Header comprises of the following images: 'Anibyniaeth sydd yn galw am ei dewraf dyn' [1914-1918] (Published by the Parliamentary Recruiting Committee, London -Poster no. 148; Printed by Roberts & Leete Ltd. London WT. 16434/763). Letters written to his mother in Llanio, co. Cardigan. Donated by David Jones's sister, Mrs E. M. Rees, Lampeter, 1994. Llyfrau Ffoto 988. Egypt 1917. National Library of Wales.

Mi7b archive draws attention

  • May 3, 2013 - robphillips

The House Journal of MI 7b(1)

The documents from Mi7b, kindly contributed to the project by Jeremy Arter continue to draw interest. The result was an article in The Guardian last weekend. The story around this truly remarkable collection of documents is a fascinating one.

Fire damage at the National Library of Wales and in impact on the Cymru WW1 Project

  • April 29, 2013 - robphillips

Last Friday at around 2.40 staff and readers were evacuated from the National Library due to a fire. The building suffered fire, smoke and water damage to areas used mainly as office space. No storage areas were affected and the only collections to suffer damage were those in use by staff in those areas. The Library is presently working closely with the fire services to assess the damage and to ensure safe entry for the staff to the affected areas.

Due to water damage, some staff working in the project have been re-located to other accommodation and while all our files are backed up and project documentation is safe there will no doubt be an effect on the delivery of the project.

When we have had chance to fully evaluate the impact on the project, I’ll post an update on the blog. some pictures have just been released on the library’s Facebook page.

MI 7b – the discovery of a lost propaganda archive of the Great War

  • April 15, 2013 - robphillips

This is part of a series of blog posts by people who have stories to tell about items which form part of the Welsh Experience of World War 1 project.

Capt A Lascelles-s Letter Dawson-s Lt James Price Lloyd - Welsh Regiment-s

Up until a few months ago, I’d never heard of MI 7b, and hadn’t much of a clue about my great uncles and their war service in the Great War. Today, April 12th is my 61st birthday, and I have been presented with an amazing story. It goes like this.

Once upon a time, a long time ago, three boys left Aberedw and went by train from Aberedw Halt on their separate journeys to the Western Front in France, and the killing fields of the Somme, Ypres, and one small corner of a foreign field whose name is unknown. Uncle Jim was shot and wounded at Mametz in the first Battle of the Somme, Uncle John was shot and wounded at the second Battle of Ypres, and Uncle Geoff was gassed early in 1918, I don’t know where or when, but he too survived. At the end of the war, Jim and John founded Craig y Nos prep school in Swansea, and Geoff went out to South Africa, where it was thought the climate would help his breathing. John died in 1954, Jim in 1955 and Geoff in 1961. They had spent all their post-war lives teaching and reached out to the young minds of very many people during that time.

What makes this story special is that when Jim was wounded, he started to write and as a result of his efforts he was recruited into a propaganda outfit run by military intelligence called MI 7. Between 1917 and 1918, he wrote extensively about tales of heroism and life in the front line trenches. His work was turned into propaganda articles that were meant for publication in allied newspapers and journals. Although his work was meant to be published, it was a highly secret operation. So secret, in fact, that immediately the war ended in November 1918, the unit MI 7 was disbanded and all its official documents were destroyed so no one would ever know it existed.

Uncle Jim was Lieutenant (later Captain) James Price Lloyd, the eldest son of the Rector of Aberedw and he took his work home with him. That is why over 150 different articles of MI 7b remain – the sole surviving archive and witness to a propaganda offensive that was directed, not at the enemy, but at the Home Front and the people of the Empire, her Colonies and Dominions.

By chance, these papers were discovered when I was clearing my aunt’s home. There at the bottom of an old leather trunk, full of stuff that was due to be sent as rubbish, was a small green pamphlet. On the front cover was the title MI 7b, for private circulation only and it was dated January 1919. It was the valedictory house journal of a secret organisation and it listed the names of all who worked there.

I looked for Uncle Jim, but I found A A Milne as well! I also found, Cecil Street the author of the Dr Priestly novels, the Frontiersman and author Roger Pocock, the Irish Poet Patrick McGill and JP Morton of Bystander fame. A little research showed me that it was a bit like the Magnificent Seven had ridden into town, except that these were more than twenty or so of the greatest literary men of their day all working for MI 7b, along with Uncle Jim!

It was then I remembered that there were family papers including Uncle Jim’s work, which had been kept in a box in a garage for many years and had lain unnoticed, unappreciated and forgotten for many years. It took me many months to sort out Uncle Jim’s papers and put them in order along with the dozens of photographs of the family taken between 1900 and 1920. The detailed picture that emerged was one that enthralled and excited me, but also scared me. I knew it was an important discovery, but I didn’t know what it was that I had. I had started out to write an account of Uncle Jim’s service record and my research notes grew into a book! It was only when I heard that the National Library was involved in a project called Casgliad y Werin Cymru – or People’s Collection Wales – and that project would feed into a wider programme, partly financed by the European Commission and called 1914-18 Europeana that I knew what to do.

