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Thursday, 30 October 2008

Tony Blair and the Recession

As we enter the recession I thought people might be interested in seeing an update of the financial situation of Tony Blair. From a report in The Times this week:

Tony Blair’s earnings since leaving Downing Street are calculated to have topped £12 million, more than six times his previous lifetime income.

The former Prime Minister, who tours the world speaking to audiences including investment banks, private equity firms and chambers of commerce, is now said to be the highest-paid speaker in the world.

As the stock market has plummeted and the housing market has slumped, the man who as Prime Minister championed the “light-touch” system of financial regulation blamed by some for the current crisis is enjoying an unprecedented boom of his own.

Mr Blair receives £84,000 of taxpayers’ money to run a private office and is entitled to an annual pension of £63,468, but this pales to insignificance beside his private earnings. He has made £4.6 million from his memoirs, an estimated £2 million from JPMorgan Chase — including bonus — and £500,000 from Zurich Financial Services. On top of that he has exceeded the $9.2 million (£5.8 million) that Mr Clinton earned, according to his wife Hillary’s financial disclosures, from speeches in his first year outside the White House.

“I can tell you that Tony Blair has already made more money than that,” a speaking industry source said. “He is now probably the highest-paid public speaker in the world.”

At the United Nations there is fear that his focus on commercial interests is jeopardising his unpaid role as Middle East envoy.

One senior official said: “There’s a view in the UN that he’s not making any progress and that from all the status that he brings to the position, he doesn’t seem to be achieving anything . . . He’s meant to work on the distribution of aid to Palestinians and not brokering peace in the Middle East, though he’d like to do that.”

Such is the demand for Mr Blair, who works exclusively through the blue-chip Washington Speakers Bureau, that he has a two-year waiting list for bookings, with clients prepared to pay $250,000 (£157,000) for a typical speech of roughly 90 minutes.

One of his main employers is the Washington-based Carlyle Group. Next month he will address a conference of its European investors in Paris about “geopolitics”. He addressed a similar conference for Carlyle in Dubai in February. Carlyle Group is a leading private equity investor in the military.

Carlyle and the Blair Government have a controversial history. The National Audit Office said taxpayers lost millions from the privatisation of spy technology because of Labour’s decision to appoint Carlyle Group as a preferred bidder too quickly.

However, it is not all good news for Tony Blair. Like other wealthy individuals, he has been badly hit by the economic downturn. For example, he owns five properties. The house he owns in Sedgefield is now worth £126,000, down from a peak of £140,000 in summer last year (he bought it for £30,000 in 1983).

In 2002 he bought two new-build apartments bought for £265,000. They looked a shrewd investment at the time but it has been reported that one of them is now on the market for £285,000.

His house in London bought for £3.65 million in 2004. He then added the adjoining mews house, for £800,000 early last year. However, it is in a fashionable part of London and is still valued at over £5m.

His biggest loss is for his home in Wotton Underwood, Buckinghamshire. He bought the property for £4 million in May. It is currently valued at £3.76 million.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Alexander Fleming

On the outbreak of the First World War Alexander Fleming joined the Royal Army Medical Corps. Fleming and Almroth Wright were based in Boulogne. Fleming soon discovered that many of the wounded men being transported back from the Western Front were suffering from septicaemia, tetanus and gangrene. He was aware that white blood corpuscles, left to themselves, killed an enormous number of microbes. Yet the infections from war wounds were terrible. Fleming realised that part of the answer was that there was a great deal of dead tissue around the wound, providing a good culture in which microbes could flourish. In September 1915, he published an article in The Lancet advising surgeons to remove as much dead tissue as possible from the area of wounds.

Fleming research showed that the traditional treatment of infected wounds with antiseptics, was totally ineffective when used in the Casualty Clearing Station. He discovered that antiseptics did nothing to prevent gangrene in seriously injured soldiers. The reason for this was that scraps of underclothing and other dirty objects were driven by the force of an explosion deeply into the patient's tissues, where antiseptics were unable to reach.

Fleming and Almroth Wright realised that supporting the natural resources of the body would be more effective in the treatment of gangrene and the showed that a high concentration of saline solution would achieve this. However, they had great deal of difficulty in persuading the Royal Army Medical Corps to adopt this treatment.

Fleming remained convinced that he would eventually find a successful treatment for infected wounds. "Surrounded by all these infected wounds, by men who were suffering and dying without our being able to do anything to help them, I was consumed by a desire to discover, after all this struggling and waiting, something which would kill those microbes."

After the war Fleming returned to St. Mary's Hospital in Paddington and in 1921 Fleming was made assistant director of the Inoculation Department. The following year he discovered lysozyme, a natural antibacterial enzyme which he found initially in human tears.

