Tag Archives: Second World War

96. A Pattern of Invasions and Occupations: Jacquetta Hawkes and the Archaeology of Jersey

The Channel Island of Jersey is extraordinarily rich in archaeological remains.  Key sites include La Cotte de St Brelade (a cave filled with Neanderthal stone tools and the bones of mammoths and rhinos) and La Hougue Bie, a prehistoric grave mound topped by a medieval chapel.  Jacquetta Hawkes explored this heritage in her first book: The Archaeology of the Channel Islands: Volume II The Bailiwick of Jersey.

Pen drawings of flints from Les Quennevais and Le Pinacle (The Pinnacle), Jersey, published in The Bailiwick of Jersey by Jacquetta Hawkes pp 66 and 168. Archive ref HAW 1/14.

Pen drawings of flints from Les Quennevais and Le Pinacle (The Pinnacle), Jersey, published in The Bailiwick of Jersey, by Jacquetta Hawkes, pp 66 and 168. Archive reference HAW 1/14.

Volume I, covering the archaeology of Guernsey, had been published by Methuen in 1928.  Its author, Thomas Kendrick, worked at the British Museum, as did Jacquetta’s husband Christopher.  Kendrick had done much of the research for a second volume, on Jersey, by 1934, but “an increase in other work, and a growing distaste for the stones and bones of prehistory” meant that he was glad to put the task into Jacquetta’s “capable hands”.

Jacquetta had recently married Christopher; both were becoming known as exceptional young archaeologists.  Jacquetta was particularly well placed to take on the Jersey project. As J.G.D. Clark pointed out, “Her cave experience in Palestine  … made her sympathetic to one of Jersey’s chief glories, the Cotte de Brelade, while her own distinguished researches into the Neolithic pottery of France … equipped her to deal with the megalithic backbone of the island’s pre-history”.

From left, Christopher & Jacquetta Hawkes, with unknown man (possibly a Jersey connection?), 1930s.  Archive reference: HAW 18/3/46/1.

From left, Christopher & Jacquetta Hawkes, with unknown man (possibly a Jersey connection?), 1930s. Archive reference: HAW 18/3/46/1.

Part IV of The Bailiwick of Jersey, detailed descriptions of individual archaeological sites, was largely Kendrick’s work.  However, Parts I-III were written by Jacquetta herself and reflect changes in archaeological thought since the original volume: she took a more hypothetical and conceptual approach to the subject.  Although this volume was her first publication, she already demonstrated qualities that were to distinguish her writing in the future, bringing together a huge range of sources and ideas to create a coherent, clear and readable account.  Jacquetta’s biographer Dr Christine Finn observes the clarity and ambition of the green exercise book, “Jersey arch. Notes”, in which the book took shape, and the “lyrical” introduction.

Detail from the front cover of "Jersey Arch. Notes" the exercise book in which Jacquetta Hawkes planned The Bailiwick of Jersey.  Archive ref HAW 1/11

Detail from the front cover of “Jersey Arch. Notes” the exercise book in which Jacquetta Hawkes planned The Bailiwick of Jersey. Archive ref HAW 1/11

The Jersey volume is a fine example of Jacquetta collaborating with other archaeologists, as she did later on for the Festival of Britain.  In particular, she drew on the efforts of the Société Jersiaise (who published the book).  Jacquetta’s Archive documents her extensive correspondence with key researchers including Emile Guiton, responsible for the photographs in the book, N.V.L. Rybot, who created most of the line drawings, R.R. Marett, H.L. Stapleton, and Arthur Mourant.  She also gathered older research material which is now part of her Archive, notably an important collection of 1870s letters by Philippe Langlois on Jersey antiquities.

The Bailiwick of Jersey was well received by archaeologists.  It made Jacquetta’s name and enabled her to become a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.  The book remains an essential resource for anyone interested in the Island’s prehistory.

Front cover of The Archaeology of the Channel Islands.  Vol. II The Bailiwick of Jersey.  Tom Kendrick and Jacquetta Hawkes

The flints illustrated above lead us to another aspect of Jacquetta’s first book and of Jersey’s archaeology, which has been explored by Dr Finn.  The top row of flints came from “… a considerable piece of ground in the sandy terrain of the Lower Quennevais [which] is still scarred by the last traces of the Prisoners-of-War Camp which was established there during the Great War” and were revealed by “the disturbance of the occupation and dismantling of this camp, followed by a severe storm”.

