“Reminiscences” of a Great Grandfather

University of Leeds staff member Marcus Hill tells us: ‘My Great Grandfather, Arthur Collinson, wrote his memoirs down in a book. He called them his “Reminiscences.” Amongst other great insights into life at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th, he described how he worked at the Newlay Shell Factory, in Leeds, during the Great War. He wrote:

 “But of all that happened at Newlay I think I am proudest of the fact that I suggested and produced a Souvenir Magazine which was amazingly received.  Most shell factories produced periodical magazines but usually they were cheap and nasty ‘gossip-y’ things.  I suggested to Moxon (First Secretary)and our then superintendent Bingham that we ought to produce a souvenir magazine that would be of a high standard and be kept as a memento of ‘days on shells’.  We called all the factory heads together and got them interested.  Called for articles, sketches, etc and appointed a committee of 3 to deal with them, my title was ‘Business Manager’ which meant I did all the donkey work – which I did – and enjoyed it.  The editorial 3 passed their accepted contributions to me and I did a final re writing or furbishing as I deemed necessary.

 One optimist sent in a ‘small’ contribution on a roll of wallpaper!  Towards the publishing day I felt there was a shortage of lighter prose, so wrote a short story “In Quest of a Shell” after the style of Edgar Wallace.  To my great surprise this was awarded the prize for the best prose.  As the adjudicator (a sub-editor of the Yorks Post) put it “as I mentally pursued the missing shell I hoped the writer would not fail in the climax – and he did not!”  I placed the printing, decided on paper, ink, everything.  We disposed of 1000 copies at 1\- each and with the help of revenue from adverts, handed over £80 to the Prince of Wales (later ill-starred Edward VIII) Soldier’s Comforts Fund.  Copies were sent to the King, the Cabinet, heads of Government, particularly Ministry of Munitions and other influential people.  Somewhere among my efforts is a file containing letters of appreciation from the King’s secretary downwards, many of them being very eulogistic.  On the wind-up of the factory, I felt that as the Shell magazine was my conception I was entitled to the ‘pats on the back’.”

As you can imagine, I was intrigued by the fact my great Grand Father had written an article that had been sent to the King! And that he had received an appreciative reply from the King’s secretary!

I enlisted the help of others to track down a copy of the article by registering on the online Great War Forum: http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php and outlining my search.

Registered contributor (to the Great War Forum) “Ph0ebus”, who resides in New York, pointed me to a copy of my Great Grand Father’s article “In quest of a shell”.

Unbelievably it sits in the special collections archive, of the McFarlin Library, at the University of Tucson, Oklahoma and here it is for you to enjoy!