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Queens of Noise: Get It On - Episode 4
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30 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 19 October 2010

Vanessa Collingridge presents Radio 4's popular history programme in which listeners' questions and research help offer new insights into the past.

Some flimsy pieces of paper lovingly preserved by a listener in Kent tell the story of her parents and hundreds of other British civilians who were interned by the Japanese during the Second World War - even though they were living in Chinese Shanghai. Professor Robert Bickers of the University of Bristol explains how a century of Britain's involvement in China and a decade of military tension between Japan and China led to these wartime camps.

A seventeenth century map which apparently marks the spot where two Saxon kings lie buried near Stonehenge prompts a listener to ask whether there are many high status burials close to this iconic archaeological site in Wiltshire. Andrew Fitzpatrick of Wessex Archaeology takes Making History's Richard Daniel on a walk in the landscape around Stonehenge to reveal how nearby burial sites seem to reveal that it was a visitor attraction thousands of years ago as well as today.

Whilst on holiday on the Adriatic coast in Italy a listener spotted a statue to Garibaldi which mention the name of one 'Ugo' or Hugh Forbes, who was this man and what was he doing fighting in the wars of Italian unification he asks? Vanessa talks to Dr David Laven from the University of Manchester who explains that Forbes was one of many Britons who went to fight in Italy. Forbes became a close compatriot of Garibaldi and was even captured by the Austrians defending the great man's retreat. A heavy drinker, Dr Laven explains how, although revered in Italy, Forbes is remembered differently in America where it is said that he was prepared to betray the abolitionist John Brown after training some of his troops.

Finally, Vanessa travels to Tameside near Manchester where a Making History listener has volunteered to transcribe the handwritten records of a local hospital. After several weeks working on the entries for the 1860's she is amazed at the amount of alcohol that the Matron bought. Workhouse historian Peter Higginbotham and Dr Patricia Barton of the University of Strathclyde explain the changing relationship between drink and medicine in Victorian Britain.

Email: making.history@bbc.co.uk

Write to Making History. BBC Radio 4. PO Box 3096. Brighton BN1 1PL

Join the conversation on our Facebook page or find out more from the Radio 4 website at www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/makinghistory

Presenter: Vanessa Collingridge
Producer: Nick Patrick
A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.

  • Interned in Shaghai

    Making History listener Susan Anderson contacted the programme to tell us about some ‘very flimsy pieces of paper’ she holds entitled “Census of inmates as at July 31st, 1943 Civil Assembly Centre 65 Great Western Road”.

    Twenty eight pages of ‘British Subjects’, one of ‘American Citizens’ and one entitled “Netherlands Subjects”. Susan has this document because her parents and half-brother’s mother were interned under Japanese rule between 1943 and 1945 in Shanghai. What these people went through is the subject of J G Ballard’s autobiographical novel “Empire of the Sun”.

    Making History consulted Professor Robert Bickers from the University of Bristol who is also Co-Director of the British Inter-University China Centre.

    At the end of the first Opium War the Treaty of Nanking was signed in 1842, this allowed for 5 ports in China where foreigners could live and trade. One was Shanghai. Over the following decades a significant number of ex-pats moved to China for work. Eventually administrators and law enforcement personnel joined them to create international communities that worked fairly harmoniously with the Chinese.

    However, in 1931, Manchuria was invaded by the Japanese military. In 1932 fighting broke out around Shanghai and later in the decade the Chinese decide to take the fight to the Japanese – and lose.

    But, at the outbreak of the Second World War in Europe, the Japanese occupation did not extend to Shanghai - the Chinese describing its position as the ‘Orphan Island’. Even the start of the Pacific war in December 1941 didn’t impinge on the international community’s freedom to come and go as they please within Shanghai, so much so that even race meetings were held – much to the embarrassment of the British Government in London.

    However, despite random outbreaks of violence, this was a false peace and in February/March 1943, in retaliation to the internment of Japanese citizens in the USA and Canada, international citizens in Shanghai are interned.

    Professor Bickers argues that conditions were fairly good, food was short but internees didn’t starve and brutality was at a minimum. It was, he says, perhaps the best place to be held captive by the Japanese.

    Professor Robert Bickers
  • Useful Link: Ash Civilian Internment Camp

    A plan of Ash Camp where Susan’s parents were held.

    Ash Civilian Internment Camp

    This story has been written onto the BBC People's War site by CSV Storygatherer Lucy Thomas - U3A Callington - on behalf of Ann Moxley - nee March.

    Interned by the Japanese in Shanghai
  • Useful Link: Captives of Empire

    The Japanese Internment of Allied Civilians in China and Hong Kong, 1941-1945.

    Captives of Empire
  • Stonehenge – A Prehistoric Visitor Centre?

    Making History listener David Lewis emailed making.history@bbc.co.uk to tell us about a copy of a map of Wiltshire he has which was made by a John Speede in 1610.
    It shows the graves of two kings buried near Stonehenge in 475 and 546AD, have any more graves been found he asks?

