The story

Geoffrey Donaldson : First World War

Geoffrey Donaldson was born in 1893. He was educated at Oundle School and Caius College, Cambridge, Donaldson and intended becoming a botanist.

On the outbreak of the First World War, Donaldson, instead of returning for his final year at university, he volunteered for the British Army, and became an officer in the Warwickshire Regiment. Donaldson was sent to the Western Front and in March 1916 he was promoted to the rank of captain and became commander of C Company.

In July 1916, Donaldson became involved in the offensive near Neuve Chapelle. This was a diversionary move to attract German troops away from the Somme. Donaldson realised that he faced a high chance of being killed and wrote to his mother on the day before the attack, that there was an "urgent need of drastic measures on our front to hold back Hun reinforcements for the South and to do this certain troops had to be, well, more or less sacrificed." The following day on the 19th July 1916, Geoffrey Donaldson was killed while leading his men across No Man's Land.

What impressed me most (about his first visit to the front-line trenches) was the hopelessness of it all. I feel convinced that fighting will ever end this war.

The night before last I took out a patrol of four men about half way across No Man's Land. There is comparatively little risk attached to this work but it is of course a considerable strain on the nerves. Last night, I went out with Wakefield and a wiring party, that is to say with about six men improving our wire entanglements. I consider on the the whole this is a nerve-racking a job as any, more so than patrol work. You must not think I shall go out like this every night. I have been out the last two nights as much to set an example and get the thing going as anything.

I can tell you that in the 30 minutes before the attack started, I came nearer to "having the wind up" or in other words losing my nerve than has ever the case before. At 8.30 p.m. the show started. I had all the men in the trench out of the dugouts and we all had our gas helmets on. It was like an appalling nightmare as you look like some horrible kind of demon or goblin in these masks. There were words of commands along the line from RE and then a loud hissing sound as the taps were turning on and the deadly greenish white vapour poured out of the jets and slowly blew in a great rolling cloud towards the opposite line of trenches.

There is urgent need of drastic measures on our front to hold back Hun reinforcements for the South and to do this certain troops had to be, well, more or less sacrificed. That is war, of course, and all in a day's work.

I don't think anything will affect my nerves now, so don't worry about me, dear, because I shall pull through all right and I am strong enough to stand any amount of fatigue.

I was in our front line trench and talked with your son several times during the seven hour' bombardment, before the attack. Both he and Captain Bethel were very cool, and encouraged the men by their example. As you may know, the 2/7 Battalion was the only one in the whole Division to get across into the German trenches and it was entirely owing to the cool and well-timed leading of Captain Bethel and your son, and the splendid discipline of the men, that they were able to achieve such a glorious record for the Battalion. But alas it cost them their lives. The gap they have left amongst us can never be filled and the loss to you is, I know, terrible. I pray God that you may bear up under it. Your son died for his country, what more could he do.

It is too hard to bear. This terrible sacrifice of all our best boys, and of all the best of the nation. It is too sad for words to think that your keen, capable, enthusiastic son, with all his capabilities for the future, should be thus sacrificed. How well I remember him, such a fine boy he was, so keen, so good.

Donaldson History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

On the western coast of Scotland and on the Hebrides islands the Donaldson family was born among the ancient Dalriadan clans. Their name comes from a powerful ruler. The name Donald is derived from the Gaelic name Domhnull, or MacDhomhnuill, and the Celtic name Dubnovalos, all of which mean "world ruler" or "world-mighty". The name ranks second only to John in its popularity as a personal name in Scotland.

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Early Origins of the Donaldson family

The surname Donaldson was first found in Galloway (Gaelic: Gall-ghaidhealaibh), an area of southwestern Scotland, now part of the Council Area of Dumfries and Galloway, that formerly consisted of the counties of Wigtown (West Galloway) and Kirkcudbright (East Galloway), where they held a family seat from very ancient times, some say well before the Norman Conquest and the arrival of Duke William at Hastings in 1066 A.D.

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Early History of the Donaldson family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Donaldson research. Another 167 words (12 lines of text) covering the years 1703, 1780, 1703, 1713, 1620, 1575 and are included under the topic Early Donaldson History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

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Donaldson Spelling Variations

In various documents Donaldson has been spelled Since medieval scribes still spelled according to sound, records from that era contain an enormous number of spelling variations. Donald, Donaldson, Doneld, Donnald, Donnaldson and others.

Early Notables of the Donaldson family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the Clan from early times was Adam Donald (1703-1780), called 'the prophet of Bethelnie,' born at the hamlet of that name, twenty miles north of Aberdeen, in 1703. " Notwithstanding his extraordinary stature and build, which caused the country folk to regard him as a changeling 'supernatural in mind as well as in body,' he was unable from some infirmity to labour with his hands, while his parents, struggling peasants, could ill afford to maintain him. Donald had therefore to solve the perplexity of how to live. 'Observing,' says his biographer, 'with what a superstitious veneration the ignorant people.
Another 134 words (10 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Donaldson Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Donaldson family to Ireland

Some of the Donaldson family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 90 words (6 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Donaldson migration +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Donaldson Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
Donaldson Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Thomas Donaldson, who arrived in Maryland in 1716 [1]
  • Charles Donaldson, who settled in Maryland in 1716 along with Hugh, James, Jane, John, Mary, Peter, and Thomas
  • Charles Donaldson, who landed in Maryland in 1716 [1]
  • Robert Donaldson, who landed in Georgia in 1765 [1]
  • Marrion Donaldson, aged 42, who landed in New York in 1775 [1]
  • . (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Donaldson Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Colin Donaldson, who arrived in Jamaica in 1801 [1]
  • Richard Donaldson, who arrived in Washington County, Pennsylvania in 1802 [1]
  • Beli Donaldson, aged 36, who arrived in Delaware in 1803 [1]
  • Robert_ Donaldson, who arrived in America in 1805 [1]
  • Jane Donaldson, aged 6, who landed in New York, NY in 1806 [1]
  • . (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Donaldson migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Donaldson Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • David Donaldson, who landed in Canada in 1815
  • JUrnes Donaldson, who arrived in Canada in 1815
  • Thomas Donaldson, who landed in Canada in 1815
  • Dun. Donaldson, aged 21, a labourer, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Favourite" in 1815
  • Andrew Donaldson, aged 59, a farmer, who arrived in Quebec aboard the ship "Edinburgh" in 1815
  • . (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Donaldson migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Donaldson Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Matthew Donaldson, Scottish convict from Perth, who was transported aboard the "Adamant" on March 16, 1821, settling in New South Wales, Australia[2]
  • Catherine Donaldson, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Helen Thompson" in 1840 [3]
  • James Donaldson, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Helen Thompson" in 1840 [3]
  • Jane Donaldson, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Bolton" in 1848 [4]
  • Thomas Donaldson, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Royal Archer" in 1848 [5]
  • . (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Donaldson migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Donaldson Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Robert Donaldson, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1840
  • Margaret Donaldson, who arrived in Port Nicholson aboard the ship "Jane" in 1841
  • Robert Donaldson, aged 21, a farmer, who arrived in Otago aboard the ship "Philip Laing" in 1848
  • Mr. Donaldson, Scottish settler travelling from Greenock aboard the ship "Philip Laing" arriving in Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 15th April 1848 [6]
  • Mr. Robert Donaldson, British settler travelling from Portsmouth aboard the ship "Duke of Portland" arriving in Lyttelton, Canterbury, New Zealand on 13th October 1851 [7]
  • . (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Donaldson (post 1700) +