In 1928 Fleming was appointed as Professor of Bacteriology at the University of London. Later that year he was clearing out some old dishes in which he grew his cultures. On one of the mouldy dishes, he noticed that around the mould, the microbes had apparently been dissolved. He took a small sample of the mould and set it aside. He later identified it as of the penicillium family. He therefore named the anti-bacterial agent he had discovered penicillin.

Fleming published his findings in 1929 but it was not until during the Second World War that Howard Florey and Ernst Chain managed to isolate and concentrate penicillin. It was not until the end of the war that the antibiotic could be mass produced and was widely used. Fleming, Florey and Chain won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1945.

In October 1953 Fleming developed pneumonia. He was given an injection of penicillin. Fleming made a quick recovery and he later commented: "I had no idea it was so good."

It was recently estimated that over 200 million lives have been saved by penicillin since 1945.

Monday, 27 October 2008

C. S. Lewis and the First World War

C. S. Lewis is best known for "Narnia" stories for children that began with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950) and finished with The Last Battle (1956).

Lewis attended Malvern College and in 1916 he won a scholarship to University College, Oxford. However, the Master of the College informed Lewis that, with the exception of one boy with health problems, everyone who had won a scholarship had joined the British Army in order to fight in the First World War. As the authors of Famous 1914-1918 (2008) pointed out: "As as Irishman, Lewis could legally have avoided service, there being no conscription in Ireland, but the thought never entered his head: he would serve."

Lewis initially joined a cadet battalion at Keble College. He made friends with a small group of students including Ernest Moore, Martin Somerville, Thomas Davy and Alexander Sutton. Lewis became a commissioned officer in the Somerset Light Infantry. He soon became very close to Laurence Johnson, who had also won a scholarship to Oxford University. All these men, except for Lewis, were killed. In fact, an estimated 25% of all scholarship boys were killed during the First World War.

Lewis was badly wounded during an attack on the German trenches on 14th April 1918. "Just after I was hit, I found (or thought I found) that I was not breathing and concluded that this was death. I felt no fear and certainly no courage. It did not seem to be an occasion for either." When Lewis regained consciousness he discovered that the man standing next to him, Sergeant Harry Ayres, had been killed by the same shell that had wounded him.

After the war he went to live with Jane Moore, the mother of Ernest Moore. He therefore kept the promise he had made in 1917 that he would look after his mother if he was killed in the First World War. He introduced Moore to friends as his mother (his own mother had died of cancer when he was 10 years old).

Moore developed dementia after the Second World War and was eventually moved into a nursing home, where she died in 1951. It was said that he visited her every day that she was in the nursing home.

For several years Lewis corresponded with Joy Davidman, an American poet. The couple were married on 21st March 1956. She died from bone cancer on 13th July, 1960. Lewis wrote about the relationship in his book, A Grief Observed (1961). The relationship is the subject of the film, Shadowlands.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Football Encyclopaedia

An organic encyclopaedia of British Football. It includes entries on Managers, Professional Football, Crowd Trouble, Disasters, Coaching, Black Footballers, Corruption in Football, Discipline and Punishment, FA Cup, Football Deaths, Schoolboy Football, First World War, Second World War, Football Cigarette Cards, Football Association, Internationals, Football League, Scottish League, Football Journalism, Tactics, Football Stadiums, Trade Unionism, Goolkeeping, Goalscorers, Health Risks, etc. There are also sections on Early Football Teams (30), Administrators, Managers and Journalists (60), Star Players (362), Women's Football (14) and Football Cigarette Cards (12).

Freepedia Blog

Basil Rathbone

Basil Rathbone is probably best known as the film actor who played Sherlock Holmes. Rathbone was a battalion intelligence officer during the First World War and twice a week he led reconnaissance night patrols into No Man's Land. On the patrol's return, it was Rathbone's job to write up a report. He later admitted that many of these reports "were masterpieces of invention; inconclusive, yet always suggesting that every effort had been made by our patrol to garner information and/or make contact with the enemy. Under such circumstances one's imagination was often sorely tried in supplying acceptable news items."

In July 1918 Rathbone went to see his commanding officer and explained that it was very difficult for him to obtain accurate information in the dark. He suggested that he should undertake patrols in full daylight. He added that he should be allowed to take two other men with him: Corporal Norman Tanner and Private Richard Burton.

In his autobiography, In and Out of Character (1956), Rathbone described his first daylight patrol: "Camouflage suits had been made for us to resemble trees. On our heads we wore wreaths of freshly plucked foliage; our faces and hands were blackened with burnt cork. About 5.00am we crawled through our wire and lay up in No-Man's-Land."