    Richard Daniel caught up with Andrew Fitzpatrick of Wessex Archaeology who explained that th landscape around Stonehenge is relatively under researched, yet there have been plenty of finds which show that the area was a draw for high status individuals who may well of been trading – or just visiting.

    Wessex Archaeology - Stonehenge
  • Useful Link: Stonehenge

    Stonehenge - English Heritage
  • Useful Link: Stonehenge boy 'was from the Med'

    Chemical tests on teeth from an ancient burial near Stonehenge indicate that the person in the grave grew up around the Mediterranean Sea.

    Stonehenge boy 'was from the Med'
  • ‘Ugo’ or Hugh Forbes

    Making History listener George Auld from Perth came across a statue to Garibaldi in the Adriatic port of Cesenatico. One of his followers named on the statue was “Ugo Forbes, London”. Who was he asks George?

    Making History consulted Dr David Laven, Senior Lecturer in Italian Studies at the University of Manchester.

    Forbes is either a scoundrel or an enlightened rogue depending on who you read. He was one of several Englishmen (not quite as famous as the splendid sharpshooter and founder of the Cornish horticultural society, John Peard) caught up in the struggle against the Austrians and the Papal States for what know as the unification of Italy.

    Forbes was an Oxford man and ex-Coldstream guard who had moved to Tuscany. He saw service with the Venetians, Sicilians, and, eventually, Garibaldi in 1848-9 (alongside his son who was also called Hugh). His men swelled Garibaldi's ranks on the retreat from Rome, when he joined with a garrison he had been commanding at Terni (where he seems to have been widely disliked by the locals). He was captured and imprisoned by the Austrians in 1849. Accounts differ as to whether he was released as a result of British diplomatic intervention, or because of the pleading of his beautiful Italian second wife. He also seems to have been active in trying to recruit British volunteers in 1860-61.

    After 1849 we find him in America where worked with the abolitionist John Brown, became a fencing master, edited an Italian language newspaper, and worked as a translator for the Tribune. He also published his Manual of the Patriotic volunteer (1853) while in the US and was given quite large sums of money to train Brown's men in Kansas/Iowa.

    In 1858 he tried to convince anti-slavery campaigners on the east coast that Brown was planning a 'dash' at Harper's Ferry, but no one believed him. Indeed, he was widely described as insane, a lunatic and a drunk. Robert Chadwell Williams's life of Horace Greeley deals with his irascible and inconsistent behaviour in the US in some detail and many American writers paint a very dim picture of him.

    In the early 1860’s he got involved with Polish affairs with Garibaldi’s backing and when he died in Italy in the early 1890’s it is said that Pisan patriots went into mourning for three months. The great nineteenth century historian Trevelyan was granted access to his private papers for his "Garibaldi" trilogy and David Laven argues that Forbes was in a tradition of nineteenth-century British adventurers who, whilst holding reasonably progressive views, seem also to have been motivated by a sheer love of risk and excitement.

    Dr David Laven
  • Useful Link: John Brown's Hired Martial Help: Hugh Forbes

    A blog post describing Forbes' work with John Brown.

    John Brown's Hired Martial Help: Hugh Forbes
  • Useful Link: Giuseppe Garibaldi

    Giuseppe Garibaldi, Italy's Revolutionary Hero
  • Drink in the Tameside Hospital

    Making History listener Marjorie Ross is transcribing the records of the Tameside Hospital near Manchester and, in the 1860’s, has come across many references to the purchase of alcohol by Matron. Barrels of beer and gallons of wine and spirits, she wonders why so much drink was needed at this time?

    Vanessa met up with Making History’s workhouse specialist Peter Higginbotham in the Tameside Local Studies and Archive Centre in Ashton under Lyne because we initially thought that this was a workhouse hospital. However, Peter pointed out that workhouses were largely ‘dry’ and the only real quantities of booze were consumed during Holy Communion in the workhouse chapel. Making History then turned to Dr Patricia Barton at the University of Strathclyde who explained that drink was used for two things in hospitals during this time – as medicine and as payment.

    There were no tablets at this time and so most medicine came in powder form which had to be diluted, alcohol was widely used for this and doctors and surgeons also believed that drink had medicinal properties. However, a good proportion of alcohol would have been used instead of money for the payment of the staff.

    Link: The ‘Sairey Gamps’ of Victorian Nursing? Tales of Drunk and Disorderly Wardsmen in Victorian Hospitals between the 1850s and the 1880s.

    The ‘Sairey Gamps’ of Victorian Nursing? (.pdf)
  • Useful Link: The Workhouse

    The Workhouse - Peter Higginbotham’s website
  • Guest: Dr. Patricia Barton

    Honorary Research Fellow, University of Strathclyde.

    Dr. Patricia Barton


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