Tunnel Trench’ – and Arnold Bennett

Tunnel Trench is a play by Hubert Griffith, first staged in 1924 by the Repertory Players at the Princes Theatre. It was one of those club performances where the play was presented for just one night in the hope that a commercial management might take it up for a longer run. No managements seem to have been interested, but the play got serious attention in the press.
The script has recently been republished in First World War Plays (Bloomsbury), edited by Mark Rawlinson, and can best be described as a fascinating mess.

Read More »

Who is the politician?

I’m currently reading (and admiring) C.R. Benstead’s 1930 novel, Retreat, whose central figure is a chaplain attached to an artillery unit in the Fifth Army during the momentous  German assault of March-April 1918.
The novel graphically describes the efforts of the over-extended unit to hold their position as the Germans relentlessly advanced.
But a detail is puzzling me. Can anyone identify the politician described with such scorn in this extract from Chapter Three? Read More »

Coming Soon to a Cinema near You…


The 2017 film that I am most looking forward to is, of course, Wonder Woman. In this movie the legendary heroine (daughter of Zeus) comes to the early twentieth century to sort out World War One.

There have been several trailers, and this YouTube video combines most of the meat of  them. Read More »

Richard Blaker essay online

Richard Blaker

I’ve added a lengthy essay about the war novelist Richard Blaker to the resources on this site.
I wrote it several years ago, and it is in fact a draft of what was to have been a chapter in my Ph.D. thesis, a case study of the changing attitudes towards the war of a minor and now mostly forgotten twenties novelist. In the end this chapter was not included. Some paragraphs from it, adapted, found their place in various parts of the final thesis.

Blaker interested me for a few reasons. The main one is that he is a writer whose attitudes changed in a direction opposite to that assumed in many accounts of war writing. Read More »

Kinmel in the ‘Mail’, continued

On March 10, 1919, three days after the initial report, this appeared in the Mail:

On March 14th, this first report from the inquest appeared: Read More »

Kinmel riots in the Daily Mail

Readers of this blog have recently been again showing interest in the events at Kinmel Camp in 1919.

I thought I’d take a look at how the disturbances were reported in the Daily Mail (March 7, 1919). Here is the initial report. I shall upload some later reports tomorrow. Read More »

Knocking down the Cenotaph

An omnibus had crashed into and half knocked down the Cenotaph. Wyndham carried his mind back through the years. It had been for this end that the heroes of the Great War had died.

This is from the Earl of Halsbury’s 1944 (published in 1926), a ‘Future War’ novel written as part of his campaign warning of the possibly apocalyptic effects of the gas bombing of civilians.
I’ve reviewed the book elsewhere,  but thought I’d draw attention here to the episode quoted above. In 1944 a surprise Russian attack has caused chaos, and drivers suddenly afflicted by gas are creating chaos as their vehicles swerve out of control. Read More »


On the University of Birmingham’s website there is an interesting essay by Michael Snape on the role and reputation of Army chaplains in the First World War. It attempts to defend them from the accusation of being distant and ineffectual figures who kept away from the front line. It is well worth reading and partly, but not, I’d say, completely convincing.
Much of Professor Snape’s evidence comes from fiction and memoirs. Read More »

The Love of an Unknown Soldier


I have recently been given the chance to look at a fascinating book, The Love of an Unknown Soldier: Found in a Dugout, first published in London in September 1918, by John Lane, The Bodley Head. (The book’s Canadian edition can be viewed online at the Internet Archive .)
In an introductory explanation, Lane explains: Read More »

‘The spate of war books and plays which all are dreading…’

Thanks to Mary Grover for sending me this clipping from the Sheffield Telegraph, September 1939.
Their sardonic regular columnist P. G. Bond is foretelling that among the horrors of war will be a spate of war literature. Interestingly, he assumes that this will be just like the books and plays that came out of the previous war: Read More »