Don't forget that we are hosting an evening with author and Canadian Historian, Norm Christie, tomorrow at the Legion in West Lorne. Friday, March 24, 2017 Doors open at 6:30pm with program start at 7pm. You can still get tickets in advance by calling the office 519-762-3072 (leave a voice mail if necessary and we'll return your call), email email@example.com or purchase online http://backuspagehouse.ca/event/norm-christie-canadians-in-the-great-war/
Tickets will be available at the door for $15.00.
Thursday, March 23, 2017
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
|An American family listening to the radio in 1942|
It's important to begin by considering just how important radio was to everyday life at the start of the Second World War. In America, eighty percent of households owned a radio by 1940, and in 1939 a survey of housewives revealed that the radio was a more indispensable household appliance than the refrigerator. Throughout the 1930s, stations had been getting involved in news broadcasts and were providing live coverage of key events, and the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany was covered by the American Press. CBS sent Edward R. Murrow to London to head their European Operations, and he became an important voice in relaying details of major events to Americans back home. In the interest of keeping things brief for you all, I will limit the general overview section but provide you with a great link for further reading if you're interested: https://www.otrcat.com/world-war-ii-on-the-radio There, you can find details on radio's role in the war effort plus listen to original recordings from major moments throughout the war.
|Princesses Margaret (L) and Elizabeth in front of the radio microphones on Oct. 10, 1940|
I would be remiss not to mention the legendary speeches delivered by Winston Churchill over the radio, which also captivated audiences and did wonders for their spirits during the war's darkest days from the very beginning of his time as Prime Minister. It turns out that he actually did not enjoy broadcasting, and struggled to speak in front of a microphone rather than an adoring crowd. If you're interested in a great essay about the conspiracy that Churchill used a radio stand-in, here's a link: http://www.winstonchurchill.org/resources/myths/130-an-actor-read-churchills-wartime-speeches-over-the-wireless
Overall, one of the most important aspects of Second World War radio was its impact on the home front. Having the ability to stay updated on events around the world and to receive regular morale boosts over the airwaves was a great comfort to a great many people during that time, and allowed for audiences to connect with the voices delivering them in new and unique ways. Information courtesy of Dr. Shawn Graham, Imperial War Museums, and The Telegraph.
Thanks for reading,
Delany (@DLeitchHistory on Twitter)
Monday, March 20, 2017
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
|Clare Boothe Luce speaking at a Republican Convention in 1944|
To start with some background, she was born on 10 March, 1903 in New York and spent her life as an author, politician, socialite, and public conservative figure. Her writings cover wide range of genres including fiction, journalism, war reportage, and drama, and her 1936 hit play The Women, which had an all-female cast, was adapted into a 1939 film.
While her entire biography is fascinating and worth reading more about, I will be focusing specifically on her life during the Second World War period. Her time as a war reporter is actually much less well-known than her other roles, but it is one of the most significant elements of her wartime experience. She covered a wide range of battlefronts, enduring all the discomfort, danger, and frustration encountered by even the most seasoned war correspondents. Her first experience with the war was in 1940, which prompted her to write her first non-fiction book called Europe in the Spring. A product of her motivation to convince fellow Americans of the dangers of isolationism, it was a vivid and anecdotal account of her four-month visit to "a world where men have decided to die together because they are unable to find a way to live together." She was also a corresponded for Life magazine, and her profile of General Douglas MacArthur made the cover the day after Pearl Harbor on December 8, 1941. Besides withstanding bombing raids in Europe and the Far East, she also faced house arrest in Trinidad by British Customs when a draft Life article about poor military preparedness in Libya proved too accurate for Allied comfort. Her unsettling observations there ultimately led longtime friend Winston Churchill to revamp Middle Eastern military policy.
Women delegates gasped at her strongest statements, reported the Herald Tribune the next day, while Republican men displayed "an expression of admiration grudgingly bestowed and a small, masculine flicker of fear."Watching her on TV, a New York Times reporter noted that "the addition of sight had multiplied the dramatic value. ..at least tenfold."
The considerable backlash and criticism resulting from one of the biggest TV moments of the summer did not stop Luce from being re-elected to Congress. During her second term, she was instrumental in the creation of the Atomic Energy Commission, and over the course of two tours to Allied battlefronts in Europe, she advocated for more support for what she considered to be America's forgotten army in Italy. She was also present at the liberation of several concentration camps in April 1945. After V-E Day, she began warning against the rise of international communism as another form of totalitarianism which could potentially lead to a third World War.
