Sunday, 28 July 2013

Puff and Draw - The Cigarette War

My intention in this post is not to glorify nor promote cigarette smoking. Instead, I've chosen this subject matter in the realisation that cigarette smoking during the Great War was a reallly big deal for many who sought simple pleasures during hard and traumatic times despite the health risks. Simply put, tobacco was very popular and an accepted part of culture in the war years.
Tobacco was widely available, affordable and easily transportable to troops at the front lines. Along with letters and food parcels from loved ones were packets of cigarettes sent to soldiers in battle. Woodbines, Three Castles, Duke's Cameo, Player's Navy Cut and Kenilworth are just a small example of the many branded cigarettes in circulation, and what follows, are examples from newspapers and postcards that illustrate the soldiers' desire for a fag;

Postcard by B.B. (Birn Brothers) Ltd, Series No. "SB.1."
Handwritten message on reverse dates this postcard to 20 October 1917.

"Cigarettes or Chocolates?
Which does the soldier prefer?
An interesting discussion has recently been proceeding in the columns of a London paper, "The New Statesman," on the relative merits of cigarettes or chocolate as suitable gifts for our gallant soldiers at the front. Some one has called the present war "a cigarette war," and there is abundant testimony to the popularity of the cigarette with our soldiers, not only in the trenches, but when the men are undergoing the preliminaries to an operation. The soldier of our youth dearly loved his short and well-seasoned clay. To day, the British soldier takes most kindly to a cigarette. An enormous increase in the sale of tobacco has been chronicled in England as one result, at least, of the war. When announcing a jump of seven millions in the revenue, Mr Lloyd George attributed the increase to the "smoking in camps, and the great gifts of tobacco which have been distributed among the troops."
Taking this as a text, it is contended by some good people that it is better that gifts of tobacco should assume the form of chocolate rather than packets of cigarettes. One medical authority, quoting Sir Lauder Brunton's description of sugar as "the food of the body," maintains that the desire for sweets is not only a natural but a healthy taste. The chief value of chocolate, he adds, is provided by the sugar which it contains. And he proceeds to argue that, seeing an excess in smoking may injure both eyes and heart, it is safer and wiser to send presents, not of cigarettes, but chocolates, and sweets and honey, and jam and gingerbread, and all other manner of things that contain sugar.
This is all very well, but the main thing to ascertain is, to our mind, what the majority of the men prefer. Medical anathemas notwithstanding, we fancy the popular (soldier's) vote will be cast for the cigarette. And, now we come to think of it, how is it that the doctors, who so often condemn cigarettes are themselves, as a class, so tremendously addicted to the cigarette habit? The fact is that if there is no inhalation of the smoke, the cigarette is very far from being the deadly thing it is so often pictured as being. Let the boys have their chocolates if they like, but don't dock their supply of cigarettes. After all, it is not so much a question of which is "better" for the soldier, but which the soldier prefers. The choice between the two comforts should be left to the brave fellows who are fighting for us. Like the immortal Mr Jingle, outsiders should not "presume to dictate."
Source: Free Lance, 16 July 1915, page 6.

A Southern Cross Tobacco Fund postcard from a New Zealand soldier, Armament Quarter Master Sergeant W. Juriss, thanking the sender for the parcel containing cigarettes. He has written "Received Splendid Cigarettes" down the left side of the card.

"About Cigarettes.
The soldier's "fag" has become so well recognised a weakness that it takes a bold man to attack it on the ground that smoking is injurious to the health. Yet such a man has now arisen. Most people will be quite ready to believe that unlimited cigarette smoking is detrimental to the health of men in the trenches - where life is semi-sedentary - but particularly of hospital patients. One of the regular activities of the War Contingent Association is the distribution of smokes through its visitors to New Zealanders in British hospitals. The allowance is limited to 40 cigarettes a week."
Source: Feilding Star, 9 December 1916, page 2.

Postcard by British artist Archibald English.

"Messages from the Sea.
Soldiers want cigarettes.
Melbourne, January 4.
Six bottles containing appeals from soldiers for cigarettes have been found at Wilson's Promontory. They were thrown overboard from troopships in August, September, October, and November. Three of them are from New Zealand soldiers."
Feilding Star, 12 January 1916, page 4.

A popular postcard drawn by British artist Bert Thomas for the "Weekly Dispatch" Tobacco Fund, 
Carmelite House, London, E.C.. Postmarked 14 July 1915.

Source: New Zealand's Free Lance newspaper, 28 December 1917

Sunday, 14 July 2013

The Tragic Loss Of The Aparima And Her Crew

The Union Steamship Company of New Zealand's ship Aparima left London for Barry in South Wales to take on a load of coal in November 1917. When in service as a troopship she was renowned for being a slow traveller managing a maximum speed of only 12 to 13 knots. As she sailed down through the English Channel, her skipper Captain James Gerald Stokely Doorly took her as close to the coast as he dared, and set the Aparima on a zig zag course, both measures taken to give the vessel the best opportunity to avoid an attack by a German U-boat.
As the Aparima sailed passed the Isle of Wight and held a course about 4 kilometres south west of Anvil Point, German U-boat 40 under the command of Oberleutnant Hans Howaldt fired a torpedo in to her port side. The sudden explosion happened at about 12.50 a.m. on 19 November 1917, and within 8 minutes the Aparima was sunk.
Of the 110 crew onboard, 56 were tragically lost. The Aparima's crew included men from Britain, India, Australia and New Zealand. Among those who lost their lives were seventeen cadets whose sleeping quarters had been close to where the torpedo had struck.
The New Zealanders who were killed on the Aparima;

