lot, but I always like Kate Atkinson. Also started a little book called Stretcher Bearer written by Charles H Horton in 1970 about his experiences at the Somme, and edited by Dale le Vack with some background information.  I started one of those My Story children's books about Crimea but have had to put it to one side, after a few pages, with too many others to get on with. 

Might be a relief when I get to our bookclub book, Portrait of a Marriage by Nigel Nicolson.
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Gilgamesh of Uruk
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PostSubject: Re: Following the Drum   Sat 05 Apr 2014, 11:21

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=544FrLYvPZo

Did you get "The other side of the hill", Peter Luke's linked plays about Juanita Smith (think that was her given name) in NZ? Thoroughly enjoyed them.

IIRC His Enormousness isn't fond of Pratchett, but you could try "Monstrous Regiment" for a little light relief.
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Caro
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PostSubject: Re: Following the Drum   Sat 05 Apr 2014, 22:48

I daresay we are allowed to like books Nordmann doesn't. Hope so anyway - control can be taken too far!  I have read Monstrous Regiment.  One of my sons reads all of Terry Pratchett's works and my husband likes them a lot too.  I have only read a few; I love the way he takes some aspect of modern life and threads it through his story but I am not great at following action, and have never read enough Discworld books to quite have all the characters firmly in my head.  Apart from Good Omens, The Truth is my favourite, being about journalism.
 
I haven't watched The Other Side of the Hill, and it probably hasn't been here, but I don't check out television much, so might have missed it.  Would I have realised who Juanita Smith was if there was nothing else about it?  Not necessarily.  But I think if they were very good there would have been previews of them in the Listener and I didn't see that. (I am assuming this was a television series and not a radio one.)  
 
And I've never read or seen any of Bernard Cornwell's works.
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PostSubject: Re: Following the Drum   Sun 06 Apr 2014, 09:54

@Caro wrote:
I daresay we are allowed to like books Nordmann doesn't. Hope so anyway - control can be taken too far!

I am sure you are too, Caro, and feel a bit slighted by the implication in your remark. For the record, Gilgamesh has not IIRC'ed correctly anyway. Pratchett contains some absolute gems of invention, observation and wisdom in his writing in my view and I am sure I have stated as much previously.
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PostSubject: Re: Following the Drum   Sun 06 Apr 2014, 12:45

I can't remember who wrote them but I quite liked the "Polly and Oliver" books when I was about 10/11 [don't jump on me please and say I should be on the "Children's Literature" thread).  Another lady in an office where I worked in the early 1990s had a husband who re-enacted British Civil War battles, though I can't recall if he dressed up as a Roundhead or a Cavalier.  Apparently they called the wives and girlfriends "Camp Followers".  I love reading but seem to do less of it these days but the titles Caro has mentioned will certainly give me some ideas to look out for next time I go to the library.
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PostSubject: Re: Following the Drum   Sun 06 Apr 2014, 15:01

@Caro wrote:
My husband is listening to a talking book about women following the military, Following the Drum by Annabel Venning.  Yesterday on a long drive we listened to some of it, and he told me some other parts.  I wasn't aware that there was some sort of ballot for wives to accompany their husbands when they would then get housing and rations, but women who came along anyway were not entitled to this.  And there was little in the way of support if men or women died leaving a family.  The most remarkable thing he mentioned was a soldier who took his 2-month old baby into battle with him when his wife died! 


That rang a bell with a link that Temp put in the Historical Legal Cases thread ... the case of Charles Thomas Wooldridge, whose execution was the subject of Oscar Wilde's 'Ballad of Reading Gaol'.

Wooldridge had joined the Royal Horse Guards in 1886 and married Laura Ellen "Nell" Glendell in 1894 when his regiment was posted to Windsor. However, as his commanding officer had not given permission for the wedding to take place she was "off the strength"' and so was unable to join her husband when his regiment moved from Windsor to Regent's Park barracks in London. The couple were thus forced to live apart, she in Windsor and he in central London, and this put much strain on their marriage.
 
