History with its flickering lamp stumbles along the trail of the past, trying to reconstruct its scenes, to revive its echoes, and kindle with pale gleams the passion of former days. ~Winston Churchill

24 November, 2014

Flying, 1920s Style

A terrific set of cigarette cards depicting a flight from London to Amsterdam in the early days of commercial air travel. The images (each "from an official photograph supplied by Imperial Airways") are accompanied by text detailing "our" flight, from check-in and take-off, to views over the Channel, France, and Brussels (where we land for lunch), to the final landing in Amsterdam. I've included the backs with the text, as the little details are fascinating insights into a time when planes held "as many as" 20 passengers, reached cruising altitudes of 3,000 feet, and got from London to Brussels in "only" two and a half hours. 

(The cards aren't specifically dated, but Imperial Airways existed from 1924-1936, the plane named (the [Armstrong Whitworth] Argosy) was used from 1926-1935, and the clothing is solidly late 1920s)


New York Public Library

New York Public Library

Check-in ("weighing-in"). Source




New York Public Library

New York Public Library

The Control Tower, where the controller marks plane positions on a map with little flags. Source




New York Public Library

New York Public Library

Position finding, using the wireless. Source




New York Public Library

New York Public Library

"Land lighthouses." Source




New York Public Library

New York Public Library

Embarkment into our 20-seat biplane, which attains 100 miles an hour. Source




New York Public Library

New York Public Library

The cabin interior, with coat and hat racks provided. Source




New York Public Library

New York Public Library

Take-off! Source




New York Public Library

New York Public Library

2,000 feet over Folkestone, about to cross the Channel after 45 minutes. Source




New York Public Library

New York Public Library

Over the Channel. Source




New York Public Library

New York Public Library

Over Ypres, a major location of fighting in WWI. Source

Note: For space, I've only included about half the aerial views. The complete set is here. 


New York Public Library

New York Public Library

The Palais de Justice, Brussels, which we've reached in a "remarkable" two and a half hours. Source




New York Public Library

New York Public Library

A scenic loop over Brussels, then we land at the aerodrome and get out for lunch. Source




New York Public Library

New York Public Library

Over Bruges. Source




New York Public Library

New York Public Library

Reaching the Dutch islands. Source




New York Public Library

New York Public Library

Windmills and canals of the Netherlands. Source




New York Public Library

New York Public Library

Scheveningen, the Netherlands. Source




New York Public Library

New York Public Library

Approach into Amsterdam. Source




New York Public Library

New York Public Library

We land, and we make up our minds we "must fly again." Source

05 November, 2014

Soldier Singalongs

Back in the days before recorded music was easily portable (or even extant), getting a group together to sing around the piano was a popular form of entertainment. In accumulating photographs of this activity (which will probably still be in a future post), I was struck to see just how many there were of soldiers having a good sing at the piano. In the earlier twentieth century, pianos were, of course, much more ubiquitous than they were today, and a common feature of recreational spaces. Even today, an open piano seems to be pretty irresistible--how much more so to fellows who really need a chance to unwind. And, of course, wartime photographers, particularly official ones, tend to flock to the more reassuring types of images, ensuring the capture of some of these spontaneous moments of fun amidst the turmoil and uncertainty of war. 


© IWM (C 107)

RAF men sing around a piano in a billet in France, December 1939. Source




© IWM (A 1431)

Officers sing after dinner onboard the battleship HMS Rodney, 1940. Source





Trainee airmen singing at a piano, WW2. Source




Soldiers relaxing at the Aldwych YMCA with a piano, London, 1918. Source




© IWM (A 18151)

Soldiers sing around a piano brought onto the deck of the HMS Prinses [sic] Beatrix just before the 1943 invasion of Sicily.  Source




© IWM (CH 8025)

RAF men with drinks and a song at the local pub, Hampshire, England, WW2. Source





Australian soldiers singing to a piano in an English YMCA. Source





A singalong to a newly donated piano at a Melbourne military hospital, 1942. Source





Australian soldiers singing at a YMCA, London, 1918. Source




© IWM (ARMY TRAINING 16/38)

Soldiers at a piano in a barracks recreation room, Reading, England, 1919-1939. Source





A large-scale singalong on a troop transport ship, en route from Australia to Malaya, 1941. Source





An English civilian leading the soldiers she's invited for dinner in a song, Sussex, 1943. Source




© IWM (A 7108)

Navy men in a Christmas singalong, Alexandria, 1941. Source





The wonderful original [presumably press] caption: " 'Music hath no boundaries" is an adage that still holds good at the Music Box Canteen, on New York's Fifth Avenue, where long, lanky Australian RAAF aces, grinning American tars, and rosy-cheeked French sailors of the Tricolour's ships, the Richelieu and Le Terrible, all make merry around a Piano, singing "Le Marseillaise." It's coffee the boys are drinking out of paper cups, not champagne." 1943. Source





Exuberant singing on V-J day, Borneo, 1945. Source

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Search This Blog

Loading...