  • John Dalgleish Donaldson (b. 1941), Scottish-Australian professor, father of Mary, Crown Princess of Denmark
  • Professor Gordon Donaldson (1913-1993), Scottish historian
  • Walter Donaldson (1907-1973), Scottish professional snooker player
  • Sir James Donaldson (1831-1915), Scottish educational administrator
  • James Donaldson (1751-1830), Scottish newspaper proprietor
  • Thomas Leverton Donaldson (1795-1885), British architect, a pioneer in architectural education, co-founder and President of the Royal Institute of British Architects, winner of the RIBA Royal Gold Medal
  • Mr. Thomas Watters Perry Donaldson M.B.E., J.P. (b. 1945), was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire on 29th December 2018 for services to the Boys’ Brigade, to the Lay Magistracy and to Education [8]
  • Peter Ian Donaldson (1945-2015), Egyptian-born British newsreader and radio broadcaster (BBC Radio 4)
  • Stuart Donaldson (1812-1867), Australian statesman, third son of Stuart and Betty Donaldson, first Premier of the Colony of New South Wales[9]
  • Mr. James William Donaldson B.E.M., British recipient of the British Empire Medal on 8th June 2018, for services to Cricket in the community in Bristol [10]
  • . (Another 10 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Historic Events for the Donaldson family +

Empress of Ireland
  • Mr. John Donaldson, British Trimmer from United Kingdom who worked aboard the Empress of Ireland and survived the sinking [11]
HMS Hood
  • Mr. Walter M H Donaldson (b. 1918), Scottish Ordinary Seaman serving for the Royal Navy from Edinburgh, Scotland, who sailed into battle and died in the sinking [12]
HMS Repulse
Lady of the Lake
  • Miss Mary Donaldson (b. 1813), traveller who sailed aboard the "Lady of the Lake" from Greenock, Scotland on 8th April 1833 to Quebec, Canada when the ship hit ice and sunk of the coast of Newfoundland on the 11th May 1833 and she died in the sinking

Related Stories +

The Donaldson Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Per mare, per terras
Motto Translation: By sea, by land.

How three men saved countless lives: blood transfusion in the First World War

If we are in an accident or have an operation and lose blood, we take it for granted that we will be given a transfusion. Not only that, but it will be matched to our blood type, will have been stored in the correct conditions and will be delivered using sterilised equipment to avoid infection.

At the start of the First World War blood transfusion technology was largely untested and not widely accepted. Blood types had first been identified at the turn of the century, but where transfusions were carried out surgeons did not test the blood for compatibility. This could be fatal where the patient’s immune system attacked the new blood cells.

Transfusions were ‘direct’ using a tube to carry blood from an artery in the donor to a vein in the patient – this carried the risk that blood would clot and block the tubes. As is so often the case in war, new techniques were advanced in the urgency of the battlefield, and in this case, a Canadian, an American and an Englishman all played vital roles.

The Canadian was Lawrence Bruce Robertson. Of Scottish background, Robertson was born in 1885 in Toronto. He joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force and was posted to the Canadian Army Medical Corps’ No. 2 Casualty Clearing Station. He persuaded the British surgeons at the casualty clearing stations to practice ‘indirect’ blood transfusions, where blood was transferred using syringes and canulae to overcome problems of clotting – a technique he had used at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children.

Blood transfusion procedure, 1918. Reproduced with kind permission of the Hospital Archives, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada

Robertson set up the first blood transfusion equipment at a casualty clearing station on the Western Front in Spring 1917 and began to record the results of the transfusions he performed. In an article in The Lancet published on 24 November 1917, Robertson described 36 cases where he had used the indirect transfusion method. He wrote that ‘In the cases of severe primary haemorrhage accompanied by shock, blood transfusion frequently produces an immediate and almost incredible improvement. The change from a pallid, sometimes semi-conscious patient with a rapid flickering pulse to a comparatively healthy looking conscious and comfortable patient with a slower and fuller pulse is dramatic evidence of the value of the transfused blood.’

Robertson’s article in the Lancet was printed with a note by Colonel Charles Gordon Watson, the consulting surgeon to the British Expeditionary Force, which said ‘During the past year I have had the opportunity of observing the technique and the results of blood transfusions by Major Bruce Robertson and other workers. Without doubt transfusion of blood after primary haemorrhage is a life saving device of the greatest value and enables urgent operations to be successfully performed under conditions otherwise hopeless.’

Entry from 18 July 1919 in WO 388/1/5 showing award to Oswald Hope Robertson

Another Robertson, this time an American by the name of Oswald Hope, played an equally important role in developing blood transfusion technology. Oswald Robertson was born in England in 1886 but emigrated to America as a child. He qualified as a doctor in 1915 and joined the Western Front as a volunteer with the United States Army, attached to the 48th casualty clearing station. He built the world’s first blood bank – storing blood mixed with a citrate and dextrose solution in glass bottles kept on ice. The blood could be kept for up to 26 days and moved to casualty clearing stations ready to be used in transfusions to patients.

In an article in The Lancet published on 22 June 1918, Robertson described the technique and equipment to be used in storing blood safely for later use. He discussed the results of blood transfusions using stored blood saying that ‘The effect of transfusion with preserved blood was fully as striking as that observed after the giving of freshly drawn blood. There was the same marked improvement in colour, the pulse became slower and stronger, and the blood pressure showed an increase of 20 to 40 points’.

During heavy fighting a casualty clearing station received many seriously wounded men at once. The less seriously wounded, who would normally have been able to donate blood, were not taken to the casualty clearing stations. This meant that having a stock of stored blood allowed the medical services to give transfusions quickly and easily. Robertson was awarded the Distinguished Service Order by the British Government in recognition of the lives his techniques had saved.

Another aspect of blood transfusion technology was developed by an Englishman, Geoffrey Keynes. Born in 1887, Keynes qualified as a surgeon with the Royal College of Surgeons in London and in 1917 he married Margaret Darwin – granddaughter of Charles Darwin.

Medal card for Geoffrey Keynes (catalogue reference: WO 372/11/152014)

Like many other doctors, Keynes was granted a temporary commission with the Royal Army Medical Corps. His medal card (WO 372/11/152014) shows he was attached to the 4th General Hospital. Service records for RAMC officers who received a permanent commission are at The National Archives in WO 339, but service records of officers with a temporary commission for the duration of the war were destroyed after 1920. War diaries of hospitals and ambulance trains in WO 95 can sometimes mention officers by name and illustrate the day to day experiences of those who served with the RAMC.

Keynes developed equipment that enabled blood transfusions to be carried out away from established medical facilities. Where there was no refrigeration available to store blood, the best hope a patient had was to get a transfusion there and then from another person. Keynes’ equipment enabled ‘indirect’ transfusions by regulating the flow of blood between the donor and the patient.

Mobile blood transfusion equipment devised by Geoffrey Keynes. Reproduced with permission of Science Museum/Science & Society Picture Library

It’s difficult to imagine how many men must have owed their lives to the techniques developed by these three men. Thanks to their skills and inventiveness, blood transfusion became accepted practice within the Royal Army Medical Corps which later declared it the most important medical advance of the war.

Source information

Title: Medal Index Card

Description: Medal index cards were created by the Army Medal Office towards the end of the First World War. They record the medals that men and women who served in the First World War were entitled to claim.

IWM is not responsible for the content of external websites. Please note that some sources will require payment to view.

Credit: © The National Archives

Source information


Title: Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) Casualty Records

Description: The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) commemorate First World War servicemen and women and members of some civilian organisations who died before 31 August 1921 while in Commonwealth military service or of causes attributable to service.

Connected by: Imperial1

IWM is not responsible for the content of external websites. Please note that some sources will require payment to view.


Additional: This record has been automatically matched to the Life Story by IWM, using rules based on name, rank, number, regiment and service.

Credit: © Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Source information

Title: Lt Charles Hunter Donaldson Banks

Description: newspaper report of death

Connected by: david20637

Source information

Reference: gbm_hac_regt_num

Title: HAC regimental number register 1914-1919 Transcription

Connected by: Alexander119331


Additional: Above details match.

