Blog Post Collections

Sifting the Paperwork

Islington Museum’s paperwork is crucial in helping us understand what our objects are, where they are from and why they are interesting.

An old brick is just a brick…until you have a piece of paper that shows it is an original  tile from Sadlers Wells ‘Musick House’ in the 1680’s where people would come to take the waters, which cured dropsy, jaundice and scurvy. Come and visit us to discover the tiles and other intriguing objects from Islington’s past.

We have been working hard to look at our historic paperwork and bring it up to modern standards. In Sifting the Paperwork the people behind the work will give an insight into what we’re doing and will share the interesting snippets we find along the way.

Roz Currie, Curator

Finsbury Rifles

Finsbury Rifles: Away from the Western Front. 9th June to 17th June 1916.

Date 9 to 10/6/16

Work on defences as usual. Orders received to prepare to join a mobile column.

Date 11/6/16

Battalion proceeded to join mobile column by route march to point of concentration via Geneffe railhead. Burgea for the night.

Date 12/6/16

Battalion proceeded to a point 6 miles east of  Geneffe railhead and bivouacked for the day returning to railhead same day into bivouac.

Date 13/6/15

Battalion remained in Bivouac during day marching back to Shallufa Camp in the evening.

Date 14 to 17/6/16

Work on defences. Digging, wiring etc. Battalion finding also all garrison duties.

Explore our Glossary to learn more about unfamiliar terms.

Finsbury Rifles

Finsbury Rifles, Away from the Western Front. 1st June – 9th June 1916.


Date 1 to 2/6/16

Work on defences as usual. Captain Comber reported from English leave.

Date 3/6/16

Work on defences as usual. 6 other ranks joined from 54th Divisional Base Details.

Date 4 to 8/6/16

Work on defences as usual. 3 other ranks joined from 54th Divisional Base Details.

Please explore our Glossary to discover more.

Finsbury Rifles

Finsbury Rifles, Away from the Western Front. 24th May to 31th May 1916.

In this passage follow the Rifles from Gebel Murr (on the East of the Suez Canal) to bases at Kubri and Shallufa (to the north of the Canal).

The map below comes from the book ‘The New Zealanders at Gallipoli’ (1919), and illustrates the location of El Kubri and Shallufa. It took the 1/11 London 2hours and 45 minutes to march the 12 miles to Kubri.

© 2016 Victoria University of Wellington.  The New Zealand Electronic Text Collection . In: Consulted: 19/05/2017

These two images show the Officer’s Mess at Kubri in 1916. We can see how closely the 1/11 London Officers watched over that part of the Canal, and can learn a little about the structures built and inhabited by the soldiers.

© IWM (Q 57758). Native boats on the Suez Canal at El Kubri, 1916. 1/11 London Officers mess hut on right. Imperial War Museums. Byrne Stanley Cesnola (Colonel) Collection.
© IWM (Q 57729). Officers of the 1/11th London Regiment outside their mess hut. El-Kubri, Suez Canal. Imperial War Museums. Byrne Stanley Cesnola (Colonel) Collection.


Date 24/5/16

Striking camp at Gebel Murr. Relieved  by the 2/3 Gurkhas at 9.30am. Proceeded by route march to Kubri at 3.30pm. Arrived Kubri at 6.15pm and pitched camp.

Date 25/5/16

Location EL KUBRI  

Bathing parades. Orders received to join 161 Bde Shallupa East.

Date 26/5/16

Striking camp and packing up generally. Battalion moved out 3.30pm by route march to Shallup arrives 6.15pm and relieved 1/7 Essex Regt. 2nd Lieutenant Gostling appointed Galloper to Brig Gen Mudge.

Date 27/5/16

Location SHALLUFA  

Battalion finding all guards and duties in the sector. Remaining men working on defences.

Date 28 to 29/5/16

Work on the defences and guards as usual. Col AH Windsor appointed Post Commander Shallufa East.

Date 30/5/16

Work on defences and routines as usual.

Date 31/5/16

Work on defences as usual. Capt. LH Newton rejoined from English leave.

Please explore the Glossary to discover any unknown terms.


Finsbury Rifles

Finsbury Rifles, Away from the Western Front: 17th May to 23rd May.

Work continues as usual, with inspections and work on defences. The Rifles prepare to return to Kubri, from Gebel Mur.

Date 17/5/16

Work on the defences before breakfast. Various fatigues found. Guards and piquet’s as usual.

Date 18/5/16

GOK Division visits the post 05/54 inspected the works. Normal routine.

Date 19/5/16

Work on defences. 6 men arrived from Base Details Camp.

Date 20/5/16

Training under Coy arrangements. Guards and posts as usual.

Date 21/5/16

Divine Service under Battalion arrangements. Usual guards and piquet’s.

