Thursday, 30 June 2016

Survivors of The Great War

Harry Bray Young
My great grand-father served in World War 1 as a machine gunner for the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. The regiment is of course famous for the fatal event that occured on July 1st, 1916 at Beaumont-Hamel, exactly 100 years ago, in which nearly 700 men died in a half hour. A great deal of fighting occured after this in the same area, since very little territory was gained in these massive battles, and my great grand-father participated in the fighting that occured after.

He was not the only one in my family to sign up for combat. His brother also signed up when he was eighteen and was in the war for an incredible five years. To give you an idea of how long that was, they say that 98% of people can only handle 90 days of intense modern warfare before battle fatigue sets in. The intense artillery blasts and risk of being hit by shells at any moment, or sniped from a far distance at any time and also seeing your friends sniped as well, makes modern warfare something that almost no one can tolerate for beyond that 90 day period. The 2% who do not suffer severe detriment after such a period are considered sociopathic.

My great grand-father was one of these men who were sniped, as a matter of fact. He was shot in the chest and arm, missing an artery by about an inch. A sudden change in the wind would have been enough to cause the bullet to strike him unfavorably, and that would have been enough not only to kill him, but I wouldn't be here to write this either. He formed a large family after the war which continues to possess a strong presence in St. John's and Logy Bay.

After the disaster that occured to the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, a great deal of technological innovation was occuring beyond the trenches to allow greater leverage. We see tanks being used more extensively and aircraft being used for both surveying as well as light serving combat roles. Poison gas was still being used but it was not always that effective due to a number of events in which the wind changed and actually blew the gas back towards the offenders.

Chateau Wood near Hooge in the Ypres salient, 29 October 1917
My great grand-father was part of an advance that involved tanks. He was injured during the Battle of Steenbech, Steenbech itself being a small town near Ypres. His injuries occured approximately 1 month and 99 years ago, and would persist in causing him physical problems that resulted in great pain. Particularly, fragments of bone and bullet would continue to cause him a great deal of trouble. In spite of this, him and his son managed to form businesses that are central to the city of St. John's. King's Bridge Service Station being the most well known, however others have recently mentioned that they remember his other businesses to me.

These days it is very important to remember how awful war can be. People in those days were not necessarily particularly savage people. They just did not understand how much technology amplified destruction, and the Great War was the first big lesson in how war was now much more deadly. This war of course planted the seeds for World War II, since the Germans were quite upset about losing the first war.

A century after these terrible events it is good to reflect upon the poems written by the men in the trenches. It is important to appreciate the depth of suffering experienced by men in those fields, and consider the fact that now women serve in the infantry units of the military as well. If another great conflagration occurs it will likely be much more severe. As terrible as Adolf Hitler was, he would not use poison gas because he had fought himself in World War I. Our leaders today do not have any direct experience with war on this scale. We should be cautious of those who increase hostilities and have peace as the number one priority when we head to the voting booths. Our society is just an extention of every individual and such wars can be made impossible if every single person does their best to learn from the fruitlessness of such endeavors.

Written by Andrew Young

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares(2) we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest(3) began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots(4) 
Of tired, outstripped(5) Five-Nines(6) that dropped behind.
Gas!(7) Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets(8) just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime(9) . . .
Dim, through the misty panes(10) and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering,(11) choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud(12) 
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest(13) 
To children ardent(14) for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.(15)
Wilfred Owen
Thought to have been written between 8 October 1917  and March, 1918

Notes on Dulce et Decorum Est

1.  DULCE ET DECORUM EST - the first words of a Latin saying (taken from an ode by Horace). The words were widely understood and often quoted at the start of the First World War. They mean "It is sweet and right." The full saying ends the poem: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori - it is sweet and right to die for your country. In other words, it is a wonderful and great honour to fight and die for your country.
2.  Flares - rockets which were sent up to burn with a brilliant glare to light up men and other targets in the area between the front lines (See illustration, page 118 of Out in the Dark.) 
3.  Distant rest - a camp away from the front line where exhausted soldiers might rest for a few days, or longer 
4.  Hoots - the noise made by the shells rushing through the air 
5.  Outstripped - outpaced, the soldiers have struggled beyond the reach of these shells which are now falling behind them as they struggle away from the scene of battle  
 6.  Five-Nines - 5.9 calibre explosive shells 
7.  Gas! -  poison gas. From the symptoms it would appear to be chlorine or phosgene gas. The filling of the lungs with fluid had the same effects as when a person drowned
8.  Helmets -  the early name for gas masks 
9.  Lime - a white chalky substance which can burn live tissue 
10.  Panes - the glass in the eyepieces of the gas masks 
11.  Guttering - Owen probably meant flickering out like a candle or gurgling like water draining down a gutter, referring to the sounds in the throat of the choking man, or it might be a sound partly like stuttering and partly like gurgling 
12.  Cud - normally the regurgitated grass that cows chew usually green and bubbling. Here a similar looking material was issuing from the soldier's mouth 
13.  High zest - idealistic enthusiasm, keenly believing in the rightness of the idea 
14.  ardent - keen 
15.  Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori - see note 1 above.
These notes are taken from the book, Out in the Dark, Poetry of the First World War

