Saturday, November 22, 2014

November 1914 - With the Irish Guards

Army Base Post Office - November 1914
"Do not take any notice of me being wounded because if I was I would have let you know and I cannot think what the War Office is doing frightening people."

Kipling: "The Battalion had been practically wiped out and reconstructed in a month. They had been cramped in wet mud till they had almost forgotten the use of their legs: their rifles, clothing, equipment, everything except their morale and the undefeated humour with which they had borne their burden, needed renewal or repair."

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

11 November 1914 - With the Irish Guards

Postmark: Army Post Office, 11 November 1914
"...hope dear you and Lucy are quite well, you ever loving husband."

"On the morning of the 11th November, they were moved out by way of the Bellewaarde Lake and under cover of the woods there, in support of the Oxfordshire L.I. who cleared the wood north of Château Hooge and captured some thirty prisoners of the Prussian Guards... At 9 P.M. the Battalion was told it might go back and get tea and supplies at some cross-roads or other in the darkness behind it. The cookers never came up and the supplies were not available till past midnight on the 12th."  (The Irish Guards in the Great War, Kipling).

Monday, November 10, 2014

10 November 1914 - With the Irish Guards

Postmark: Army Post Office, 10 November 1914
"Dearest wife, just a postcard to let you know I received about 5 letters from you at once.  
They must have been saving them up for me..."

"Since October 31, 6 officers had been killed, 7 wounded, and 3 were missing. Of NCO’s and men 64 were dead, 339 wounded, and 194 missing. The total casualties, all ranks, for one week, were 613.

On the night of the 9th November the Battalion of four platoons, three in the firing line and one in reserve, was relieved by the S.W. Borderers; drew supplies and men at Brigade Headquarters, moved back through Zillebeke and marched into bivouacs near a farm south of the Ypres–Zonnebeke road, where they settled down with some Oxford L.I. in deep trenches, and dugouts which had been dug by the French.  They spent the 10th in luxury; their cookers were up and the men ate their first hot meal for many days."   (The Irish Guards in the Great War, Kipling).

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

14 October 1914 (2) - With the Irish Guards

Postmark: Army Post Office, 14 October 1914

"best of health..."

"On the 12th of October the Third Army Corps reached St. Omer and moved forward to Hazebrouck to get touch with the Second Army Corps on its right, the idea being that the two corps together should wheel on their own left and striking eastward turn the position of the German forces that were facing the Tenth French Army. They failed owing to the strength of the German forces on the spot, and by October 19, after indescribably fierce fighting, the Second and Third Army Corps had been brought to a standstill on a line, from La Bassée through Armentieres, not noticeably differing from the position which our forces were destined to occupy for many months to come. The attempted flank attacks had become frontal all along the line, and in due course frontal attacks solidified into trench-warfare again." (The Irish Guards in the Great War, Kipling).

14 October 1914 (1) - With the Irish Guards

Postmark: Army Post Office 14 October 1914

"Cpl Seaman, Irish Guards... write and let me know if your money arrived... I can see about it as we are a long way from the fighting at present"

Corporal is underlined twice in the card - a promotion.  

"The opposing lines had been locked now for close upon a month and, as defences elaborated themselves, all hope of breaking-through vanished....  Orders came to the Battalion on Sunday, October 11, to be prepared to move at short notice, and new clothes were issued to the men, but they did not hand over their trenches to the French till the 13th October, when they marched to Perles in the evening and entrained on the 14th at Fismes a little after noon, reaching Hazebrouck." (The Irish Guards in the Great War, Kipling).

Saturday, October 11, 2014

11 October 1914 (2) - With the Irish Guards

Postmark: Army Post Office, 11 October 1914
"Just a card to let you know that I am still in the best of health.  Hoping you and Lucy are the same.
Write soon."

"The opposing lines had been locked now for close upon a month and, as defences elaborated themselves, all hope of breaking-through vanished. Both sides then opened that mutually outflanking movement towards the west which did not end till it reached the sea. Held up along their main front, the Germans struck at the Flanders plain, the Allies striving to meet the movement and envelop their right flank as it extended.

Orders came to the Battalion on Sunday, October 11, to be prepared to move at short notice, and new clothes were issued to the men... (The Irish Guards in the Great War, Kipling).

11 October 1914 (1) - With the Irish Guards

Postmark: Army Post Office, 11 October 1914
"Dearest wife, just a card to let you know I am still alive..."