Over the next few days Rathbone was able to obtain some very important information: "Camouflage suits had been made for us to resemble trees. On our heads we wore wreaths of freshly plucked foliage; our faces and hands were blackened with burnt cork. About 5.00am we crawled through our wire and lay up in No-Man's-Land."

Rathbone won the Military Cross for his daylight patrols. The citation included the following: "Lieutenant Rathbone volunteered to go out on daylight patrol, and on each occasion brought back invaluable information regarding enemy's posts, and the exact position and condition of the wire. On 26 July, when on the enemy's side of the wire, he came face to face with a German. He shot the German, but this alarmed two neighbouring posts, and they at once opened a heavy fire with two machine guns. Despite the enemy fire, Lieutenant Rathbone got his three men and himself through the enemy wire and back to our lines. The result of his patrolling was to pin down exactly where the enemy posts were, and how they were held, while inflicting casualties on the enemy at no loss to his own men. Lieutenant Rathbone has always shown a great keenness in patrol work both by day and by night."

Rathbone's motives for taking such risks dates back to an incident that took place a few months earlier. He met up with his brother John Rathbone in the trenches. He later recalled: "We retired late, full of good food and Scotch whiskey. We shared my bed and were soon sound asleep. It was still dark when I awakened from a nightmare. I had just seen John killed. I lit the candle beside my bed and held it to my brother's face - for some moments I could not persuade myself that he was not indeed dead. At last I heard his regular gentle breathing. I kissed him and blew out the candle and lay back on my pillow again. But further sleep was impossible. A tremulous premonition haunted me - a premonition which even the dawn failed to dispel." John Rathbone was killed a few days later on 4th June.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008


You will find a cmprehensive account of Slavery here:

It includes sections on Slave Narratives, Slave System, Slave Life, Events & Issues, Political Organizations and Campaigners Against Slavery.

Dennis Wheatley

Dennis Wheatley was a successful author. During his life he wrote over 70 books and sold over 50 million copies. It was also a neo-fascist who plotted against the Labour Government (1945-51). This document, A Letter to Posterity, dated 1947, was found after his death:

Geoffrey Winthrop Young

Geoffrey Winthrop Young was a very interesting character. On the outbreak of the First World War Young became a journalist with The Daily News. Young was a pacifist and was a strong opponent of the conflict. However, when faced with the tragic consequences of the war, he resigned as a war correspondent and joined the Friends' Ambulance Unit at Ypres. This involved transporting both casualties and refugees away from the Western Front.

In 1917 Young went to Italy to establish an ambulance service in the mountains of the Italian-Austrian front. On 31st August he was hit by an Austrian shell. His left leg was so badly wounded that it had to be amputated at the knee. He then had to walk sixteen miles in two days to avoid being captured by the Austrian Army.

On 16th September 1917, Young wrote to George Mallory that he was already planning to climb with an artificial leg: "Now I shall have the immense stimulus of a new start, with every little inch of progress a joy instead of a commonplace. I count on my great-hearts, like you, to share in the fun of that game with me."

After the war he continued to climb with an artificial leg and over the next few years reached the summits of the Matterhorn and Zinal Rothorn.

R. C. Sherriff

Robert Cedric Sherriff is best known for writing Journey's End. When it was performed in 1928 it was a great success and it was the first of the anti-war works of art that helped to turn Britain in the 1930s into a nation that would do anything to prevent another event like the First World War. Some critics claim that these anti-war writers were therefore partly responsible for the Second World War.

Journey's End is also about the class system. A week after the outbreak of the First World War the British Army advertised in the national press inviting young men between the ages of 17 and 30 to serve as officers during the conflict. Sherriff, who was 18 years old in 1914, decided to apply.

Sherriff later recalled: "I was excited, enthusiastic. It would be far more interesting to be an officer than a man in the ranks. An officer, I realised, had to be a bit above the others, but I had had a sound education at the grammar school and could speak good English." However, the army was not impressed with his grammar school education and his application was rejected.

A.A. Milne

A.A. Milne is best known for his Winnie-the-Pooh children's books. Although it made him a lot of money he always wanted to be a serious writer but his adult novels and plays were ignored by the public and the critics.

His other claim to fame was that he owned Cotchford Farm in Hartfield. This was the place where Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones died.

Milne was also an officer in the First World War. An event he writes about in It's Too Late Now: The Autobiography of a Writer (1939).

