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The Cyclist Battalion

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Going through some boxes of old photographs and cards belonging to my elderly mother, who has recently moved into a nursing home, I came upon a 1916 Christmas card from my grandfather R E Ludlam sent from Bangalore in India when he was there with the 1/9th Battalion, Hampshire Regiment.

d200-hants-cycles-1 - 540▲ The 1/9th (Cyclist) Battalion, it was an idea to have the troops cycle into battle. I don’t think it lasted very long, I doubt the bicycles were taken with them to India although their WW I bicycles look remarkably like the Hero bicycles you can still find in India today.

I’ve posted before about my great grandfather’s pre-WW I connection with Kaiser Wilhelm and the cufflinks I acquired from my grandfather. In 2013 when I was in Berlin I went looking for the address on Unter den Linden, the main thoroughfare of Berlin, where those cufflinks originated.

I was in Bangalore (Bengaluru today) in July this year – it’s the Silicon Valley city of India, full of software companies and call centre today – but I had no idea my grandfather had been in India. When I searched further the 1/9th Battalion were in India in 1916-1917 and then in October 1918, just as WW I was about to conclude, sailed to Vladivostok in Russia. I knew about my grandfather going to Siberia, it was a little known British mission to support the imperial Russian government against those nasty Bolsheviks. Yes it was a total failure, but my grandfather was in Russia for 12 months before sailing out of Vladivostok in November 1919 and returning to England via Canada, so he made a complete circuit of the world between 1916 and 1919. While he was in Russia the battalion went to Omsk (in January 1919) and to Ekaterinberg (May 1919). In 2013, travelling the Trans-Siberian Railway, Maureen and visited Ekaterinberg, also known as Yekaterinburg. It was where the Czar’s family were killed in 1918, those nasty Bolsheviks again!

hampshire_cyclists_volunteers - 540▲ More World War I cyclists.

d200-hants-cycles-1 - 540

The Cyclist Battalion

21 December 2014 | Living

Going through some boxes of old photographs and cards belonging to my elderly mother, who has recently moved into a nursing home, I came upon a 1916 Christmas card from my grandfather R E Ludlam sent from Bangalore in India when he was there with the 1/9th Battalion, ...

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All Change for Cuba?

18 December 2014 | Living

So finally things are changing between the US and Cuba with Obama’s announcement that he intends to normalise relations with Cuba – about time most of us would say! Unfortunately Obama’s promise to ‘cut loose the shackles of the past’ doesn’t quite mean ending the...

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Fremantle, Australia II & the Batavia Shipwreck

12 December 2014 | Places

En route to Bunbury I stopped in Fremantle to look at two museums – I stopped in Fremantle again on the way back to stay with some friends. ▲ My first stop was the Maritime Museum with all sorts of interesting exhibits about Western Australia’s seagoing history inc...

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Making Modern Melbourne

10 December 2014 | Culture

Jenny Lee’s Making Modern Melbourne has been sitting by my bedside for far too long. I finally picked it up (seriously for a change) the other day and knocked it off in a flash. It’s a handy little history of Melbourne from its pre-European Aboriginal period, through ...

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Bunbury in Western Australia, War Zone Hotels Elsewhere

8 December 2014 | Places

▲ I was in Bunbury last month for a Sister Cities conference, Bunbury is linked up with Setagaya near Tokyo and Jiaxing near Shanghai. The Seishokai Music Group came courtesy of the Japan link but there were lots of other sister city relationships making an appearance...

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Gatecrashing Paradise

Gatecrashing Paradise: Adventures in the Real Maldives

7 December 2014 | Culture

I commented on Tom Chesshyre’s How Low Can You Go, an exploration of unknown corners of Europe, courtesy of the Low Cost Carriers who fly there, a few years ago. This time in Gatecrashing Paradise Tom sets out to explore the other Maldives, not the one where all the t...

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Flinders & King Islands

5 December 2014 | Places

They’re the two islands half way across Bass Strait, between the island state of Tasmania to the south and mainland Australia to the north. Although island residents tend to call Tasmania ‘the mainland.’ And despite living in Melbourne for many years and making many t...

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A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmade Lists

4 December 2014 | Culture

Yesterday I posted about wacky Chinese buildings, today it’s a wacky Melbourne book. Jane Rawson’s novel A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmade Lists combines a dystopian Melbourne in 2030, crippled by climate change, industrial meltdown and societal collapse, with a li...

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Wacky Chinese Buildings

3 December 2014 | Culture

Yesterday I posted about Melbourne’s (temporary) MPavilion. After I wrote that piece I went to a session at the pavilion about Chinese filmmaker Yang Fudong. There’s a current exhibition on his works at ACMI – the Australian Centre for the Moving Image. The Yang Fu...

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The MPavilion & the Serpentine Pavilion

2 December 2014 | Culture

▲ Melbourne’s Southbank Arts Precinct has a new temporary structure in the Queen Victoria Gardens, the MPavilion. Sponsored by Naomi Milgrom this year’s Sean Godsell designed temporary building will be followed by another new design each year for four years. You can r...

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