At first the couple remained devoted to each other, but gradually they started to argue and fight every time they met. Wooldridge became increasingly jealous and suspicious of his wife especially when by March 1896 she had started using her maiden name again and avoiding contact with him. Having heard rumours that she was having an affair with either another soldier or an official at the General Post Office where she worked, and having received a document from her to sign stating that he would stay away from her, he arranged to meet Laura Ellen outside Regent's Park barracks on 29 March 1896; but when she failed to turn up he travelled to her lodgings near Windsor. A violent argument ensued, which spilled out on to the street outside, where he used a cut-throat razor he had taken with him to cut her throat, before giving himself up to a Police Constable, who arrested him and took him to Windsor Police Station.

At his subsequent trial he was defended by H.S. Wood, but the jury took just two minutes to find him guilty, despite Wood's attempts to get the charge reduced to manslaughter because of Nell's unfaithfulness. Wood set up a petition for a reprieve and succeeded in gaining a great number of signatures. However, the trial judge, Judge Hawkins, stated that Wooldridge's taking the cut-throat razor with him to Windsor was evidence of premeditation and so refused to consider a reprieve.

In Reading Gaol Wooldridge told the prison chaplain that he was filled with grief and remorse at having killed his beloved wife, and resisted attempts at a reprieve (including a recommendation for clemency from the jury that convicted him) by petitioning the Home Secretary Sir Matthew White Ridley for the sentence to be allowed to be carried out.

He was duly hanged on 7 July 1896.

"Yet each man kills the thing he loves".  ..... One wonders if things might not have turned out differently if Wooldridge's crusty commanding officer had relented and given permission for her to reside "on the strength" and so live in the regiment's barracks with her legally married husband.


Last edited by Meles meles on Tue 08 Apr 2014, 07:20; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Following the Drum   Sun 06 Apr 2014, 16:25

This may be of some interest, a link about women on board HM warships in Nelson's time. Especially good is the mention of Daniel Tremendous McKenzie, born aboard HMS Tremendous during The Glorious First of June, and later found entitled to a medal for the battle with the description "Baby";

http://www.navyandmarine.org/ondeck/1800seawomen.htm
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Gilgamesh of Uruk
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PostSubject: Re: Following the Drum   Sun 06 Apr 2014, 19:45

Jiohn Winton had a character named (may have been nicknamed, the RN are like that) "Tremendous McKenzie" in one or more of his comic novels about the Artful Bodger.

BTW - The other side of the hill was radio, Caro. Finish of "A long way to Waterloo" had a passage about Juanita giving her name to Ladysmith.
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PostSubject: Re: Following the Drum   Mon 07 Apr 2014, 14:25

Anyone who has seen Tony Richardson's film The Charge of the Light Brigade, will know that Fanny Duberly accompanied her husband, Henry, of the 8th Hussars to the Crimean War (though she did not jump into bed with Lord Cardigan). Fanny wrote a book about her time in the Crimea which became a best seller. As luck would have it, she was in India at the time of the Mutiny as well.



http://www.classictravelbooks.com/authors/duberly.htm
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PostSubject: Re: Following the Drum   Mon 07 Apr 2014, 16:11

Jane Austen had two brothers who served in the Royal Navy (both rose to the rank of Admiral). In Chapter VIII of Persuasion, there is the following conversation about wives on board ship:


The Admiral, after taking two or three refreshing turns about the room with his hands behind him, being called to order by his wife, now came up to Captain Wentworth, and without any observation of what he might be interrupting, thinking only of his own thoughts, began with--

"If you had been a week later at Lisbon, last spring, Frederick, you would have been asked to give a passage to Lady Mary Grierson and her daughters."

"Should I? I am glad I was not a week later then."

The Admiral abused him for his want of gallantry. He defended himself; though professing that he would never willingly admit any ladies on board a ship of his, excepting for a ball, or a visit, which a few hours might comprehend.

