Born on 4 December 1865 in Norfolk, Cavell entered the nursing profession while aged 20.
Moving to Belgium she was appointed matron of the Berkendael Medical Institute in Brussels in 1907.
During her brief career in Belgium she nevertheless succeeded in modernising the standard of Belgian nursing.
With war in 1914 and the subsequent German occupation of Belgium Cavell joined the Red Cross; the Berkendael Institute was converted into a hospital for wounded soldiers of all nationalities.
Many of the captured Allied soldiers who were treated at Berkendael subsequently succeeded in escaping – with Cavell’s active assistance – to neutral Holland.
Cavell was arrested on 5 August 1915 by local German authorities and charged with having personally aided in the escape of some 200 such soldiers.
Kept in solitary confinement for nine weeks the Germans successfully extracted a confession from Cavell which formed the basis of her trial.
She, along with a named Belgian accomplice Philippe Baucq, were duly pronounced guilty and sentenced to death by firing squad.
The sentence was carried out on 12 October 1915 without reference to the German high command.
Cavell’s case received significant sympathetic worldwide press coverage, most notably in Britain and the then-neutral United States.
Such coverage served to harden current popular opinion regarding supposed routine German barbarity in occupied Belgium.
In 1942, Dunlop was sent to Java, Indonesia to help treat allied and Australian troops who were stationed there in order to counter the Japanese threat. In March of that year the Japanese captured Weary’s hospital in Bandoeng, Java.
Weary could have escaped but he would not hear of leaving his patients and became a prisoner of war (POW).
All POWs were taken by ship to Singapore and from there some, including Weary, were railed in crowded rice trucks and sent to Thailand.
The Japanese utilised these men to build a continuous strategic rail line between Burma and Siam (now known as Myanmar and Thailand respectively).
Over four hundred kilometres long, this ambitious Japanese engineering project became known as ‘The Railway of Death’ – it has been estimated that including POWs and native labour, the construction of this railway cost one hundred thousand lives.
Weary led the first Australian group to arrive in Thailand and to work on the now infamous Burma – Siam Railway. In his dual capacity of Commanding Officer and Surgeon he had the care and responsibility for over one thousand men.
This group became known as ‘Dunlop Force’ or ‘Dunlop’s Thousand’.
Weary’ s medical skills, compassion and dedication to duty inspired his fellow POWs. He displayed extraordinary courage in attempting to improve the harsh living and working conditions imposed by his captors.
With scarce medical supplies and lack of proper instruments, the prisoners manufactured needles and artificial limbs from bamboo – improvisation was the order of the day and often made the difference between death and survival.
The men were required to work by Tokyo time, waking at 3am to begin their daily trials. Commonly breakfast consisted of one mug of rice and one of watery tea, while lunch and dinner would consist of rice with the occasional egg, but very little else.
Working from early morning until well into the night, the men were pushed to the brink of exhaustion; they were emaciated to levels they did not expect they could endure. Slow starvation and wretchedness was the order of the day. Weary bravely wrote:
“I have a conviction that it’s only when you are put at full stretch that you can realise your full potential”
Weary used his position as a doctor and Commanding Officer to protect his men. Having the awesome responsibility of deciding who was fit enough for work and who could remain behind to perhaps survive, he would often stand up to the Japanese soldiers, frequently with dire consequences for himself.
He was once made to kneel on gravel and hold up some heavy stones for many hours while a bamboo shaft was placed behind his knee.
But Weary never wavered; he always stood fast for his men.
Weary Dunlop passed away in 1993.
A French officer and his comrade in arms read the New York Times.
During the World War I era (1914-18), leading newspapers took advantage of a new printing process that dramatically altered their ability to reproduce images.
Rotogravure printing, which produced richly detailed, high quality illustrations—even on inexpensive newsprint paper—was used to create vivid new pictorial sections.
Publishers that could afford to invest in the new technology saw sharp increases both in readership and advertising revenue.
The images in this collection track American sentiment about the war in Europe, week by week, before and after the United States became involved.
Events of the war are detailed alongside society news and advertisements touting products of the day, creating a pictorial record of both the war effort and life at home.
The collection includes an illustrated history of World War I selected from newspaper rotogravure sections that graphically documents the people, places, and events important to the war.
During World War I the United Kingdom called upon its female population to join the workforce.
With a majority of men being deployed and a dire need for production both to support the troops and to keep the country running, women were asked to “do their bit”.
Munition factories were one of the main sites where man (or woman) power was needed. These production facilities dealt mainly with trinitrotoluene (TNT), a toxic chemical compound that was originally used as a yellow die before its potential as an explosive was discovered.
It is no wonder that the women who were exposed to TNT on a daily basis turned yellow due to depigmentation of the skin.
Their hair would often turn green or reddish too and sometimes even fall out altogether.
Hence the nickname ‘Canary Girls’ or ‘Munitionettes’.
The side effects of working with such a toxic substance was not just visual. Other effects include: vomiting, nausea, migraines, breast deformation, chest pain, and weakening of the immune system.
On top of all these risks, the leading cause of death in the factories was explosions.
The biggest of these blasts was in 1918 at the National Shell Filling Factory, Chilwell which killed 130 workers.
This is Britain’s worst ever disaster involving an explosion and it was the biggest loss of life in a single explosion during WWI.
Despite all these hazards and the women’s ability to perform both heavy duty and delicate tasks perfectly, on average, women were paid less than half of what their male counterparts received.
