Category Archives: memory

Their Country’s Honour

York is not a city I know well, and I had never noticed before, just by the Minster, this handsome monument to those who died in the Boer War. I was struck by the Gothic styling of the top half, whch contrasts rather with the plainness of the slabs of names at eye level. It […]

‘Illusions of Peace’ at the NAM

I should have given a blog mention to this before the event (but don’t worry, you can still book up for tomorrow’s sessions – details later). I’ve spent the day at the first day of an online conference about the aftermath of the Great War. Illusions of Peace is hosted by the National Army Museum, […]

On War Memorials

For much of my life I was indifferent to war memorials. They stood there in the middle of every town and village, often useful as landmarks, but surely all more or less the same? It was only when I started seriously studying the Great War, and especially its cultural effects, that I began to realise […]

‘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 […]

Are Poppies Racist?

[D]uring the last few years an exceptionally debased form of pacifism, growing out of the philosophy of materialism, has attempted to divide us into two camps: on the one side ignorant, bloodthirsty militarists, and on the other enlightened pacifists. It is the object of the self-styled enlightened people to persuade the young that the war […]

Compton Mackenzie, disillusionment and Douglas Jerrold

Mostly,  Gallipoli Memories (1929) is a rather jolly memoir by someone who presents himself as hanging around the Staff with not very much useful work to do. It’s only towards the end that Mackenzie makes it clear that this is partially intended as a contribution to the opposition to the ‘disillusioned’ literature that had taken […]

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 […]

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 […]

Chaplains

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, […]

Vera Brittain, novelist

‘And you say,’ the Judge continued slowly, ‘that these abnormal conditions are not uncommon as the result of shell-shock?’ ‘That is so, My Lord. If every criminal case in our prisons could be traced back to its origins as exhaustively as this one has been traced, we should probably find war shock, or war anxiety, […]