The story of the flints and their finding exemplifies Jersey’s own turbulent story.  Its closeness to mainland Europe led to easy contact with other communities, often resulting in invasion, occupation and the presence of refugees.   Jacquetta paid particular attention to this narrative in her sections of The Bailiwick of Jersey.  Her approach seems horribly prescient given what was to come soon after the long-delayed publication of the volume, in 1939.  The Nazis invaded Jersey in June 1940 and it was occupied until the end of the Second World War.

Jacquetta’s book thus has an added value and resonance as the record of a landscape about to change forever, where (as at La Hougue Bie and many other sites) “gun emplacements, bunkers and other observation posts” were built on the same “exceptional vantage points” chosen by the prehistoric peoples for their buildings.

Quotations.  The Bailiwick of Jersey, Clark’s review in Man, Vol. 40 (July 1940), pp. 107-108 (available via JSTOR), Christine Finn’s articleArtefacts of Occupation” in Artefacts Consortium Publications Vol. 5 and her online biography of Jacquetta.

Note on dates: The Bailiwick of Jersey has no publication date.  Jacquetta’s Preface is dated April 1937, hence library catalogue records and bibliographies may give the date as 1937 or 1938.  The date of 1939 is correct, as far as I can ascertain.

Note on creator of drawings: In the absence of information on the flint drawings themselves, we have in the past attributed them to Jacquetta.  The pencil annotations are certainly hers.  However, the phrasing of her Preface to Bailiwick now leads me to think that the drawings might be by Rybot, but the sketchy nature of other drawings on the same graph paper brings me back to Jacquetta.  I will continue to investigate this.

86. Scientists in the Quest for Peace: Joseph Rotblat, the Manhattan Project, and the Pugwash Conferences

This week, we explore the work of a remarkable scientist and humanitarian who turned away from work on the atom bomb: Professor Joseph Rotblat (1908-2005).

Cover of The Atom Bomb, Social Science Association, 1945

I chose this little pamphlet to introduce Rotblat’s book collection, because it was published in August 1945 i.e. just after the two atom bombs were dropped. Not written by Rotblat, however it discusses the concerns to which he devoted his post-war career and illustrates the range of the collection: science fiction explorations of nuclear issues, alongside pamphlets like this one , reports and textbooks.

A pioneer of atomic physics at the Free University of Poland, Jo Rotblat came to Liverpool University in 1939, drawn by the opportunity to work with James Chadwick and his new cyclotron.  Rotblat caught what was to be the last train out of Poland; his wife, Tola, sick with appendicitis, was due to follow, but was unable to leave in time – she later died in a concentration camp.  Chadwick took Rotblat to Los Alamos in 1944 as part of the team working on the Manhattan Project: developing a workable atomic weapon.

Cover of War and Peace, The Life and Work of Sir Joseph Rotblat

Cover of War and Peace, The Life and Work of Sir Joseph Rotblat. This delightfully personal and informative book from Liverpool University looks at themes in his life and includes memories of those who knew him and lots of interesting images.

However, Joseph Rotblat took the difficult decision to leave the Project later that year.  He had agreed to work on the weapon because of the fear that Nazi Germany would develop theirs first, but he realised that the Allies’ resources put them far ahead in this race.  He was also shocked by the project’s looking towards future conflict with (and use of weapons on) the USSR.

Thereafter Jo Rotblat directed his research towards the beneficial uses of nuclear physics, especially in medicine.  He settled with his remaining family permanently in Britain, returning at first to Liverpool, then becoming Professor of Medical Physics at St Bartholomew’s in 1949 where he worked until his  retirement in 1976.

Above all he encouraged his fellow scientists to consider the social impact of their research and to seek to remove nuclear weapons from this earth.   In 1955 he was one of the distinguished scientists who signed what became known as the Russell-Einstein Manifesto: drawn up by peace campaigner Bertrand Russell and signed by Einstein just before his death, the Manifesto outlined the need for peaceful ways to resolve conflict rather than war given the arrival of weapons which could obliterate humanity and that “we feel that scientists should assemble in conference to appraise the perils that have arisen as a result of the development of weapons of mass destruction”.

