This chapter looks at the interviewees' explanations of the Allied bombing and the way in which they situate it within a wider war, comprised with their own experiences as well as others. American bombing was explained in two ways. The first was impersonal and the second explanation hinged on an emotive attitude that chimed in places with anti-Allied propaganda. But acceptance of bombing suggests a more purposeful idea of victimhood: death was not a waste. Explaining casualties like this contextualised bombing within the wider war was awful, but they had to beat the enemy. For some children, concepts of enemy and friend, and the geopolitical context were blurred and partial. Usually, the Germans were depicted as the enemy. An impervious group of people seemed less affected by propaganda, while in another group held evidence of children's agency: they sought information and engaged with it, organising it into maps and scrapbooks.
The chaos that followed an air raid was an integral part of the event. The severity of a bombing campaign is often measured by the number of casualties, by contemporaries and historians. This chapter examines the fascinating and frightening scenes in the immediate aftermath of bombing that made lasting impressions on children, including destruction, chaos and encounters with violent, public death. The raid of 6 December 1942 in Lille completely destroyed one school and damaged five others; on 10 April 1944, seventeen schools were damaged. In the aftermath of a raid in Brest, dazed survivors set off through the rubble to seek home and family, surrounded by chaotic sights that cranked up anxiety on the way. Bombing damaged the human body just as it damaged buildings. Parental censorship aimed partly at shielding children from such sights. In the aftermath of bombing, children were 'directly in contact with death, with violence'.
The Allied bombing of France is little discussed in France, and it is no better known in Britain or America. During the Second World War in France, children comprised just over a quarter of the population. The twentieth century's total wars thrust their way into the domestic space, affecting children as never before. Bombing is just one potentially traumatising trigger in war. This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book compares three French towns with different experiences of bombing: Boulogne-Billancourt, Brest, and Lille. These towns had different histories, different characters, different administrative systems and different bombing experiences. The comparative analysis is across events with different chronologies. For some, the first Allied air raid was in July 1940, for others, April 1944. Four years of war separated those experiences.
French civil defence measures were far from complete when war broke out. This chapter covers pre-war shelter preparations and the situation when war broke out; later evolutions in shelter provision. War was folded into daily life and began to play an active role for children as they blacked out their homes, learnt about bomb shelters and were issued gas masks. Three main types of shelter were planned. Domestic cellars could be reinforced with wood or steel, which was fiddly and expensive; deep, concrete shelters could be built, but were hugely expensive; or trenches could be dug, requiring plenty of open space. If sticky paper on window panes suggested that home was no longer safe, shelters confirmed it. Pre-war shelter planning in the suburbs of Paris depended on cellars. Bombing blurred the boundary between public and private, involving children in war on an unprecedented scale.
This chapter discusses some aspects of memory, children and trauma. Trauma was evident in many stories told by the author's interviewees. The chapter introduces the use of oral history as a key methodology. Memory is the past in mind, history is the past outside of it, but the borders are not only blurred but porous. Much work within memory studies deals with the collective act of remembering and not with the individual. Oral history has also revealed routines and the adaptability of these children living with the threat of or in the aftermath of bombing. Like the state and like local administrators, families and children developed coping strategies, some of which helped mitigate fear and reduce traumatic responses. The idea of collective memory remains powerful, but is perhaps overused.
British relief in the Franco-Prussian War, 1870–71
Relief workers' accounts from the Franco-Prussian War reveal genuine concern, often at personal cost, to ameliorate the affliction of injured soldiers and of civilians wracked by siege and agricultural disruption. The British National Society for Aid to the Sick and Wounded in War (NAS) was inundated with donations, and offers of help on a scale surpassing even that of the Patriotic Fund in the Crimean War. NAS volunteers either offered their services to existing French or German hospitals or formed complete ambulance units under the control of the Society. NAS surgeons recruited from Netley and the London teaching hospitals were concerned especially to keep up to date with treatments for wounds inflicted by the new artillery. The Quakers, of course, balked at the possibility of making war easier, and restricted their assistance to non-combatants. The NAS portrayed was civilian and independent, free of the stultifying effects of War Office bureaucracy.
The history of relief work is in its infancy. This book draws on new archival research to reveal the priorities of nineteenth-century relief workers, and the legacies of their preoccupations for relief work today. It first explores the inauguration of the British National Society for Aid to the Sick and Wounded in War (NAS) at the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870 under the figurehead of Loyd Lindsay. Then, the book sees the revival of the NAS for work in the Balkans during a period of nationalist violence and Ottoman counter-insurgency which culminated in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878. It also follows the staff of relief committees as they dispensed aid in British colonial wars. The book examines the critiques of British policy in the Boer War (1899-1902) emanating from intersecting circles of Quakers, New Liberals and ethicists, and considers these groups' offer of aid to Boer civilians. Further, the book concentrates on the methodologies of relief for Boer inmates of British concentration camps in South Africa and on the implications of this relief for its intended recipients during and after the war. It concentrates on aid to British soldiers. The book closes by tracing continuities in vocational practices and dispositions to emerging areas of concern in the post-war period, in particular child welfare, and briefly considers their implication for relief work today.
This conclusion presents some closing thoughts on the concepts discussed in this book. The book demonstrates the spirit in which relief agencies bestowed their gifts in war, as much remains to be written about the spirit in which they were received. It shows the relief work was a prominent arena for promoting national rejuvenation, furthering England's role overseas and enacting the ideals of participatory citizenship. The Armistice in November 1918 and the opening of peace negotiations two months later found apostles of humanity such as Edward Carpenter in despondent mood. Domestic infant welfare soon became the post-war British Red Cross Society's (BRCS's) main preoccupation. During the 1920s and 1930s the BRCS participated in this 'mothercraft' movement, training Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) in the hygienic care of young children. The war correspondent Linda Polman has observed the potential for beneficiaries to manage their self-representation in conformity with fund-raising images.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book explores the origins of the Geneva Convention and British negotiations over its final form, stressing the legacy of the Crimean War on British attempts to reform the welfare of the common soldier. The book traces the delivery of aid by the British National Society for Aid to the Sick and Wounded in War (NAS) and Friends War Victims' Relief Fund (FWVRF) in France. It also traces their experimental introduction of rapid-response medicine and attempts at 'self help' among the peasantry. It focuses on the delivery of aid and the politics of administering relief to civilians, refugees and soldiers in this region of insurgency and state violence, considering some of the various and contested understandings of neutrality that ensued.
Lady Strangford, helped along by Gladstone's patronage, administered one of the most prominent funds to aid suffering Christians in the Balkans, concentrating her efforts on those in the Rumeli district. The villages in Rumelia upon which Strangford and Long focused their concern had, by the spring of 1877, begun to return to normal. Unlike pro-Slav and Bulgarian relief funds, which relied on local connections, the Turkish Compassionate Fund worked closely with British diplomatic personnel. Much of the work of the Fund centred on the large town of Filibe, the site, a year earlier, of Lady Strangford's relief efforts. The question of aid to Serbian wounded had crucial political ramifications. The British National Society for Aid to the Sick and Wounded in War's (NAS's) role in the Serbo-Turkish War proved controversial, on the grounds of its ineptitude as much as of its politicisation.