"In twelve days the British Army had been driven back 140 miles as the crow flies from Mons, and farther, of course, by road. There was yet to be a further retirement of some fifteen miles south of Esbly ere the general advance began, but September 3 marks, as nearly: as may be, slack-water ere the ebb that followed of the triumphant German tidal wave through Belgium almost up to the outer forts of Paris.(The Irish Guards in the Great War, Kipling).

The Irish Guards then took part in the "Miracle" of the Marne, advancing again, retaking villages previously held by the Germans.  However, by October and the Battle of Aisne, a new type of warfare had arrived: trench warfare.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

26 August 1914 - With the Irish Guards

Postmark: sent via Harwich, 26 August 1914 

"On Active Service in France... cannot say anything about the war as all letters are read."

"The Battalion heard confusedly of the fall of Namur and, it may be presumed, of the retirement of the French armies on the right of the British. There was little other news of any sort, and what there was, not cheering. On front and flank of the British armies the enemy stood in more than overwhelming strength, and it came to a question of retiring, as speedily as might be, before the flood swallowed what remained. So the long retreat of our little army began.

At Etreux, where with the rest of the Brigade the Battalion entrenched itself after the shallow pattern of the time, it had its first sight of a German aeroplane which flew over its trenches and dropped a bomb that “missed a trench by twenty yards.” The Battalion fired at it, and it “flew away like a wounded bird and eventually came down and was captured by another division.” Both sides were equally inexperienced in those days in the details of air war. All that day they heard the sound of what they judged was “a battle in the direction of Le Cateau.” This was the Second Army Corps and a single Division of the Third Corps under Smith-Dorrien interrupting our retirement to make a stand against four or more German Army Corps and six hundred guns. The result of that action caused the discerning General von Kluck to telegraph that he held the Expeditionary Force “surrounded by a ring of steel,” and Berlin behung itself with flags. This also the Battalion did not know. They were more interested in the fact that they had lost touch with the Second Division; and that their Commanding Officer had told the officers that, so far as he could make out, they were surrounded and had better dig in deeper and wait on. As no one knew particularly where they might be in all France, and as the night of the 26th was very wet, the tired men slept undisturbedly over the proposition, to resume their retreat next day."  (The Irish Guards in the Great War, Kipling)

Friday, August 15, 2014

15 August 1914 - With the Irish Guards

Postmark: Arras, Pas de Calais, 15 August 1914

"Still travelling.  Hope dear you and Lucy are keeping well"

"They reached Havre at 6 A.M. on August 13, a fiercely hot day...  Here they received an enthusiastic welcome from the French, and were first largely introduced to the wines of the country, for many maidens lined the steep road and offered bowls of drinks to the wearied.  Next day (August 14) men rested a little, looking at this strange, bright France with strange eyes, and bathed in the sea... At eleven o’clock they entrained at Havre Station under secret orders for the Front. The heat broke in a terrible thunderstorm that soaked the new uniforms. The crowded train travelled north all day, receiving great welcomes everywhere, but no one knowing what its destination might be. After more than seventeen hours’ slow progress by roads that were not revealed then or later, they halted at Wassigny, at a quarter to eleven on the night of August 15, and, unloading in hot darkness, bivouacked at a farm near the station."  (The Irish Guards in the Great War, Kipling)

Monday, August 11, 2014

August 1914 - With the Irish Guards

Photo taken in 1914.  Used as a postcard from the front line in June 1915
My great grandfather, Arthur Seaman, joined the Irish Guards on 1st December 1903.  He returned to civilian life briefly before being recalled to the regiment when the Kaiser's army invaded Belgium.

Arthur sent this postcard to my great grandmother in June 1915.  It is a photograph of the regiment taken at Wellington Barracks in London.

Rudyard Kipling's The Irish Guards in the Great War provides the context: "Mobilization was completed on August 8. Next day, being Sunday, the Roman Catholics of the Battalion paraded under the Commanding Officer, Lieut.Colonel the Hon. G. H. Morris, and went to Westminster Cathedral where Cardinal Bourne preached; and on the morning of the 11th August Field-Marshal Lord Roberts and Lady Aileen Roberts made a farewell speech to them in Wellington Barracks." 

My great grandfather wrote on the back the card, "3/4 of these chaps will never come home."  

I will be sharing other cards of his on the 100th anniversary of their posting.  

