Category Archives: History

‘Lest We Forget’ at IWM North

Selecting the Unknown Soldier. Image from ‘Lest We Forget’ Until February 24, 1919, there is a very good free exhibition at the Salford branch of the IWM. ‘Lest we Forget’ is about remembrance, and ways in which the Great War cast its shadow over succeeding years. The exhibition starts with the dead – a wall […]

‘The Battle of the Ancre’ – at Sheffield

On Tuesday 13th November at 6.30 p.m., there will be a public showing of the 1917 film The Battle of the Ancre and the Advance of the Tanks at Sheffield Hallam University (at the Void Cinema, Room 123 (Building level 1) of the Owen Building. This was the second of the full-length documentaries commissioned by […]

Peter Jackson’s ‘They Shall Not Grow Old’

Peter Jackson’s new film They Shall Not Grow Old is a technical marvel. From hundreds of hours of archive film it creates a vivid account of the Great War that looks amazingly new. The film archive of the Imperial War Museum has been cleaned, speed-adjusted and colourised to present a picture of British soldiers in […]

Rose Allatini’s London

I’m trying to find out everything I can about the author of Despised and Rejected, so on Saturday, Marion and I took a walk (and some bus rides) round West London, looking at some of the places where the novelist Rose Allatini lived. She was born in Vienna in 1890, but soon moved to London. […]

Philip Gibbs and the war-book boom

The novelist hero of Philip Gibbs’s 1931 novel The Winding Lane is an ex-soldier rather ill at ease in the literary world. At the Pen and Palette, a bohemian club catering for the artistic set, he notes the taste of some of the members: Some of these middle-aged women praised with rather hysterical enthusiasms the […]

Ben Shephard (1948-2017)

I am sorry to hear of the death of Ben Shephard, author of A War of Nerves. He died in October, but for some reason his obituary only appeared in the Guardian newspaper this morning. A War of Nerves cuts through many of the pieties about shell-shock and PSTD, and looks at the conditions, and […]

General Kelly and Forester’s ‘The General’

Chief of Staff John Kelly has the reputation of being the most stable figure in President Trump’s chaotic White House. From what one can gather, he has brought a semblance of order and organisation to the place, and has engineered the removal of some of Mr Trump’s more erratic political associates. Earlier this year, he […]

Ted Hughes

I spent yesterday at the Ted Hughes conference in the smart Heritage Quay suite at Huddersfield University. I gave a paper titled ‘Ted Hughes and Gallipoli’, about his representations of his father’s war (William Hughes was on the peninsula with the 1st/5th Lancashire Fusiliers and, Hughes wrote, remained ‘undemobbed’, still troubled by his experiences for […]

The National Service Board – and A.E. Housman

In 1940 Percy Withers recalled occasions when, during the previous war, he had told A.E. Housman about his work at the National Service Board: He was greatly interested too in the technicalities of the work, the material it exploited, the revelations it brought to light, the ugliness, the momentary relief, the sordidness, the enduring pity. […]

Casualties

There’s a striking short exchange in Compton Mackenzie’s Gallipoli Memories (1929): Some time after this General Paris visited Army Corps Headquarters, and to him General Hunter- Weston spoke enthusiastically of some successful action on a portion of the front. “Many casualties?” asked General Paris in a voice that could not hide the bitterness he felt […]