Cover of Scientists in the Quest for Peace, Joseph Rotblat's history of the Pugwash conferences

Scientists in the Quest for Peace, Joseph Rotblat’s history of the Pugwash conferences, is an essential read if you’re interested in him or the conferences. It also includes many useful appendices.

The first Conference of Science and World Affairs took place in 1957, at a Canadian village called Pugwash, which gave its name to later meetings.  Rotblat played a key role in setting it up, held many offices within Pugwash, and has often been described as its moving spirit.  His and their work was recognised by the award of the the Nobel Peace Prize in 1995, “for their efforts to diminish the part played by nuclear arms in international politics”.

Jo Rotblat’s work has a particular resonance at the University of Bradford.  He shared the concern of our first Vice-Chancellor, Ted Edwards, around the social responsibility of scientists and science and was instrumental in the creation of the first Chair of Peace Studies.  These links were recognised by the award of Honorary Doctor of Science in 1973.

Special Collections holds Rotblat’s book collection: works by and about him, works presented by their authors (often with interesting dedications which show the esteem in which he was held) and a huge range of popular and academic works on nuclear issues and the social responsibility of scientists.  He appears throughout our archives of peace and nuclear campaigns, from his involvement in the early days of CND during the 1950s to his support for the 1990s Campaign to free nuclear whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu.

Note on sources. In addition to the above titles, Ending War which includes Rotblat’s essay on leaving the Manhattan Project.  Rotblat’s Papers are at Churchill College Archives.  Other useful websites include Pugwash Conferences and the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize page.

64. Surviving the Arandora Star: 1940s letters of Ludwig Baruch and Hilda Froom

This week, a telegram from a survivor of the sinking of the SS Arandora Star on 2 July 1940.  Sent by Ludwig Baruch to his fiancée Hilda Froom on 8 July, it reads “200 ARANDORA SURVIVORS PLEASE WIRE SOME MONEY”.

Ludwig Baruch was one of over 1000 German and Italian “enemy aliens” being transported on the Arandora Star to Canada when it was torpedoed by a U-boat off the coast of Ireland.   Most of those on board were drowned, the situation made worse by the cramped conditions, lack of safety drill, and inadequate life-rafts.  Many survivors, Ludwig among them, were then sent to Australia on the Dunera, which itself narrowly escaped sinking.

Ludwig was born in Germany, but had lived in England since 1930.  He worked for the Donegal Tweed Company in Liverpool until the outbreak of the Second World War, when he was interned as an enemy alien.  Although a socialist, union activist, and committed anti-fascist, he fell foul of the controversial policy of interning all enemy aliens regardless of the risk they might pose.

The telegram is part of an Archive which provides unique first-hand insight into internment in Britain during the Second World War through the letters between Ludwig and Hilda.  Alongside Ludwig’s accounts of life in the camps, Hilda’s give a vivid picture of everyday life in Liverpool: going to the cinema, the annoyances of the blackout, clothes – a navy frock, rust-coloured nail varnish, food – pea soup, stew, playing rounders, a cycle ride to Rhyl, her union and other political activities … The Archive also documents the bureaucratic difficulties and obstructions Hilda faced in trying to visit him and campaign for his release.

After the sinking of the Arandora Star, he writes to her sitting on a “straw mattress” at “some barracks” in Scotland (Woodhouselee Camp, Miltonbridge near Edinburgh) and that, though he could “write a whole novel about the disaster”, which he escaped by jumping overboard and finding a float, he does not want to be asked about it, because “the sights I witnessed were not fit for human eyes to see”.  Hilda had heard of the disaster, but could not find out whether he was on board or not: “the experience is terrible and I cannot get you off my mind”.

PS Eventually the couple were married and settled in Bradford.  I am indebted to Collar the Lot! an invaluable account of the internment and expulsion of the enemy aliens and to the research of one of our students, Darren Davies, who kindly let me see his dissertation which uses Ludwig Baruch’s experiences as a case study of internment and usefully draws together bibliographic and other evidence.

58. A New and Vital Democracy: J.B. Priestley’s Out of the People

In Out of the People (Collins, 1941), J.B. Priestley set out his views on British society and post-war reconstruction.   It is one of his most eloquent and powerful books.

