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Articles on World War I

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A new book on the battle of Fromelles adds to both what we know and how we should be wary of the battle’s popular legend. AAP/Christopher James

Book review: The Lost Legions of Fromelles

Almost exactly 98 years ago, the Fromelles legend goes, the 5th Australian Division was thrown into battle by stupid British generals and slaughtered. Overnight, 5500 men were killed or wounded: supposedly…
Ben Quilty, Captain S, after Afghanistan, 2012, oil on linen, 140 x 190cm.

Battle lines: the onward march of war art in Australia

War art, like war, changes with time – but not as much as we might like to believe. So what is its function, and how has it evolved over time? Two current exhibitions – the travelling show Ben Quilty…
“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. 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…
Personal records of soldiers and their families bring us closer to the effects and experience of war. Australian War Memorial

Soldiers’ true war stories will live on in the digital archives

The coming centenary of the first world war has already prompted some disquiet about a revival of the so-called “history wars”, given the significance of war to ideas of Australian national identity. In…
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. 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? 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…
Black Diggers tells the stories of young Indigenous soldiers who fought in the first world war. How did their stories get forgotten? Jamie Williams/Sydney Festival

Indigenous soldiers remembered: the research behind Black Diggers

In August 2012, I was invited by the Sydney Festival to work with Wesley Enoch, Artistic Director of Queensland Theatre Company, to assist in developing Black Diggers, currently playing as part of the…
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…
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. 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. 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…

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