March 2015
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James Prinsep Beadle – War Artist

Posted By on March 11, 2015

Battle of Neuve Chapelle

Battle of Neuve Chapelle by J.P. Beadle. Maidstone Museum and Art Gallery.

Battle of Neuve Chapelle (10 – 13 March 1915)

J.P. Beadle was an English painter who was interested in historical and military subject matters. His interests included the Peninsular War (1807 – 1814), the Boer War (1899 – 1902) and the Great War (1914 – 1918). Beadle’s painting of the opening day of the Battle of Neuve Chapelle (10 March 1915) depicts the 2nd Rifle Brigade and the 39th Garwhal Rifles clearing the town. At this time of the centenary of the Battle of Neuve Chapelle we remember the Scottish units who received Battle Honours for Neuve Chapelle and to introduce J.P. Beadle, the artist, who also painted Piper James Cleland Richardson at Regina Trench (8 October 1916) in the action that led to James receiving the posthumous award of the Victoria Cross.

Piper J.C. Richardson VC by J.P. Beadle. Officer's Mess, Royal Scots, Edinburgh.

Piper J.C. Richardson V.C. by J.P. Beadle. Officer’s Mess, Royal Scots, Edinburgh.

Battle Honor Neuve Chapelle and Scottish Units

The Royal Scots Greys (2nd Dragoons)
Scots Guards
The Royal Scots
The Royal Scots Fusiliers
The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)*
The Black Watch (Royal Highlanders)
The Highland Light Infantry (City of Glasgow Regiment)
The Seaforth Highlanders
The Gordon Highlanders
The Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders*

*Emblazoned on the Regimental Colours

London Scottish Film Stars

Posted By on March 5, 2015

London Scottish InsigniaActors and the Great War

Seemingly one just has to ferret about the internet and much will be revealed simply by coming up with the right combination of search terms. Recently I was reviewing none other than Basil Rathbone’s Great War service, with the Liverpool Scottish, when I learned of three actors who served during the Great War with the London Scottish (the 14th London Regiment). These fine fellows include Ronald Colman, Herbert Marshall, and Lawrence Rains all who qualified for membership in the London Scottish Old Comrades’ Association.

Ronald Colman

Ronald Colman. Wounded 1914.

Ronald Charles Colman (Private – 2148)
Silver War Badge (Honourably discharged due to wounds)
Wounded 31 October 1914

While attending boarding school in Littlehampton he discovered acting. Prior to the Great War he was a member of the West Middlesex Dramatic Society and made his first stage appearance in 1914. He joined the London Scottish, a unit of Britain’s Territorial Army, in 1909 and went with them to the Western Front in 1914.  Colman was seriously wounded during the “Race to the Sea” between the river Douve and the Comines–Ypres Canal, Battle of Messines (Flanders, Belgium), 31 October 1914, being hit in the ankle by shrapnel. The injury left him with a limp that he tried to hide throughout his acting career. As a result of the wound he was invalided out of the British Army in 1915 and received the Silver War Badge. Colman returned to stage acting in 1916 appearing in The Maharani of Arakan, and The Misleading Lady. In 1917 his fortunes continued and he appeared in Partnership and Damaged Goods, and in 1918 The Little Brother and Bubble. His first film appearance was in 1917. Colman received an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award as Best Actor in the 1947 film, A Double Life.

Colman appeared in several classic films including A Tale of Two Cities (1935), and The Prisoner of Zenda (1937). In 1956 he appeared with David Niven in the frequently replayed film, Around the World in 80 Days. Apart from receiving an Academy Award he was nominated on three other occasions for Bulldog Drummond (1929), Condemned (1930) and Random Harvest (1942). Apart from these honours and two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (one for film and the other for television) his distinguished contributions to the art of film were honoured with the presentation of the George Eastman Award. (see

Herbert Marshall

“Bart” Marshall. Wounded 1915.

Herbert “Bart” Brough Falcon Marshall (Private – 8426 / 514221 )
Silver War Badge (Honourably discharged due to wounds)
Leg amputated during the Great War

Born into an acting family his parents, Percy F. Marshall and Ethel May Turner were stage actors. His godfather was the comedic Shakespearean actor Lionel Brough. Although Bart was not at first interested in theatre, after University graduation, he became involved in working backstage in theatre productions eventually trying his hand at performing before live audiences.

The Great War led Bart to the Western Front and at Arras, France in 1915 he was shot by a sniper in the right knee.  After several surgical procedures the leg could not be saved and Doctors performed an amputation whereby the leg was removed near to his hip. After more than a year in hospital he chose to return to acting having learned to walk again with a prosthetic limb. Similar to many who have undergone similar procedures Bart suffered from “phantom pain’ for the rest of his days as well as discomfort from the prosthetic device itself.  During the Second World War, Bart dedicated himself to the rehabilitation of injured soldiers especially those who had suffered similar injuries.

