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Men, women and the Home Guard in the Second World War

This book explores the meanings of the Second World War in British popular and personal memory. It does so through the study of one particular field of action, namely 'home defence': the military strategy for the security of the British nation against bombardment, incursion, invasion and occupation. The book is organised in three sections, relating to the three critical strategies that inform the research. The first part of the book addresses political challenges to the official version of the social and ideological character of the Home Guard. It addresses tensions over the social and political composition and the ideological inspiration of the Home Guard, and their relationship both to the military functions of the force and to its masculine identity. The second part explores the cultural representations of the Home Guard during and after the war. Official accounts, in posters, films and radio broadcasts, for example, had explicit aims to inform, aid recruitment, raise morale, and counter views that were officially regarded as impeding the war effort. Many unofficial versions took up the government's message about home defence and, like it, they were selective in their representation of Home Guard experience. Others offered more challenging accounts, that were sometimes serious and very often comic. The third part of the book scrutinises personal memories of wartime participation in home defence and their relationship to cultural constructions of the Home Guard, including the Dad's Army representation.

Veterans in inter-war France

The most up-to-date and comprehensive English-language study of its kind, From victory to Vichy explores the political mobilisation of the two largest French veterans’ associations during the interwar years, the Union fédérale (UF) and the Union nationale des combattants (UNC). Drawing on extensive research into the associations’ organisation, policies and tactics, this study argues that French veterans were more of a threat to democracy than previous scholarship has allowed. As France descended into crisis, the UF and the UNC sought to extend their influence into the non-veteran milieu through public demonstrations, propaganda campaigns and the foundation of auxiliary groups. Despite shifting policies and independent initiatives, by the end of the 1930s the UF and the UNC had come together in a campaign for authoritarian political reform, leaving them perfectly placed to become the ‘eyes and ears’ of Marshal Pétain’s Vichy regime.

An oral history
Author: Lindsey Dodd

This book provides a unique perspective on the Allied bombing of France during the Second World War which killed around 57,000 French civilians. Using oral history as well as archival research, it provides an insight into children's wartime lives in which bombing often featured prominently, even though it has slipped out of French collective memory. The book compares three French towns with different experiences of bombing: Boulogne-Billancourt , Brest, and Lille. Divided into three parts dealing with expectations, experiences and explanations of bombing, the book considers the child's view of wartime violence, analysing resilience, understanding and trauma. The first part of the book deals with the time before bombing. It examines how the French prepared for war and preparations made specifically for bombing, showing how state-level and municipal-level preparations. The second part considers the time during bombing and its aftermath. It discusses the experience of being bombed, examining children's practical, sensory and emotional responses. 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. Changes in status as a result of bombing becoming a sinistre, refugee or evacuee had far-reaching consequences in some children's lives, affecting their education and economic situation. The last section looks at the way in which air raids were explained to the French population. It considers the propaganda that criticised and defended the Allies, and an understanding of the history of Vichy.

Siblings, masculinity and emotions
Author: Linda Maynard

Drawing on a broad range of personal accounts, this is the first detailed study of siblinghood in wartime. The relative youth of the fighting men of the Great War intensified the emotional salience of sibling relationships. Long separations, trauma and bereavement tested sibling ties forged through shared childhoods, family practices, commitments and interests. We must not equate the absence of a verbal language of love with an absence of profound feelings. Quieter familial values of kindness, tolerance and unity, instilled by parents and reinforced by moral instruction, strengthened bonds between brothers and sisters. Examining the nexus of cultural and familial emotional norms, this study reveals the complex acts of mediation undertaken by siblings striving to reconcile conflicting obligations to society, the army and loved ones in families at home. Brothers enlisted and served together. Siblings witnessed departures and homecomings, shared family responsibilities, confided their anxieties and provided mutual support from a distance via letters and parcels. The strength soldier-brothers drew from each other came at an emotional cost to themselves and their comrades. The seismic casualties of the First World War proved a watershed moment in the culture of mourning and bereavement. Grief narratives reveal distinct patterns of mourning following the death of a loved sibling, suggesting a greater complexity to male grief than is often acknowledged. Surviving siblings acted as memory keepers, circumventing the anonymisation of the dead in public commemorations by restoring the particular war stories of their brothers.

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Gender, modernity and the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry

Women of War is an examination of gender modernity using the world’s longest established women’s military organisation, the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry, as a case study. Formed in 1907 and still active today, the Corps was the first to adopt khaki uniform, prepare for war service, staff a regimental first aid post near the front line and drive officially for the British army in France. It was the only British unit whose members were sworn in as soldiers of the Belgian army, and it was the most decorated women’s corps of the First World War. Bringing both public and personal representations into dialogue through an analysis of newspaper articles, ephemera, memoirs, diaries, letters, interviews, photographs and poetry, this book sits at the crossroads of British, social, gender and women’s history, drawing upon the diverse fields of military history, animal studies, trans studies, dress history, sociology of the professions, nursing history and transport history. It reconstructs the organisation’s formation, its adoption of martial clothing, increased professionalisation, and wartime activities of first aid and driving, focusing specifically upon the significance of gender modernity. While the FANY embodied the New Woman, challenging the limits of convention and pushing back the boundaries of the behavour, dress and role considered appropriate for women, the book argues that the Corps was simultaneously deeply conservative, upholding imperial, unionist and antifeminist values. That it was a complex mix of progressive and conservative elements, both conformist and reformist, gets to the heart of the fascinating complexity surrounding the organisation.