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Arnold Ridley

Most people probably know Arnold Ridley best for his performance as Charles Godfrey in Dad's Army (1968-1977). However, he was also someone who bravely fought in the British Army in two world wars. He wrote a moving account of these experiences in his memoirs. Unfortunately, they have never been published. I have included some extracts from these memoirs on my page on Ridley:

After his death in 1984 his son, Jasper Ridley, pointed out: "A horrible irony is that my father was not the sort of man who was out for official recognition, yet all he had ever wanted was the Military Medal. He told me that when he came back from No Man's Land after an attack on the Somme, he was standing around with four or five other boys when an officer spoke to them. He said he was going to put them all up for the MM except for my father who, because he had a lance corporal stripe on, he would put up for the Distinguished Conduct Medal. All the other men got their MMs but he didn't get the DCM, and that did embitter him a little bit. It is exactly the sort of thing he would not have normally cared about, but I think he felt it was a badge of comradeship. When he was awarded an OBE for playing a small comedy part in a television series, I felt it was a poor reward for someone who had served in two world wars."

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Spartacus Educational

Spartacus Educational

Established in September 1997, the Spartacus Educational website provides a series of history encyclopaedias. Topics covered include British History: 1750-1960, United States: 1840-1980, First World War, Second World War, Association Football, Making of the United Kingdom, Tudors & Stuarts, Assassination of John F. Kennedy, Watergate, Spanish Civil War, Russia: 1860-1945, Germany: 1900-1945, France: 1900-1945, etc. Entries usually include a narrative, illustrations and primary sources. The text within each entry is linked to other relevant pages in the encyclopaedia. In this way it is possible to research individual people and events in great detail. The sources are also hyper-linked so the student is able to find out about the writer, artist, newspaper and organization that produced the material.

Encyclopaedia of British History: 1700-1960 (2,457 entries)

A comprehensive encyclopaedia being produced for the National Grid of Learning and a completely free resource for all students of British history. The encyclopaedia currently contains 2,445 entries and is an attempt to show the history of Britain through the eyes of people from all levels of society. This is a reference work that provides as much information about Marie Corbett as it does about Queen Victoria; where Henry Hetherington's life is examined in the same sort of detail as that of the Duke of Wellington. The encyclopaedia is being created in sections (entries in parenthesis): Emancipation of Women (114), Textile Industry (148), Entrepreneurs (80), Religion (122), Trade Unions (70), Socialism (178), Members of Parliament: (216), Peterloo (78), Parliamentary Reform (114), Chartism (66), Scotland (60), Education (102), Slavery (158), Prime Ministers (33), Child Labour (94), Parliamentary Legislation (74), London in the 19th Century (38), Political Parties and Election Results (42), Engineers (34), Railways (116), Artists & Architects (82), Cartoonists (98), Poets & Novelists (72), Theatre (24), Poverty, Health and Housing (26), Towns & Cities (40), Journalists (100), Newspapers & Magazines (38) and Publishers (50).

Encyclopaedia of the First World War (923 entries)

The encyclopaedia is being created in sections (entries in parenthesis). So far the following sections are available: Chronology (1), Outbreak of War (22), Countries (22), Allied Armed Forces (32), Important Battles (34), Technology (10), Political Leaders (94), British Home Front (20), Military Leaders (58), Life in the Trenches(24), Trench System (22), Trench War (18), Soldiers (44), War Heroes (12), Medals (8), War at Sea (24), War in the Air (48), Pilots (28), Aircraft (30), War Artists (34), Cartoonists and Illustrators (90), War Poets (16), Journalists (28), Newspapers and Journals (16), Novelists (36), Women at War (56), Women's Organisations (14), Weapons & War Machines (42), Inventors and the War (12) Theatres of War (6) and War Statistics (18).

Encyclopaedia of the United States: 1840-1980 (1890 entries)

An organic encyclopaedia on the USA between 1840-1980. The encyclopaedia is being created in sections. So far the following sections are available: American Civil War (262), Political Figures (170), Political Events (62), Slavery (156), Women's Suffrage (116), Business Leaders (54), Scientists (20), Supreme Court Judges (18), Trade Unions (68), Journalists (84), Newspapers & Magazines (36), European Immigration (270), Artists and Illustrators (28), Cartoonists (56), Photographers (50), Novelists & Poets (58), the First World War (86), Crime & Criminals (26), McCarthyism (110), Roosevelt and the New Deal (56), and the Struggle for Civil Rights (246).

Encyclopaedia of the Second World War

A comprehensive encyclopaedia of the Second World War. So far there are sections on: Background to the War; Nazi Germany, Chronology of the War, Political Leaders, European Diplomacy, Major Offensives, British Military Leaders, USA Military Leaders, German Military Leaders, Japanese Military Leaders, The Armed Forces, The Air War, The Resistance, Scientists & Inventors, War at Sea, Resistance in Nazi Germany, The Holocaust, War Artists, Weapons and New Technology.