Date 22/5/16

Work on defences. Usual guards and picket being found from posts.

Date 23/5/16

Work on defences. Lt Kelby Lt Hooper 2nd Lts Ince Dawes and Golochmiddt and 2 other ranks reported from Base details. Orders received for move to Kubri to rejoin 162 Bde.

Explore the Glossary to discover any unknown terms.

Finsbury Rifles

Finsbury Rifles, Away from the Western Front. 10th May to 16th May 1916.

In this passage we see the Rifles move from El Shatt to Gebel Mur.

The Diary logs the arrival of Captain Tattersall, alongside 40 other ranks. Tattersall is pictured below , standing on a dune, in an image which illustrates the wide horizons and tall dunes of the Rifles’ environment at this point. Tattersall appears later in the Diary as the victim of what is referred to as ‘a most regrettable accident‘. After experiencing difficulties, Tattersall drowned while bathing in 1917, shortly following a heavy raid at Umbrella Hill.

The photo is taken by fellow Finsbury Rifle, Lieutenant-Colonel Stanley Cesnola Byrne. Byrne’s photos accompany many of our blog posts, helping to bring the War Diary to life. You can find out more about Bryne’s life and career here.

Tattersall on hill
© IWM (Q 57735) Suez Canal Defences. Captain Tattersall, 1/11th London Regiment, 162nd Infantry Brigade, 54th East Anglian Division, standing on a sand dune. Ashton Point.

Date 10/5/16

Battalion parades and musketry.

Date 11/5/16

Work on defences as usual.

Date 12/5/16

Normal routine. 2nd Lieutenant Sanderscock appointed ADC to General Palin while at El Shatt.

Date 13/5/16

Normal routine. Orders received for Battalion to proceeded to Gebel Murr to relieve 1st Patriala Infantry.

Date 14/5/16

Divine service under regimental arrangements. Part of camp struck prior to moving.

Location EL SHATT Date 15/5/16

Battalion parade 4.15 am preceded by route march to Gebel Murr. Arrived 7.20am. Remainder of day spent pitching camp and settling down generally. Battalion posting various Guards and piquet’s as usual. Capt. Tattersall and 40 other ranks arrived.

Location Gebel Murr

Date 16/5/16

Battalion busy settling down finding guards and various duties.

Please explore the Glossary to learn more about any unfamiliar terms.

Finsbury Rifles

Finsbury Rifles, Away from the Western Front. 3rd May to 9th May.

In early May the Battalion moves to El Shatt, and settles in before beginning a 7 day tour of duty and providing men to support defence work. 

On the 7th of May, the Rifles receive an order to provide 350 Officers and men, for a Desert Column. 

Date 3/5/16

Battalion parades 6.30am and proceeded by route march to El Shatt. Arrived 8.20am and remainder of day spent in pitching camp and settling down.

Date 4/5/16

Early morning parades and other duties. Battalion commences 7 days tour of duty finding various piquets’s and guards.

Date 5/5/16

Battalion furnished 206 men for work on the defences. Remainder finding Guards etc also carrying out boy training. Lt Leigh appointed wharf master at EL Shatt.

Date 6/5/16

Platoon and company training during the morning.

Date 7/5/16

Divine service under Regimental arrangements. Orders received for a column to proceed to railhead. This Battalion finding 350 Officers and Men to move at 5.30am 8.5.15 Returned same day.

Date 8/5/16

Battalion paraded 5.15am in accordance with previous night’s orders re Desert Column. Returned to El Shatt 2.30pm. 8 men arrived from Base Details Camp.

Date 9/5/16

Work on defences as usual. Battalion also finding other Guards and piquet’s. Practice on range by companies.

Explore our Glossary to learn more about unfamiliar terms.

Learning Events

Family Fun this May Half Term!

Summer 2017 mail chimp image 2

Join us this half term for one of our exciting family events, below, or simply pop in to say hello and play in our toy and role play corners!

Dance in Swan Lake

30th May, sessions at 10am and 11am. Under 5’s. 

Join us at Moreland Children’s Centre to take part in our special ballet class for all the family. Become a beautiful swan or a swashbuckling hero.

Then explore Islington Museum’s beautiful theatre collection with our ballet themed crafts.

Screen printing and Storytelling: Spanish Civil War

Family Workshop and Stories (under 5’s welcome)

1st June, 10am-2pm. Stories at 10am and 10.40am (if enough people).

Come as a family to discover the Spanish Civil War. Join in our sensory adventure taking aid to Spain, travelling across water and mountains.Then get messy making your own mono and screen printed banners.

Don’t forget a packed lunch and messy clothes. Booking required.

Summer 2017 mail chimp image 1

To book or for more info please get in touch with us at:


Tel: 020 7527 28 37

Learning Events

Under 5’s this Summer term!