Credit: Courtesy of Findmypast

Source information

Reference: gbm_hac_mem_list

Title: HAC printed membership lists for 1915 and 1919 Transcription

Maginot Line

This French line of defense was constructed along the country’s border with Germany during the 1930s and named after Minister of War André Maginot. It primarily extended from La Ferté to the Rhine River, though sections also stretched along the Rhine and the Italian frontier. The main fortifications on the northeast frontier included 22 large underground fortresses and 36 smaller fortresses, as well as blockhouses, bunkers and rail lines. Despite its strength and elaborate design, the line was unable to prevent an invasion by German troops who entered France via Belgium in May 1940.

The Maginot line was named after Andre Maginot (1877-1932), a politician who served in World War I until wounded in November 1914. He used crutches and walking sticks for the remainder of his life. While serving after World War I as France’s minister of war and then as president of the Chamber of Deputies’ Army Commission, he helped complete plans for the defensive line along the northeastern frontier and obtain funds to build it.

The main fortifications of the Maginot line extended from La Ferte (thirty kilometers east of Sedan) to the Rhine River, but fortifications also stretched along the Rhine and along the Italian frontier. The fortifications on the northeast frontier included twenty-two huge underground fortresses and thirty-six smaller fortresses, as well as many blockhouses and bunkers. The French placed most of their largest fortresses in the northeast because of their desire to protect the large population, key industries, and abundant natural resources located near the Moselle valley.


One of the most famous comic duos in film history was Laurel and Hardy. The duo made over one hundred films, and for several decades their popularity was unrivalled. Starting in the last week of the summer holidays, the exhibition “Laurel and Hardy in Europe” can be seen in the Donaldson Institute in Noord-Scharwoude. Entry is free.

From 1927 to 1955, the British Stan Laurel (1890 – 1965) and the American Oliver Hardy (1892 – 1957) were one of the most famous duos in film history. They entertained hundreds of millions with their slapstick films, first in the cinema and later on TV. The exhibition gives an impression of how their films were introduced and promoted in Europe. “Laurel and Hardy in Europe” is mainly composed of original material from three private collections. Particular attention is given to the Amstelveen film distributor, Express Film. After the war, right up to the late 1980s, the company made it possible for a number of Laurel and Hardy films to be shown in cinemas in the Netherlands. The duo Laurel and Hardy had many fans. The exhibition displays items from the first fan club and from the first European Laurel and Hardy convention in Paris in 1936.

Geoffrey Donaldson : First World War - History



The Great War era songs helped to improve morale among the soldiers, and those serving at home.
Often the positive, optimistic words of these songs belied the actual savagery of the fighting and killing and destruction of this war.

Song Pages are in alphabetical order. Please scroll down to see all the links to the song pages. Thanks.

Melody Lane is a private member website you must register to access the music.

Words by Edgar Leslie and Music by Archie Gottlier
Original Publication: New York: Kalmar & Puck Music Co., 142 West 45th St., (1915)
I love this fantastic patriotic song!
I cannot believe it has faded from public memory, and wish to bring it back.
We need it's message now, more than ever.
Melody Lane MP3 & Vintage Performance in MP3

Written by Harry Ruby and George Jessel (1919)
Ah, those French girls, they sure could work around the language barrier with the soldiers!
Melody Lane MP3 and Vintage Performance in MP3

This song is thought of as a World War Two song,
because of David Lean's film The Bridge On The River Kwai,
but it actually was written in 1916 by a British gent named Kenneth J. Alford.
Publication: Boosey and Hawkes, London
Melody Lane Custom MP3

Words by C. Francis Reisner and Benny Davis. Music by Billy Baskette.
Publication: New York: Leo Feist, Inc. (1917)
Another rousing, toe-tapping patriotic song from the World War One era.
Melody Lane MP3

Written by R.P. Weston and Bert Lee (1917)
Stiff upper lip, old bean, old chap! A super Great
War song from Britain, still remembered fondly.
Melody Lane MP3 and Vintage Recording in MP3

Words by Joe Young & Sam M. Lewis. Music by Walter Donaldson
New York: Waterson, Berlin & Snyder Co., Music Publishing,
Strand Theatre Bldg., Broadway at 47th St., (1919)
A comedy song: Ma and Pa wonder how their soldier son will adjust
to life in America after the Great War. Their worries
seem lopsided: they fear that girls back home will be more dangerous
to their boys than bullets were during the war.
Melody Lane MP3 and Vintage Performance MP3

Music Written by John Philip Sousa
Based on the famous World War One poem by Dr. John McCrae
Publication: New York: G. Schirmer, (1918)
Melody Lane MP3 & Casualties Page

Words by Alfred Bryan
Music by Al. Piantadosi (1915)
#2 Song Hit For The Year After "America, I Love You"
An Anti-War Song, popular until America entered World War One
Melody Lane MP3 & Vintage Recording in MP3

Written and Composed by Jack Judge and Harry Williams.
Publication: New York: Chappell & Co., Ltd., 41 East 34th St., (1912)
This song actually came out 2 years before the Great War began,
but took on a life of its own for all the soldiers of every country who fought in it
Melody Lane MP3 and Vintage Performance in MP3

By Geoffrey O'Hara, Army Song Leader
Publication: New York: Leo Feist, Inc., (1918)
World War One favorite:
"The Sensational Stammering Song Success
Sung by the Soldiers and Sailors"
MeIody Lane MP3 and Vintage Piano Roll in MP3

Words by Lena Ford and Music by Ivor Novello
Publication: New York: Chappell & Co., Ltd., (1914)
On par with any patriotic song George M. Cohan could have written, comes this hugely popular
song of the World War One period
Melody Lane MP3 and Vintage Performance in MP3

Written by Fred Fisher and Alfred Bryan
Publication: New York: McCarthy and Fisher, Inc., 148 W. 45th St., 1917
Cover Artist: Andre De Takacs
The provinces of Alsace and Lorraine have been fought over 4 times
by the Germans and French since 1871. This haunting ballad reflects
the somberness of that struggle, yet also tells how its people have survived through it all.
Melody Lane MP3 & Vintage Performance by Vernon Dalhart in MP3

Based on the French soldier's song
Quand Madelon One Step by Camille Robert
French Lyrics by Louis Bousquet
English Version by Alfred Bryan
Melody Lane MP3

Words and Music By George Benoit, Robert Levenson and Ted Garton
Publication: New York: Leo Feist, Inc., Feist Building, (1918)
World War One had its share of "war bride" songs and few can compare with this lovely song!
Melody Lane MP3

Music and Words Written by Mary Earl
Publication: New York: Shapiro, Bernstein & Co., 224 West 47th Street (1917)
Melody Lane MP3 & Vintage Recording in MP3

Words and Music By Irving Berlin
Publication: New York: Waterson, Berlin & Snyder, Strand Theatre Bldg., Broadway at 47th St., (1918)
This funny World War One song by Mr. Berlin was dedicated to:
"My friend 'Private Howard Friend' who occupies the cot next to mine and feels as I do about the 'bugler'"
Melody Lane MP3 and Vintage Recording of Mr. Berlin singing his song

Words and Music By George M. Cohan.
Publication: New York: Leo. Feist, Inc., (1917)
George M. Cohan's most famous song he was
awarded a Congressional Citation for penning it
Melody Lane MP3 & Vintage Recording of Mr. Cohan singing his song

Written by George Asaf. Music by Felix Powell.
Publication: New York: Chappell & Co., Ltd., 41 East 34th Street (1915)
"What is Best Described as a Philosophy Song, is Now Being Sung and Whistled by the Troops as They March Along."
Melody Lane MP3 and Vintage Performance in MP3