Assassination of President Kennedy Encyclopaedia

A detailed look at the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. There are biographies of 328 people involved in the case: Major Figures (84), Important Witnesses (66), Investigators, Researchers and Journalists (112) and Possible Conspirators (132). Other sections include: Reports (4), Organizations and Operations (26) and Key Issues (4). The website also looks at the possibility that different organizations such as the Mafia, CIA, FBI, Secret Service, KGB and the John Birch Society might have been involved in the planning of the assassination. Other possibilities such as anti-Castro activists, Texas oil millionaires and the Warren Commission's lone-gunman theory are also looked at. The website has an activity section and a forum where students and teachers can enter into debate with the author of the material, other investigators and witnesses to the events of 1963.

The American West (384 entries)

A comprehensive encyclopaedia of the American West. So far there are sections on Explorers (12), Frontiersmen, Mountain Men and Fur Trappers (20), Criminals and Outlaws (34), Soldiers (30), Migrants and Settlers (12), Cattlemen and Cowboys (12), Judges and Lawmen (30), Politicians (10), Women and the Wild West (16), Inventors and Businessmen (10) Artists and Writers (12), Native Americans Leaders (18), Events and Issues (64), Trails and Places (10), Native American Tribes (26), Forts, Towns and Cities (28), Guns, Clothes and Equipment (20), Animals and Wild Life (20). Most entries contain a narrative, illustrations and primary sources. The text within each entry is hypertexted to other relevant pages in the encyclopaedia. In this way it is possible to research individual people and events in great detail.

Cold War Encyclopaedia

As well as 160 biographies there are 74 articles on subjects such as the Atomic Bomb, Berlin Wall, Bay of Pigs, Comintern, Cuban Missile Crisis, Domino Theory, Federal Republic of Germany, German Democratic Republic, Hallstein Doctrine, Hungarian Uprising, Korean War, Marshall Aid, McCarthyism, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Nuclear Arms Race, Ostpolitik, Perestroika, Prague Spring, Solidarnosc, Schuman Plan, Truman Doctrine, U-2 Crisis, Vietnam War and the Warsaw Pact.

Tudor Encyclopaedia

Tudor Encyclopedia: A collection of articles on the Tudor period. As well as 42 biographies there are articles on the Battle of Bosworth, Act of Union, Agriculture and Enclosures, Anglicans and Puritans, The Babington Plot, Catholics and Protestants, Elizabethan Theatre, Elizabeth and Marriage, Henry VIII and the Pope, Kett Rebellion, Poverty in Tudor England, The Protestant Reformation, Pilgrimage of Grace, The Ridolfi Plot, The Spanish Armada, Sports and Pastimes, The Throckmorton Plot, Tobacco in Tudor England, Tudor Artists, Tudor Heretics, Tudor Monasteries, Tudor Parliaments, Tudor Wales and the Tyndale Bible.

The Stuarts: 1600-1750

British History from 1600 to 1750. As well as 112 biographies there are articles on important events (The Civil War, Cromwell’s Commonwealth, Glorious Revolution, Great Fire of London, Gunpowder Plot, Jacobite Rebellion, Pride’s Purge, Putney Debates, Restoration, Rye House Plot, Ship Money, Test Acts); religious and political groups (Anabaptists, Anglicans, Baptists, Congregationalists, Diggers, Fifth Monarchists, Independents, Levellers, Presbyterians, Puritans, Quakers, Tories and Whigs); and military groups and battles (Cavaliers, Culloden, Edgehill, Marston Moor, Naseby, Newbury, New Model Army, Roundheads, Roundway Down).

Vietnam War

This website provides a detailed account of the Vietnam War. There is also an interview area where 12 Vietnam veterans are willing to answer questions from students on their experiences of the war. As well as thirty biographies of individuals who played an important role in the conflict there are entries for Buddhism, Cambodia and Laos, Chemical Warfare, Dien Bien Phu, Domino Theory, Eisenhower Doctrine, Guerrilla Warfare, Gulf of Tonkin, Ho Chi Minh Trail, Mass Media and the War, My Lai, National Liberation Front, Negotiated Peace, Operation Rolling Thunder, Strategic Hamlet Programme, Tet Offensive, Vietnam Protest Movement, Vietnam Revolutionary League and Vietnamization.

The Emancipation of Women: 1750-1920

A comprehensive encyclopaedia of how British women got the vote. Each entry contains a narrative, illustrations and primary sources. The text within each entry is hypertexted to other relevant pages in the encyclopedia. In this way it is possible to research individual people and events in great detail. The sources are also hypertexted so the student is able to find out about the writer, artist, newspaper, organization, etc., that produced the material. So far there are sections on: omen in the 19th Century (Schooling, Marriage, Industrial Work, Careers & Professions, University Education, Birth Control), Pressure Groups, Strategy and Tactics and Parliamentary Reform Acts.

