Category Archives: Shell-shock

Gertrude Harris

A remarkable lady died on Tuesday, at the age of 101. Gertrude Harris campaigned for many years to clear the name of her father, Harry Farr, who had been executed by firing squad in 1916. Eventually her efforts, and those of others, persuaded Des Browne, then Minister of Defence, to issue a blanket pardon for […]

Shell-Shock and magic: ‘The Enchanted Cottage’ (1924)

When I first heard of the 1924 film The Enchanted Cottage I was told it belonged to the vast legion of the many, many lost silent movies. Then I learned from the useful Silent Era website that a print did exist in the Library of Congress archive. And now a DVD is on sale from […]

W. H. R. Rivers and Arnold Bennett

The Times Litt. Sup. has been discussing the psychologist W. H. R. Rivers recently (based on Ben Shephard’s interesting-looking book, Headhunters) so I sent them this letter, which appears in the current issue: Sir, – Ashok Bery (Letters, August 1) notes how the writings of W. H. R. Rivers influenced the imagination of W. H. […]

Shell shock, newspapers, poetry

The other day I blogged my disagreement with Roy Greenslade’s  sweeping claim in the Guardian : Only later did the public learn of the high casualty toll and the horrific nature of trench warfare, such as the use of poison gas and the effects of shell shock. About shell shock I cited an article from […]

A ‘shell-shock’ western

Another enjoyable curosity from Grapevine Video. The Stolen Ranch (1926) was directed by the young William Wyler, learning his trade making B-picture westerns. The film begins with this title: and there follows a sequence in the trenches; we are introduced to ‘Breezy’ Hart, who, according to the intertitle, ‘didn’t know what the war was about, […]

Private Stephen Graham and Private Isaac Reid

Stephen Graham’s A Private in the Guards (1919) is  one of the very best memoirs by a man who served in the ranks. It also puts forward a tough philosophy of warfare.His book’s first sentence is: ‘The sterner the discipline the better the soldier, the better the army.’ Although he was, as a private, on […]

“Remembering War” at the Wellcome Collection.

This was a one-day conference organised in conjunction with the excellent War and Medicine exhibition at the Wellcome Collection. A number of speakers explored different aspects of the themes of memory and war, in ways that connected fascinatingly. To start with, Martin Conway from Leeds gave a laid-back presentation about memory in general. He talked […]

War and Medicine II

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned this exhibition as one probably worth seeing, and yesterday finally got myself along to the Wellcome Collection near Euston, which I had never visited before. Yes, tt is well worth visiting. I was most interested in the WW1 stuff, of course, and there is plenty of it. More […]

War and Medicine

The website of the Wellcome Institute, on the Euston Road,  gives fascinating details of its exhibition, War and Medicine. This covers the development of military medicine from the Crimean War to the present day. The website suggests that there is plenty of WW1 material, including sections on facial reconstruction, and on “shell-shock”. There will be […]

Vera Brittain and the barrier of indescribable experience

Today’s Telegraph reprints a 1968 essay by Vera Brittain reflecting on war and gender. Here’s an extract: During the periods of waiting, especially when the newspapers reported the imminence of a “great push”, ordinary household sounds became a torment. The striking of a clock, marking off each hour of dread, broke into the immobility of […]