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Museum Highlights: What's inside a book?

I am a bit of a bibliophile, and one of the first things I noticed when I first arrived at the Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove Museum to start as the museum coordinator was all of the books. Some of the are associated with a library that was once run out of this building, and some are associated with the book club (if you're interested in the book club contact April Kenny at the Town Council Office at 709.726.7930 Ext. 23), but many are donations and are scattered throughout the exhibits.

Taking a look through some of the books, there are many interesting things written on the inside cover. Of course there are many interesting things written between the covers, but that's not as interesting in terms of the people from Logy Bay, Middle Cove and Outer Cove.

It started it a boarding pass sticking out of a book...
I hope they had a good trip!
Which turned into a scavenger hunt throughout the books.

Math calculations in an English grammar text
Is this the Kinsella home?
These books were donated by a number of different people and are on different subjects. In the School section of the museum we have some old text books, many of which were used here in the community.
Some of the school books
Names and money. Were they owed or owing?
Traduire fran├žais vers l'anglais
Words of warning in Joan's Vitality English book

In Lifestyles, there is another collection of books. These mostly come from the collection of Ethel Noseworthy. There aren't many inscriptions in these books, but there is a wonderful cookbook donated to the town of Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove.

Donated books housed in the Lifestyles section of the museum
I'd almost like to borrow it to try some of the recipes... but of course I won't

Finally, some of the older books in the collection are stored in a case in Kitchen (also where we have our group activities such as Archaeologist for a Day).
It must have been an important meeting with the priest.
Robbie suggests How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn. I believe I will have to add this to my "to read" shelf as well, although I will look for a newer copy.
Adding to the interest is that Walter is Private Walter O'Brien and is stationed at the Battery.

And our newest book is a historical fiction about the legendary Outer Cove Crew from the 1901 St. John's Regatta. The inscription might not be as odd or as interesting as some of the others, but meaningful nonetheless. You'll find this book in Sports, or find your own copy at your local retailer.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Museum Highlights: Fish Finder

Everyone is waiting for #CapelinRoll2016! To find those fish we just watch the waves and see the capelin roll in. But what about when fishermen want to find other fish? A handy tool was a fish finder.

Fish finder [997.3.2]
This long, hollow, cone shaped device was used to find fish underwater. Both ends were flat, and the larger end (the bottom) would have a glass insert. The fisherman would hold the finder by the handle and insert the glass end just below the waves. This would allow the fisherman to look into the top end to see if there were any fish in the traps without having to haul up the trap.

The glass end (broken) of the fish finder [997.3.2]

Sometimes more modern methods can be used to check traps. For instance, it's not unheard of for fishermen in Holyrood to ask the Marine Institute students training to fly Remote Operated Vehicles to use the ROVs to check their traps!

The open end of the fish finder [997.3.2]

This particular fish finder belonged to Peter Roche and was donated to the museum by his son, Phil Roche.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

"Tales of Logy Bay"

"Tales of Logy Bay" by M.S. Strawbridge
In Atlantic Guardian vol. 11 no. 1, 1954, pages 17-21.

A wonderful story looking at the sights and history of Logy Bay as told by a cyclist. The article is framed by the song, Star of Logy Bay, and explores Logy Bay, Outer Cove, Middle Cove, the impact of the Torbay Airport and the USAF and RCAF in the area, St. Francis of Assisi Church, the laying of the trans-Atlantic cable at Middle Cove Beach and the steep cliffs and hairpin turns of Marine Drive. Found while exploring the Memorial University of Newfoundland digital archives.