Written by Irving Berlin (1912)
Seems smart Irving sensed the war was coming years before it did
Melody Lane MP3

Words by Jack Caddigan
Music by James A. Brennan (1918)
A pretty song - tribute to World War One Red Cross nurses,
who gave so much to help heal the soldiers hurt on the front lines
Melody Lane MP3 & Vintage Recording in MP3

Words by Fred E. Weatherly. Music by Haydn Wood.
Publication: New York: Chappell-Harms, Inc., (1916)
An absolutely exquisite love song of the World War One era. no doubt cried over by countless lassies and laddies.
Melody Lane MP3 and Vintage Performance in MP3

Music by Charles McCarron
Lyrics by Carey Morgan (1918)
A grandfather in the future of 1953 teaches
his grandson about The Great War, with a twist.
Melody Lane MP3 & Vintage Recording in MP3

Words by R.P. Weston and Music by Hermann E. Darewski
Publication: New York: T.B. Harms, (1914)
Another tongue-twister song from World War One
it was a big hit for Al Jolson and is featured
on Michael Feinstein's WW One CD "Over There"
s-s-see if you can s-s-s-sing it without s-s-s-slurring )
Melody Lane MP3 and Vintage MP3

Written and Composed by A.J. Mills, Fred Godfrey and Bennett Scott
Publication: New York, Division of Chappell Music (1916)
Incredibly popular song for the homesick British troops in France during the War.
The term "Blighty" refers to England.
Melody Lane MP3 and Vintage Performance MP3

Written by Stoddard King and Zo Elliott
Publication: M. Witmark & Sons, New York (1915)
While not mentioning the war this song clearly resonated
with soldiers who were desperately missing home and family,
and who wanted to reassure loved ones that they would soon be home again.
Melody Lane MP3 and Vintage Performance in MP3

Words by Raymond B. Egan and Music by Richard Whiting
Publication: Detroit: Jerome H. Remick & Co., (1918)
This bittersweet song was the last best-selling sheet music piece
five million copies were sold within the first year. Richard Whiting
wrote this waltz tune as the result of a song contest sponsored by the publisher,
and a Detroit movie theater voted it the winner.
Melody Lane MP3

Written by Wm. Tracey & Jack Stern (1918)
A very early and funny song about feminism, and ladies starting
to get jobs while the men were away fighting the Kaiser's armies.
And you thought Rosie The Riveter didn't exist until World War Two!
Melody Lane MP3

About Geoffrey Donaldson

At the young age of twenty- two, Australian Geoffrey Neville Donaldson was proclaimed “Pin-up man 1952” by fifty female employees of the New York film distribution company Lux – specialized in educational films and European productions. Donaldson lived in Australia and had written to the company requesting documentation and to give his opinions on one thing and another. That led to a mutual correspondence and the women at the office looked forward to the letters from the writer from that faraway country, though they were convinced from his handwriting that he was obviously an “old, frustrated intellectual”. It was only after he had, at their request, sent a photo, that they truly became enthusiastic: “It turned out he was tall, curly-haired, and so good looking.” As Pin-up man of the year, his photo was displayed in the middle of the Lux office bulletin board in New York.
In the same way Donaldson later, from the Netherlands, bombarded an endless number of film companies, actors and directors from home and abroad with requests for information and material. As we now know, he had already done the same in his native Australia. We can at least assume that the Lux company was not the only one he approached. So when he left his native country for good early in 1955 and took the boat to Europe, he left a considerable collection of film books, magazines, photos, publicity material and clippings with his mother, Bessie Isabel Donaldson. She lived in Mayfield near Newcastle, New South Wales, where Geoffrey’s treasures were kept in a bookcase, a large steel cabinet, and a steel filing cabinet. It contained, among other things, more than a thousand original publicity photos. Even at a young age, this collector was not satisfied with the most evident. The fact that his collection contains 88 publicity photos for 46 films of D.W Griffith alone, the great American film pioneer from the silent film era, is proof of that.
Geoffrey Donaldson developed his love for film early on in the cinemas in and around the city of his youth, the mining and port town of Newcastle, on the Australian east coast. On the subject of his early passion for film, he wrote the article ‘Her Jungle Love: not suitable for a boy of ten’, published in Dutch in the book Geoffrey Donaldson, een leven voor de film (GDI, 2013). Around the city lay and lies one of the most important coal mining areas in the world and export of this black gold passed through Newcastle harbour. A Billiton copper smelter and steel mill complete the picture: Donaldson grew up in a working-class city surrounded by heavy industry.
Geoffrey Neville Donaldson was born on 29th November 1929 under what were at the time, adverse family circumstances. His mother Bessie was a single, unmarried mother. As far as is known, Geoffrey never knew who his father was. Bessie herself had not had an easy childhood: her mother Florence Sinclair, Geoffrey’s grandmother, died at the age of 26. It was a terrible drama: she died in hospital while giving birth to her fifth child, after the ambulance had waited for almost an hour for a train that had blocked a railway crossing. Following that, Bessie was raised by her mother’s sisters, her aunts Ellen and Evaline.
So Geoffrey never knew his grandmother, Florence. His grandfather, Andrew Donaldson, who was known as a ‘workman’ and seems to have occasionally also worked as a baker, died when Geoffrey was fourteen. We can assume that the grandson was told all the ins and outs of the overseas adventures of his only remaining relative: early in 1918 Andrew signed up as a volunteer to serve in the Australian army in Europe, where the First World War raged. Earlier, in 1915, Geoffrey’s great grandfather, Henry Sinclair had enlisted for the front in western Europe, where mainly France, Great Britain and later the United States, fought against Germany. But when, on 13th October 1918, Andrew finally arrived by boat in London on his way to war, it was already coming to an end. He became a stretcher bearer and appears to have arrived at the front in France only after hostilities had already ceased. The gruesome struggle, which had also been fought in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, had taken the lives of some 9 million soldiers and 7 million civilians and caused many more injuries. Afterwards, stretcher bearers were probably more indispensable than ever. Andrew Donaldson only returned to Australia in the summer of 1919.
During Geoffrey’s childhood, his mother Bessie lived with the Worthington family in Mayfield, a suburb of Newcastle. In the forties, she had a relationship with the previously divorced master of the house, shift worker Herbert. She never married him, but she did informally go through life under the name, Bessie Worthington. It seems then, that Geoffrey only had a father of sorts figure in his life during his teenage years. Herbert trained his own dogs for the greyhound races, a popular pastime at the time in Australia. The fact that Geoffrey’s mother and foster father were caught by the police for stealing clothes, suggests they were not very well-off.
However, Geoffrey did not let himself be held back by this.

Balmain Teachers College, Sydney, 7/2/1949, Geoffrey Donaldson under the left tree

In his last year at the Mayfield East Boys School he came third in the class. At Newcastle Boys High School, languages suited him best. He earned an ‘honour’ in English and had good grades in Latin and French. In 1947 he was selected for the Balmain Teachers’ College in Sydney. The exercise book that he kept for his traineeship at a primary school, already shows signs of the Geoffrey Donaldson who later made a name in the Netherlands as a film researcher: methodical, an eye for detail and meticulously well-kept in terms of both content and design. Furthermore, it also shows how well he could draw.
Anyone who graduated from a Teachers’ College in Australia was assigned a position by the government. In 1949, Geoffrey ended up in Comboyne (New South Wales), approximately 175 kilometres north of Newcastle. Comboyne was a small village, an agricultural community, with fewer than 500 inhabitants in 2018, and probably only a few more or a few less back then. It did not have a cinema, only an occasional travelling film screener with old movies passed through. Donaldson became the head teacher and also the sole teacher of the Comboyne East School, which consisted of one classroom for all year groups, adding up to a total of 20 pupils. The highlight of the social calendar in the village was undoubtedly the debutants ball an annual event when everyone of marriageable age was on their best behaviour.

