In fact the war did not really touch me as a boy until the late '40s and '50s, when it came in lurid and paradoxically shadowy forms: simultaneously trivial, exciting and disturbing. I remember Anderson air-raid shelters squeezed into back gardens, and I played with the big bolts that fixed the Morrison shelters, which were steel tables designed for families to cower beneath.
I remember the thrill of hearing Spitfire engines in the sky, and the concrete machine gun pillboxes along the coast of Aberdeen, exciting to explore, and marked in later years by rusting barbed wire and the reek of stale urine. I owned an enviably large collection of spent calibre brass cartridges. Everyone of my generation played with old gas masks. Their satchels were really good for carrying sandwiches and a thermos flask.
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He was gas protection officer for the North of Scotland in the early days of the war when gas attacks were surely expected to happen. If you want to make a fire without being seen, and have no wood, but some German hand grenades of the stick-grenade type, try this: Unscrew the stick and take out the little metal detonator inside. Now you can see the explosive [. You can safely ignite the powder and with it the explosive of the grenade.
It will burn with a long and lasting flame, and be sufficient to bring about four pints of water to the boil. Necker, Political correctness begone! As far as comic books go, I personally favoured rocket ships in the weekly Eagle , which was started in , starring its front-page hero, the space-pilot Dan Dare and his attendant, the faithful batman Digby. It seems the English class system was to be future-proof. We know that this was seldom spoken about at the time, and that thousands suffered in silence, or regarded their troubles with something approaching shame.
So what can one make of the remarkable resurgence of war films and war stories in Britain in the s? Was there an ideologically nationalist agenda here, or some sort of healing and remembering, by way of re-enactment? Or a combination of the two?
Echoes And Shadows Chords by Barclay James Harvest | Songsterr Tabs with Rhythm
Perhaps the war comics of my youth represented a bizarre return of the repressed, for the generation that drew them, by which the tragedies and futilities of history were being replayed, not as a farce, but in the rather jolly guise of triumphalist popular culture? How can we explain the surge in the popularity of war comics towards the end of the s? Chapman, Nor did the titles of these weeklies hide their martial and imperial aspirations, with names such as Eagle, Victor, Valiant , Lion.
Comics for girls from this period were equally popular if less numerous, and their titles— Girl , School Friend and Bunty —were designed to reinforce middle class aspirations and gender stereotypes, with tales of nurses, dancers, boarding schools and horsewomen. But these never matched the market for boys' war comics, which grew to hundreds of single-title graphic volumes, each telling specific tales of combat, mostly published by D. At their height the picture libraries were each printing up to six new stories a month as well as reprints.
Until they were discontinued in the mids, War Picture Library published 2, issues [ie: individual titles]; Battle Picture Library 1, issues and Combat Picture Library 1, issues, while Commando, which is still in print, passed 4, issues in It only remains to observe that the countries of Europe have not had anything like this level of popular juvenile fixation with World War II.
More equal still, D. This allowed for more specific historical detail than was usual for the genre, but was notable for its portrait of Braddock as a non-commissioned officer a flight sergeant of extraordinary ability, notorious for his scruffy appearance and an absolute contempt for establishment authority. Here was a hero fit for the s, in a trope that would become increasingly evident in cinema and popular culture as the decades progressed.
Beyond the school playground and the pulp fiction of our youth, the urge to reinhabit old stories of the Second World War has been a recurring feature in British culture, usually surfacing at moments of ideological misgiving or on the occasion of some notable anniversary. The 75 th anniversary of the evacuation in was marked by a floating re-enactment of their journey, and a major Hollywood movie, directed by Christopher Nolan was released for a summer showing in Or, if you like, the Battle of Bannockburn in , or the Declaration of Arbroath for modern Scottish politics.
The evacuation of Dunkirk was only made possible because 10, men of the 51 st Highland Division were ordered to stay behind to fight a rearguard action—and be captured. Britain , first published in did much to illustrate this by recognising the social conflict that existed at the time, and the paradoxical ways in which the demands of total war overthrew the old conventions and shook the establishment at least for a while out of its unexamined privileges.
Less than two months after the German surrender, after all, a widely felt need for social reform unseated Winston Churchill and led to the landslide victory for Labour in July We seldom talk of the hundred of soldiers who stepped off their landing craft at Normandy and simply drowned. We seldom mention the thousands of young RAF pilots who crashed and died while learning to fly.
There were three thousand in Bomber Command alone. We know, too, that the terrible ambiguities surrounding the bombing campaign meant that even in the heat of victory, the government decided not to award a campaign medal to that branch of the service. To illustrate the power of different cultural contexts, I used to explain to students why the Baader Meinhoff terrorists, the R ed A rmy F action, chose those particular initials for their name. Tales of plucky, embattled Brits facing comic or dangerous foreigners have been a popular weekly standby in British entertainment or many years.
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The road to conflict in the Second World War was less ambiguous, but no less disturbing in what amounts to the selective evasion of its true horrors by way of ceremonial ritual. With such thoughts in mind, I have come to think more closely about the ways in which the terrible echoes of the second war have entered my own imaginative life. But we wanted to think a little beyond that particular remit by recognizing the shifts in personal response that have been reflected in the poetry of two world wars, along with the even more striking changes in how these two global conflicts were perceived, carried out and represented.
The experience of had been deeply disillusioning, and although the need to defeat Hitler was ultimately inescapable, many left-wing Scottish poets and thinkers resented having to enlist in what they saw as yet another struggle between rival imperialisms. He thought that the prospect of immediate and total destruction from the skies would encourage peace, or at least settle conflicts swiftly and totally. He was terribly wrong. More information about this seller Contact this seller.
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