Disability in the Early 20th century 1914-1945

March 23, 2016 by richard

Disability in the Early 20th century 1914-1945
This section describes the tension between different attitudes to disability at the beginning of the 20th century. The return home of disabled ex-servicemen from World War 1 challenged the widespread idea that disabled people were a ‘burden’ Historic England


2014 Broadsheet

June 11, 2015 by admin

Read the UK Disability History Month 2014 Broadsheet

Word version of the broadsheet

Launch of UKDHM 2014 Broadsheet

May 12, 2015 by admin

Videos from the launch of the broadsheet:

War and Impairment Day Conference

by admin

Held on 6 December 2014, at Student Central, London

Neil Faulkner – Industrialised slaughter: how the world went mad in 1914

Roddy Slorach – A Brief History of Disabled War Veterans

Emmeline Burdett – The Portrayal of the Disabled Soldier in Wilfred Owen’s poem Disabled

Kate Macdonald – Seeing Disability in British First World War popular culture

Pieter Verstraete – Commemorating the disabled soldier – tales from the unknown

Richard Rieser – The Social Impact of Impairment and War in the Majority World

UKDHM 2014 Blog – Emmeline Burdett

February 8, 2015 by richard

Newspaper Cuttings and Books from Queen Mary Hospital Sidcup and Queen Mary Hospital Roehampton

Emmeline Burdett

A painting of a toy workshop at Queen Mary’s Hospital, Sidcup by  J Hodgson Lobley 1918

A painting of a toy workshop at Queen Mary’s Hospital, Sidcup, by J Hodgson Lobley, 1918. Source: Imperial War Museum. © IWM (Art.IWM ART 3756)

London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) in Clerkenwell holds a number of fascinating newspaper cuttings books dating from c.1917-1921. These newspaper cuttings pertain to the Queen Mary Hospital Roehampton and to its sister hospital, Queen Mary Hospital Sidcup. Both of these hospitals were set up during the course of World War One in response to the enormous numbers of wounded soldiers being sent back from the Front to English hospitals, and the resulting strain on the medical system. Queen Mary Hospital Roehampton treated men whose wounded limbs required amputation, whilst Queen Mary Hospital Sidcup pioneered new techniques of facial reconstruction. So far, I have looked at two of the scrapbooks: the Founder’s Scrapbook from the Roehampton hospital (H02/QM/Y/05/002), and the newspaper cuttings’ book from the Sidcup hospital (H02/QM/Y/01/005).

I first became aware of the existence of these scrapbooks a few months ago, as I go to a monthly book group at the LMA which is run by Claire Titley, one of the archivists. When the book group meets, Claire always brings along some of the LMA’s holdings which relate to the book we are reading. In this case the book was My Dear I Wanted to Tell You, by Louisa Young. The novel is set during the First World War and the main character, Riley Purefoy, is seriously wounded at the Front. He is taken back to England, and treated at Queen Mary’s Hospital Sidcup. Claire had brought out the two scrapbooks mentioned above, and she remarked upon how strikingly different the tone was between the two. The one pertaining to Roehampton was upbeat, with photographs of amputee soldiers playing sports, showing how competent they were, and making preparations for a return to civilian life. That pertaining to the Sidcup hospital was in stark contrast, containing doom-laden descriptions of the men being treated there, and seeming to accept that, due to their facial disfigurements, these men were destined to be social outcasts for evermore. Of course, during the book group session it was only possible to have a cursory look at the scrapbooks, so I was eager to take the opportunity to return and investigate them more closely.

Doctor remove cast to firt prothesis Roeham[pton Imperial War Museum

A doctor takes a plaster cast of the remainder of an amputee’s right leg at Queen Mary’s Hospital, Roehampton, Surrey, in preparation for fitting a specially made artificial limb. Source: Imperial War Museum. © IWM (Q 33684)

One striking point of comparison is that of the place in society which it was envisaged that the two groups of wounded soldiers would take up after their treatment had ended. The Roehampton scrapbook makes it clear that it was expected that at least the majority of the patients would go on to lead full and active lives, become breadwinners, and so on. To this end, the men were photographed performing all kinds of ‘manly’ activities: outdoor sports [1], chopping wood [2], and even learning to dance [3]. Crucially, these activities are also highly social, requiring much contact with others. By contrast, when the reports for the setting up of the Sidcup hospital are first mentioned in the Press, in early 1917, the trades that it is envisaged that the Sidcup patients will be taught are those requiring little or no human contact – a report in the Darlington North Star in January 1917 mentions that patients at the new hospital will learn trades including egg production and fruit and vegetable cultivation. [4] It is difficult to know whether these presuppositions resulted from an appreciation that the disfigured men might find social interaction a daunting prospect, but it does seem that the trades for which they were being fitted had been pre-selected on the basis that they could no longer fulfil social roles.