"But, if I know myself," said he, "this is from no want of gallantry towards them. It is rather from feeling how impossible it is, with all one's efforts, and all one's sacrifices, to make the accommodations on board such as women ought to have. There can be no want of gallantry, Admiral, in rating the claims of women to every personal comfort high, and this is what I do. I hate to hear of women on board, or to see them on board; and no ship under my command shall ever convey a family of ladies anywhere, if I can help it."

This brought his sister upon him.

"Oh! Frederick! But I cannot believe it of you. --All idle refinement! --Women may be as comfortable on board, as in the best house in England. I believe I have lived as much on board as most women, and I know nothing superior to the accommodations of a man-of-war. I declare I have not a comfort or an indulgence about me, even at Kellynch Hall," (with a kind bow to Anne), "beyond what I always had in most of the ships I have lived in; and they have been five altogether."

"Nothing to the purpose," replied her brother. "You were living with your husband, and were the only woman on board.""But you, yourself, brought Mrs Harville, her sister, her cousin, and three children, round from Portsmouth to Plymouth. Where was this superfine, extraordinary sort of gallantry of yours then?"

"All merged in my friendship, Sophia. I would assist any brother officer's wife that I could, and I would bring anything of Harville's from the world's end, if he wanted it. But do not imagine that I did not feel it an evil in itself."

"Depend upon it, they were all perfectly comfortable."

"I might not like them the better for that perhaps. Such a number of women and children have no right to be comfortable on board."

"My dear Frederick, you are talking quite idly. Pray, what would become of us poor sailors' wives, who often want to be conveyed to one port or another, after our husbands, if everybody had your feelings?"

"My feelings, you see, did not prevent my taking Mrs Harville and all her family to Plymouth."

"But I hate to hear you talking so like a fine gentleman, and as if women were all fine ladies, instead of rational creatures. We none of us expect to be in smooth water all our days."

"Ah! my dear," said the Admiral, "when he had got a wife, he will sing a different tune. When he is married, if we have the good luck to live to another war, we shall see him do as you and I, and a great many others, have done. We shall have him very thankful to anybody that will bring him his wife."

"Ay, that we shall."

"Now I have done," cried Captain Wentworth. "When once married people begin to attack me with,--`Oh! you will think very differently, when you are married.' I can only say, `No, I shall not;' and then they say again, `Yes, you will,' and there is an end of it."

He got up and moved away.


PS When he marries Anne, Captain Wentworth is of course happy to have her on board his ship and she - "gloried in being a sailor's wife."
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PostSubject: Re: Following the Drum   Mon 07 Apr 2014, 23:12

Pleased to see the PS, Temperance.  I read Persuasion a number of years ago, but only once, and it doesn't seem to be one of the Austens interminably on television, so I don't recall it all that well.  My son liked it a lot - it suited his little moral soul.

"On the strength" - that was the phrase I forgot in my first post, and that my husband had mentioned.  Neither of knew what the history/etymology of it would be.  Why 'on the strength'? the start of the phrase 'on the strength of..." perhaps? But then what - not marriage, since some married women got on the strength and some didn't.  Or is 'the strength' an army word I don't know?

Speaking of words and meaning my book, Stretcher Bearer, also begins by explaining "one aspect of RAMC [Royal Army Medical Corps] terminology.  Horton served in an RAMC field ambulance, and this is perhaps a lightly misleading term for us today. A field ambulance was not a vehicle but rather a large and diverse unit that operated a number of medical facilities just behind the front line.  During the First World War, vehicles for transporting the wounded were usually referred to as motor ambulances."
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PostSubject: Re: Following the Drum   Tue 08 Apr 2014, 07:42

Caro, this BBC adaptation of Persuasion is excellent. It stars Amanda Root as Anne Elliot, Ciaran Hinds as Captain Wentworth and Sam West as Mr Elliot. Superb acting from all and faithful screenplay.

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PostSubject: Re: Following the Drum   Tue 08 Apr 2014, 08:47

In common with most European countries women had always accompanied French armies in the field, mostly just accompanying their men-folk but also providing food and drink, doing sewing and mending, nursing the sick and wounded, and generally stiffening moral. Following the Napoleonic wars however the role of these so-called cantinières, or vivandières, gradually became much more formalised in the French army than in most other European forces. Perhaps most importantly they started to get a regular wage from the regimental pay chest just like any other soldier.

