Blog by artist/printmaker Dawn Cole
Today is Battle of Britain Day. An annual commemoration of the battle in the UK with this year being the 75th anniversary.
My family archive contains many documents and newspapers that reference both the First and Second World Wars and whilst I mostly refer to the archive as Clarice’s archive this is actually rather misleading.
My grandmother, Miriam Verena Edwards (nee Spratling) was Clarice’s sister and it is the documents, newspapers, objects, letters, cards and photographs that she kept and saved that make up much of the archive, along with things that I have since added to it, given to me by other family members, or gleaned from research. Many of the documents Miriam saved are marked with the words ‘Important’ and ‘Keep this’, she seems to have had a good sense of what might be historic and interesting in the future.
Two documents/objects are particularly relevant today and have become part of the research I have recently begun into ideas around the term ‘the theatre of war’.
These two booklets were first published by the Ministry of Information in 1941. The one on the left, is I believe the 1st edition and text only. Following the success of this, apparently 300,000 copies were sold in the first week of publication, the MOI published a revised, illustrated and more expensive edition which went on to sell over 2 million copies in the UK alone.
It would appear that these pamphlets were aimed at maintaining morale and can be viewed as propaganda. There is an interesting article about them here.
The opening pages of the booklet are entitled ‘The Scene is Set’
As I am writing this I can hear the sound of aircraft engines. They sound like the fly past that is happening around the country today. I go outside but I can’t see them, the clouds are too low. The sound makes me think about how 75 years ago people would have looked up to see the aircraft passing overhead.
I find days like today, days of commemoration, feed into my work and I know I will be thinking about today and these pamphlets for sometime and whilst I am not sure yet where the research is leading me but it helps to make a record of it here.