Black People in Britain

A collection of biographies of black people who lived in Britain. This includes John Alcindor, Ira Aldridge, John Archer, Francis Barber, Manchererjee Bhownaggree, George Bridgetower, Learie Constantine, William Cuffay, Offobah Cugoano, William Davidson, Celestine Edwards, Olaudah Equiano, Marcus Garvey, C. L. R. James, Claude McKay, Tom Molineaux, Harold Moody, Dadabhai Naoroji, George Padmore, James Peters, Bill Richmond, Paul Robeson, Shapurji Saklatvala, Innatius Sancho, Mary Seacole, Samuel Coleridge Taylor, Walter Tull, Robert Wedderburn, Arthur Wharton and Sylvester Williams.

Encyclopaedia of Russia: 1860-1990 (300 entries)

A comprehensive encyclopaedia on Russia. So far there are sections on: Events and Issues, 1860-1914 (22); Revolutionary Philosophers (8); Russian Revolutionaries, 1860-1910 (32); Russian Political and Military Figures: 1860-1920 (34); Events and Issues in Russia, 1914-20 (18); Russian Revolutionaries: 1914-20 (64); Political Groups and Organizations (12), Foreign Witnesses of the Revolution (18), Newspapers and Journals (6), Russian Literature (24), Soviet Union: 1920-1945 (20), Soviet Union: 1945-1990 (16) and Political Figures: 1945-1990 (14).

Germany: 1900-45 (452 entries)

A comprehensive encyclopaedia of Germany. So far there are sections on the First World War (82), German Art (18), German Scientists (26), Weimar Republic (16), Political Parties (8), Political Leaders : 1900-1930 (42), Foreign Policy: 1930-40 (12), Military Leaders (42), Nazi Germany (34), Nazi Political Leaders (74), German Resistance to Nazism (52), Holocaust (46).

Encyclopaedia of France: 1900-45

The encyclopaedia is being created in sections. So far the following sections are available: Military Leaders: 1900-1920, France and the First World War, French Armed Forces: 1914-18, French Politicians: 1920-1945, Military Leaders: 1920-1945, French Politicians: 1945-1970, France and the Second World War, French Armed Forces: 1939-45 and the French Resistance.

Spanish Civil War (246)

A comprehensive encyclopaedia of the Spanish Civil War. There are sections on: Main Events and Issues (10), Political Organizations (16), Military Organizations (24), Important Battles (12), Biographies: Spanish (56), Biographies: Foreign Participants and Observers (96), International Leaders and the Civil War (22) and Individual Countries and the Spanish Civil War (10).

Teaching History Online

A free weekly email journal for anyone interested in using the internet to teach or study history. The journal includes online news, reviews of websites and articles on ICT history. Members will also be able to submit information for inclusion in the newsletter. In this way we hope to bring people together who are involved in using the internet to teach history. Currently it has 41,600 subscribers. Past editions can be seen at: You can subscribe to Teaching History Online by sending an email to

Education on the Internet

Education on the Internet is a free weekly email journal for anyone interested in using the internet in schools, colleges or for private study. The journal includes online news, reviews of websites and articles on ICT. Subscribers can submit information for inclusion in the newsletter. In this way Spartacus Educational hopes to develop a community of people involved in using the internet for education. Currently Education on the Internet has 53,150 subscribers. Past editions can be seen at: You can subscribe to Education on the Internet by sending an email to or from any page on the Spartacus Educational website.

Educational Web Directory

Sections of the educational web directory includes Primary, English, Mathematics, Science, Modern Languages, History, Geography, Design & Technology, Business Studies, Media Studies, ICT, Sociology, Music, Politics, Physical Education and Religious Studies.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

George Leigh Mallory

History teachers might want to consider doing a study of George Leigh Mallory and his brother Trafford Leigh Mallory (1892-1944).

In 1905 Mallory went to Magdalene College, Cambridge, to study history. While at university he became friends with Rupert Brooke, John Maynard Keynes and Lytton Strachey. After graduating Mallory became a teacher at Charterhouse where he taught Robert Graves, encouraging his interest in poetry and mountaineering. Graves later recalled: "He (Mallory) was wasted at Charterhouse. He tried to treat his class in a friendly way, which puzzled and offended them."

In 1905 Mallory went to Magdalene College, Cambridge, to study history. While at university he became friends with Rupert Brooke, John Maynard Keynes and Lytton Strachey. After graduating Mallory became a teacher at Charterhouse where he taught Robert Graves, encouraging his interest in poetry and mountaineering. Graves later recalled: "He (Mallory) was wasted at Charterhouse. He tried to treat his class in a friendly way, which puzzled and offended them."