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British civilian masculinities in the Second World War

This book focuses on working class civilian men who as a result of working in reserved occupations were exempt from enlistment in the armed forces. It utilises fifty six newly conducted oral history interviews as well as autobiographies, visual sources and existing archived interviews to explore how they articulated their wartime experiences and how they positioned themselves in relation to the hegemonic discourse of military masculinity. It considers the range of masculine identities circulating amongst civilian male workers during the war and investigates the extent to which reserved workers draw upon these identities when recalling their wartime selves. It argues that the Second World War was capable of challenging civilian masculinities, positioning the civilian man below that of the ‘soldier hero’ while, simultaneously, reinforcing them by bolstering the capacity to provide and to earn high wages, both of which were key markers of masculinity.

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Refugees in the era of the Great War

This book talks about the mass displacement of civilians, estimated to be 14 to 15 million, in the twentieth-century Europe during the First World War. It looks at the causes and consequences of the refugee crisis and its aftermath, and the attempts to understand its significance. Key sites of displacement extended from Belgium to Armenia, taking in France, Italy, Austria-Hungary, East Prussia, the Russian Empire, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey and Serbia. The German army's occupation of Belgium, France, Poland and Lithuania prompted the mass flight of refugees, as did Russia's invasion of East Prussia in 1914. Jewish, Ruthenian and Polish civilians in the Habsburg Empire fled their homes or were deported by the military to distant locations. Following Italy's attack on Austria-Hungary in May 1915, the Habsburg authorities ordered around 100,000 Slovenian subjects of the empire to leave. The Austrian and Bulgarian invasion of Serbia brought about a humanitarian catastrophe as civilians and the remnants of the Serbian army sought safety elsewhere. However, mass flight of civilian refugees did not begin in 1914 nor did it come to an end in 1918. Muslim refugees fled to the relative safety of Anatolia in order to escape violent persecution by Bulgarian and other forces during the Balkan Wars on 1912-13. There were complex movements of population between Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey before 1914. The complex process of repatriation and resettlement affected soldiers and civilians alike and rarely took place in stable or peaceful circumstances.

Culture, thought and nuclear conflict, 1945–90

This volume takes the metaphorical character of the Cold War seriously and charts how the bomb was used as a symbol for nuclear war at the very heart of this conflict. The contributions consider the historical relevance of the political, cultural and artistic ramifications of nuclear weapons as signifiers for a new type of conflict. Tis understanding of the metaphorical qualities of the Cold War is encapsulated in the notion of an imaginary war, or, more precisely, a war against the imagination. As an attack against the imagination, the nuclear threat forced politicians and ordinary people to accept the notion that preparations for nuclear annihilation would contribute towards peace, and that the existence of these weapons, and the anticipation of large-scale destruction that came with them, were an inescapable corollary of security, freedom and future prosperity on both sides of the Cold war divide.

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Middle-class men on the English Home Front, 1914–18
Author: Laura Ugolini

Historians of the First World War often seem to have a very clear idea of who middle-class men were and how they reacted to the outbreak of the conflict. This book explores the experiences of middle-class men on the English home front during the First World War. It first focuses on the first twelve months or so of war, a period when many middle-class men assumed that the war could hardly fail to affect them. The book then delves deeper into middle-class men's understandings of civilians' appropriate behaviour in wartime. It explores middle-class men's reasons for not conforming to dominant norms of manly conduct by enlisting, and considers individuals' experiences of 'non-enlistment'. It also focuses on middle-class men's involvement in volunteer activities on the home front. The book also focuses on middle-class men's working lives, paying particular attention to those aspects of work that were most affected by the war. It considers civilian men's responses to the new ambivalence towards profit-making, as well as to the doubts cast on the 'value' of much middle-class, whitecollar work in wartime. The book further assesses the ways in which middle-class men negotiated their roles as wartime consumers and explores the impact of war on middle-class relationships. It considers the nature of wartime links between civilians and servicemen, as well as the role of the paterfamilias within the middle-class family, before turning to focus on the relationship between civilian fathers and combatant sons.

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Culture and memory after the Armistice
Editors: Trudi Tate and Kate Kennedy

This book revisits the end of the First World War to ask how that moment of silence was to echo into the following decades. It looks at the history from a different angle, asking how British and German creative artists addressed, questioned and remembered the Armistice and its silence. The book offers a genuinely interdisciplinary study, bringing together contributions from scholars in art history, music, literature and military history. It is unique in its comparison of the creative arts of both sides; assessing responses to the war in Britain, Germany and Austria. Together, the different chapters offer a rich diversity of methodological approaches, including archival research, historical analysis, literary and art criticism, musical analysis and memory studies. The chapters reconsider some well-known writers and artists to offer fresh readings of their works. These sit alongside a wealth of lesser-known material, such as the popular fiction of Philip Gibbs and Warwick Deeping and the music of classical composer Arthur Bliss. The wide-ranging discussions encompass such diverse subjects as infant care, sculpture, returned nurses, war cemeteries, Jewish identity, literary journals, soldiers' diaries and many other topics. Together they provide a new depth to our understanding of the cultural effects of the war and the Armistice. Finally, the book has a recuperative impulse, bringing to light rare and neglected materials, such as the letters of ordinary German and British soldiers, and Alfred Doblin's Armistice novel.