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War, the body and British Army recruits, 1939–45

Civilians into Soldiers is an examination of British Army life during the Second World War. Drawing on a wealth of official records and servicemen’s personal testimonies it explores the ways in which male civilians were turned into soldiers through the techniques by which they were inducted into military culture. The book demonstrates that the body was central to this process. Using strict physical regimes, the military authorities sorted men into bodily types that reflected their cultural assumptions and sought to transform them into figures that they imagined to be ideal. However, soldiers’ bodies were often far from ideal and served to frustrate these designs. While recruits were willing to engage in practices and routines that they found desirable they also resisted the army’s demands by creating subversive bodily cultures. The book follows the chronological experiences of army personnel, from their recruitment and training to their confrontations with wounding and death, tracing the significance of the body throughout. It analyses the extent to which the British Army organised compliance and relied on consent to achieve its objectives, the ways in which resistance was manifested and experienced, and what can be drawn from these instances by way of larger observations about wartime society in general. By examining soldiers’ embodied experiences it also illuminates broader issues of gender, class, national identity and emotional life. As such, it makes a major contribution to military history, medical history and the social and cultural history of Britain in the Second World War.

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Perspectives on military collections and the British empire

Over 130 military museums in the United Kingdom preserve the historical collections of British regiments, corps and services (including two naval museums). Their collections contain artefacts acquired by British servicemen in colonial warfare and on imperial garrison duties across the globe. Outside military culture, the phenomenon of collecting in theatres of war is primarily associated with looting. However, those who encountered the British Army in its colonial garrisons and campaigns met with a remarkably heterogeneous enterprise.

Drawing from a series of research workshops funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh and case studies developed with British Academy/Leverhulme, support, the essays in this edited collection will combine the perspectives of anthropologists and historians to test current understandings of military collecting beyond Europe. Dividing the Spoils will variously address motivations and circumstances for collecting and appropriation, the place of collected objects in the context of military organisational culture and the legacy of military collections as material witnesses of encounters between non-European peoples and imperial forces.

The book argues for an understanding of these collections within a range of intercultural relationships which embrace diplomacy, alliance, curiosity and enquiry, as well as conflict, expropriation and cultural hegemony.

Series: Artes Liberales

The Welsh borderlands were a distinctive territory where two peoples came together throughout the Anglo-Saxon period. It was here that men skilled at law drew up the Dunsate Agreement, to solve the impending problems with cattle theft. This book explores what sets the Dunsate Agreement apart from other Anglo-Saxon law codes grappling with cattle theft, highlighting that creators of this document, and the community that it concerns, included both Anglo-Saxons and Welsh. It argues that the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle represents the military culture of the Welsh borderlands in a distinctive way which aligns its inhabitants with outlaws. The book articulates a discernible culture in the Welsh borderlands prior to 1066. Bede's The Historia Ecclesiastica has long been interpreted as a narrative of Anglo/British strife. His rancour towards the pagan Mercians provides substantial information about the life of Penda of Mercia, whose entire reign over this borderlands kingdom was defined by consistent political and military unity with Welsh rulers. Expanding on the mixed culture, the book examines the various Latin and Old English Lives of the popular Anglo-Saxon saint, Guthlac of Crowland. Vernacular literary tradition reveals a group of Old English riddles that link the 'dark Welsh' to agricultural labour through the cattle they herd, and who have long been understood to show the Welsh as slaves. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is frequently cited as a paradigm of Anglo/Welsh antagonism. The book reveals that the impact of the Norman Conquest on the Anglo-Welsh border region was much greater than previously realised.


the war play of the next generation: Bill Swann’s toy soldiers were given to him by an ex-Navy officer who was a volunteer for the disabled veterans charity Lest We Forget. Playing at war, boys learned about military culture and acquired skills from their fathers. Clive Jones already knew how to tie knots when he joined the Navy, as he used to practise on bits

in Afterlives of war
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Dividing the spoils
Henrietta Lidchi
Stuart Allan

collections but equally, and importantly for this volume, in the collections of the many military museums which represent the distinctive and decentralised character of the British armed forces. This book takes as its base for investigation the collections derived from British military service beyond European theatres of war, objects whose acquisition reflected the practices and cultural attitudes arising from the asymmetrical nature of much colonial warfare. These collections held by regimental, corps and service museums, embedded in military culture, have been and remain

in Dividing the spoils
Michel Summer

. 9 ‘Warrior’ images, such as those known from Sutton Hoo, are used to support this view as they seem to reflect the visibility and the importance of weapons and military values within their respective societies. 10 This chapter reassesses this notion by examining the traditional interpretation, prevailing especially in German-speaking archaeology, whereby the images known from early medieval embossed foils reflect the establishment of a ‘Germanic’ military culture prevalent after the fall of

in Early medieval militarisation
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Chris Pearson

environment. It entails multiple and intimate military engagements with the environment and is only made possible through an active mobilization of environmental features, including topography, climate, vegetation, and animals. Furthermore, it is within the militarized environment that military ideas, strategies, bodies, and technologies emerge, interact with, and co-shape, nature.19 Throughout the period under study in this book, army commanders have kept faith with the belief that the soldier is moulded through a combination of military culture, discipline, and training

in Mobilizing nature
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The Dunsoete Agreement and daily life in the Welsh borderlands
Lindy Brady

are recorded largely in Welsh sources. This pattern of political cohesion within the Welsh borderlands continues in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle throughout the eleventh century, both before and after the impact of 1066. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle represents the Welsh borderlands as a region which acted as an independent political force throughout the eleventh century. Chapter Five also argues that the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle represents the military culture of the Welsh borderlands in a distinctive way which aligns its inhabitants with outlaws. By the end of the eleventh

in Writing the Welsh borderlands in Anglo-Saxon England
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James Whidden

Wingate's private secretary, Alexander Keown-Boyd. According to him, the British soldiery was ‘openly and cheerfully’ racist, employing terms such as ‘nigger’, ‘wog’, and ‘gyppo’ to refer to Egyptians of all classes and types. 30 Military culture certainly had an impact on cross-cultural relations and shaped the general impression of the British colony. Many British officials

in Egypt
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Sex, drink and the health of British troops in North Indian cantonments, 1800–1858
Douglas M. Peers

to his total inefficiency and all resulting from liquor as the ‘origio mali’. 5 Before looking more closely at the problems posed by venereal diseases and alcohol, and the strategies pursued to combat them, it is necessary first to sketch how military requirements, and North Indian military culture, shaped the cantonments where European

in Guardians of empire