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Sunday, 23 November 2014

10 Curious Facts About WW1

WW1 poster featuring how dachshunds (Weiner dogs) were victimised and regarded as a symbol of Germany. Here we have the British bulldog savaging the German dachshund. Viewed from our own perspective today this seems horrific.
During my research for my next Kirsty Campbell, historical crime fiction book, I’m going back a couple of years to 1917, which is bang in the middle of the First World War, known at the time as The Great War. During the course of this research I’ve come across various curious facts, and here are ten of them.

1.  Explosions on the battlefield in France could be heard in London.
2.  Dachshunds (Weiner dogs) were considered a symbol of Germany and political cartoonists used images of them to ridicule Germany, resulting in the loss of popularity of these dogs, and their possible victimisation by kicking and stoning. 217 dachshunds registered in Britain in 1913 – no dachshunds were registered in 1919.
3.  Chalk was added to bread to provide bulk.
4.  British summertime was introduced for the first time, to extend daylight hours.
5.  Paper money was introduced. In preparation for the war, the first £1 and 10 shilling notes were issued on 7 May 1914.
6.  The speed limit for cars was 20 mph, and no driving test was required.
7.  National railways passed into state control on 4 August 1914 – the eve of WW1.

8.  “Treating” someone to a drink was outlawed. It was made a criminal offence to buy someone else a drink under DORA regulations (Defence of the Realm Act).
9.  Women started to smoke in public.
10.  The novels of Jane Austen were prescribed to shell-shocked soldiers because of their soothing effect.

Researching for a novel can be a fascinating business, and I’m always amazed at what turns up. For example, when I was researching the first Kirsty Campbell novel, The Death Game, set in 1919, and I planned for Kirsty to be Dundee’s first policewoman, I was completely caught up by the origins of the Britain’s first women police services because they originated from the suffragette movements. Something an early editor simply refused to believe, but you can’t change history, so I parted company with that editor and the publisher he represented.
But for now, it’s time to turn away from all the interesting facts I’m finding out about WW1, and get back to my work in progress or the book will never be finished.
Chris Longmuir


Eileen Schuh: said...

I don't date back that far and not to give away my age, but when I graduated from high school and sought a career, Canada's national police force, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, were not accepting women into their ranks. From recent scandals, it appears they still don't truly 'accept' them.

Chris Longmuir said...

It's the glass ceiling, Eileen. It takes a bit of doing to shatter it, and I think it's even more difficult to do if you're looking for a career which has historically attracted the more macho type of man! It was that conflict that drew me in the direction of an early policewoman as a main character. And, as you know, all good stories need conflict!

Melanie said...

Interesting tidbits of information, Chris. I love the research part of writing, too. It's amazing the nuggets that get turned up.

Looking forward to this next book in the Kirstie Campbell series.