Soldiers’ Song and Slang of the Great War is an update and enlargement of a book first published in 1931. The current book includes phrases that were deemed inappropriate in earlier editions. The slang is both mystifying and well known. For example, a “goo wallah” is the sanitary man. Other items such as a “flapper’s delight” for a young officer are self-explanatory even now.
The songs lack any musical notations and only the lyrics are printed. Many use melodies set to well-known tunes—those by Gilbert and Sullivan seem to be popular as are folk melodies from the British countryside. The lyrics are commentaries on life at the front, the memories of home, and patriotic themes. By war’s end parodies are widespread. Songs from America and France are included, even “Adieu la Vie” (Chanson of Craonne) which was banned in France until 1974. The English translation is buried in the appendix, but is worth finding. The song is an indictment by the soldiers in the field of their treatment by the French army and government.
The Home Front in the Great War covers the British home front and the Hull area in detail. There is a chronological section at the beginning that provides an overview of events back in “Blighty,” followed by short essays on the efforts by groups from the Royals to the YMCA to support of the war effort. The report on the Boy Scouts is especially laudatory.
Both books use a good variety of images and are entertaining to read. Unfortunately, neither book has an index, making it almost impossible to use them for reference purposes.
We are changing the WW1HA’s newsletter’s publication schedule to monthly. Publishing “Here and There with the WW1HA” twice a year provides too few opportunities to interact effectively with the membership! So, we’re going to go with shorter, monthly publications via our Constant Contact mailing list. My goal is that each issue will contain a brief comment from the President / Officers, a quick summary of WW1-related news, and a focus on a member and his/her research in each issue. What else should it include? You tell me: email@example.com.
Membership was very low at the beginning of the year, so we have formed a Membership Committee. The first action taken was to contact 2020-22 members who had not renewed in 2023. That was the low-hanging fruit. The second action will be to increase year-end renewal reminders and touch points with the membership—also low-hanging fruit. The third action will be to explore ways to reach beyond our current customers.
On 11 March we held our first quarterly Fireside Chat—with 27 participants—using Zoom. Again, this provided interaction with our members. We will be doing these quarterly and will be announcing the next one shortly. The top two responses of how/why members got excited about WW1 were 1) family involvement in the war and 2) aviation. How do we use this information to grow membership?
A small group of us are actively posting in the World War One Historical Association’s Facebook Group. Join us there.
Ed Klekowski is itching to do a Summer (third) issue of World War One Illustrated. He is working on the first Summer issue as we speak.
I have not made major changes to the website yet, because of the above-mentioned initiatives. That said, I did modernize the Chapters/Events Page to reflect our current activities.
I hope these efforts breathe new life into the Association, and I want to encourage you to do your bit. If you have a good idea, tell me about it. Better yet, step up and be willing to take a more active role.