Geoffrey Donaldson + Unknown Lady

The only surviving photograph of Donaldson in Comboyne shows the charming young schoolmaster in formal dress with an unknown woman at his side. The education inspector who paid the school a visit, established that he ‘sets a good example in manner, bearing, personal appearance and speech’ and ‘commands the respect of his pupils and the community.’ Meanwhile, Geoffrey had, however, spent many lonely evenings in this remote village. No surprise that letters were sent from this unlikely place to all corners of the world, requesting film documentation: in this way the fire could still be kept burning in an environment where, for as far as the eye could see, there was no cinema.
At the age of about thirteen or fourteen, Geoffrey discovered he nurtured special feelings for men. How was not so grand: in a cinema in Newcastle he was approached by a man who was a total stranger. Going on the graphic description that he later wrote and according to the standards prevailing then and now, if what happened had become known, perhaps the perpetrator would have ended up behind bars. But, as Donaldson says, ‘although I was frightened at first, I knew I had enjoyed the experience.’
It was only years later in Comboyne ‘that I fell in love for the first time. Ted, five years older than me, a dairy farmer, was a very good friend in whose house I lived for a year. We shared a bed, but lay back-to-back alas.’ All of this seems to have escaped Ted. Incidentally, the humble circumstances under which Donaldson lived are immediately clear from this description, something he was probably already familiar with from Newcastle. Later, he was given his own cabin at the school.
At the end of 1954, Geoffrey Donaldson resigned from teaching and soon after left for Europe, never to return to Australia, even though he travelled to many faraway places. In the 24 years after his departure, he did not even see his mother, who died in 1979. What were the underlying reasons for his hasty departure? In the newspapers of the time and in the educational archives, no reason for his departure from Comboyne has yet been found. ‘Resignation accepted as from 31-1-1955’ is all that has been said on the matter. It seems unlikely that it can all be attributed to impulsiveness. Did it become known in the small community of Comboyne that he was homosexual? At that time, that could have been reason enough. In 1950s Australia, there was not much open-mindedness in this area. For this reason, he may have been asked by higher authorities to do the honourable thing, and because of the centralist management of teachers, he would have had very little chance anywhere else. However, given his hasty departure overseas and the apparent break with his mother, perhaps there was more to it than that, in Comboyne or elsewhere. We do not know.
He travelled to Europe on an Italian ship. He wrote that it carried, ‘lots of attractive young Italians returning home to get married.’ We can only imagine what type of remarkable company this could have been. Labourers who had worked in Australia? Liberated prisoners of war from World War II? The ship stopped at Australian ports in places Donaldson had never been before: Melbourne, Adelaide and Fremantle, Perth Harbour, it then probably crossed the Indian Ocean to Colombo in Ceylon (Sri Lanka). The journey continued by way of Aden, the Suez Canal and Port Said. By February 1955 Donaldson was in Italy, probably the last stop of the boat trip. Due to a lack of money, he stayed in youth hostels in Naples and Rome. He thought Rome was a beautiful city, but the Australian Embassy advised him not to stay since unemployment was high. Meanwhile, his stay was once again dominated by film. In Australia, he had seen the film ROMAN HOLIDAY [William Wyler, 1953], he wrote, ‘so I had a good idea of the places and things I wanted to see.’ He beat a path to the doors of film producers and distributors and managed to lay the groundwork for a new collection, with a wonderful gathering of photos and press kits. ‘In both Naples and Rome I was also able to catch up with some Italian films that had not reached Australia before I left, such as L’ORO DI NAPOLI [Vittorio de Sica, 1954] and, particularly and most memorably, SENSO [Luchino Visconti, 1954].’
Little is known of the next phase of Geoffrey Donaldson’s journey. It is likely he continued north by train. Later, he wrote in a letter that he had been corresponding for some years with a Dutch woman, Polly Spree, probably not coincidentally the daughter of an old film actor. He wrote that he hoped to enter into a ‘normal’ marriage with her, but Polly soon realized that he was different and to his great relief plans did not come to fruition. In an interview, Donaldson once said that he was actually on his way to England, where he (also) had a pen pal. In any case he landed in Rotterdam and the Netherlands became his new homeland. That was not without consequences: the film historiography in this country would certainly have looked different without his drive, his precision and his, at times, admonishing contribution.

( translated by GERALDINE NESBITT )


Geoffrey Donaldson as a youngster (ca. one year old) in his native town
Newcastle, NSW, Australia.

Film historian Geoffrey Neville Donaldson was born in Newcastle, Australia on 29 November 1929. Not much is known about his life in Australia except that, between 1949 and 1954, he was a teacher in the small town of Comboyne East. In 1955, Donaldson decided – unlike the stream of other emigrants – to look for a more adventurous life in Europe.
Donaldson was a collector, and all encyclopaedic research starts, of course, with the collection of facts. In Australia he had already begun collecting pictures and postcards of movie stars and when he arrived in Europe in 1955, one of the places he visited was Rome. The Australian embassy advised him not to look for work there (as unemployment was high). He had more luck with the Roman movie companies that he approached, as he was able to add various press kits and pictures to his collection.

The fact that Donaldson ultimately ended up in the Netherlands was actually by coincidence, since he was supposed to start work as a teacher in England. We owe his life’s work to this coincidence. He had a female pen friend in the Netherlands and he liked it here. For a while, he worked as a tomato picker and as a warehouseman and sales assistant in the Dutch department store, De Bijenkorf. Eventually, he ended up at Unilever, where his command of languages and writing skills were put to good use in the patents department. Later, he moved to Rotterdam to live with Harry van Gunsteren, his life partner and writer for Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad, in their apartment on the Groenendaal, which gradually filled up with movie documentation.

It was probably due to his sexual orientation that Geoffrey Donaldson was particularly partial to the Dutch Diva films that had previously been ignored by Dutch movie writers. One could say even that the rediscovery of the silent Dutch movie may be credited to Donaldson.

Donaldson worked as a translator and correspondent for Unilever and it is interesting to know that he also started his research on movie history as a correspondent. For Donaldson, it was perfectly normal to write a considerable number of letters every day. He must have sent tens of thousands of them in his lifetime. He tried to do as much as possible by post. For example, in his pioneering years, he also corresponded with the Dutch Film Museum that sent him volumes of old movie magazines such as De Film-Wereld (the World of Movies) and De Bioscoop-Courant (The Cinema Newspaper) by registered post. Once Donaldson finished his research on a particular volume, he returned it to the Museum and asked for the next one.

Annie Bos (1920).

He only left the house to do his research when there was no other way. For example, he interviewed a considerable number of people from the world of Dutch silent movies, including the Netherlands’ first genuine film diva, Annie Bos (1886-1975). Unfortunately, he did not record these interviews, and so Annie’s voice was not saved for posterity. Donaldson liked to write everyone and everything, and built up contacts all over the world. If he felt it was necessary to learn a language for any particular research or contact, he did not hesitate to do so. For example, he taught himself Serbo-Croatian and wrote lengthy letters in that language to friends and people he knew in the movie world of former Yugoslavia.

When Donaldson began to research the history of Dutch silent movies, hardly anything was known about it. The Nederlandsche Filmliga stated in 1933 – through its leader Henrik Scholte – that prior to Joris Ivens’ DE BRUG (1928) Dutch movie art had been practically non-existent:

“We have contributed nothing to the old silent movie. Opportunities, like the ones in Sweden and even in Czechoslovakia, were passed on. We focussed on pretentious five-masters, which were made ready for sailing by impresarios rather than by movie directors, but which already sank in the inland waterways of our national borders and never reached the open seas of the international market.’ (H. Scholte, Nederlandsche Filmkunst, Rotterdam, 1933, p. 8)

Donaldson in his film archive, Rotterdam, ca. 1969.

