Based on childhood recollections
of a working class area in north London.
propaganda on the world war one home front
World War One propaganda photograph of a boy, showing him framed with the king's crown, the British flag, flags of the allies,
fighter planes and a warship.
Everyone tried to help the World War One war effort in their own way. The
photograph on the right shows an example of how street photographers did it.
My young brother had his photograph taken by a street photographer on the way home
from school. What is interesting about it now is how the frame aimed to whip
up pride in what Britain and its allies were doing fighting the war. Note
the king's crown, the British flag, flags of the allies, fighter planes and
World War One propaganda poster, photographed in Royal Signals Museum.
Incidentally, my brother did not ask my mother's permission, and if he
had done so she would doubtless have refused because money was so tight.
The observation balloon station
There was an Observation Balloon Station in Hazelbury Road on the
Huxley estate where I lived in
Edmonton, north London. It was next to
School. We children never understood what the balloons were for. They seemed to be stationary
in the sky with ropes attached to them and were not unlike the German Zeppelins,
although of course much smaller. On the way back from
Sunday School we would go and look at
the soldiers stationed there, lining up for their Sunday dinner [lunch], each carrying a knife,
fork and spoon.
I was at school the day that peace was declared, and we children were sent
home for a half day's holiday. Shortly afterwards people in our road, Lopen
Road, began to organise a street peace
It was a time of celebration for some, but not for the families whose menfolk
would not come home. As I write, I think of Harry Lauder, who was a well-known
Scottish comedian. He started as a coal miner, but his gift of song and humour
attracted attention, particularly in London, and around 1920 he was knighted.
He too had a son who did not come home after WW1, and it was said that King
George V admired him for the song he sang afterwards:
"Keep right on to the end of the road."
Harry Lauder was well-known, but ordinary people who were unknown suffered
the same loss and knew the same heartache. My grandmother lost her son,
Arthur Ewens, and my aunt lost her fiancee.
This website Join me in the 1900s is a contribution to the social history of everyday life in early to mid 20th century Britain, seen through personal recollections and illustrations, with the emphasis on what it was like to live in those times. It is © Pat Cryer.