I started out copy-typing the articles as I collated them – but that was too hard and too slow. I completed the collating task to identify two categories that provide the simplest of catalogues; the archive comprises “Tales of the VC” and what academics call rich or thick description of life in the trenches of the Western Front. I photographed each of the documents and tried to keep to the order in which they were written. Every page of the archive and the note books, each scrap of paper, cutting and original photographs has been digitised. In doing so, I became familiar with all the archive but, as yet, have read only a few of the texts.

The Casgliad y Werin project will achieve my objective to get the archive into the public domain so that the contents are preserved and ensure they survive, and be accessible to everyone without charge. In truth, every one of the Tales of the VC has already been bought and paid for, costing more often than not the ultimate price. I hope the relatives, the descendents of those whose heroism is recorded get to see and recognise the honour that is forever associated with their family. The tales should engender pride and respect, no matter what feelings one may hold about war and politics, for individual courage and sacrifice deserve nothing less. Another objective is to try and understand the significance of the archive; the contents may be easily read, but what does their very existence imply?

My initial reading shows me that not all the articles in the archive were “passed for publication” by the censor, though most bear the official stamp of MI 7b, or the mark of someone more senior in the War Office’s food chain. What is accepted, post correction and scrutiny, gets passed to the typing pool, some marked “Urgent”, and then was passed to biddable proprietors of newspapers and foreign news agencies. These were printed and informed public opinion, and moulded the debate on the Clapham Omnibus. Arguably, it is in the articles that weren’t used that the poignant and bitter truth is revealed. Many of the articles were too close to reality to have made it through the propaganda process without substantial revision; some of the early drafts are decidedly “off message”, but each adds a part to a vivid illustration from a contemporary perspective of a War fought almost a century ago.

“Britain’s Winged Warriors” describes the operation of the pigeon messenger service, others describe the “Evolution of the Tank”, or “How the Truth Comes to Germany By Air”; they are obvious propaganda pieces, but nonetheless interesting for that, but these general articles aren’t nearly as exciting as “A Trench Raid”, or “The Peril that Walks by Night”.  These are the right-down dirty, bloody, guts n’ glory, tell-it-like-it-is literary pictures that could illustrate a “Penny Dreadful” comic, or send frissons down the petticoats of any Edwardian parlour maid, or stirred the blood and stiffened the resolve of the young man whose call up was imminent. One thing these Military Intelligence documents all have in common is that they were intended for publication in the press throughout the Empire, her Colonies, and Dominions.  In total there are more than a hundred and fifty pencil drafts, manuscripts and typescripts, along with notebooks and maps, and each one still tells a tale. The truly exciting thing is, that all the documents were meant to have been silenced forever, because they were thought to be “too incriminating”. MI 7b was quickly disbanded in November of 1918, within days of the Armistice, and all its papers were destroyed, apparently.

Why did the Government and the Crown want MI 7 to disappear and for all the official papers to be destroyed?

The answer to the question “Why?” has yet to be answered fully, but it is very exciting to try and find out. The sheer scale of the propaganda offensive and the nature of the resources deployed to it suggests that “MI 7b – the discovery of a lost propaganda archive from the Great War” is a much bigger story than first meets the eye.

Jeremy Arter
April 2013

Copies of paper from the archive will soon be available to view as part of the Welsh Experience of World War 1 Project via the People’s Collection Wales website.
An e-book about the collection is also available.

MI7b documents on BBC News

  • April 10, 2013 - morfuddniajones

Documents scanned as part of the People’s Collection workshop for the project featured on BBC News – World War I secret documents found in Powys house clearance http://bbc.in/10JIZIQ

Dr Mary ‘Eppynt’ Phillips

  • March 22, 2013 - carysmorgan

To the Brecon Roadshow came Mrs Lewis with a bag full of documents and cuttings relating to the life of the fascinating and pioneering Dr Mary Elizabeth ‘Eppynt’ Phillips. This remarkable woman – a relative of Mrs Lewis – was born in Merthyr Cynog and led a life of adventure and service as a doctor at home and abroad.

Mary Elizabeth Phillips was the first woman to qualify as a doctor from Cardiff University College at the turn of the century and became known as Mary ‘Eppynt’ Phillips, taking the name from the mountain near where she was born.telegram

Her involvement in the First World War came in December 1914 when she received a letter from the Scottish Women’s Hospital for Foreign Service, Edinburgh, asking her to travel to Calais at once to assist at a hospital that had been established there. Dr Mary Eppynt Phillips was in Calais by Christmas Day 1914.

There, she was involved in running the Typhoid Hospital at Calais before joining the 2nd Serbian Unit as a Senior Physician at the Scottish Women’s Hospital atValjevo, Serbia in April.

