Westminster Heroes of World War 1

Lights OutLights Out is a major national initiative asking people to turn off their lights between 10.00pm and 11.00pm on Monday 4 August, marking 100 years since Britain entered the First World War in 1914.

In the four working days leading up to 4 August, Westminster Archives has been remembering a Westminster Hero each day, and we’ve brought all four together here in advance of Monday’s events:

Public information leaflets No 2 Your gas mask - Masking your windows 1939.

Public information leaflets: No 2 – Your gas mask. Masking your windows, 1939

Edward Harrison, Millbank

Educated at the United Westminster Schools, and then the School of Pharmacy at the University of London. Edward Harrison was the inventor of the gas mask, after joining the new chemists’ corps of the Royal Engineers in 1915. His invention was regarded as the most effective gas mask of the war. It was adopted by American forces in a modified form.

In November 1918, weakened by two and a half years of constant work and the gas inhaled during the early stages, Harrison died a hero. Memorials to him were unveiled by the Pharmaceutical Society in Bloomsbury Square, and the Chemical Society at Burlington House, and both organisations continue to award prize medals in his memory.

 

Sir Geoffrey Keynes, Smith Square

Handwritten note from the Capt W G Lidderdale certifying that Weeks was free of lice scabies and other infectious diseases in 1919

Handwritten note from the Capt W G Lidderdale of the Royal Army Medical Corps certifying that Weeks was free of lice scabies and other infectious diseases in 1919

Geoffrey Keynes served as a Lieutenant in the Royal Army Medical Corps during World War I and then worked as a consultant surgeon, becoming an expert in blood transfusion. His work to create a portable blood transfusion device was recognized as saving thousands of lives during World War I. 

 

Drainage plan from 1893 for 02 The Studios Queen's Terrace NW8 owned by Solomon J Solomon.

Drainage plan from 1893 for 02 The Studios, Queen’s Terrace NW8, owned by Solomon J Solomon.

Solomon J Solomon, Maida Vale

Solomon J Solomon was a landscape and portrait artist who lived at 120 Maida Vale, had studios at 2 St John’s Wood Studios and ran an army camouflage school just north of the Magazine building in Hyde Park.

During World War I, Solomon was a pioneer of camouflage techniques, and in March 1916, became a technical advisor to the army.

In May, he began helping to develop tank camouflage and in December established a camouflage school in Hyde Park (which was eventually taken over by the army).

 

Lena Ashwell, Paddington

Lena Ashwell

Lena Ashwell

During the First World War Lena Ashwell was an enthusiastic supporter of British war aims.

In 1915, she began to organise companies of entertainers to travel to France and perform; by the end of the war there were 25 of them, travelling in small groups around France. She also organised all-male concert parties to perform shows near to the front line.

She is remembered as being the first person to organise large-scale entertainment for troops at the front.


You can find out more about Light Out on the 1418now website: http://www.1418now.org.uk/lights-out/

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