Category Archives: site news

So… where were we?!

So… where were we?!

It’s been almost a year since my last post, and so much has changed in such a short space of time. I’ve moved house (back to Pompey!), finished my latest book, investigated meditation and Buddhism and taken up long distance running.

I’m sorry that I haven’t found the time to keep this place as up to date as I would have liked to – particularly for my regulars, who I still count as friends – but sadly at many points over the past 12 months writing a blog was the last thing on my mind. Apart from anything else that I’ve had going on, I’d spent the best part of three years sat in front of a laptop writing books. No matter how much you like history, sooner or later your mojo goes for a wander for a while!

But, with a lot of unpleasantness under the bridge and well behind me, I figured its time to ressurect Daly History, and let you all know about what’s been happening with me recently. I honestly have no plans about how it’s going to pan out, but I’m still into history as much as ever. I can’t say I’m as fascinated with defence affairs as I used to be, but who knows what news will catch my attention?

As I mentioned, I’ve taken up long distance running, following in the footsteps of my dad and brother, and recently ran the Great South Run (10 miles) in 1:22:08 – a respectable time, if I do say so myself, for someone who has only been running for a few months. There’s something very honest about running – you can’t cheat, and it’s just you and the road. I’m also back living in Portsmouth. As much as Chichester is a lovely place, I never really felt comfortable there on a socio-economic level. Now, I’m living in an inner city, end of-terrace house, that in 1901 and 1911 was inhabited by dockies and sailors and their families. I’m one street down from where my grandparents lived many years ago, so it does feel like ‘coming home’.

My new book, ‘Portsmouth’s WW1 Heroes’, is out right now, and should be on the shelves any day. The kindle version is already on sale on amazon and such like other websites. I’ve had a long break from writing, but now I’m researching for a Portsmouth Paper on ‘Portsmouth and the Great War‘, co-authored with Dan Kneller. That should be out in July 2014. I’m also working up a proposal for a new book on ‘Portsmouth and the Blitz‘, utilising Oral History testimonies and photographs never before published.

Stay tuned, it won’t be 12 months until the next post, I promise!

-James

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2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 110,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Message from James, my singing Girlfriend and next talk

First of all apologies for the marked lack of posts in recent weeks. As much as it is nice to have a busy blog, books to work on and lots of talks, some things in life come first.

Having said that, my next talk is tomorrow evening in Portchester, for the Portchester Civic Society at the Church Hall in Castle Street. ‘Kick off’ will be at 7.30pm, and I will have  copies of my book ‘Portsmouth’s World War Two Heroes’ available for purchase on the night.

Finally, my girlfriend Sarah would be really chuffed if you could have a watch/listen of her singing. She’s always had great talent and has recently started entering singing competitions. As you might guess, I’m very proud :)

Sarah Cornish – Wild Horses (Susan Boyle version, originally by the Rolling Stones)

 

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News – Portsmouth’s World War One Heroes book

I’m very pleased to announce that I have just signed a contract with my publishers, The History Press, for my next book, ‘Portsmouth’s World War One Heroes’.

At present we are aiming for publication in late 2013, in time for the Great War Centenary in 2014. Obviously I am writing it as we speak and I do not want to give too much away, but it’s going to be like my previous book, but longer; and with the wealth of sources available for the First World War I have been able to go into a lot more depth. It will include some individual stories, stories of battles and units, a look at Portsmouth in 1914 and how the fallen of the Great War were remembered in the town. As with my previous book, most of these stories have never been told before.

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Defence IQ Blogging Award Winner 2012!

First of all, apologies for the lack of posts in recent days, I’ve been struggling with a particularly nasty cold/virus/infection or whatever it is.

But on a slightly brighter note, I found out today that I’m a winner of Defence IQ’s 2012 Blogging Awards, in the Maritime Security Category!

Here’s what the judges had to say:

‘The Daly History Blog balances military maritime astuteness and historical reverence with a keen academic rigor. We really enjoy reading the blog here at Defence IQ and think it a worthy winner. Not to mention the fact it’s updated daily (honestly, it is, that’s not just a pun).’

Not bad for a 29 year old civvy who does a bit of writing in his spare time! All joking aside, I was up against some very good, professional blogs so I do feel a bit like Chelsea nobbling Barcelona, with 11 men behind the ball for 90 minutes!

 

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1,000 posts

Well, apparently this is my thousandth post on my blog! How the hell did that happen?

I’ve been making a few calculations. If, for example, I’ve written a couple of hundred words in each of my posts, say, 250 – then thats around a quarter of a million words written on Daly History since July 2009. And a thousand posts divided by three years works out at just under one post a day. One wonders where I’ve found the time for it all, in amongst writing my first book, a day job, a home life and by no means least a partner!