Donaldson made it his life’s work to prove Scholte wrong and the weighty book that he eventually published in 1997 did just that.
His publishing activities are probably too extensive to even investigate. In the fifties and sixties, he frequently visited the Berlin Film Festival and wrote about it in the British magazine Films and Filming. Later, he would also publish on movie-historic subjects in the same magazine, as well as in The Silent Picture and Films in Review. In the Netherlands, Donaldson would write mainly for the initially Marxist-Leninist and later more film-theoretically oriented magazine Skrien. The magazine’s various outlooks did not preclude a considerable interest in movie history and Donaldson consequently became an esteemed contributor. His first article for Skrien, in 1970, was programmatically entitled ‘The Dutch silent move and Dutch “movie historians”’ and contained a long list of all the errors that Dutch film writers such as Charles Boost, Emile Brumsteede, Simon van Collem and Ab Ieperen had permitted themselves at the expense of the Dutch silent movie up to then. It would certainly not be the last time Donaldson displayed his critical side.
In 1982, Donaldson became a full-time contributor for Skrien. In his series ‘Who’s Who in Dutch movies up to 1930’ he contributed biographical essays to each issue, completed with filmographies of people who played a more or less important role in early Dutch movie history. The series would run until 1988. With his scientific clarity, but moreover with beautifully written articles, he managed to put the spotlight again on forgotten movie stars such as the Chilean Adelqui Migliar and the Dutch Mimi Boesnach. Using his un-Dutch charm, he asked the readers of Skrien to contact him with additions and/or corrections. Given the numerous epilogues, this happened frequently. He was always willing to admit his own mistakes. For example, he wrote in Skrien 139 that ‘when compiling the filmography of Margit Barnay, I made an incomprehensible, unforgivable but fortunately not irreparable mistake. I forgot to consult volume VII of Gerard Lamprecht’s reference book Deutsche Stummfilme, thus leaving out no fewer than fourteen titles from her filmography”. Which was followed, of course, by an extensive supplement. In addition to his painstakingly accurate research, he always had an eye for the absurdity and often frequent drollery of Dutch movie history. The fable that Donaldson was merely a facts freak who could not write can be reputed by the following quotation from his article ‘Dogs in Dutch Movies’:

“The following – and as far as I know, last – Dutch silent movie in which a dog is directly involved in the plot is entitled WEERGEVONDEN (RETRIEVED), a movie directed by H. Chrispijn for the Filmfabriek ‘Hollandia’ in 1914. Fortunately, this movie was saved, but the original interim titles were missing from the copy that the Dutch Film Museum managed to preserve in 1976-1977, so that the name of the cheeky white keeshond who acted in it could not be found. For the sake of convenience, I will call him ‘Keesie’ here. The preserved copy of WEERGEVONDEN was shown during the 1977 International Film Week in Arnhem. These showings allowed the audience to form an opinion on ‘Keesie’s’ performance. Unfortunately, it became clear that the poorly trained ‘Keesie’ could never have gone up for a doggy Oscar, as he showed little interest in the movie action, but rather focussed his attention on the camera and the people standing behind. He certainly could not resist the urge to look straight into the camera.” (Skrien 122, pp. 12-13)

Of Joy and Sorrow, G.Donaldson.

After he retired from Unilever in late 1989, he was able to focus all his energy on his voluminous book. The Film Museum helped him to do so by giving him a personal computer and lending out a trainee, so that the comprehensive filmography data could also become available in digital form. The work on both sides (Donaldson submitted his information, the Film Museum checked all its own sources and completed the filmography information where necessary, after which Donaldson checked everything again) resulted in Of Joy and Sorrow (1997) a verbal, if not visual pinnacle of Donaldson’s lifelong passion for the Dutch silent movie. Not only did the book offer an impressive overview of everything that had been created in the first 35 years of Dutch movie history, it also contained a wealth of information about foreign releases. For example, the ‘five-master’ EEN CARMEN VAN HET NOORDEN [A Carmen of the North] (Maurits Binger/Hans Nesna, 1919) was shown in the United States in May of that year and in Argentina the following month (Of Joy and Sorrow, p. 184). Filmliga founder Henrik Scholte, who passed away a few years before, received a verbal but especially visual retort.
In fact, Donaldson was not only active in the field of the Dutch silent movie, he compiled, among other things, a pioneering first overview of movies made in the Netherlands during the Second World War. For example, for the famous Lexikon zum deutschsprachigen Film compiled by CineGraph he carried out research into which German actors or technicians had worked on Dutch movies. His work is also included in the Biographic Dictionary of the Netherlands. Donaldson kept an incredible biographic archive of almost everyone who had anything to do with Dutch movies. Many younger fellow researchers consequently visited him at home to consult his famous files. This often resulted in years of correspondence and an ongoing exchange of information. Donaldson was basically a very modest, even shy man who you only really got to know in his letters. In a typical letter sent after one of these afternoon visits, he apologised that he had forgotten to offer his visitor something to drink or otherwise, engrossed as he had been in either the conversation or looking up material from the archive.

I got to know Geoffrey personally in 1988 just after I started my job at the Film Museum and found three previously unviewed film canisters that contained three acts from a Hollandia movie that had been considered lost until then. My correspondence with Donaldson allowed me to conclude that they were acts 2, 4 and the final act 5 from the Annie Bos movie GOUDEN KETENEN [Gold Chains] (Directed by Maurits Binger, 1917). It was my first encounter with the Dutch silent movie and it opened up a whole new world for me. Later, I was able to use his wonderful personal files for my own research into the Dutch movie industry of the forties. Donaldson shared my interest in the forties. He had a comprehensive collection of publicity material on people such as Veit Harlan, Kristina Söderbaum and others. He readily made his material on Jan Teunissen (including the remainder of Teunissen’s archive that had been given to Donaldson after the former’s death in 1975) available to me for my biographical research on this ‘film tsar’. I was able to take the files with the original letters and the collected film scripts of the movies Teunissen edited in the thirties home with me until the research was finished.
Donaldson’s impressive collection contained, among other things, four or five bulky files in which Donaldson saved everything he could find about the countless adventure stories by his favourite author Henry Rider Haggard. This would lend itself perfectly for a proper source publication, as would the impressive collection of material that Donaldson collected about the movies of D.W. Griffith. Geoffrey only showed you those things if you were interested. Let us hope that the Film Museum will make an inventory of Donaldson’s sizeable collection soon so that researchers will not have to do without this Fundgrube much longer.

Dutch State Secretary Rick van der Ploeg awarding Geoff his Golden Calf for his life’s work, Utrecht, 1998.

Donaldson was awarded the 1981 NBF Cinemagiaprijs for his work in the field of movie history and received a special Gouden Kalf during the 1998 Dutch Film Festival for his beautiful book and his pioneering work in the field of Dutch movie historiography. On 9 May 2002 at age 72, he passed away in his beloved Rotterdam. I am sure that I am not the only one who will miss his passion, his critical viewpoint, and, more than that, his friendship.


