Historian Douglas d’Enno joins Conversations Cafe – April 2016

downloadWe’re pleased to add the historian Douglas d’Enno to our Conversations Cafe event for Wednesday April 13th 2.30-4.30pm at Fabrica gallery in Brighton. The event is free and all are welcome. Refreshments will be provided.

This session will also include a visit by Dr Sam Carroll of the Gateways to WWI project. Both will talk about aspects of their activities and experiences alongside discussions about the Great war.

Sessions are part of the World War I focussed Boys on the Plaque project and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

DOUGLAS d’ENNO is a historian, linguist and journalist who has made an exhaustive study of the impact of the First World War not only on Brighton but also on Britain’s fishermen and their vessels (the first volume of his Fishermen Against the Kaiser was published by Pen & Sword in 2010, with research continuing for the second). After a career associated with publishing and – primarily – as a professional translator, he has devoted himself (freelance work permitting) to writing and research.

Through contributions in the past to The Argus and local/community publications, he has established a reputation as a leading authority on Brighton and the surrounding area. Published works include The Saltdean Story (1985), The Church in a Garden (2001), Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths around Brighton (published by Wharncliffe/Pen & Sword in 2004), Brighton Crime and Vice 1800-2000 (published in 2007, also by by Wharncliffe/Pen & Sword), and a number of ‘then and now’ pictorial books on the Brighton area and on Sussex. A book on the county’s railway stations through time is in preparation.

Douglas writes as follows: ‘Although the impact of the Great War on Brighton was profound in many ways, the town was spared any direct attack by the enemy. The fear of spies and sabotage, however, was widespread at first and aliens were an issue which had to be swiftly resolved under new legislation. Allies, of course, were warmly welcomed, with accommodation soon being found in particular for those fleeing the catastrophic events in Belgium.

Men flocked to the colours, with many of them making the supreme sacrifice (the names of no fewer than 2,597 of them – and three women – would be inscribed on the town’s memorial unveiled in 1922).

Brighton made a major contribution to the war effort in two other ways: by the care of the wounded (the story of the exotic Royal Pavilion being used as a hospital for Indian casualties is widely known locally) and by simply being itself: an open and welcoming resort, offering sanctuary, respite and entertainment to besieged Londoners above all but also to many others visitors, from every stratum of society.

In the background, women quietly played a vital part in areas such as transport services, industrial output and food production. Non-combatant menfolk also kept the wheels turning under very trying circumstances. When the meat shortage became acute, the Mayor himself took direct action, requisitioning ninety sheep at Brighton Station for the town which were destined for butchers’ shops in London.

Unveiling the memorial at The Steine on 7 October 1922, Earl Beatty acknowledged that ‘it was by duty and self-sacrifice that the war was won.’ It remained, he said, for those who had survived the conflict to ensure that the great sacrifices of the past, both by the dead and the living, should not have been made in vain. We remember them in this book.’

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