Category Archives: Military

Singing on the march

I’ve undertaken to write an article about the  soldiers’ songs of the Great War. I’m finding plenty of interesting references to songs, and to how they lifted morale on the march, or reinforced community spirit in concert parties, or in informal gatherings. I’m tantalised, though, by the memory of an anecdote I read some years […]

Henry Williamson and Charles Carrington interviewed

Last week’s TV programme I Was There , featuring snippets from interviews made fifty years ago for the BBC Great War series, was gripping viewing (despite the bombastic music and the editorialising inter-titles). Even better is the internet resource which presents fourteen of the interviews in their entirety. In the past I have written here […]

Poets in the Scots Guards

Discussing P. G. Wodehouse’s brother Armine yesterday, I mentioned that he was in the hard-fighting Scots Guards. Stephen Graham, in A Private in the Guards, gives a forthright account of the regiment’s tough-minded ethos: A good soldier was one who would not take a prisoner. If called on to escort prisoners to the cage, it […]

The Wipers Times (and Wodehouse?)

Next week on BBC TV there’s a promising-looking film about The Wipers Times. Ian Hislop and Nick Newman are the authors. It will tell the story of how they found a printing press under the blasted ramparts of Ypres, and put it to use to create a very witty paper.  I Like Newman’s comments on […]

Howard Spring at War

In Howard Spring’s memoir In the Meantime… (1942) he recalls his experience in an earlier war: I did not remain in Bradford long after the war had begun. All sorts of queer activities broke out. I was not passed for the army, and found myself one of a group who imagined they were somehow helping […]

Menu as weapon of war

I’ve been skimming through Adventures in Propaganda (1919), which is made up of the letters sent home to his wife by Captain Heber Blenkenhorn of the American Military Intelligence Division. He arrived in France in summer 1918, so only saw the end of the War, but his book offers some interesting sidelights on things. There […]

‘Douglas Haig as I Knew Him’

Those of us who lived close to Haig never ceased to admire his strength of character – his inner poise which nothing could disturb, his quiet resolution, his readiness to accept responsibility, his power to sink self in the common cause, his invincible faith. In York last week I found a copy of Douglas Haig […]

Leavis at War

F. R. Leavis as a member of the Friends Ambulance Unit Jessica Meyer’s talk at Leeds last week was about the Friends Ambulance Unit. She mentioned that, especially later in the War, the main work of the Unit was on the ambulance trains that took the wounded from the war zone to the channel ports. […]

Somme tunnels

There’s an interesting short film on the BBC website about tunnels under the Somme. Click here to see it.

Paul Fussell, 1924-2012

2nd Lieut. Paul Fussell. I was saddened to hear of the death last week of Paul Fussell. He is a critic whom I have often argued against, in these blog posts and elesewhere, but he was an important writer and an invigorating one. I would argue that he got many things wrong in The Great […]

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