Published in Tijdschrift voor Mediageschiedenis, 2002-2, pp. 143-149

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Decisive Victory - the Battle of the Sambre, 4 November 1918, Derek Clayton. Looks at the BEF&rsquos last major battle of the First World War, in which the Germans were forced out of their last prepared defensive line in a single day, marking the start of the final collapse of German resistance and the start of the rush to the Armistice. Aims to look at the level of skill displayed by the BEF towards the end of the victorious 100 Days campaign, tracing the balance between skill, experience and exhaustion(Read Full Review)

Breaking Point of the French Army - The Nivelle Offensive of 1917, David Murphy. Looks at the state of the French army at the start of 1917, the hopes raised by Nivelle when he took command, the failure of his offensive and the crisis of morale caused by that failure. Includes interesting material on how Nivelle and his team were able to ignore the evidence that there were problems with their plan, and on how Petain managed to undo the damage to the French army in remarkably little time (Read Full Review)

Aisne 1918, David Blanchard. Focuses on the first day of the battle, when a series of weakened British divisions in poor defensive positions were overwhelmed and the Allied line was temporarily broken. Based around a series of regimental histories of the fighting on that first day, followed by a shorter overview of the rest of the battle. Helps explain why the Germans were able to achieve such a dramatic breakthrough on the first day of the battle (Read Full Review)

The Horns of the Beast - The Swakop River Campaign and World War I in South-West Africa 1914-15, James Stejskal . Focuses on the successful South African invasion of German South-West Africa, a brief campaign that rarely gets more than a paragraph or two in histories of the First World War. This book focuses on one part of that campaign, the successful advance up the Swakop River which led to the defeat of the main German army in the area and the eventual surrender of the entire colony. Often neglected, this was an important victory for the South Africans, and helped unite the colony at the start of the Great War [read full review]

Battle on the Aisne 1914: The BEF and the Birth of the Western Front, Jerry Murland. A history of the British Army's involvement in the Battle of the Aisne, the moment when the war of movement ended and the stalemate of the trenches began, effectively beginning the Western Front as we understand it. Supported by copious eyewitness accounts, this is an excellent study of this often neglected battle. [read full review]

Fromelles 1916: No Finer Courage, the Loss of an English Village, Michael Senior. A look the impact of the First World War on the Buckinghamshire village of The Lee, and the tragic losses suffered by that village during the disastrous attack on Fromelles in July 1916. [read full review]

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Cambrai 1917: The Birth of Armoured Warfare, Alexander Turner. A well organised and illustrated account of the first battle to see the tank used in large numbers as a shock weapon.


Rommel & Caporetto, John Wilks and Eileen Wilks. Two interesting books in one - first a general history of the battle of Caporetto, where the Germans and Austrians nearly broke the Italian army and second an examination of the young Rommel's role in the battle where he first made his name. [read full review]


This Bloody Place - With the Incomparable 29th, Major A.H. Mure. A Gallipoli memoir published in 1919, but written during the war, centred on Mure's 43 days on shore at Gallipoli. An honest, largely unvarnished account of the fighting, which despite Mure's pride in the Allied achievement on Gallipoli doesn't skip over the horrors of the fighting, from the constant presence of death to Mure's own nervous breakdown that saw him invalided home. Gives a good impression of how frantic the fighting was in the narrow Gallipoli beachhead [read full review]

The Nek - A Gallipoli Tragedy, Peter Burness. Looks at one of the most costly disasters of the Gallipoli campaign in which four waves of dismounted light Australian cavalrymen charged towards Turkish machine guns on a narrow front and suffered appalling casualties. This study looks at the attack itself, the background to the units and their commanders, with a focus on why the later waves of attackers were allowed to make futile and costly assaults. [read full review]

Battleground Gallipoli: Suvla August Offensive, Stephen Chambers. A detailed history of the disastrous British landing at Sulva Bay in August 1915, an offensive that showed the British high command at almost its worst. Ends with three day-long walks around the battlefield area. All well supported by eyewitness accounts and contemporary photographs. [read full review]

Gallipoli 1915, Haythornthwaite, Philip J., Osprey Publishing, Oxford, 1991, Campaign Series No. 8. This Osprey covers the famous Gallipoli campaign in World War I, where British, Australian and New Zealand forces fought a bloody stalemate against the Turks in a hope of opening a second Front. [see more]


Messines 1917: The zenith of siege warfare, Alexander Turner. A good clear account of one of the most successful British offensives of the First World War, and a classic example of the success possible when formal siege techniques were applied to the deadlock on the Western Front. The battle is best known for the massive mines that were detonated at its start, but also saw a significant improvement in the British use of artillery and the benefits of a well organised plan [read full review]

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Mons: The Retreat to Victory, John Terraine. A classic account of the first phase of the fighting on the Western Front as it affected the B.E.F., from their arrival in France, to the battle of Mons itself and on to the long retreat and the battle of the Marne, supported by a good account of the experience of the French and German armies and their commanders [read full review]

The Somme

Somme 1916 Battlefield Companion, Commonwealth War Graves Commission. A guide to the battle of the Somme built around a series of battlefield trails that visit the many Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries on the battlefield. An effective approach to this familiar topic, linking the cemeteries to the battles fought in their vicinity and attempting to explain where the men buried in each one were killed. Well designed for use as a guide, ring bound with oversized covers fold out covers useable as bookmarks, as well as keeping rain off the book. The tours themselves are largely road based, with visits the key cemeteries (Read Full Review)

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Hold at All Costs! The Epic Battle of Delville Wood 1916, Ian Uys. A very detailed look at the battle of Delville Wood, one of the most intense parts of the battle of the Somme, and an important battle for the South Africans, who held the wood against determined German counter attacks for the first few days of the battle. Does a good job of covering the battle from both sides, using detailed German sources to demonstrate that both sides suffered heavy losses during the fighting (Read Full Review)

The 1916 Battle of the Somme Reconsidered, Peter Liddle. A modified version of a 1992 original that attempted to produce a new perspective of the battle of the Somme, seeing it as an essential step towards the eventual Allied victory, both for the damage it did to the German army and the improvements it forced on the British, as well as looking at the contemporary views of the soldiers involved in the fighting, suggesting that the average soldier wasn&rsquot the disillusioned figure painted by the war poets or of the post-war period(Read Full Review)

The Somme - The Epic Battle in the Soldier's own Words and Photograph, Richard van Emden . Covers the entire period that the British army spent on the original Somme front, from its arrival late in 1915, through the battle of the Somme and up to the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line. Mainly uses the writings and private photos taken by British soldiers, but also includes some material from the German side [read full review]

The Battle of the Somme, ed. Matthew Strohn . Looks at the wider issues that surround the battle, from its place in the British, French and German strategy for 1916 to the long term impact of the battle, as well as the development of tactics during the battle, and the long term impact of the Somme. A useful volume that gives equal weight to the British, French and German experiences of the Somme, and helps place the battle in its true context. [read full review]

Somme 1916 - Success and Failure on the First Day of the Battle of the Somme, Paul Kendall . Traces the fate of each British division to take part in the disastrous attack on the first day of the Somme, moving from north to south, so from total failure to relative success. Allows the reader to see what elements the unsuccessful attacks had in common, as well as acknowledging the more successful fighting on the British right, close to the French lines [read full review]

The First Day on the Somme (Revised Edition), Martin Middlebrook . A classic work that help found an entire genre of military history, combining a detailed history of the first day of the battle of the Somme with extensive extracts from eyewitness accounts of the fighting. The result is a truly excellent and moving account of the costly disaster of the First Day of the Somme, with a deserved reputation as a classic, and that hasn&rsquot been out of print since 1971. [read full review]

Somme Intelligence - Fourth Army HQ 1916, William Langford. A fascinating collection of the intelligence material available to the British Fourth Army on the Somme, mainly captured German material, including letters to and from the front, extracts from diaries, orders and other material taken from German prisoners or found in the German trenches after successful attacks, all of which suggested that German morale was at a low ebb, and perhaps encouraging the Allied commanders in their belief that a major victory was possible. [read full review]

Slaughter on the Somme 1 July 1916 - The Complete War Diaries of the British Army's Worst Day, Martin Mace and John Grehan. An invaluable reference work for anyone interested in the First Day of the Somme, the most costly single day in the history of the British army, bringing together the war diaries entries for 1 July 1916 for every British battalion that took part in the battle and the diversionary attack Gommecourt. [read full review]

