Category Archives: Military

‘Whether of pure European descent’

I did some researching at the National Archive in Kew yesterday, finding out a little more about the military career of P. G. Wodehouse’s brother, Armine, an officer in the Scots Guards. One of the documents I saw was his ‘Application for Appointment to the Special Reserve of Officers’. (Click the picture if you’d like […]

Singing secretly

I’ll be giving a talk in a couple of weeks about myths of the War – the strange rumours that people whispered to each other at the time, and the equally strange things that some people believe about the War today. That’s why I’ve been looking again at a book I’m very fond of, Echoes […]

How to See the Battlefields

In June I shall be giving a paper at the Sheffield Hallam Culture Wars conference, about critical responses to the detective fiction of Dorothy Sayers;  recently I have been discovering (more than somewhat irrelevantly to the argument of the paper) a little about Sayers’s husband, Atherton Fleming. I already knew that he was a journalist, […]

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 […]


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