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'Dad never said much but...' Young Men and Great War veterans in day-to-day life in inter-war Britain

Morley, JM (2018) ''Dad never said much but...' Young Men and Great War veterans in day-to-day life in inter-war Britain.' Twentieth Century British History, 29 (2). 199 - 224. ISSN 0955-2359

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Abstract

This article explores whether, how, and what young men in inter-war Britain heard about the Great War from its veterans. Oral histories are used to enable the first detailed examination of the hitherto largely unexplored topic of the intergenerational transmission of representations of the Great War in inter-war Britain. It shows that although many veterans were reticent about their war experiences, young men heard about Great War experiences from veterans more frequently than has previously been acknowledged. What they heard was heterogeneous, like representations in popular culture, but tended to emphasise positive and rewarding elements of wartime service rather than disillusion. While veterans’ narratives could be fleeting and ephemeral, this examination of their character shows they should be considered an important component of the wider body of representations of the Great War in inter-war popular culture through which young men might ‘know’ about the Great War. As well as examining what young men heard, consideration is given to alternative ways that young men learned about familial service, and to what triggered veterans’ narratives and why some remained silent. Reasons for the trope of the silent veteran are suggested, and its strength in contemporary popular memory is illustrated in discussion of the ‘discomposure’ it could cause some interviewees.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: First World War, Masculinity, Oral History, Popular Memory
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D501 World War I
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > History, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2017 14:03
Last Modified: 27 Jun 2018 11:15
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/20828

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