Front of Out of the People by J.B. Priestley (Collins, 1941)

Priestley called for a “new and vital democracy”, an end to the waste and unfairness of social inequalities, which he had pointed out in English Journey.  He argued that society was already changing for the better: the upheaval of war was shattering old systems and bringing people together to work for a common goal.  The war offered an opportunity to build on these changes rather than going back to old, failed systems as had happened after the First World War.

Priestley had already spoken about these issues in his Postscript broadcasts, but Out of the People gave him the opportunity to explain his ideas, unconstrained by time or the restrictions of wartime broadcasting.

Out of the People was intended to be the first in a series, Vigilant Books, in which eminent writers would explore the issues of post-war reconstruction.  However, paper shortages meant the series was not continued.  Copies of the book offer a physical sense of the privations and atmosphere of the period: the classic 1940s style of the dustjacket and the thin wartime paper with its characteristic grainy quality and poor take-up of ink.

The book also illustrates how Priestley was becoming active in political groups.  Early in 1941 he became chairman of the 1941 Committee, a group of writers who called for a declaration of national objectives after the war.   The Committee suggested the Vigilant Books series to Collins, who keenly took up the idea and commissioned Priestley to write the first.

J.B. Priestley reading, circa 1941, photographer unknown (archive ref PRI 21/8/2)

J.B. Priestley reading, circa 1941, photographer unknown (archive ref PRI 21/8/2)

Later the Committee merged with Forward March, led by Richard Acland, to form Common Wealth.  Common Wealth stood for “common ownership, vital democracy, equal opportunity, colonial freedom and world unity” and was willing to field candidates in by-elections, breaking the Labour-Conservative wartime truce: three were eventually elected.  Priestley briefly chaired Common Wealth, but withdrew because of political disagreements with Acland.

Common Wealth performed poorly in the 1945 election: most members defected to Labour although the group remained active until 1993.  Priestley himself stood in that momentous election, as an Independent candidate in Cambridge, where he came third to a Conservative candidate.

While Priestley’s political activities with Common Wealth and as a parliamentary candidate were unsuccessful, Out of the People and his other writings and broadcasts helped create an atmosphere favourable to the 1945 Labour victory and the creation of the welfare state (although this was much more state-led and top-down than Priestley’s vision).

P.S. Common Wealth’s Archive is held by University of Sussex Special Collections.  I am indebted to their site and to Vincent Brome’s biography of Priestley for much of the above.

4. An Excursion to Hell: J.B. Priestley’s 1940 Postscripts

In June 1940, Britain was in danger of invasion after the fall of France.  The British army had to be evacuated from Dunkirk.  However this humiliating defeat took on the qualities of a mythic victory as small ships sailed to rescue the troops.  On the 5th, J.B. Priestley, Bradford-born novelist and playwright, helped create this narrative in the first of his Postscript BBC radio broadcasts, paying tribute to the way the frivolous little steamers had risen to the occasion.  Listen to the BBC Archive recording.

Home from Dunkirk

Home from Dunkirk, which includes the 5 June Postscript

Throughout that momentous summer and early autumn, Priestley continued these weekly broadcasts, reflecting on the Battle of the Britain, the Blitz, the role of women, the Home Guard and much more through personal (often funny) events.  He used his experiences of the poor treatment of soldiers returning from the Great War and the shocking poverty many British people faced in the 1930s to call for a better, fairer society after this War.

J.B. Priestley

J.B. Priestley at his typewriter

The Postscripts are the first (but not the last!) Priestley object in this exhibition because of their immense popularity.  They made him into a media celebrity.  He was already a household name, thanks to his best-selling 1929 novel The Good Companions, his time plays, his prolific journalism, his 1934 English Journey.  But the Postscripts brought Priestley’s reassuring Yorkshire voice into millions of homes, bringing encouragement and inspiration at an incredibly dangerous, difficult and heightened time.  (Though not everyone liked his work, particularly those in the Establishment who disagreed with his politics …).  As he wrote in Margin Released, his 1962 memoir, “To this day middle-aged or elderly men shake my hand and tell me what a ten-minute talk about ducks on a pond or a pie in a shop window meant to them, as if I had given them King Lear or the Eroica”.  It could certainly be argued that his broadcasts helped inspire Britain’s resistance in 1940 and  the election of the 1945 Labour government which founded the welfare state.

You can find out much more about the Postscripts (and the ducks and the pie) in Priestley’s Finest Hour: a series of 70th anniversary articles by the curator of 100 Objects, Alison Cullingford.