Bart’s stage acting career began in 1911 when he made his debut in The Adventure of Lady Ursula and continued to act until the Great War. Following the Armistice Bart’s success continued and in 1927 he appeared in the silent film, Mumsie. Hollywood was to follow two years later and in 1930 he appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s Murder, following up the next year with a performance for Paramount Studios. Bart became a Hollywood leading man appearing in several romance films with Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Katherine Hepburn and many others. In all he appeared in some 75 films and in 1960 received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Claude Rains

Claude Rains with Humphrey Bogart. Casablanca (1942)

William Claude Rains (Corporal – 6842 / 512891)
Gassed (Date unknown)
Commissioned Bedford Regiment 1917

A four time Academy nominee for the Best Supporting Actor Claude Rains starred in many classic films including The Invisible Man (1933), The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), The Wolf Man (1941) and Casablanca (1942).

Claude first began acting at the age of 11 in Nell of Old Drury (circa 1900) and later taught at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art where his students included the legendary actors Lawrence Olivier and John Gielgud. During the Great War Rains was nearly blinded during a gas attack, an injury that continued to plague his affected eye throughout his life.

Rains’ first Academy Award nomination occurred for the 1939 film, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Other nominations were to follow including, Casablanca (1942), Mr. Skeffington (1944) and Notorious (1946). Like his fellow London Scottish veterans, Ronald Colman and Bart Marshall, Rains also received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In addition Rains received a Tony Award (Theatre) in 1951 for the best performance by a leading actor for Darkness at Noon.

Rains also appeared in two David Lean’s films, Passionate Friends (1949) and Lawrence of Arabia (1962). His last role was in 1965 when he played Herod the Great in The Greatest Story Ever Told.

London Scottish War Memorial.

London Scottish War Memorial at Wytschaete, Belgium.

Mons, Marne, Verdun and Somme

Posted By on February 17, 2015

HMS Somme

The Royal Navy’s H.M.S. Somme (1918 – 1932).

The Royal Navy’s Great War Battle Commemorations

Recent research into the Royal Navy fleet that Admiral Sir Jacky Fisher, First Sea Lord of the Board of the Admiralty, built has led to some interesting discoveries. Fisher was instrumental, or rather was the powerhouse, in re-developing the British Navy. In October 1905 the Dreadnought program commenced leading to the February 10, 1906 launch of HMS Dreadnought.  Although Fisher’s Dreadnought program is the impetus of today’s discoveries it is four other vessels launched during the Great War that filled my spinnakers with wind and let me take heart in the comforting breeze of writing.

In 1915 two vessels were launched named for battles of the Great War, these two ships were HMS Mons and HMS Marne. A third ship followed in 1917 when HMS Verdun was completed and followed in 1918 by HMS Somme. Each vessel played its part during the Great War, though the Somme being competed a week before the Armistice did not see the service of the others.

HMS Mons
“M” class Destroyer
Launched May 1, 1915
Completed July 1915
Built by John Brown and Company, Clydebank, Scotland
Battle of Jutland May 31 – June 1, 1916
Sold to the Slough Trading Co and scrapped in Germany, 1921

HMS Marne
“M” class Destroyer
Launched May 29, 1915
Completed September 1915
Built by John Brown and Company, Clydebank, Scotland
Battle of Jutland May 31 – June 1, 1916
Sold to Cohen and scrapped in Germany, 1921

HMS Verdun
“V” class Destroyer
Motto: They Shall Not Pass
Launched August 21, 1917
Built by Hawthorn Leslie, Tyneside, England
Carried the remains of The Unknown Warrior home to Britain, November 8, 1920.
Also served during the Second World War
Scrapped at Granton, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1946
Verdun’s bell now hangs on a pillar at Westminster Abbey, London, England near to the tomb of the Unknown Warrior.

HMS Somme
“S” class Destroyer
Launched September 10, 1918
Completed November 4, 1918
Built by Fairfield Govan, Clyde, Scotland
Scrapped Ward, Pembroke Dock, Wales, 1932
The official ship’s crest comprised a laurel wreath with a tin hat (helmet) in the center of the wreath. The crest was approved in March 1926.

HMS Somme Image: Courtesy of John Ward~McQuaid via Stuart Cameron


Posted By on January 31, 2015

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo. Winner of the John Newberry Medal.

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo. Winner of the John Newberry Medal. Illustrated by T.B. Ering.