The will of a Gallipoli hero, Private John Simpson Kirkpatrick, was recently discovered by the State Records Office (SRO) in Western Australia.
Simpson and his donkey became symbols of the Anzac spirit, famed for transporting wounded Australian and New Zealand soldiers from the frontline at Gallipoli to safety in 1915.
Simpson was born in England in 1892, joined the merchant marines at 17 and eventually made his way to Australia.
In August 1914, he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force and started training at Blackboy Hill camp near Perth.
Simpson disembarked for training in Egypt and it was there, just weeks before his death, he pencilled a will on 6 April, 1915.
“In the event of my death, I give the whole of my property and effects to my mother Sarah Simpson,” he wrote.
Gallipoli hero John Simpson Kirkpatrick, was killed at the age of 22 while trying to rescue an injured soldier.
“Simpson was posted to the 3rd Field Ambulance and landed in Gallipoli on 25 April
As a stretcher bearer he decided he would enlist the help of a donkey to carry the wounded.
Only three weeks after landing he was killed by a Turkish bullet during a journey up Monash Valley to help wounded soldiers and became a national symbol of sacrifice and courage.
On May 1, 1915, the ship departed New York City bound for Liverpool. Unknown to her passengers but probably no secret to the Germans, almost all her hidden cargo consisted of munitions and contraband destined for the British war effort.
As the fastest ship afloat, the luxurious liner felt secure in the belief she could easily outdistance any submarine. Nonetheless, the menace of submarine attack reduced her passenger list to only half her capacity.
On May 7, the ship neared the coast of Ireland. At 2:10 in the afternoon a torpedo fired by the German submarine U 20 slammed into her side. A mysterious second explosion ripped the liner apart. Chaos reigned.
The ship listed so badly and quickly that lifeboats crashed into passengers crowded on deck, or dumped their loads into the water. Most passengers never had a chance.
Within 18 minutes the giant ship slipped beneath the sea. One thousand one hundred nineteen of the 1,924 aboard died. The dead included 114 Americans.
Walter Schwieger was captain of the U-Boat that sank the Lusitania. He watched through his periscope as the torpedo exploded and noted the result in his log, “The ship stops immediately and heals over to starboard quickly, immersing simultaneously at the bow.
It appears as if the ship were going to capsize very shortly. Great confusion is rife on board; the boats are made ready and some of them lowered into the water. In connection therewith great panic must have reigned; some boats, full to capacity are rushed from above, touch the water with either stem or stern first and founder immediately.”
In the ship’s nursery Alfred Vanderbilt, one of the world’s richest men, and playwright Carl Frohman tied life jackets to wicker “Moses baskets” holding infants in an attempt to save them from going down with the ship.
The rising water carried the baskets off the ship but none survived the turbulence created as the ship sank to the bottom. The sea also claimed Vanderbilt and Frohman.
The sinking enraged American public opinion. The political fallout was immediate. President Wilson protested strongly to the Germans. Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan, a pacifist, resigned.
In September, the Germans announced that passenger ships would be sunk only with prior warning and appropriate safeguards for passengers.
However, the seeds of American animosity towards Germany were sown.
Within two years America declared war.
Harry ‘Breaker’ Morant (above) was born in the United Kingdom – in 1865 by his own account but in 1864 according to later research, possibly under the name Edwin Henry Murrant.
He left England in April 1883 bound for Queensland where he married Daisy May O’Dwyer (later known more famously as Daisy Bates) – and quickly divorced – and took to droving and horse-breaking; hence the nickname.
In the late 1890s he enlisted with the South Australian Mounted Rifles to fight in the Boer War in South Africa.
Along with P.J. Handcock, Morant was court-martialled for executing several Boer prisoners and a German missionary.
He and Handcock were found guilty and executed by firing squad on February 27th 1902.
The Firing Squad Scene in “Breaker Morant” with Bryan Brown as Handcock and Edward Woodward as Morant.
The story of his trial and execution was told in the 1979 film “Breaker Morant” with Edward Woodward as Morant, Bryan Brown as Handcock, along with Jack Thompson as the defending counsel, – the film was directed by Bruce Beresford.
Morant was one of the ‘back-block’ bards of the 1890s and published the bulk of his work in The Bulletin magazine.
The Poetry of ‘Breaker’ Morant: from the Bulletin 1891-1903 1980, foreword by David McNicoll.
Sitting on top of a sheer 255-foot cliff with the Mulde River below, and located deep in the heart of Nazi territory, some 400 miles to the border, Colditz Castle (Schloss Colditz) was a high-security prison that the Germans considered escape-proof.
Known as Oflag IV-C, it primarily held high-profile Allied officers and those who had repeatedly escaped from other less-secure camps. It essentially became a prison full of escape artists.
The impenetrable castle’s 7-foot-thick walls and steep cliffs did not deter the prisoners at Colditz, who devised intricate escape techniques and came up with ingenious and sophisticated strategies.
Unfortunately for the Germans, 300 escape attempts were made from this inescapable fortress during the war—over 30 of which were successful.
The high-security measures in place failed to take into consideration the pure audacity and cunning of the imprisoned officers.
From tunneling, cross-dressing, or constructing a glider, the craftiness of the prisoners meant the guards had to remain constantly on their toes.
Following liberation by American forces in 1945, the memoirs of escaped prisoners inspired dozens of films, TV productions, video games, and even board games. In particular, the memoir of British Army officer Pat Reid provided the inspiration for the film The Colditz Story.