There did appear to be a sound practical reason for giving these men trades which required them to spend much of their time in the open air. Many of the early newspaper reports from the hospital specifically mention that the disfigured men were often subject to low spirits, and that spending time in the open air seemed to help alleviate this. [5] It is, however, striking that the men’s depression of spirits was mentioned at a time when the hospital was engaged in fundraising for equipment, but this approach came into its own when the Evening Standard newspaper began fundraising for a Recreation Fund to help keep the Sidcup patients occupied. Men who had previously been suffering from low spirits suddenly became ‘the most tragic of all war’s victims’. [6] Facial disfigurement was described as ‘the worst loss of all’ [7] The Fund finally closed in the summer of 1918, having raised nearly £10,000, a fortune in today’s money. The descriptions of the Sidcup patients had clearly tugged successfully upon society’s purse-strings.

To talk of the social model of disability in relation to the early twentieth-century would clearly be anachronistic. Nevertheless, the parallel between the increasingly heart-wrenching descriptions of the Sidcup patients and the initiatives to raise money for them do, I feel, open the door to the idea that these things are open to discussion and investigation. Disability history has sometimes been held back by an impression amongst some that to enquire into these areas would be insensitive or ghoulish.


Dr Emmeline Burdett is an independent scholar.

Guest post for Disability and Industrial Society’s UK Disability History Month Blogs 2014.

[1] Roehampton, p.13. Sunday Herald newspaper report from July, 1917. Entitled ‘Hearts of Oak: Roehampton Style’, it is one of the many illustrated reports contained in the Roehampton scrapbook.

[2] Roehampton, p.21. Report from the Glasgow Bulletin entitled ‘What Science Does for the Limbless Soldier’ showing a Roehampton inmate using his artificial arm to chop wood.

[3] Roehampton:p.79. Report from The Hospital, entitled ‘Dancing in Relation to the Use of Artificial Legs’ detailing how Monsieur Jean Castener, a dancer from the Adelphi Theatre, taught dancing to men with an artificial leg, at the Physico-Therapeutic Department of St. Thomas’s Hospital.

[4] Sidcup: p.1.

[5] Sidcup, p.13 and p.21. Fundraising letter in the Morning Post, the Newcastle Daily Chronicle, the Dundee Courier, the Edinburgh Despatch, the Glasgow Herald and the Monmouth Evening Post.

[6] Sidcup, p. 36.

[7] Sidcup, p.37. Article from the Manchester Evening Chronicle.

Indian Sub continent contribution WWI

January 26, 2015 by richard

Anti-War Songs

December 7, 2014 by richard

‘The Green Fields of France’ or ‘No Mans Land’

by Eric Bogle

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DxkhBvO8_kM#t=34 6.30
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vt-1efVkDfE#t=11 6.46

by The Fureys and Dave Arthur

Well, how’d you do, Private Willie McBride,
D’you mind if I sit down down here by your graveside?
I’ll rest for awhile in the warm summer sun,
Been walking all day, Lord, and I’m nearly done.
I see by your gravestone you were only nineteen
When you joined the glorious fallen in 1916,
I hope you died quick and I hope you died “clean,”
Or, Willie McBride, was it slow and obscene?
Did they beat the drum slowly, did they sound the fife lowly?
Did the rifles fire o’er ye as they lowered ye down?
Did the bugles sing “The Last Post” in chorus?
Did the pipes play the “Floors’ The Forest”?
And did you leave a wife or a sweetheart behind
In some faithful heart is your memory enshrined?
And, though you died back in 1916,
To that loyal heart are you forever nineteen?
Or are you a stranger, without even a name,
Forever enshrined behind some glass pane,
In an old photograph, torn and tattered and stained,
And fading to yellow in a brown leather frame?
Well, the sun’s shining down on these green fields of France;
The warm wind blows gently, the red poppies dance.
The trenches have vanished long under the plough;
No gas and no barbed wire, no guns firing now.
But here in this graveyard it’s still No Man’s Land;
The countless white crosses in mute witness stand
To man’s blind indifference to his fellow man.
And a whole generation who were butchered and damned.
And I can’t help but wonder now, Willie McBride,
Do all those who lie here know why they died?
Did you really believe them when they told you “the cause?”
Did you really believe that this war would end wars?
Well the suffering, the sorrow, the glory, the shame,
The killing, the dying, it was all done in vain,
For Willie McBride, it’s all happened again,
And again, and again, and again, and again.

The Band Played Waltzing Matilda

by Eric Bogle
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8YLUZgzEnE 8.46