Cadet Walter James Bannantyne
Cadet Geoffrey Robert Bargrove
First Officer Harry Archibald Daniel
Cadet Donovan O'Bryen Hoare
Cadet Ian Kenneth MacKenzie
Cadet Adam Houliston Marshall
Cadet Robert Joseph Marshall
Cadet Leon Joseph Massey
Cadet Colin Boyd McDonald
Wireless Robert Perrett Taipo Millington
Cadet John Frederick Proudfoot
Cadet Alexander McKinley Ramsay
Chief Engineer Thomas Rogerson
Cadet William Shaw
Cadet John Gordon Smith
Cadet William Harry Williams

"Officers of the ill-fated steamer Aparima, including some who were lost when the vessel was torpedoed in the English Channel." Source: Auckland Weekly News, 13 December 1917, page 42.
From left to right, standing: Mr G. McDonald, missing; Mr Thomas Rogerson, chief engineer, missing; Mr Harry Daniel, chief officer, missing; Mr James Mackie, chief steward, missing; and Mr N.S. Fleming, fifth engineer. 
Sitting front row: Mr G.S. Dalgliesh, who left the ship before its ill-fated voyage; Mr W.B. Hirst, second engineer; Mr A.F. Vipan, wireless operator; and Mr Maurice H. Mayo, seventh engineer.

Captain Doorly, born in Trinidad, survived the sinking of the Aparima. He jumped overboard in to the sea and was lucky enough to be picked up by one of the lifeboats. He had been under the employ of the Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand since 1905. He married Ina Muriel Whitson in Dunedin in 1908. During the First World War he was Master of troopships Navua (1915 and 1916) and Aparima (1917). After the war ended, his career continued on the seas and in the mid 1920's he joined the Port Phillip Sea Pilot's Service in Melbourne, Australia. Doorly also enjoyed some success as an author and musician. In 1951 he returned to New Zealand and five years later, died in Wellington.

Portrait of Captain James Gerald Stokely Doorly and memorial plaque at Karori Cemetery, Wellington.

Before the tragic loss of the Aparima during the war, she had enjoyed some success as a cargo steamship on the Union Steam Ship Company's India service having made over thirty voyages to Calcutta. When war broke out, the Aparima was requistioned as a troopship by the New Zealand Government. As HMNZT 19, 26, 32 and 46 she carried New Zealand soldiers to Egypt. By April 1916, many New Zealand soldiers were deployed to Western Europe and the Aparima as HMNZT 61 and 76 journeyed to England.

S.S. Aparima, H.M.N.Z.T. No.32. 
October 1915. Real photographic postcard by J. Dickie.

Written on the back of this postcard;
"Nov 5th.
217 Cuba St

Dear May, These are the 5 boats that left with 7th Reinforcements. Thought you would like to have all the boats. This one was the last to leave the wharf. It was there 10 past 6 and the sun was almost down. Writing to mother soon. Received letter today. Love to all, Annie."

Today, the wreck of the Aparima lies at a depth of 42 metres on the bottom of the English Channel, about 4 kilometres south west of Anvil Point, England. This 5,700 ton wreck is said to stand 8 metres high in places, is 430 feet long, and various items of the ship such as the 4.7inch gun, mooring cable and anchor are still visible and intact for divers to explore.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Colonial Badges and their Wearers - by artist Harry Payne

Set: Colonial Badges and their Wearers.
No. 3160
"New Zealand. By many brave and heroic deeds has the motto of the New Zealand fighting man, "Onward" been upheld by these smart and soldierly troops. Proudly will they be able to tell their sons and grandsons how they helped the Mother Country in her hour of need in the Great War. Their hats are distinguished by the bands, red for Infantry and green for Light Cavalry. The cap badge formerly was one plain fern leaf, but the one here shown is now universally used."

Set: Colonial Badges and their Wearers.
No. 3160
"Australia. The whole world now knows of the important and brilliant achievements of the Australians in this the greatest and fiercest war in history, how they have time and again gone in the thickest of the fight to win a certain position and to keep it when gained. The black badge is universal with all Australian troops and is worn on the flap of the hat. The regimental badges are worn on the collar."

Set: Colonial Badges and their Wearers.
No. 3160
"Newfoundland.  Although Newfoundland may not be a very thickly populated country, she has been able to send a find body of sturdy troops to help the Mother Country in her hour of need, and the sons she sent have done bravely and well in many a hard fought action. Their badge is a striking design of and Elk or Reindeer and is worn on the service cap and the collar."

Set: Colonial Badges and their Wearers.
No. 3160
"Canada. Until a few years ago the various regiments of Canada possessed their own distinctive titles, such, for instance, as the "Winnipeg Rifles", the "Three Rivers Infantry", etc, but they are now known only by the number of the battalion. The universal badge of the maple leaf is worn, with very few exceptions, on the cap and the battalion badge on the collar. The homage and gratitude of the whole Empire goes out to the Canadians for the heroic part they have played in the Great War."

Pictured are four postcards from a set of six painted by the popular British artist Harry Payne (1858 - 1927) and entitled Colonial Badges and their Wearers. Harry worked with the large postcard publishing house of Raphael Tuck and Sons from 1884 right through until the end of the First World War. This Oilette set which includes two other postcards not pictured, Canadian Cavalry and South African Infantry, was one of many sets Harry Payne produced for Raphael Tuck. He also produced postcards for publisher Gale and Polden. His older brother Arthur Charles Payne was also an accomplished artist and sometimes worked with his brother to produce fine pieces of work. Harry was a prolific artist of portrait and landscape painting while his brother Arthur specialised in architectural subjects. Their collaboration often meant that Arthur would paint the background and Harry the figure portraits.
Harry Payne painted many other postcards of soldiers during the First World War and all of these portrayed their uniformed subjects in excellent detail. It is for this reason that Harry Payne's postcards are keenly sought by collectors today.