Here at the museum, we also wonder who the lucky lady is. If you know, and know if her house is still standing, please let us know!

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Archaeologist For A Day is Back!

It was a visitor favourite last year, so Archaeologist For A Day is back again for 2016!

If your child participated last year, don't worry, we've changed the program just a little so it will be a little bit different and a little bit new.

Hope to see you at the museum!

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Museum Highlights: Usborne Ginger Beer Bottle

This week's artifact is a stone bottle that once contained ginger beer. This museum coordinator remembers enjoying malt drinks the last time she traveled to Barbados. This brewed drinks are not what we think of when we think of beer, instead, they are easier to think of as a brewed soda as they typically contain no, or a negligible amount, of alcohol. The sodas we most commonly get are syrups with CO2 added, not brewed like they once were.

One of the more popular brewer of beer in Newfoundland used to be Gaden's, with their distinctive sea lion on an ice flow logo. In fact, at the start of WWII, Newfoundlanders didn't really drink sodas, but drank beer in cherry, grape and orange flavours (Daly 2015). US servicemen who arrived on the UST Edmund B. Alexander in 1941 discovered this quickly. Dominick (Tony) DeAntonio, in particular, found out that he couldn't treat his future wife to a pop when he met her early in his time in St. John's, but instead opted for a beer (Cardoulis 1993).

Gaden Keep Kool bottles from the 1940s or 1950s. From Wicks 2002

Other drinks were imported, such as Usborne "None Nicer" Brand Ginger Beer. Not much could be found about this bottle, but Ascott-Under-Wynchwood has always been known for its bread, blankets, and beer, and brewing has been going on in the area for centuries. It is difficult to find information about Usborne themselves, but the bottle itself was made by Pearsons in Chesterfield. Chesterfield has long been famous for its pottery. It was an area of pottery production in the Roman era, and in the 1700s became famous for its salt-glazed pottery with its distinctive brown colouration. Pearsons had been in operation from the early 1800s until 1993 or 1994 making bottles, jugs, plates, bowls and other ceramics. There is an extensive history of Pearsons Potteries at this Chesterfield Forum.

The maker's mark reads:

Pearsons Potteries shipped internationally, so this bottle must have been made in Chersterfield, filled with ginger beer in Ascott-Under-Wychwood (now typically just called Wychwood), and shipped to Newfoundland where it eventually made it to the collection of Wayne King who kindly donated it to the LBMCOC Museum.

If you have any stories to share about this or any sodas or beers you remember enjoying, please feel free to post them below.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Museum Highlights: The Angel Statues

Over the summer, we here at the Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove Museum plan to highlight some of our artifacts. Of course, a few posts over the summer will never cover all of the amazing artifacts that we house, but will simply showcase some of our favourites. Most of the artifacts in the museum have been generously donated by people and groups in the community, and for that, we are grateful.

Up first, the angel statues in the Church section of the museum.

Angel statue. 997.5.1a

Angel statue. 997.5.1b
Two of the most prominent pieces in the Church section of the museum are these two angel statues. They are candle holders that were part of the original alter of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Outer Cove. The church was built in 1918, and prior to its construction, Catholic parishioners in Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove attended the Cathedral (Basilica) of St. John's the Baptist or Holy Trinity Parish in Torbay.

St. Francis of Assisi Church in the town of Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove. Photo by Lisa M. Daly, 2016.

Appointed as the first priest of the newly formed parish of St. Francis of Assisi for Logy Bay, Middle Cove and Outer Cove, Father Daniel P. O'Callaghan (commonly known as Father Dan) decided to build the church on a hill overlooking Outer Cove. The cornerstone was laid in 1918 and volunteers from the parish worked to build the church. The first mass was a Christmas Eve midnight mass held in 1919, before the church was completed. Scaffolding was still in place during the service. The church was completed the following year.
"Interior of Outer Cove Chapel, Near St. John's, Newfoundland." 997.25.5
The alter was donated by the Kennedy family of St. John's, who were friends of Father Dan. The angels can be seen on either side of the alter in the above photograph. The alter was renovated in the 1960s to meet the requirements of Vatican II and the angels were removed.
A closer view of the angels in the above photograph. 997.25.5
The angels were donated to the museum by the St. Francis of Assisi Parish and the picture of the alter was donated by Bernadette Cahill. It is an undated picture that belonged to her mother, Annie (Nance) Croke.