Resources

Talking books

The following links are to sources which contain information relating to the history of Blind Veterans UK, or aspects of it. For websites generally relating to family history, charity history and military history please see our Useful Links page.

Documents and websites

A short history of Blind Veterans UK 

An overview written in 2015 by the charity’s archivist, Rob Baker.

From Shell Shock to Shellac: The Great War, Blindness and Britain’s Talking Book Library

An article by Dr Matthew Rubery of Queen Mary, University of London on the development of the talking book service after the First World War by the RNIB and Blind Veterans UK

Lost Hospitals of London

Extensive website with information about what became of former sites of London hospitals and some other health-related institutions. It includes the former Blind Veterans UK sites in Regent’s Park, Blackheath and Old Marylebone Road.

Picture Postcards from the Great War 1914-1918

A very detailed website with many images of postcards and lots of background information. It includes a section devoted to Blind Veterans UK.

The Royal Navy Research Archive

A wide-ranging site of digitised content and information relating to Royal Navy ships, establishments, units and personnel from the First World War to the 21st century. It includes an account of HMS Vernon, the Admiralty training school part of which was based at Blind Veterans UK’s centre at Ovingdean, Brighton during the Second World War.

Books (digitised copies of books available free of charge in a variety of formats)

Sidney Dark, The Life of Sir Arthur Pearson (1922)

A biography of the founder of Blind Veterans UK, written shortly after Pearson’s death. Dark worked with Sir Arthur for many years.

Lord (Ian) Fraser, uncompleted memoir, 1974

Ian Fraser was blinded at the Somme in 1916 and became our Chairman in 1921. He wrote two autobiographical volumes (see ‘Audio’ below) and had been working on his third at the time of his death in 1974. This incomplete typescript includes accounts of his experience at the Somme and of his early days with the charity. It is reproduced and made available with the kind permission of Lord Fraser’s family.

Ian Hay, The Poor Gentleman

A novel featuring a First World War blind veteran as its hero. Ian Hay was the pen-name of John Beith, who was a great friend to the charity, including serving on our Council for many years.

Sir Arnold Lawson, War Blindness at St Dunstan’s (1922)

An analytical overview of the wounds and diseases by which First World War blind veterans lost their sight, written by one of the ophthalmic surgeons who was responsible for them.

Gilbert Nobbs, Englishman, Kamerad! (1918)

A memoir by one of our First World War blind veterans of his wartime experiences at the Somme, being blinded, and as a prisoner of war.

Sir Arthur Pearson, Victory over Blindness (1919)

Our founder’s own account of how he came to establish the charity and how it operated in its early years.

James H.Rawlinson, Through St Dunstan’s To Light (1919)

A lively account by a First World War blind veteran of his experiences with the charity.

Audio 

Ian Fraser, Whereas I Was Blind (1942) 

An autobiography. Ian Fraser was blinded at the Battle of the Somme in 1916, joined us the same year and became our Chairman in 1921, remaining so until his death in 1974. This audio is very kindly supplied by, and is used with the permission of, RNIB.

Lord (Ian) Fraser of Lonsdale, My Story of St Dunstan’s (1961) 

Fraser’s account of the history of St Dunstan’s (now Blind Veterans UK) and his role in it. The introduction to the book is read by Fraser himself. This audio is very kindly supplied by, and is used with the permission of, RNIB.

Videos

Blind Veterans UK’s channel on YouTube

Contains many old and new videos.

BFI channel on YouTube: Sightless Soldiers Recreation (1916)

Footage of our First World War blind veterans enjoying rowing on the lake in Regent’s Park

British Movietone channel on YouTube: Queen visits St Dunstan’s

Footage of the then Queen visiting Blind Veterans UK’s centre at Ovingdean, Brighton in 1948.

British Pathe channel on YouTube: Queen visits St Dunstan’s (1948)

Another report (substantially longer than British Movietone’s) on the Queen’s visit.

British Pathe: A Day with Blinded Soldiers at St Dunstan’s 1914-1918

First World blind veterans learning skills including Braille, typewriting and boot repairing and enjoying activities including dancing and rowing at our then headquarters in Regent’s Park.

British Pathe: Selected Originals – Queen in Sussex 1962

Footage including the visit of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh to our centre at Ovingdean, Brighton.

British Pathe: The Blind from St Dunstan’s Enjoy Themselves on the River 1916

Blind veterans in Regent’s Park and on the river.

Coventry Telegraph channel on YouTube: Prince William visits St Dunstan’s, Llandudno

Footage of Prince William’s visit to Blind Veterans UK’s centre in Llandudno in 2010, before the centre had officially opened.

 

Find out more

Blind veterans being taught manufacturing skills in 1940 History

Read about our history

Nurses and blind veterans on a seesaw About collections & archives

Take a look at our archives

The Brighton centre in 1938 Useful links

Find useful links here