Mallory was deeply shocked by the outbreak of the First World War. He believed strongly that international disputes should be solved by diplomacy. However, some of his friends, including Robert Graves and Rupert Brooke, did join the British Army. After the death of Brooke in 1915 he decided to join the Royal Artillery. His letters to his wife are a tremendous resource on life on the Western Front.

Mallory served in France until January 1919. He returned to teaching history at Charterhouse and revived the college mountaineering group. Of the original sixty members, twenty-three had been killed and eleven more wounded.

In 1921 Mallory was invited to join a reconnaissance expedition to Mount Everest. The following year he took part in an attempt to reach the summit, but the group was forced back by bad weather. However, Mallory and his colleagues reached a new world record altitude of just under 27,000 feet, a feat achieved without oxygen. Mallory was asked why he wished to climb Mount Everest and he replied: "Because it is there."

George Mallory was considered to be the best mountain climber in the world. Harry Tyndale, who climbed with Mallory, argued: "In watching George at work one was conscious not so much of physical strength as of suppleness and balance; so rhythmical and harmonious was his progress in any steep place ... that his movements appeared almost serpentine in their smoothness." Geoffrey Winthrop Young added: "His movement in climbing was entirely his own. It contradicted all theory. He would set his foot high against any angle of smooth surface, fold his shoulder to his knee, and flow upward and upright again on an impetuous curve."

Mallory joined another expedition to Mount Everest in 1924. Approaching his 38th birthday, he considered that this would be his last chance to climb the world's highest mountain. Mallory and an excellent young climber, Andrew Irvine, set off from the highest camp for the top on 8th June. Both climbers were seen by Noel Odell through a telescope on the mountain's northeast ridge, only a few hundred metres from the summit. They never returned to high camp and died somewhere high on the mountain.

Robert Graves argued that "anyone who had climbed with George is convinced that he got to the summit." His close friend, Geoffrey Winthrop Young was also convinced that he conquered Everest. He wrote: "After nearly twenty years' knowledge of Mallory as a mountaineer, I can say that difficult as it would have been for any mountaineer to turn back, with the only difficulty past, to Mallory it would have been an impossibility." Tom Longstaff, who took part in the 1922 Everest expedition, added: "It is obvious to any climber that they got up.... Now, they will never grow old and I am very sure they would not change places with any of us."

Over the next thirty years there were several attempts to climb Mount Everest. In 1933, Percy Wyn-Harris discovered Irvine's ice-axe on a rock at around 27,500 feet (8380 m).

Everest was eventually conquered by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay on 29 May 1953. They spent only about 15 minutes at the summit. They looked for evidence of the 1924 Mallory expedition, but found none.

In 1975, Wang Hongbao, a Chinese climber reported that he had seen the body of a at 8100m, while attempting to climb Everest. Wang was killed in an avalanche a day after the report and so the location was never precisely fixed. However, the only possible identity of the body was that of Mallory or Irvine.

The Mallory and Irvine Research Expedition, led by Eric Simonson, took place in 1999. The frozen body of Mallory was found at 26,760 feet (8,160 m) on the north face of the mountain. The body was remarkably well preserved due to the mountain's climate and from the rope-jerk injury around his waist, encircled by the remnants of a climbing rope, it appears that the two were roped together when Mallory fell. The body lay roughly below the location of Irvine's ice axe found in 1933. The fact that the body was relatively unbroken suggests that Mallory may not have fallen such a long distance as Irvine.

My web page contains several bits of evidence that could be consulted to answer the question: "Did Mallory and Irvine reach the summit of Mount Everest in 1924".

E-HELP Project

The European History E-Learning Project (E-HELP) is a Comenius 2.1 Project (Training of School Educational Staff). Established in October, 2004, the overall aim of e-help is to encourage and improve the use of ICT and the Internet in history classrooms in Europe.

The E-HELP project will empower European history teachers to take the teaching and learning of history into the 21st century. Designed to enlighten and initiate history teachers into the pedagogic possibilities of ICT in the history classroom, E-HELP will, through a website, online forum and residential course, enable history teachers to exploit the revolutionary potential of ICT. e-help is designed as a three year, three-phase project:

Phase 1 will begin by identifying and evaluating existing good practice, examining the potential of the technology to revolutionize current methodologies. We will research and produce online curricula and assessment modules designed to enable European history teachers, whatever the language competences of their students, to teach history issue based themes of importance beyond the boundaries of the nation state.

Phase 2 will see the launch of our e-help website and online forum to share our work and begin to create a pan-European community of history teachers with an interest in exploiting the potential of ICT.