I would like to thank you all for your support over the past three years. My brother Scott for suggesting that I start a blog in the first place. Honestly, it started out as something to do and a way of expressing myself, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would end up winning awards and getting a book published off the back of it. My publishers for taking a chance on me that I hope has paid dividends, and also the various other publishers who very kindly let me review their wares. Also the various friends I have made here over the years, and other social media historians who have helped to create what is a thriving online community for military and other kinds of history.

A few years ago, nobody would have imagined the amount of history that would be created online. Even now, some of the more sniffy ‘professionals’ might doubt the importance of social media. But I’m sure the past three years here have shown that it is THE way forward when it comes to breaking down barriers in history, heritage and all other kinds of allied fields. Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Flickr, and indeed WordPress are just as valuable tools as the humble pen and paper. bJust like the internet has broken down doors for music artists, it’s done the same for historians, and it’s time that people woke up to it. Just as nowadays somebody can record an album in their bedroom, and put it online, a budding historian can circumvent all of the chicanery, and get their work noticed. Why beaver away on writing dusty journal articles that maybe four people will read? Blogging is accessible, it’s dynamic, and it is – I’m sure – here to stay.

Heres to the next thousand!

 

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Defence IQ Blog Awards

Dear readers,

The Defence IQ Blogging Awards 2012 are now open for nominations in the following categories:

  • Information Operations
  • Cyber (Security, Warfare, Strategy)
  • Counter Terrorism
  • Maritime Security
  • Regional Defence
  • Defence Industry

Click this link for more information.

Entries for the Defence IQ Blogging Awards 2012 are now open, so if you write or read a blog which you believe deserves special recognition – get in touch now!

To enter a blog, provide the URL, a short description of why the blog is great and what category you want to nominate it in to and email it to samantha.tanner@iqpc.co.uk or let us know on Twitter @DefenceIQ.

You can enter as many blogs as you read or write but hurry – nominations close at 14:00 GMT on Wednesday 6th June 2012.

The winners will be chosen by the Defence IQ panel and announced on Thursday 14th June 2012.

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Thinking about the site

I’ve been doing a bit of thinking about how things are going here at Daly History. It’s almost three years since I began, and how things have snowballed has far exceeded my expectations.

With that in mind, I’ve been thinking about how I move forwards with it all. The site remains, essentially, the same design wise as it did when I launched in July 2009, a few additions and modifications aside. I’ve been wondering if it’s time to think about a bit of an overhaul. When I started I was just a bloke interested in history who blogged in his spare time. Now, three years later, I’m a published historian.

One option to is to go down the self-hosted route, and actually host the site myself rather than using wordpress. The problem is, wordpress.com does not allow you to place adverts on your blog, whereas if you download the software and host it yourself, you can sell advertising. How would you feel about seeing adverts? It would only be a few, smallish and relevant adverts, from things that I think you my readers would be interested in. The idea is that it would help pay for the hosting costs.

In a more general sense, what do you like about Daly History? What would you change? Have you got any ideas that might improve things? In terms of content, is there anything that you would like to see more of? Am I covering some subjects in too much detail? Am I missing a trick with something? Please feel free to be brutally honest, I really welcome straight-up feedback as it makes my job so much easier!

As always, thank you for your support

James

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2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 100,000 times in 2011. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 4 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Christmas Message from James

After I’ve had a few days of down time over christmas – which for me constitutes divorcing myself from the laptop for a few days! – I have had a chance to sit back and reflect on what an amazing year it has been.

This time last year I had just started work on my first book, ‘Portsmouth’s World War Two Heroes’. The contract was inked in January, and after a mammoth effort the book was handed into the publishers in June. I’ve learnt a hell of a lot about the writing process, the publishing industry and much more besides! In particular, in future I would give myself much more time, and in particular, I would try not to move house three days before the hand-in date!

After a bit of a rest – including a nice trip to the Dartmoor Folk Festival, and settling in to my new quarters in Chichester, I have started work on my project looking at Portsmouth’s fallen heroes from the Great War. Research is still ongoing, and I am still considering how best to present this research, but I do very much have my eyes on the 100th anniversary of the start of WW1 in 2014, or the 100th anniversary of the Somme in 2016.

The most popular topics on my blog this year have been ‘The Sinking of the Laconia‘, a BBC docu-drama in January, and the visit of the US Aircraft Carrier George H.W. Bush to the Solent in May. Anything to do with the Falklands seems to go down pretty well. Sadly I haven’t been able to post as much as I would like, due to work commitments, lack of internet at times of the year, etc, I am still pretty pleased with the hit rate I am getting. But I won’t pre-empt my review of the year, which rightly belongs on new years eve.