The Dubliners

Now when I was a young man I carried me pack
And I lived the free life of the rover.
From the Murray’s green basin to the dusty outback,
Well, I waltzed my Matilda all over.
Then in 1915, my country said, “Son,
It’s time you stop ramblin’, there’s work to be done.”
So they gave me a tin hat, and they gave me a gun,
And they marched me away to the war.
And the band played “Waltzing Matilda,”
As the ship pulled away from the quay,
And amidst all the cheers, the flag waving, and tears,
We sailed off for Gallipoli.
And how well I remember that terrible day,
How our blood stained the sand and the water;
And of how in that hell that they call Suvla Bay
We were butchered like lambs at the slaughter.
Johnny Turk, he was waitin’, he primed himself well;
He showered us with bullets, and he rained us with shell —
And in five minutes flat, he’d blown us all to hell,
Nearly blew us right back to Australia.
But the band played “Waltzing Matilda,”
When we stopped to bury our slain,
Well, we buried ours, and the Turks buried theirs,
Then we started all over again.
And those that were left, well, we tried to survive
In that mad world of blood, death and fire.
And for ten weary weeks I kept myself alive
Though around me the corpses piled higher.
Then a big Turkish shell knocked me arse over head,
And when I woke up in me hospital bed
And saw what it had done, well, I wished I was dead —
Never knew there was worse things than dying.
For I’ll go no more “Waltzing Matilda,”
All around the green bush far and free —
To hump tents and pegs, a man needs both legs,
No more “Waltzing Matilda” for me.
So they gathered the crippled, the wounded, the maimed,
And they shipped us back home to Australia.
The armless, the legless, the blind, the insane,
Those proud wounded heroes of Suvla.
And as our ship sailed into Circular Quay,
I looked at the place where me legs used to be,
And thanked Christ there was nobody waiting for me,
To grieve, to mourn and to pity.
But the band played “Waltzing Matilda,”
As they carried us down the gangway,
But nobody cheered, they just stood and stared,
Then they turned all their faces away.
And so now every April, I sit on my porch
And I watch the parade pass before me.
And I see my old comrades, how proudly they march,
Reviving old dreams of past glory,
And the old men march slowly, all bones stiff and sore,
They’re tired old heroes from a forgotten war
And the young people ask “What are they marching for?”
And I ask meself the same question.
But the band plays “Waltzing Matilda,”
And the old men still answer the call,
But as year follows year, more old men disappear
Someday, no one will march there at all.
Waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda.
Who’ll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?
And their ghosts may be heard as they march by the billabong,
Who’ll come a-Waltzing Matilda with me?

“2+2″ with Vietnam Footage

Bob Seger System


Masters of War

by Bob Dylan

Come you masters of war
You that build all the guns
You that build the death planes
You that build the big bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks
You that never done nothin’
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it’s your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly
Like Judas of old
You lie and deceive
A world war can be won
You want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain
You fasten the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion
As young people’s blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud
You’ve thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain’t worth the blood
That runs in your veins
How much do I know
To talk out of turn
You might say that I’m young
You might say I’m unlearned
But there’s one thing I know
Though I’m younger than you
Even Jesus would never
Forgive what you do
Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul
And I hope that you die
And your death’ll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I’ll watch while you’re lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I’ll stand o’er your grave
’Til I’m sure that you’re dead
Copyright © 1963 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1991 by Special Rider Music

Read more: http://www.bobdylan.com/us/music/freewheelin-bob-dylan#ixzz3LD78FAzL

Where have All The Flowers Gone

Joan Baez


Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the flowers gone?
Young girls have picked them everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the young girls gone?
Gone for husbands everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Where have all the husbands gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the husbands gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the husbands gone?
Gone for soldiers everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards, everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Gone to flowers, everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the flowers gone?
Young girls have picked them everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?


Brothers in Arms

Joan Baez


These mist covered mountains
Are a home now for me
But my home is the lowlands
And always will be
Some day you’ll return to
Your valleys and your farms
And you’ll no longer burn
To be brothers in arms
Through these fields of destruction
Baptisms of fire
I’ve witnessed your suffering
As the battles raged higher
And though we were hurt so bad
In the fear and alarm
You did not desert me
My brothers in arms
There’s so many different worlds
So many different suns
And we have just one world
But we live in different ones
Now the sun’s gone to hell
And the moon’s riding high
Let me bid you farewell
Every man has to die
But it’s written in the starlight
And every line in your palm
We’re fools to make war
On our brothers in arms


Prospect the Union Information on 2014 UKDHM

November 20, 2014 by richard

Prospect published a briefing on UKDHM which contains some good resources that they have produced. Download it here

Home Front Medicine and Rehabilitation in WWI

November 13, 2014 by richard

The full series is called World Ward One At Home. Below are a list of episodes (with summaries) which relate specifically to disabled veterans.

Erskine Hospital Glasgow Prosthetics
Abbey Manor Evesham Private Nursing Home BBc
Queen Alexandra Hospital Home-limbless BBC
York disabled soldiers BBC
Ashworth Hospital Liverpool Shell Shock BBC
Brindley Heath Staffordshire Shell Shock
Spalding Lincolnshire Art Therapy Rehabilitation
St Dunstans Blind Vetrans UK
Standard Hill Nottingham expands to accommodate disabled soldiers
Manaton Devon , War Disabled and John Galsworthy

Anti War Cartoons from Dave Lupton produced for Vetrans for Peace

November 5, 2014 by richard

Dave Lupton says these can be used for UKDHM activities/publicity as long as he and Veterans for Peace are credited

Lambeth - issue 3unnamed Veterans-002-reduced-for-webVeterans-003-reduced-for-webVeterans-004-reduced-for-webVeterans-005-reduced-for-webVeterans-006-reduced-for-webVeterans-007-reduced-for-web