Tag Archives: WW1

Between the Acts: Remembering War during the Interwar Period

By Calvin Liu, Gale Ambassador at the University of Oxford
I am a second year English student at University College, Oxford – and the Gale Ambassador for Oxford University. I am a huge lover of everything Romantic and Modernist – from Wordsworth to Woolf. When I am not in the depths of an essay crisis, I spend my time collecting fountain pens and looking at old books. Born and raised in Hong Kong, I am still getting to grips with the English weather and am partial to punting picnics on a rare sunny day. 

Remembrance is repetition.

As Laurence Binyon’s poem, often the highlight of memorial services, puts it: ‘They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:/ […]/ We will remember them.’ Ways of memorialising the world wars, too, seem never to grow old and are reinforced through recurrence. Remembrance is ritualised by each poppy-wearing politician, each BBC documentary, each Ian McEwan novel. The narratives have been retold so many times that they grow hazy and the details blend together – battle trenches upon Maginot Lines. It almost comes as a shock to be reminded that twenty-one years elapsed between the two world wars that we now jointly remember on one day. Twenty-one years during which the world regularly reminded itself of the last great war, before rushing into another. Gale Primary Sources provides a plethora of primary sources that poignantly illustrate how the world wars were both remembered and anticipated during the interwar period.

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Newspaper Coverage From the Christmas Truce 1914

“Every infraction of this order will be punished as treason”: the fallout from newspaper coverage of the ‘Christmas Truce’

Over Christmas in 1914, one of the most extraordinary and civilised moments of the combat on the Western Front happened: the press dubbed it ‘the Christmas Truce’, an event to modern eyes so inexplicable and contradictory to our perceptions of war that it seems it almost cannot be true.

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Bombs, Shells and Steel: Revisiting the Battle of the Somme

‘It ain’t the guns nor armament

Nor funds that they can pay,

But the close co-operation

That makes them win the day.

It ain’t the individual,

Nor the Army as a whole,

But the everlasting teamwork

Of every bloomin’ soul.’

Rudyard Kipling

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Verdun - Verdun image after

The Women who Lived Through Verdun: 100 Years On

It is widely regarded as the battle of the First World War; an enormous clash of attrition which epitomised the bloody stalemate of the war. The ten-month Battle of Verdun began 100 years ago, with German Chief of Staff General von Falkenhayn seeking to ‘bleed France white’ by launching an all-out attack on the narrow stretch of land at Verdun. Over a thousand German artillery guns fired upon the vastly inferior number of French troops – they had just 30,000 men, against 140,000 Germans – along a six-mile stretch of the French front. The battle which followed was to last for over 300 days. By looking at personal sources from Nineteenth Century Collections Online, the sheer scale of this part of the conflict is clear to see. Continue reading