When I think back to the time that I started this blog, it’s almost like it was a different person who started it. I literally began blogging through boredom, and thought that if I was going to spend my mid-twenties singledom reading military books and visiting museums, I had might as well do something constructive with it. Now, over two years later, my first book is due out in a little more than a month, I’ve written text for display at the Spinnaker Tower, and certainly by no means least, I have moved in with my Girlfriend Sarah. I don’t mind admitting that when I started my blog in the summer of 2009 I was still recovering from a period of suffering from some pretty severe depression. Realising that what I have to say interests people has motivated me more than anyone could ever know, and its certainly helped me move on and up in life. I just want anyone reading this to know, that if you really want to achieve something, you can if you work hard enough. It doesn’t matter what illness you may suffer from, or what school you went to, or where you grew up. True, that might mean that you might have to work harder, but in the process you will have earnt it so much more.

I would like to thank you all for your support, participation and kindness throughout the past twelve months. You all really help make it happen. I am always very interested to hear comments, feedback, ideas or the like. We live in a very uncertain and very unpredictable world, and it has never been more important for us to champion the understanding of the past, and in particular study and understanding of military history.

From my Girlfriend Sarah and I, a very happy Christmas to you all.

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Proofreading the final draft

As I write I am happily scanning though a PDF file of my book, kindly sent to me by my publisher.

I can gladly report that it looks the biz. When you’ve worked on something like this for a couple of years, at times it seems like a long haul and when you read the chapters in word format, it just looks like another undergraduate essay. But when you see it designed, laid out with photos and in a fancy font, you suddenly realise that you’re a historian! I’m really pleased with how it looks. I was concerned about the ratio of pictures to text, but I seem to have got it just right.

One thing I hadn’t bargained for was working on the index, which should be interesting as it’s something I’ve never done before. Prioritising the key points to fit into the space avasilable should be a challenge.

Once the index and any amendments are sent back to the publisher its all systems go, with just over 70 odd days left before publication.

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Update from James

Hi all, I just thought I would let you know what’s happening here at Daly HQ.

Still haven’t replaced my laptop, and I’m waiting for the insurance company to pick it up prior to a replacement. It’s pretty frustrating having to beg steal and borrow Internet access, especially when you have books to write and talks to produce! Not to mention corrections to my book to reply to my publisher!

On a more positive note, I have nine – yes, nine! – book reviews backed up ready to go. Subjects include WW2 propaganda posters, British Army junior officers of WW1, Fromelles, Salonika, wargaming Arnhem, and battlefield guides of the merville battery, the dives bridges, and Pegasus and horsa bridges.

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Message from James

Hi folks.!

Just a quick message to let you know what has been going on, and in some cases not going in, in the Daly History HQ recently.

Firstly, I’ve been getting over a nasty cold man-flu that laid me low for most of last week. Then when I thought I’d recovered from that, my eye swelled up like I’d taken a nasty right hook. You know the episode of the Para’s where they do the milling? It looked like I’d done a few rounds of that. Turns out I had the worst case of conjunctivitis the doctor had ever seen!

Now I’ve recovered from that, but sadly my trusty laptop is no more, and has a nasty crack in the LCD screen, from causes unknown. So whilst I investigate the feasibility of battle damagee repairs or procuring a replacement, posts may be intermittent and I may be slower at responding to emails that I would normally like. It’s a shame, as I’ve got a few interesting books to review for you, and some interesting events coming up.

Oh well, as they say, no plan ever survives the first contact with the enemy. Do not be surprised if chaos reigns – it undoubtedly will!

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A Message from your AWARD WINNING blogger!

I’m rather overwhelmed to announce that I found out this evening that I have been given an award for my blog!

The team at the Veterans Benefits GI Bill website have decided that Daly History is one of the top 50 military history blogs on the whole of the internet, and hence you can see a nice shiny award picture just to the right ——>>>>

Have a look at the award announcement here, to see the team’s very flattering words, and also to see a list of other winners. Other names you might recognise are Ross Mahoney’s Thoughts on Military History, Birmingham War Studies, Airminded and the Australian War Memorial. It’s quite a suprise to be counted amongst such leading lights!

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My work at the Spinnaker Tower, Portsmouth

Around six months ago I was comissioned by Continuum, the operators of the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth, to provide some historical research about the Tower, Portsmouth and the surrounding area. The aim was twofold – one, to enhance the visitor experience, and two, to increase visitor numbers.

My work focused on two aspects. I researched as many interesting and enlightening statistics as I could about Portsmouth, the Harbour, the Solent and everything you could see from the viewing platforms. And on the viewing platforms itself, I worked on interpreting what exactly you can see and where, and putting the history of it all into some kind of context.

In all, from comission to hand-in the project took two weeks, working in my spare time, and included one site visit.

Some of the results can be seen below:

As you can see, the Tower’s designers have come up with some eye-catching triangle shaped graphics panels around the base of the tower, which are aimed at ‘pulling-in’ passing trade with facts and figures and pictures of sites you can see from the top of the tower.

It’s a great example of what can be done quickly and on a sensible budget, but professionally. I hope it helps increase visitor numbers for the Tower.

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