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.
paterfamilias. Finally, the chapter concludes by focusing in greater detail on one particular relationship: that between fathers and sons, and particularly civilian
fathers and combatantsons, questioning whether wartime experiences
and events led to a renegotiation of roles and responsibilities across generations.
For the duration of the conflict, it was from the men (and some women)
who wrote to him or visited the vicarage that Andrew Clark obtained
much of the information and opinions that formed the basis of his wartime diary. The purpose of Dr Smallwood
of war, by enemy bombardments, or by enforced separations. This
helplessness was further magnified in the relationship between civilian
fathers and combatantsons, as middle-class men often found themselves
unable to fulfil the protective – and indeed to some extent nurturing
– roles expected of them. Five days after the Armistice Robert Saunders
tried to describe the psychological toll of this helplessness. He suspected
that the war had ‘pressed more heavily on us than is generally thought,
even by ourselves, and I am afraid has aged us more than then 4½ years
combatant-sons to continue to perform their roles as advisors or reinforcers of parental values at a distance. Arthur Sadd wrote a fourteen-page letter to his younger sister, Gladys, after she returned home, homesick, from a position in domestic service. Sharing his mother’s and elder sister’s dismay, Arthur does his utmost to convince Gladys to ‘stick it out’. This was the second time Gladys had returned home. On this occasion Arthur reacted strongly after his mother forwarded a number of Gladys’s letters, leveraging his own experience to reassure his sibling that the
-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 combatantsons, seeking to
shed light on the extent to which paternal authority and ties were challenged and perhaps even overset by the experience of war.
In the workplace, the marketplace and the home, middle-class civilian
men felt that their lives and place in society were being changed fundamentally by the war. They thus sought to develop