Images of War: Great Push, the Battle of the Somme 1916, William Langford. A selection of photographs taken from the pictorial magazine The Great Push, which ran from July to November 1916 and included some 700 official photographs and film stills. A fascinating collection of photographs that give an interesting insight into the image the British Army wanted to give of the fighting on the Somme. [read full review]

Somme Success: The Royal Flying Corps and the Battle of the Somme 1916, Peter Hart. A compelling account of the aerial battle fought alongside the more famous fighting on the ground during the long battle of the Somme. Focuses on what the air forces were attempting to achieve and how successful they were, with the more familiar duals between air aces and technological developments placed more firmly in context than is normally the case. [read full review]

Walking the Somme (Second Edition), Paul Reed. Sixteen walks on the Somme battlefield, each with a discussion of the historical significance of the area, supported by a good selection of contemporary and modern photographs, useful sketch maps and contemporary trench maps. Produced twenty years after the first edition, the author's knowledge of the battlefield shines through.[read full review]

Tanks on the Somme, from Morval to Beaumont Hamel, Trevor Pidgeon. A very detailed tank-by-tank account of the 'penny packet' operations that followed the initial larger scale introduction of the tank into warfare during the battle of the Somme. Supported by detailed maps and battlefield guides, this is one of the most detailed accounts of armoured warfare you will ever read! [read full review]

Images of War: The Germans on the Somme, David Bilton. This illustrated history of the Somme front during the First World War from the German perspective provides an unfamiliar view of a familiar topic, both visually and in the narrative. A valuable work that challenges the standard view of the battle of the Somme of 1916 as a British defeat, as well as giving an unusual perspective on the four year long campaign on the Somme. [read full review]


Verdun - The Left Bank, Christina Holstein. Looks at the key battles on the left bank of the Meuse at Verdun, which saw the Germans attempt to capture a series of French viewpoints that allowed their artillery to hit the Germans operating on the right bank. Two thirds of the book provides a history of these bitter battles, the final third provides three tours of this generally unvisited area. One of the better examples of this genre, with good clear narratives that explain why these battles were so important, and give a clear idea of their progress without getting bogged down, supported by three tours that provide extra context to the fighting (Read Full Review)

The French Army at Verdun, Ian Sumner . The battle of Verdun was the defining experience of the First World War for the French, and a huge proportion of the army took part the defence of the fortress city. This photographic study covers an impressively wide range of topics, from the muddy chaos of the front lines to the massive supply operation, with aerial photographs to give a dramatic overview of the impact of the fighting [read full review]

Battleground Verdun: Fort Vaux, Christina Holstein. A detailed account of the siege of Fort Vaux, a short but important part of the wider Battle of Verdun, combined with a history of the fort and four self-guided tours of Fort Vaux and the surrounding area. A splendid account of a claustrophobic battle fought in horrendous conditions. [read full review]

The Battle for Flanders - German Defeat on the Lys 1918, Chris Baker. An account of the second major German offensive of 1918, Operation Georgette, or the Battle of the Lys of April 1918. A clear narrative is supported by copious eyewitness accounts from the British side to produce a clear account of this pivotal battle after which the Germans began to lose the initiative on the Western Front [read full review]

The Fortifications of Verdun, 1874-1917, Clayton Donnell. A study of the fortifications of Verdun, from the first modern works after the Franco-Prussian War to the brutal siege of 1916 and on to the modern preservation of the battlefield. Has some interesting material on the way in which fortifications developed in response to the appearance of high explosive shells fired from rifled artillery as well as on the appearance of the forts during the First World War and the siege itself. [read full review]


Ypres 1914: Messines, Nigel Cave and Jack Sheldon. Looks at the fighting around Messines during the First Battle of Ypres, where the Germans were able to capture the ridge itself but were unable to break through the British lines or capture Ypres itself. Covers the early cavalry actions fought before the line began to stabilize as well as the more famous battles around Messines Ridge at the end of October, when a thin line of exhausted troops from the BEF managed to slow down and then stop a German attack. Supported by a series of guided tours to the battlefield area, each with its own map and comments on the area (Read Full Review)

Trial by Gas - the British Army at the Second Battle of Ypres, George H. Cassar. Looks at the first use of poisoned gas on the Western Front, and the only major German offensive in the west in 1915, one of the great &lsquomissed chances&rsquo of the First World War. Very detailed account of the British side of the battle, supported by excellent maps showing the overall progress of the battle. Could do with more on the German point of view, but otherwise excellent(Read Full Review)

A Moonlight Massacre, Michael Locicero . A detailed history of a little known night attack that came after the official end of the Third Battle of Ypres, and that was intended to improve the British position on the northern edge of Passchendaele Ridge. Demonstrates the problems that could be caused by poor communications and the confusion of a night time attack, even in the increasingly expert British army of 1917, while also examining the real end of the British offensive action at Ypres in 1917 [read full review]

Images of War: The Germans in Flanders 1915-1916, David Bilton. A narrative history of the fighting in Flanders in 1915 and 1916 as seen from the German side, supported by a superb collection of photographs. Concludes with a chronology of the main events during these two years and a brief history of each German division that fought in Flanders in this period. [read full review]

Battleground Ypres: The Battle of the Lys 1918, Givenchy and the River Lawe, Phil Tomaselli. A detailed account of the fighting on the southern half of the battlefield during the first four days of the Battle of the Lys, one of the series of major German offensives that pushed the Allied line back in the spring and early summer of 1918. Finishes with a selection of tours of the battlefield [read full review]

Cameos of the Western Front: Salient Points Five, Ypres and Picardy 1914-18, Tony Spagnoly and Ted Smith. A collection of ten short accounts of incidents in the fighting around the Ypres salient from the earliest battles of 1914 into 1917. A useful volume for anyone planning to visit the battlefields that can be used to guide them to the sites of some of the less well known moments of the fighting. [read full review]


Russia's Last Gasp: The Eastern Front 1916-17, Prit Buttar. Looks at the most successful Russian offensive of the First World War, the Brusilov offensive of 1916, its eventual failure, and the collapse of the Tsarist regime that followed in 1917. Combines an excellent military history of the various campaigns with a detailed look at the political background in Russia, the failings of the Tsarist regime and its army, and the collapse of support for the Tsar that led to the first Russian Revolution [read full review]

Images of War: The Russian Revolution, World War to Civil War 1917-1921, Nik Cornish. A good selection of photos covering all of the main factions during the Russian Revolution and the costly Civil War that followed, including some of pre-Revolutionary times and of the Germans who occupied parts of western Russia during 1918. All supported by useful captions and a good brief history of the period. [read full review]

Churchill's Crusade: The British Invasion of Russia 1918-1920, Clifford Kinvig. A fascinating look at a little known British campaign, the intervention in Russian in 1918-1920 that began as an attempt to reopen the Eastern Front of the First World War and turned into an attack on the Bolshevik regime. Although the British intervention was part of a wider international campaign, Britain, and Churchill in particular, played a key role in prolonging the campaign. [see more]

Geoffrey Donaldson : First World War - History

Harold Clarence Donaldson was born on October 6, 1913. According to our records Texas was his home or enlistment state and Dallas County included within the archival record. He had enlisted in the United States Army. Served during World War II. Donaldson had the rank of First Lieutenant. Service number assignment was O-1292150. Attached to Company B, 116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division. During his service in World War II, Army First Lieutenant Donaldson experienced a traumatic event which ultimately resulted in loss of life on June 6, 1944 . Recorded circumstances attributed to: KIA - Killed in Action. Incident location: Omaha Beach, Normandy, France. Harold Clarence Donaldson is buried or memorialized at Plot G Row 2 Grave 22, Normandy American Cemetery, Colleville-sur-Mer, France. This is an American Battle Monuments Commission location. List of site sources >>>

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