Meetings Diary 2017

History Group May 2017
As ever, apologies for omissions or actual MISTAKES.

We met at Pauline and Gavin’s but John L was unable to attend.

Gordon passed – he had started some research into the Boer war but decided it was not engaging him and so has decided to enter the Crimea with Lords Raglan and Cardigan and onward onward rode the 600 Gordons.

Jean, in passing, noted that Melania was an aristocrat in the later Roman Empire as well as a FLOTUS who doesn’t want to hold her husband’s hand, or, I suspect any other part, always excepting his bank account.Her topic of the day was on the subject of what we can find out about family life from the archaeology of Çatalhöyük in Turkey – pronounced Chatalheryook as you all know – it’s about sounding the letters and umlauts and stuff. This site was occupied 7400-6000BCE on 2 large mounds of about 13 hectares each. All houses were rectangular and packed closely together without streets. It was excavated in the 1960s by Mellaart and, later, by Hodder – two archaeos who had different approaches to the discipline (the latter choosing to be an interpretive archaeo – assigning and asserting meaning to the finds).

The site showed that old houses were dismantled and new houses were built on previous walls. Entry was through a hole in the roof. Floors were platforms under which they buried the dead. Males were buried separately and then women and children together. The walls were decorated with paintings with sculptures embedded therein. There were examples of the heads of animals, with horns attached, also embedded in the walls. Thus funerary practices were part of the structure of the houses. Mellaart had estimated that of 139 houses 40 were shrines. Hodder disagreed suggesting that some buildings had undergone changes in use – sometimes a shrine, sometimes a house. All houses were very similar – suggesting no concept of status. There was no central admin or religious building. Rubbish showed the use of obsidian, woodworking and food preparation. Food was stored in a separate room to which they had to crawl – suggests no communal sharing of food. Conclusion – need more than architecture and structure to understand ways of life.

Gavin’s grand title – China during its Maritime Supremacy. Rool OldChina, OldChina rools the waves and eat your heart out Cristobel Colon. In Pizzigano’s map of early 15th century islands were shown (perhaps W Indies) pre Columbus. So, who’d done the exploration to find these islands. Step forward Emperor Zu Di of the Ming 1410-1424. He’d moved the Imperial City from Nanjing to Beijing and had also had an encyclopaedia written of lots of words.
Zheng Hi led hundreds of ships on 7 voyages of exploration. Chinese naval architecture was very advanced – double hulls and stern rudders, magnetic compasses, star charts but they didn’t know longitude.

1405 317 ships – crewed by 28,000. First voyage to Java, Calicut and Sri Lanka. 3rd voyage, later to Hormuz. 4th voyage to Aden, Egypt, Somalia and Kenya. 6th voyage in 1425 was believed to have reached Cape Verde Islands and on return were blown via S America, perhaps. Chinese may even have visited Australia and New Zealand.

An argument arises as to whether this all happened – if it did why didn’t the Chinese colonise?

Peter’s talk was about Tom Scotland’s presentation on Orthopaedic Surgery in the Great War to Durham WFA. Pauline and Gavin had been present at that fascinating and moving talk so it was a (much less good) reprise. Nowt but repeats on History Channel these days. Tom added the poetry without indicating that he was reciting the poem – he knew them wonderfully well.
Moynihan and the Chirurgical Club 1909'

Millions of Mouthless Dead Sorley.

2.7 m casualties – 26% of them killed missing or POW.

Last Laugh Owen.

Of 212000 cases 60% shell wounds, 38.9% rifle and MG, 2.19% bomb or grenade, 0.32% bayonets.

Does it Matter Sassoon.

