In the centenary year of the end of the Great War, Charles à Court Repington answers a tricky question – exactly when did we start to refer to the horrors of the 1914-1918 conflict as ‘The First World War’?
There is a false assumption that it could not have been so named until after the start of World War Two, but it was Repington who first popularised the phrase in the title of his book The First World War published in 1920. Read more ›››
The first person to fly in a heavier-than-air machine wasn’t the Wright brothers, but an unknown coachman who did so in 1853.
He worked for the Yorkshireman, Sir George Cayley, sometimes called the Father of Aviation, who carried out the first truly scientific study of the way that birds fly. Read more ›››
Most modern kitchens boast a dishwasher to make our lives easier but how many of us realise that the first commercially successful automatic dishwasher was invented in 1886 by Josephine Cochrane?
Cochrane was born Josephine Garis in Ohio in 1839, the daughter of civil engineer John Garis and granddaughter of John Fitch, the inventor of the first steamboat service in the US. Read more ›››
This week’s ABC Wednesday subject is the aristocrat, friend of royalty and cad and card cheat Sir William Alexander Gordon (sic) Gordon-Cumming.
Cumming was born in Morayshire, Scotland, in 1848, the son of the 3rd Baronet, the title he inherited at the age of eighteen as well as becoming chief of the Clan Cumming. Read more ›››
The early days of flying was an age for pioneers and none more so than Bessie Coleman who was both the first woman of African-American descent and the first of Native American descent to hold a pilot’s licence.
Coleman was born in 1892 in Atlanta, Texas, the daughter of sharecropper George Coleman, who was mostly Cherokee and part African-American, and his African-American wife Susan. Read more ›››
HMS Dreadnought was the pride of the British Navy and in 1910 it was visited by a group of foreign dignitaries, including the Emperor of Abyssinia who inspected the fleet and bestowed medals on several of the officers.
The visit might have been soon forgotten except that the whole thing had been an elaborate hoax dreamed up by the king of pranksters Horace de Vere Cole. Read more ›››
If the record of Noel Chevasse is impressive for his double Victoria Cross, even more so to my mind is that of William Coltman, the most decorated serviceman of the First World War.
Coltman was born in a village on the outskirts of Burton-on-Trent in 1891. Despite being a deeply religious man and a member of the Plymouth Brethren, he joined the North Staffordshire Regiment as a rifleman. Read more ›››
Two for the price of one for this week’s ABC Wednesday post in the two most decorated men in the British Army during the First World War – and neither of them were fighting men, but both had names beginning with the letter C.
As the only man to win the Victoria Cross twice in WWI, Captain Noel Chevasse is perhaps the better known of the two. Read more ›››