Posts Tagged ‘Homeland’

Homeland, Britain March 1917

March 22, 2017

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Percy Izzard, Homeland: A Book of Country Days (1918)

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As a follow up to yesterday’s post on Homeland, Percy Izzard’s book of nature writing on the British countryside during the First World War, here are several more daily entries. A book well worth tracking down second-hand.

 

Some deal with the changing agricultural landscape, such as noticing (March 28th 1917) that “It is interesting to see how quickly the birds have become accustomed  to the motor plough. The strange form and immense noise of the machine …” 

 

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March 25th (1917) “And although the flowers were few when you think what this day has seen in other years, never did they open to a world readier to welcome them”

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welcome to a world weary not only of the long winter, but also the war?

 

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British farming and the countryside was facing difficulties by 1917 from poor harvests and the call up of male farm workers. Add to this the demands of feeding several armies overseas. From early  in the year, the unrestricted submarine warfare of the German U boat blockade of Britain increased the sinking of merchant shipping bound for  Britain with imported food from around the Empire and world.

These were pre-war cheap and plentiful food imports that we had come to rely on, much to the detriment of pre-war British farming.

Both rationing (1918) and a form of WW2 style Dig For Victory in 1917 were eventually organised  in Britain in WW1.

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/dig-for-victory-1917-world-war-1-style-the-lost-gardeners-of-kew-and-the-fortunate-herbert-cowley-1885-1967/

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2016/08/10/country-life-1986-article-on-ww1-wartime-gardening/

We will feature more from Homeland by Percy Izzard in late March / early April 2017, when the quiet world of nature in Britain that he works hard to convey  can be read 100 years on as (directly ? deliberately?) at odds  with events overseas, the Battle of Arras (9 April to 16 May 1917) in France.

This  battle would involve many of Izzard’s audience of  “soldier lads” who read his daily nature column in the Daily Mail in the trenches. Forming a valuable bit of escapism, these short daily columns would be adapted and edited to become his book Homeland: A Year Of Country Days in mid 1918.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Arras_(1917)

The Battle of Arras would see the deaths on active service of several of the zoo staff, botanic gardens staff and  naturalists that we have been researching through the World War  Zoo Gardens project.

Blogposted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo.

 

Laggard Spring 1917

March 21, 2017

Spring 1917 Wartime – March 21st , uncannily like the weather today a century later. Hail and sunshine.

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Homeland A Year of Country Days by PWDI (Percy W. D. Izzard) 1918

Here in the preface, Percy Izzard sets out the structure for his year of inspirational short pieces about country life. These are  made especially poignant or valuable as his work was read not only by “war-workers … men and women of country heart who are pent now for England’s sake in the reek of great towns” isolated from the countryside but also  “amid the cruel distractions of war” by troops in the trenches who obtained a Daily Mail from friends and families.

Based on letters received from soldiers, Percy Izzard realised that his daily entries  provided to “soldier lads in France and Flanders, in rough notes pencilled on the battlefields … glimpses of the Homeland  for which they long and fight.”

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This book of nature writing by Percy Izzard,  reproduced from his nature  column in the Daily Mail, begins unusually not on January 1st but on the first day of spring 1917, the spring equinox, March 21st.

It finishes a year later on March 20th and Izzard’s preface, written after preparing them for publication in book form, was written on April 21st, 1918.

Having checked the obvious date references, like references to Sundays etc, I am fairly sure this is written from March 1917 to March 1918 onwards as the First World War raged across Europe.

It finishes documenting country life in Britain during this year of attrition and killing, on March 20 1918  just as the Western Front collapses with the German onslaught of late March 1918.

The Writer Percy Izzard?

I have previously written about Percy Izzard and this Homeland book on this and a local history blog:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2015/04/20/remembering-william-donald-pascoe-april-1915-primrose-day-and-percy-izzard/

https://devoranwarmemorial.wordpress.com/2015/04/20/remembering-william-donald-pascoe-died-20-april-1915/

Percy W. (William) D. Izzard OBE (September 1877 – 1968) was the well-known gardening correspondent on the Daily Mail newspaper.

He was author of several books on gardening including Grow it Yourself: Daily Mail Practical Instruction Book on Food from the Garden in War-Time (1940), one of the  Dig For Victory books in my collection of WWII gardening books.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Percy_Izzard

Blogposted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo gardens project, Newquay Zoo, 21 March 2017

 


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