Fertiliser on W Front carried tetanus and gas gangrene. New approach needed. Wound excision, early removal of tissue, clothing, excrement, fragments. That reduced septic infection. Henry Gray and ETC Milligan – first to describe excision, work pub June 1915. New idea that definitive surgery should be carried out at CCS Agreed by Bowlby
CCS could accommodate 800-1200. 4 CCS at Remy Siding nr Poperinghe. By 1917 30% of wounds were dealt with in CCS. That was 61,000 out of 201,ooo admitted. Overall mortality of 3.7%. Mortality from compound fractured femur was 80% according to Gray. Splints were inadequate and led to blood loss (Lee Enfield splint). By time they arrived at CCS usually too late majority suffering shock and blood loss. Mortality in CCS was 50% but many died before reaching CCS to give mortality rate of 80% Only poss management was amputation. Robert Jones (friend of Gray) suggested the Thomas splint which immobilised fractures and reduced blood loss. At Arras 15.6% mortality rate in CCSfrom 1009 cases. Amputation rate only 17%. Some designated Base Hospitals specialised in fractured femurs. After 6 weeks (sticky’ cases could be sent to UK by ship.

In an Underground Dressing Station by Siegfried Sassoon

Died of Wounds by Siegfried Sassoon

Moynihan and Gray set up specialist orthopaedic centres and also treated internal orthopaedic conditions. Orthopaedic centres were established with a total of 20,000 beds. They also introduced occupational therapy eg mending nets.
Aware that soldiers needed fluids, blood, and warmth – heated ambulances helped keep core temps up. Surgical establishment opposed these changes and most ortho surgery centres closed after the war and treatment of fractures remained in the hands of general surgeons. Ortho surgery was held back 30 years!

Abdominal wounds
Progress in treatment had taken place during Russ-Japan war via a female Lituanian surgeon, a Princess called Vera Gedroits. She advocated early surgery for abdom wounds but her results were either ignored or unknown.
1915 the first successful bowel resection on a Scots Canadian by taking out 6 feet of small intestine. Cuthbert Wallace discovered abdominal wounds bled men to death. Later deaths were caused by infection – bowel contents led to septicaemia. John Fraser reduced mortality from 80-60% by early intervention. 6-10 hours between wound and surgery gave the best chance, after 12 hours less chance and after 24 hours little chance. Brandhoek dealt with chest, abdominal and femur fractures.

Ended with MacCrimmon Comes No More by EA Mackintosh.

Joyce talked about Elizabeth Jane Cochrane, perhaps better known as Nelly Bly, 1864-1922. Nelly was born in Pennsylvania, father died and mother remarried to an abusive stepfather. In 1885 she read an article called What Are Girls Good For in the Pittsburg Gazette. She thought she knew so she responded with The Girl Puzzle and was offered a job. She wrote about social issues in the New York World to have herself committed to an asylum for a piece about the lives and abuses of the inmates.

She had read Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days and in 1889 set off for London, to France (where she met Jules Verne) – Calais to Brindisi, steamer to Port said, to Aden to Sri Lanka to Singapore, Honk Kong, Yokohama, Frisco and train to New York. She took 72 hours,6 days and 11 minutes. The Nelly Bly goes round the world sold a shedload of copies.

She married a millionaire and when he died she went back to Journalism.

Pauline gave us Episode 1 of the Margaret Sanger Met Katharine Dexter McCormick series. Both ladies were American and had significant impact on the lives of women. Margaret Sanger was a feminist but not necessarily a likeable person and promoted birth control – her mother having had/suffered/endured 18 pregnancies in 22 years. Margaret trained to be a nurse and founded Women’s Rebel magazine in 1914. She came to Britain after her magazine became somewhat unpopular and met Havelock Ellis. She may have had an affair with HG Wells (but then why not her if everyone else did?) She travelled to Holland where work had been done on the use of latex for condoms diaphragms and caps. More to come later.

Katharine Dexter attended MIT, was a suffragist and married into the vastly wealthy McCormick Agricultural Machinery business but her husband developed schizophrenia…watch this space……..

As you can see we went round the world in time and space – just like Nelly Bly but ours took a lot less time. On the way we managed to discuss the length and psychology of men’s ties and Mrs Merkel’s suits. We all agree Donald is a 7 year old inadequate but, unlike most 7 year olds, he has the nuclear codes. Doom doom doom………….

Topics at the October 2017 meeting were:

  • Rome and the barbarians
  • The Koh-I-Noor diamond
  • Recent books on inter alia Abraham Lincoln, the Underground Railway and submarine warfare in 1917
  • Early Chinese history
  • 18th century life in London.