Summer 2017 mail chimp image 1

Join us for our Messy Play and Storytelling sessions.

We’ve got toys, role play, sensory stories and messy crafts for all, in a warm and welcoming space.

Messy Play does get messy – don’t forget a change of clothes!

Messy play: Radical Art

11th May 2017, 10am-11.30am

Come and see our giant banners from the Spanish Civil War. Explore our sensory journey to Spain and then get messy with paint, chalk, textiles and collage materials as you make your own banner

Storytelling: Spanish Journeys

18th May 2017, 10am-11.30am. Stories at 10am and 10.40am (if enough people).

Join our adventure to Spain, travelling across the water and mountains. Help make milk tokens, nurses’ hats and tasty clay food to take with you.

Messy play: Summer’s here!

22nd June 2017, 10am-11.30am

Come and celebrate the arrival of summer. Make your own sand pictures, use playdough to make a summer scene and paint giant flowers!


We look forward to seeing you soon! 

Finsbury Rifles

The Finsbury Rifles, our local regiment

Who were the Finsbury Rifles?

The Finsbury Rifles, or  the 11th (County of London) Battalion, part of the London Regiment, was one of the many cogs in the large machine of Britain’s Armed Forces.

It was a volunteer unit of the Territorial Force (a forerunner of today’s modern army reserve) which meant that they played a role in home defence during peacetime and provided a reserve for the Regular Army in times of war. Territorial soldiers were recruited locally, either from near where they lived or worked. For example, John Harding, a reluctant junior clerk in the Post Office Savings Bank at West Smithfield was commissioned as an officer in the Finsbury Rifles in May 1914.

Finsbury Rifles Recruitment poster

                                         Image: from Islington Local History Centre

Territorial units trained for one evening a week, gaining them the nickname ‘Saturday night soldiers.’ They also took part in a fortnight long training camp with the regular army every summer. The headquarters (HQ) of the Finsbury Rifles was the Drill Hall at 17, Penton Street, Pentonville.

Finsbury Rifles (Darren's images) 09    © Darren O’Brien. The Drill Hall. HQ of the Finsbury Rifles, 17, Penton Street, Pentonville.

The full strength of the battalion was  just over 1000 men.  It was divided into 4 companies, each of which was divided into 4 platoons. at full strength. It was usually commanded by a Lieutenant Colonel, with a Major as his Second-in-Command. The Adjutant was the only Regular Army officer and  dealt with all the administration.

War is declared..

In August 1914, the Finsbury Rifles were travelling by train to their annual summer camp in Dorset. However, their train was unexpectedly stopped at a station near their destination and sent back to London. War was about to be declared. The entire Territorial Force would be called up to serve full-time in the army.

As the army expanded, the Finsbury Rifles were re-organised in line with other Territorial units. The existing battalion became the 1/11th.  This was the front line battalion whose troops would be sent to serve overseas. The 2/11 or second line battalion was initially deployed only on  home defence, guarding railway stations.

Finsbury Rifles (Darren's images) 06

© Darren O’Brien. 11th Battalion, the London Regiment. Guarding railway wagons’ somewhere’ in Britain.

But as the war wore on, this battalion was sent to the Western Front in France in 1917. The third line battalion, the  3/11 became the training battalion.

Many more local recruits joined the Finsbury Rifles, among them an 18 year old railway clerk from nearby Euston Station, Jock Christie.

The disastrous Gallipoli Campaign

By summer 1915, their training complete, the 1/11th  Battalion, London Regiment, now part of the 162 Brigade in the 54th East Anglian Division, sailed for Gallipoli.

The ill-fated campaign to capture the Gallipoli Peninsula was part of a strategy  to allow Allied ships to sail through the Dardanelles Straits -a 60 mile long narrow strip of water  dividing Europe from Asia. The Allies hoped to capture  Constantinople (modern day Istanbul) and force the Ottoman Empire, one of Germany’s allies, out of the war.

During the Gallipoli Campaign the 1/11th  Battalion, London Regiment,  suffered heavy casualties both in battle and during months of horrendous trench warfare in hilly terrain and insanitary conditions. Find out more about the Campaign at project Islington’s Gallipoli.

From Gallipoli to Egypt, Syria and Palestine

With the failure of the campaign, most of the remaining Allied troops were evacuated from Gallipoli in December 1915. Amidst severe winter weather the 1/11 FR received orders that they were to travel by ship to Egypt.  They were sent first to the military base near Mudros on the Isle of Lemnos, 30 or so miles away. The depleted battalion, around 200 in number, spent over a week regrouping. Over 100 reinforcements from the 3/11  training battalion back in the UK joined them there as well as 27 ‘returned casualties’ from the nearby military hospital.

Follow the 1/11 FR campaigns in Egypt, Syria and Palestine as we blog their war diary.