The Tale of Despereaux

As I wander through the day thinking upon what next to write about I cannot help but feel astonished by what presents itself. Though I continually search for stories with a Scottish Great War base it seems lately that I have been, wanting to continue upon the path towards creative thought from unlikely inspiration. Recently I happened upon a children’s book sitting upon the table. Drawn to the mouse on the cover holding a needle and seemingly fitted in red thread, I picked up the account and started to turn the pages of “The Tale of Despereaux”. If ever there could be a tale to bring message to my being I have now found it in the unlikeliest of sources. Despereaux is a mouse, in search of the light whose nemesis is a rat Roscuro who haunts the dark. The tale continually plays upon the theme of light and dark, not an unfamiliar quest and one only has to turn to other tales and recall, “May the force be with you”, or something about “Turn to the dark side”. It seems we have a fascination for this search, this quest and it is one I am certainly familiar with.

Malta. Building erected in 1915 by the Australian Branch of the Red Cross Society for the benefit of the soldiers of the Empire.

Malta. Hospital building erected in 1915 by the Australian Branch of the Red Cross Society for the benefit of the soldiers of the Empire.

My interest in the lives of the Great War is not without its interest in the dark and the light. Seeking as I will the goodness no matter how desperate the history. There are tales to be told as I wander these sites of France and Flanders, or climb the cliffs or follow the ravines of Gallipoli. So too in Malta, an Island nation that called to me years ago, I have made my way across the landscape in search of the light, perhaps the regeneration or the peace from within the conflict. Though it may be that I have had to wait for the time to pass to seemingly heal these landscapes my wanderings make me feel the heartbreak of lives lost, the sad words of love and grief. Still I continue throughout these injured places and happen upon sites that remain testimonies of healing, the wounded that may stand unrecognized, but through research we find the good, the light in what was done here. And so it will continue, as I gaze across the horizon and walk upon this well experienced ground I will stop to admire the obvious and seek the finer things of today in contrast. It may simply be the green of new growth, flowers within a place of row upon row markers, bees or butterflies, and all the while I hold a camera in my arms waiting for that subtle message of light to appear before my eyes.

 Thank you Despereaux I can hardly wait to turn the next page.


Posted By on January 15, 2015

Piper James Cleland Richardson V.C. Leadership - Age 20.

Piper James Cleland Richardson V.C.
Leadership – Age 20.

Remember to Breathe

What is leadership I ask myself? Where can I go to find it? Who has it? Do I have it?

With some recent exploration into these very questions I find that leadership is truly in each one of us. It may be in that person whose vision allows everyone to make it their own, or it could be that grandmother whose silent steadiness teaches and inspires. Perhaps it is that person who found their way through adversity or from another who has impacted us by the power of their message.

When I think about our film I realize it is about leadership. It is recognizing leadership in the unlikeliest of persons because we made assumptions. Jimmy is young. He has not had the opportunity for an experienced life nor gained the wisdom of eldership yet Jimmy is a leader finding his years in a single moment in that fractured world of the Great War. Jimmy, who stood before his team exposed and vulnerable to all those against him, brought his breath to the pipes that called to the heart and soul of those who followed. In asking, “Wull I gie em wund?”, Jimmy chose to breathe, he chose in an instant leadership…

After three amazing days exploring leadership at the Justice Institute of British Columbia I am empowered and feeling enriched. We have learned how we are perceived…our strengths and weaknesses…how we can improve ourselves for the betterment of others…what greater reward can there be but to give back? Perhaps we will never face the adversity of our Jimmy, but we can at least learn to let go of the stress and allow ourselves to absorb the wellness of our lives. We must remember to breathe. However, this is not about that daily rhythmic steady pulse that beats within our hearts and souls, this is about remembering to truly breathe…to breathe deeply for our personal wellness. In doing so we discover our abilities, we bring calm to the stress, we find the beauty in the affects.

As I sit here wandering through my words I begin to feel in-studio searching for the magic of these last few days. How to remind us all to breathe and at the same time relate my self-discoveries to you through the sung voices of others? There is of course the classic rock, “Breathe” written and performed by Pink Floyd where Roger Waters sings, “Look around and choose your own ground”. Or we have Country’s Faith Hill who finds comfort in the leadership of the love she has with another, “Cause I feel you breathe” when encountering “As the walls come tumbling down”. Regardless of your tastes or the messages you find, they are yours to work with or to find your own meanings.

Finding our leadership selves amidst these busy days of our lives has been an insightful internal search. Our instructor at the JIBC, Kathryn Thomson, led us with her gift of leadership, and recognized our journey together by reminding us to breathe. And like our film’s Jimmy, we found ourselves…we found our strengths…we found leadership. Kathryn…you are an inspiration…a gift to us all…thank you!

I invite our readers to comment: “Who do you identify with as leaders and what are their qualities you respect?”