By the 1830s the cantinières routinely wore a female version of the uniform of the regiment to which they were attached. It generally consisted of a tight-fitting uniform jacket, a knee-length skirt over wide-cut trousers, and was topped off by a brimmed hat. A tonnelet, or brandy barrel carried on a strap over the shoulder, was also typically part of the uniform. During the Second Empire, 1852-1870, the cantinière achieved a popular, if rather romanticised, image as a virtual icon of the French military, such as in Donizetti's opera, La Fille du Régiment. Napoleon III doubled their numbers in 1854, and they served alongside their units in every campaign, notably in the Crimean War, the Second Italian War of Independence, the French Intervention in Mexico, the Colonization of Cochinchina, and the Franco-Prussian War.

This is a cantinière uniform of 1853 depicted on a cigarette card:



And a cantinière wearing her version of the uniform of a Zouave regiment photographed in 1855 during the Crimean War:



With the adoption of a short-term conscript army under the Third Republic, the cantinières were phased out and replaced by civilian workers who were employed at the regimental depot only and did not wear uniforms. This process began in 1875 with a reduction in the permitted numbers of cantinières, and culminated in 1890 when the War Ministry forbade cantinières to wear uniforms, requiring them instead to wear a simple grey civilian dress and an identifying arm badge. The new law also forbade cantinières from going on campaign or on maneouvres with their regiments. This effectively ended the role of cantinières as it had been known.

In 1905, the War Ministry finally got rid of cantinières altogether, replacing them with male cantiniers who had to be retired veterans. Women who were still serving were allowed to continue, so that some served up to and even into the World War 1, but they were not allowed to go into combat. The male cantiniers were highly unpopular and the army eliminated them in 1940. The popular perception among soldiers was that the cantiniers were greedy, unhelpful, and unpleasant, in stark contrast to the female cantinières, whom the soldiers largely perceived as generous, selfless, and friendly mother and sister figures. Inevitably many of them indeed were the mothers, sisters and wives of soldiers in their regiment.
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PostSubject: Re: Following the Drum   Tue 08 Apr 2014, 14:52

"On the strength" - on the ration strength of a unit, ie to be fed etc by the army.

RAMC pre-WWI was held to mean "Rob All My Comrades" indicating that if wounded you could kiss goodbye to any article of value.
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PostSubject: Re: Following the Drum   Mon 05 May 2014, 20:18

@Triceratops wrote:
Anyone who has seen Tony Richardson's film The Charge of the Light Brigade, will know that Fanny Duberly accompanied her husband, Henry, of the 8th Hussars to the Crimean War (though she did not jump into bed with Lord Cardigan). Fanny wrote a book about her time in the Crimea which became a best seller. As luck would have it, she was in India at the time of the Mutiny as well.



http://www.classictravelbooks.com/authors/duberly.htm

It was while she was in India during the Mutiny that Fanny actually took part in a cavalry charge, and most likely the last British woman to do so. During the action at Gwalior, towards the end of the Mutiny, Fanny and her husband, Captain Henry Duberly, were sat on their horses watching some squadrons of the 8th Hussars begin a cavalry charge. Her own horse moved forward in imitation of the cavalry horses, and Fanny turned to her husband and said "I must go". "Go along then!", Henry shouted, and so she did. She later described the charge as the most exciting time of her life.
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PostSubject: Re: Following the Drum   Tue 27 May 2014, 09:00

I was looking through some of my books last night to see if there were any illustrations of pike armies on the march for the "Battles and Kit" thread when I came across this by Albrecht Altdorfer, "Baggage train and camp followers" a woodcut circa 1517;

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PostSubject: Re: Following the Drum   Tue 27 May 2014, 09:12

"Sudler and Sudlerin" by Daniel Hopfer, late 15th early 16th century;

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