Quis Separabit / Up the Micks!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Infrastructure 2014: Trends, Demands & Challenges

Infrastructure 2014: Trends, Demands & Challenges brings together for the first time the key statistics and facts to show how infrastructure investment adds economic value, how the private sector has played a crucial role in the development of UK infrastructure, the scope and opportunities presented by the UK's National Infrastructure Plan and, finally, assessments of global demand and funding.  

Monday, April 28, 2014

Providing Evidence for the European Debate

Whatever ones own personal views on the European Union are, especially concerning its political development, it is worth grounding the forthcoming debate on the legal and economic scenarios and their potential consequences.  

A project that was a glimmer in a proposal form last year delivered two thumping additions to the European debate today. 

The first is “A Legal Assessment of the UK’s relationship with the EU” undertaken by Clifford Chance.  It examines the legal implications of different EU membership and non-EU membership scenarios for the UK. 

The second is “Analysing the case for EU membership - How does the economic evidence stack up?”  This is a study by Dr Rebecca Driver, who kindly included me in the acknowledgements, which examines the economic options for membership and their likely impacts.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Without Financial Services, the TTIP could be made to look a Monkey

The home of Senatorial inquiries for over fifty years was the site of TheCityUK’s first presentation on Capitol Hill.  Unlike the venue of last month’s TheCityUK evidence session at the House of Lords, United States Senate Room SD-562 was one of the first purpose-built, press and TV-friendly, hearing rooms of its kind in the world. 

A standing-room only audience of policymakers, businesses, academics and diplomats gathered together to try to answer the question of how to achieve greater coherence in transatlantic financial services regulation.

Gary Campkin, TheCityUK’s Director of International Strategy, welcomed a distinguished set of speakers and two panels of experts who took the Atlantic Council’s report, co-sponsored by TheCityUK and Thomson Reuters, The Danger of Divergence: Transatlantic Financial Reform & the G20 Agenda, as the core text.

His statements set the agenda:
  • The current system of transatlantic co-operation is not working as effectively as it could;
  • There needs to be a new generation of agreements based on formal commitment to co-operation; and 
  • The Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership’s (TTIP – pronounced ‘tee-tip’) proposed arrangements for regulatory coherence, which will likely cover a wide range of both EU and US measures affecting trade in goods and services, should extend to financial services regulation.  
Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) agreed that future sources of financial instability would not sit on the sidelines waiting for Europe and the United States to set aside their differences.  On matters of national pride and regulatory independence, he reminded regulators and his fellow legislators that coordination was not the same as capitulation.

The Ambassador of the European Union to the United States followed him with the newly released text of the European Commission on the topic.  This reflected so closely the approach of TheCityUK that a bystander would have thought it came straight out of our brochure on TTIP.

“The EU aims at establishing a framework for regulatory cooperation on financial services in the TTIP. The goal is not to define the substance of international standards, which shall be discussed in the respective fora outside the TTIP negotiations. The goal is to create an institutional framework of EU and US regulators to make sure that the EU and US rules work together, which shall contribute towards preventing future crisis.”

It was helpful for the Ambassador that TheCityUK had already made it clear what TTIP was not about:“We do not want to take the regulatory dialogue out of the hands of regulators (the only people capable of conducting it); we don’t want to put it in the hands of trade negotiators; we do not seek to curb US regulators’ much-prized independence; and we are not looking to undermine Dodd-Frank.”

In an unintended use of a Margaret Thatcher phrase, a later EU delegation speaker replied, “No, No, No,” when it came to the question of whether the EU would want to undermine Dodd-Frank.

Several panellists took the point that excluding financial services from TTIP would be perverse, especially when so many other controversial issues – literally dealing with life and death  - remained within the scope of the partnership.

There was also the widely held view that high level, sustained political engagement was needed; irregular summits did not get the job done and deals brokered at 11.59 to avoid market fractures were no substitute for coherent and planned initiatives.

However, there were defenders of the status quo.

There is no denying that coordination through the G20, the Financial Stability Board, Basel and elsewhere is greater than before the 2008 crisis.

It was said with a straight face that Europe and the United States already agree on 95% of the issues.  It was noted, with almost a straight face, that we humans share at least 95% of our genomes with chimps.

Without financial services, TTIP could be made to look a monkey.

The report will be presented next in Brussels (12 February) and London (14 February) before the political ‘stock-take’ by the EU and the US on 17-18 February.

Published in Regulation and trade on 05 February 2014

"TTIP?  I was busy writing Shakespeare."