Advertisements

Category Archives: WW1 100: London’s Memorials

WWI 100: London’s Memorials… The Imperial Camel Corps

ww1-london-memorials-logo

Of the many WWI memorials in London, one of the more unusual is that of the Imperial Camel Corps which can be found close to the Thames in Victoria Embankment Gardens.

The Imperial Camel Corps Memorial, Victoria Embankment Gardens

The Imperial Camel Corps Memorial, Victoria Embankment Gardens

Raised in December 1916 the Camel Corps was, unsurprisingly, established for desert warfare.

Troops in the desert

Troops in the desert

The first men to join the Corps were Australian troops, recently returned from the hellish Gallipoli campaign. The Aussies were soon joined by comrades from Britain, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore and India.

Band of Brothers: Imperial Camel Corps troops from Britain, New Zealand, Australia and India

Band of Brothers: Imperial Camel Corps troops from Australia, Britain, New Zealand nd India (image: Imperial War Museum)

At its height the Corps, which fought in numerous campaigns throughout the Middle East, comprised of 4,150 men and 4,800 camels. Thanks to their humped steeds, the soldiers were able to travel long distances across remote desert terrain, carrying machine guns, mountain artillery and medical support.

An Australian soldier with his loaded camel

An Australian soldier with his loaded camel

346 troops from the Imperial Camel Corps lost their lives.

The small memorial, which was sculpted by Major Cecil Brown who himself had served with the Corps, was unveiled in July 1921 in the presence of the Prime Ministers of Australia and New Zealand. The statue is now grade II listed.

The unveiling, July 1921 (image: Manchester Guardian)

The unveiling, July 1921 (image: Manchester Guardian)

A gallery featuring images of the Imperial Camel Corps Memorial can be viewed below:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

*

Advertisements

The Christmas Truce, December 24th 1914

In early January 1915 and with conflict raging in Europe, The Illustrated London News carried the following cover depicting a moving scene in which a German soldier, in a brave gesture of peace, approaches British troops with a little, lit tree on Christmas Eve.

The London Illustrated News, January 9th 1915

Drawn by an artist on the frontline, the image was accompanied by the following caption:

On some sections of the battle-front the Germans decorated their trenches with Christmas-trees and paper lanterns, and invited our troops to stop shooting and come over to smoke and have a palaver. With one accord a truce for the night was arranged, and the compliments of the season were passed with much enthusiasm between friend and foe.

The cessation of hostilities continued all the next day. Both sides fraternised and spent a Happy Christmas.”

Another image from the same issue depicted German and British troops swapping headgear and enjoying a good laugh and smoke together:

German and British troops together, Christmas 1914

German and British troops together, Christmas 1914

Although it may sound tenuous of me to say, these are stories and images which I can relate to.

As a London Cabbie, I have the pleasure of meeting passengers from all over the world; people from a vast array of creeds, races and backgrounds…. and the one thing which always shines through is humanity; the ability of most people, no matter where they’re from, to display friendliness, a polite nature and a good sense of humour.

 Peace to you all & a very merry Christmas

 

WWI 100: London’s Memorials… The London Troop Monument

ww1-london-memorials-logo

The London Troops Monument

The Royal Exchange

The London Memorial (aka the London Troops Memorial) outside the Royal Exchange

The London Memorial (aka the London Troops Monument) outside the Royal Exchange

It is estimated that around 900,000 men from London fought in the Great War, approximately 300,000 of who were killed or injured.

Recruiting office at Great Scotland Yard, August 1914

Recruiting office at Great Scotland Yard, August 1914

Standing outside the Royal Exchange in the heart of the financial district, the ‘London Memorial’ lists all of the regiments from the capital involved in the horrendous conflict and commemorates the countless Londoners who lost their lives.

The London Memorial (aka the London Troops Monument) as seen looking towards Bank junction

The London Memorial as seen looking towards Bank junction

The memorial’s Portland stone plinth was designed by the then President of the Royal Academy, Sir Aston Webb (who was also responsible for Admiralty Arch and the Queen Victoria Memorial outside Buckingham Palace), whilst the two figures standing either side were created by Alfred Drury.

One of Alfred Drury's life-sized figures

One of Alfred Drury’s life-sized figures

The memorial is topped with a small lion, bearing a shield adorned with St George and the Dragon.

The memorial's lion figurehead

The memorial’s lion figurehead

The memorial is Sir Aston Webb’s second design– his first idea was quite different, consisting of two 75 ft. tall flag poles at the base of which would have been statues of Victory and Peace.

Sir Aston Webb, chief architect behind the London Memorial

Sir Aston Webb, chief architect behind the London Memorial

Costing £7,000 (around £150,000 in today’s money), the monument was funded by public donations.

In order to make room for the memorial, a fountain topped by a statue of Temperance- which had been on the site since 1861 after being presented by the philanthropist, Samuel Gurney, required removal. It was relocated and can be seen today at the northern end of Blackfriars Bridge.

The fountain which once stood outside the Royal Exchange and was relocated to make way for the London Memorial

The fountain at Blackfriars which once stood outside the Royal Exchange and was relocated to make way for the London Memorial (image: Geograph)

The London Troops Memorial was unveiled in foggy conditions on the afternoon of the 12th November 1920 by the Duke of York who was accompanied by the Lord Mayor and the Bishop of London.

The London Memorial on Armistice Day in 1937 (image: London Illustrated News)

The London Memorial on Armistice Day in 1937 (image: London Illustrated News)

The Duke of Connaught (the King’s Uncle) was also due to participate but had to bow out due to bronchitis. He sent a telegram which was read out at the ceremony;

While deeply regretting that I cannot unveil the memorial to London’s splendid soldiers, my thoughts and feelings are with you at today’s interesting occasion and I hope the memorial will always recall the gallant services rendered by London’s sons…”

Two young men contemplate the London Memorial, November 2014

Two young men contemplate the London Memorial, November 2014

*