Phase 3 will consolidate our project by preparing the first in a series of residential conference designed to bring European history teachers and history teachers trainers together to learn the skills that will make this revolution possible.

In short E-HELP will:

(1) Research, evaluate and present evidence of good practice in the use of ICT and the Internet in European History Classrooms.

(2) Produce and manage a multilingual website and discussion forum to support the project and its aims.

(3) Create innovative online history resources for teaching a European dimension with a range of past-present historical issues in a multilingual/second language context.

(4) Deliver a residential course in the use of ICT and the Internet in the history classroom.

Bratislava History Project: UK-SK WWII

This is a joint project between British and Slovak school children researching aspects of joint recent history. The project brings together the British Council’s ‘Dreams and Teams’ school twinning initiative which seeks to encourage leadership and citizenship skills and the European History e-Learning Project (, an EU ‘Socrates’ funded project that promotes the use of ICT in the history classroom.

Two historical themes are explored:

Slovak veterans from World War II who were based in the UK during the war and fought for the Allied forces. We hope to interview the following individuals.

Gen Ivan Schwartz
Domanová Ailsa, OBE
Gen Anton Petrák, MBE
Milan Píka
Stefan Miklánek

Nicholas Winton and children - a group of Slovak and Czech Jewish children who were evacuated just before the start of WWII with the help of the British "Schindler". We hope to interview the following individuals.

Sir Nicholas Winton
Joe Schlesinger
Lady Milena Grenfell-Baines
Lord Alfred Dubs
Vera Gissing

Before the event students have been planning their work together ‘virtually’ using the Student Education Forum.

On the day of the event, the students will interview Winton, his ‘children’ and the veterans, whilst recording the interviews with digital video. After the event, the students will collaborate to produce a website of their videos and research, along with a documentary of the day. The website is intended to be used by schools in the future as a curriculum resource, but also as a model of best practice in the application of ICT in European school collaboration projects.

The project is coordinated by Richard Jones-Nerzic of the British International School in Bratislava.

Monday, 13 October 2008

John Reith: A Nazi Sympathizer

After the First World War John Reith worked for the Conservative Party. In December 1922 was appointed general manager of the British Broadcasting Company, an organization was set up by a group of executives from radio manufacturers.

During the 1926 General Strike Reith created controversy when he allowed the Conservative government to impose radio censorship.

In 1927 the government decided to establish the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) as a broadcasting monopoly operated by a board of governors and director general. The BBC was funded by a licence fee at a rate set by parliament. The fee was paid by all owners of radio sets. The BBC therefore became the world's first public-service broadcasting organization.

Reith was appointed director-general of the BBC. Reith had a mission to educate and improve the audience and under his leadership the BBC developed a reputation for serious programmes.

Recently, a book was published by Reith's daughter, Marista Leishman (Reith of the BBC: My Father). In the book Leishman quotes from Reith's diary. On 9th March 1933 Reith wrote "I am certain that the Nazis will clean things up and put Germany on the way to being a real power in Europe again.... They are being ruthless and most determined". Later, when Prague was occupied, Reith wrote: "Hitler continues his magnificent efficiency."

Has Marista Leishman provided a public service or has she committed an act of betrayal?

E-HELP Seminars

Here is a list of the E-HELP seminars currently available:

Beyond Multiple-Choice

Using ICT to Promote Independent Learning

Beyond the History Classroom: The Potential of Podcasting

Simulations in the Classroom

Developing Interactive Teaching Styles

Web 2.0: Collaborative Teaching and Learning

Digital Video in the History Classroom

VLE: Guided Research of the Roman Empire

ICT-Based Distant Learning

ICT for Collaborative Teaching and Learning

The Student as Teacher

Using Macromedia Flash in the Classroom

Desktop Video-Conferencing

History, ICT and Impact Learning

Students in the Archive

ICT and Historical Communication Skills

Digital Storytelling

Using E-Learning to Overcome Barriers to Learning

Maintaining Your Own Website

The Role ICT has played in my Teaching

Information is not Learning

Mastering the Movie Image

How to Design a Departmental Website

Multimedia School Books

Digital Video in Teaching and Learning

The New Paradigm

Why you need your own website

The Student as Historian

Forums and History Teaching

Tutoring and Mentoring Online

Online Learning: A Case Study

Looking to the Future

Interpretations in History

Essential Questions for the Future School

Developing a E-HELP Distance Learning Course

ICT and Language Learning

The Past in the Future

New Web Pages

Nicholas Winton

Norburton Hotel


Aston Villa

West Ham United

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Blackburn Rovers

Preston North End

Derby County

Manchester United

Manchester City

Newcastle United

West Bromwich Albion

Bolton Wanderers