Every once in a while as a historian, we come across a person who seemed to have been involved in an astounding range of historical events and whose biography reads like a history textbook. Luce's entire story is fascinating given the period in which she lived and worked, and I highly recommend looking into the parts of her life I wasn't able to cover. Research is credited to the Library of Congress "Women Come to the Front" exhibition as well as the article "Television During World War II" by James A. Von Schilling.
Thanks for reading,
Delany (@DLeitchHistory on Twitter)
Monday, March 13, 2017
Thursday, March 9, 2017
Tickets are going fast for our Evening with Norm Christie on March 24, 2017. Click here to purchase your ticket online or call Backus-Page House Museum 519-762-3072. Event takes place at the Royal Canadian Legion in West Lorne at 7pm, doors open at 6:30pm.
Wednesday, March 8, 2017
|Damage after a bombing raid in Dublin which killed between thirty and forty people, May 30, 1941|
To begin, it is important to point out that Ireland was a divided country during the war, and both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland remained officially neutral. But, Ireland presents a curious case as a neutral country because it did make some contraventions in favour of the Allied cause, such as allowing the use of the Donegal Corridor for Allied military aircraft and extensive co-operation with Allied intelligence including exchanges of information and detailed weather reports of the Atlantic Ocean. Geographically, Ireland's position benefited the Allies more than the Axis, since, for example, British airmen who crash-landed there could go free if they could claim not to have been on a combat mission. However, it also refused to close its German and Japanese Legations, and leader Eamon de Valera signed the book of condolence following Adolf Hitler's death in May 1945 before personally visiting the German ambassador. As a result, then, Ireland is a fascinating study of the complexities of wartime neutrality and international diplomacy in general.
In the Republic of Ireland, the Second World War was known as the Emergency, which was declared on September 2, 1939 and gave the government sweeping powers until its lapse on the same date in 1946. In the Republic's case, the greatest wartime threat came from inside Ireland in the form of the rebel group IRA, which sabotaged the Irish Army and killed policemen while forging links with German intelligence to plan a German-supported invasion of Northern Ireland.
|Some of the devastation caused by the bombing of Belfast, April 1940|
Between 1938 and 1939, when the war was just on the horizon, the iconic Irish brewery Guinness was exporting around 800,000 barrels of beer annually. By 1940 and 1941, the figure was closer to the one million mark. This was thanks to the rapidly-growing number of men enlisted in the British military and wartime industries, who had a thirst for the classic drink from the isle. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill recognized Guinness's importance for the preservation of morale, but by the end of 1941 wheat was becoming increasingly scarce. On all fronts, it looked like Ireland's neutrality would be unable to survive the war, and because of the vulnerability of the Irish ports and the British need to supply the neutral country with important goods for the war effort, Churchill decided to further Ireland's economic weakness in the hopes of forcing them onto the Allied side. Throughout 1941, the full onslaught of British economic warfare was thrust upon Ireland, making famine once again a realistic fear. In March 1942, in an effort to preserve the wheat supply for bread for the poor, the Irish government imposed restrictions on the malting of barley and banned the export of beer altogether. This dramatically changed the British attitude and promptly snapped them into drafting an agreement to trade badly needed stocks in exchange for Guinness. When, a short time later, Guinness complained of a lack of coal supply to produce beer for both home and export markets, the Irish government reinstated the ban and British officials once again responded with more aid. The pattern of barter continued repeating itself, resulting in enough supplies to keep Ireland afloat for the rest of the war and the thirst American and British troops in North Ireland well quenched during the lead-up to DDay. The overall result, as author Bryce Evans comments, was that Guinness effectively saved Ireland during the war.
I hope you enjoyed this little spotlight on the Emerald Isle, and that you'll keep it in mind as St. Patrick's Day approaches. If you're interested in some further reading, here are some interesting links:
On Guinness during the war: http://www.irishcentral.com/roots/history/how-guinness-saved-ireland-in-world-war-ii
On Northern Ireland during the war:
Research credits to Bryce Evans, "How Guinness Saved Ireland in World War II;" Alphahistory.com, and Irish History Live at Queen's University Belfast,
Thanks for reading,