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World War I

Analysis and Comment (22)

Our book shelves would look very different. Our book shelves would look very different. Sharon Drummond

Without World War I, what would literature look like today?

As we begin to commemorate the outbreak of World War I in earnest, just how central the “Great” war is to Britain’s conception of its history is ever more obvious. And this is also very true in terms of…
Serbian infantry, 1914. Serbian infantry, 1914.

World War I: in the beginning …

With the exquisite turn of phrase for which she was so highly regarded, Barbara Tuchman once likened the Austro-Hungarian declaration of war against Serbia of 28 July 1914 to an example of “the bellicose…
Peter Foley, The Crimson Field’s hospital orderly. Peter Foley, The Crimson Field’s hospital orderly. BBC/Nick Briggs

Don’t forget the hospital orderlies of World War I, on or off the screen

With the centenary commemorations continuing, all things World War I have been filling our screens, pages and radio waves. The latest of these was the BBC’s The Crimson Field, a drama set in a field hospital…
“A few days rest in billets”. “A few days rest in billets”. Reproduced by kind permission of the Syndics of Cambridge University Library

Comics tap into the real emotions of the world wars

In its new exhibition, the British Library celebrate the subversive history of the comic. As ever, such a complex heritage can hardly be covered in such a show. But it is a symptom of a more widespread…
Tooth Hill Camp, 1918. Tooth Hill Camp, 1918. JB Winterburn. Source George Pascoe, 1918

How I found the lost desert camp of Lawrence of Arabia

A fantastic coincidence, coupled with research, led to my discovery of a wartime camp in the Jordan desert that was occupied in 1918. This was a camp used by T E Lawrence, or “Lawrence of Arabia”, and…
Not regulation… Not regulation… Fearless Stumbler

Current crafts craze echoes World War I knitting projects

The rise of stitch and knit clubs, guerrilla knitting, yarn bombing and calls to knit sweaters for oil-spill affected penguins have all drawn attention to craft as a force for social change. Knitting is…
Trench warfare was a calculated strategy. Trench warfare was a calculated strategy. USMC Archives

Four things we get wrong about World War I

Most wars are rich in tales of agency and decision. Yet many tales of the Great War are told otherwise. The dominant narrative tells us that we were passive victims of an irrational disaster. Everything…
An alternative form of war literature? An alternative form of war literature? Nomadic Lass

For another view of World War I, look to Lord of the Rings

In the year of the World War I centenary, much renewed attention has been paid to war poets Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon and tables in bookshops are groaning under the weight of their work. These…
Tomes of war stories. Tomes of war stories. gfpeck

Glory, farce and despair: the many stories of World War I

Anniversaries encourage reflection. Now, 100 years after the start of the Great War, anyone who follows current affairs or reads a newspaper is part of a cultural conversation, a widespread reassessment…
Forget Blackadder, these are the guys Gove should be worrying about. Forget Blackadder, these are the guys Gove should be worrying about. Ian West/PA

Young Brits think WWI was futile, but don’t blame Blackadder

As Britain starts four years of commemorating the centenary of the First World War, Blackadder Goes Forth, first broadcast on BBC1 in 1989, has, bizarrely, taken centre stage. To rather less fanfare than…
Who you think you’re kidding, Mr Gove? Who you think you’re kidding, Mr Gove? PA / Martin Keene

German historians have little time for Gove’s Blackadder jibes

Michael Gove must be off his head. In Germany any politician who tried giving professionals a history lecture would be considered a lunatic. German historians love to argue among themselves, and there…
Joan Beaumont’s new book Broken Nation: Australians in the Great War provides a strong insight into both Australia’s role in World War One and life on the home front. Joan Beaumont’s new book Broken Nation: Australians in the Great War provides a strong insight into both Australia’s role in World War One and life on the home front. Australian War Memorial

Book review: Broken Nation - Australians in the Great War

Over the next four years, the centenary of World War One will prompt the publication of a vast number of war-related books. In Australia, it will be hard to keep count of the new books on Gallipoli, with…
Trench fever: sometimes gallows humour was the only way to forget the horror of war. Trench fever: sometimes gallows humour was the only way to forget the horror of war. BBC

Gallows humour from the trenches of World War I

For the average soldier on the Western Front, very little happened on a day-to-day basis. Even when soldiers were at the front line, they watched and waited. Boredom was a major problem. But the prospect…
A GB (sarin) filled M55 rocket, is destroyed. A GB (sarin) filled M55 rocket, is destroyed. US Army Chemical Materials Agency

Chemical weapons and the scientists who make them

It would take a hard-hearted person not to have been moved to tears by the images on our television screens of Syria over the last week - of infants struggling to breathe while their parents looked on…
There are some powerful stories in the Anzac tradition but many more that are unknown to students. There are some powerful stories in the Anzac tradition but many more that are unknown to students. Australian War Memorial

Teaching the untold stories of World War I

“What are your legs? Springs. Steel springs”. Archy’s nervous mutterings before he sprints into gunfire are familiar in Australian history classes. So are the tale of Simpson and Duffy and their “bravest…
Analysing Anzac speech, slang and reading material gives us a better understanding of their experience. Analysing Anzac speech, slang and reading material gives us a better understanding of their experience. EPA/Tolga Bozoglu

From ‘Aussies’ to ‘Whizz-bangs’: the language of Anzac

Many place the Anzac legend at the heart of the Australian national identity. But some have rightly challenged this idea, opening up debate about why the Anzac story is so central to our national mythology…
There is an entire history of excuses given for why women shouldn’t be given roles in the military. There is an entire history of excuses given for why women shouldn’t be given roles in the military. Australian War Memorial Collection

Women in Australia’s military: On the frontline of the gender war

The recent plan to see women take on frontline combat roles in the Australian military from 2016 removes one of the last formal barriers to women’s participation in all realms of work. Unsurprisingly…
Uniformed attendees at the Remembrance Day service held in Sydney on November 11, 2010. Uniformed attendees at the Remembrance Day service held in Sydney on November 11, 2010. AAP/Greg Wood

Remembering the true meaning of Armistice Day

Australia now officially recognises two special days to commemorate our national history of being at war but neither of them is Sorry Day. The Australian history of engagement in war is primarily honoured…