Illness forced her to return to Britain in 1915 where, having recovered, she undertook a lecture tour to raise funds for the Scottish Women’s Hospital. Returning to the continent in April 1916, she travelled to Corsica where she was the Chief Medical Officer at the hospital in Ajacci on the island. Here she remained until she travelled home in June 1917.

The story of Dr Mary Eppynt Phillips is an inspiring and rare one that we were privileged to have shared with us at the Brecon event.mary_eppynt
Dr Phillips’ name is mentioned in literature about the involvement of women in the First World War but this fascinating collection of items will not only shed further light on her actions, but will also develop our knowledge about the lives of pioneering women who played such an important part during World War One.

Collecting the Welsh Experience of WW1

  • March 15, 2013 - carysmorgan

We are over half way through our roadshows to collect and share the Welsh experience of World War One. Having visited Caernarfon, Pontardawe and Brecon, we’ve seen some wonderful material from local people who were keen to share the story of close relatives, ancestors that have been uncovered through family history research or local men and women who contributed to the war effort.

Here is a taster of some of the items that have been shared with us at the events so far.

Soldiers of the First World War undertook all sorts of duties as these two photographs show. The first is of a soldier from Caernarfon who was a butcher by trade and continued with that work while serving, providing much-needed food for the troops. Here, he can be seen with others involved in butchering a carcass.

There was also time for entertainment, as the photograph of this merry gang shows. In the photograph is Captain Harold Jones from Pontardawe.

PCW00656

PCW01928

At Caernarfon, we received this lovely image of local female munitions’ workers who worked at the Vulcan Factory in the town. In this image is the contributor’s mother in law who was part of a workforce who worked around the clock in three shifts to make munitions for the war effort. This was dangerous work involving explosives and chemicals which could dye the skin and hair, causing the girls to be nicknamed ‘Canaries’.

Munitions' Workers

News from home was always welcome for those fighting abroad and we have received several letters and postcards from family members who wanted to keep their loved ones updated with their lives and local information. This postcard is of my home town Llandeilo and was sent to Private Frank Wibberley who was serving with the 252 Siege Battery in France. His family, from Gorseinon, had been to Llandeilo for an afternoon trip.

Postcard of Llandeilo   PCW01780

This is a very small sample of the different material that has bee contributed at the roadshows so far. There are some wonderful stories which I will share on this blog soon. In the meantime, we have two more roadshows left so if you have anything to share with us, come to Ruthin Library on Monday 18 March, or the Picton Community Centre at Haverfordwest on Wednesday 20 March.

Thank you to all the contributors that have visited us so far!

Collecting and sharing the Welsh experience of World War One

  • March 14, 2013 - morfuddniajones

Do you have letters, photographs, postcards or other memorabilia from those who experienced the war either at home or at the Front? We aim to capture the personal experiences of the Welsh involved in the War. The war affected everyone; those who fought, and those who stayed behind.

If you have items relating to any aspect of life during the war years, please bring them along to Ruthin Library on the 18th of March or to Picton Community Centre, Haverfordwest on the 20th of March to have them preserved and shared digitally.

 

ww1_ruthin_m_hanner                      ww1_haverfordwest_m_hanner

 

For more information, read the press release on the National Library of Wales website

Participatory Design Workshop

  • March 12, 2013 - morfuddniajones

A Participatory Design Workshop was held at the National Library of Wales on the 6th of February 2013.
The workshop was collaborated by staff at the National Library of Wales and a team from the Humanities Research Institute at the University of Sheffield who are working on a project entitled Participating in Search Design: a study of George Thomason’s English Newsbooks. The goal of the workshop was to pilot a participatory design approach to the development of the library’s World War I digital resource by engaging with potential end users. The range of different media present in the archive means that compiling the digital resource has posed significant questions and challenges to the design of the interface.

The report by the Humanities Research Institute, University of Sheffield can be seen by clicking on the link below

NLW WWI Design Group Report

Here are some photographs taken on the day.

DSCN2321hanner                     DSCN2314hanner

DSCN2316hanner      DSCN2320hanner

 

Collecting and sharing the Welsh experience of World War One

  • March 5, 2013 - morfuddniajones

Do you have letters, photographs, postcards or other memorabilia from those who experienced the war either at home or at the Front? We aim to capture the personal experiences of the Welsh involved in the War. The war affected everyone; those who fought, and those who stayed behind.

If you have items relating to any aspect of life during the war years, please bring them along to Pontardawe Arts Centre on the 12th of March or to Brecon Library on the 14th of March to have them preserved and shared digitally.

ww1_pontardawe_m_hanner                                       ww1_brecon_m_hanner

For more information, read the press release on the National Library of Wales website

 

Creating metadata at Caernarfon Archives

  • March 4, 2013 - morfuddniajones

A team of us visited Caernarfon Archives today to prepare metadata for Gwynedd Archives that is to be included as part of the ARCW material for the project.  Members of People’s Collection Wales will be going there on Wednesday to digitise the material prepared today.

Rhys yng Nghaernarfon

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