Aftermath - when the boys came home

Thursday 12 May 2011

Recent Additions
   & Updates
Search the site


Site Information
Resources

Aftermath Overview

 The navigation bar at the top of the page should enable you to find your way fairly easily round the website. You'll find (as time goes on) that most of the major headings will lead you to an index page giving more detail of the range of articles dealing with a particular subject.

 The side panel will be changed regularly to give details of new, or amended pages within the site.

And the following list, while not comprehensive, focuses on some of the main pages:

 Page One provides a general introduction to the themes of this website.

 News Clips This is the most frequently updated part of the site. Around Remembrance (Armistice) Day every year the newspapers here in the UK and abroad return again to the topic of the Great War. Since 1998 this part of the site has built into a very useful reference archive which confirms, if confirmation were needed, that the Great War still casts a very long shadow indeed.

 The Unknown Warrior tells the story of the emotional occasion in November 1920 when an unknown hero was brought back from an anonymous battlefield grave as a representative of all those who had no known grave. The Great Silence looks at how the two minutes silence at 11 o'clock on Armistice Day came to be regarded as a central, almost sacred part of remembrance ceremonies. Peace Day was a celebration on Saturday July 19th 1919 of the official end of the war, marked by the signing three weeks earlier of the Versailles Treaty. This article sketches in some of the main events of that day, which saw the debut of London's Cenotaph.

 War Memorials contains a brief account of the way in which English villages and towns decided to commemorate those who had died in the Great War. A second page looks at some more unusual memorials.

 The subject of Bereavement features in the stories of three women; Vera Brittain writes about her fiancé Roland Leighton, killed in 1915 in a letter to her brother about the return of his kit and in the  account from Testament of Youth about her 1921 visit to his grave, 92 year old Lucy Walter shares her recollections of her father who died in East Africa of dysentery in 1917, and Peace of Mind is a touching little story about Mary Beddoes whose brother died in 1914, and who Mary believes to be buried - well, I'll let you find out.

 Remembrance Some thoughts and ideas about the meaning of remembrance. In Poppycock, Guardian journalist Mark Steel offers a jaundiced and (for some at least) controversial few ideas on the subject.

 The war cemeteries of the Western front and elsewhere are still provide the most moving, and telling testimony of the dreadful losses of the Great War. Silent Cities gives a brief account of how those cemeteries came into being. Pilgrimage recalls the flood of visitors to the "Devastated Regions" which began almost as soon as the fighting stopped. They saw themselves as pilgrims, and the journey to the place where their loved ones had died was another way of mourning their loss. The Ypres League was an organisation devoted to helping those wishing to visit the battlefield areas. They published a guide for pilgrims The Immortal Salient and a leaflet describing their aims and organisation is featured here.

 A Land Fit For Heroes focuses on the grim peacetime reality for too many heroes. J.B.Priestley's account of a battalion reunion is particularly moving. The Lost Generation - myth & reality is a look at the 1920s notion that Britain's troubles were due to the fact that all the finest of its young men died in the Great War. Disenchantment contains a chapter from the 1922 book of the same name by Manchester journalist C.E.Montague. Enlisting at the age of 47 in 1914, he served in France and was invalided out. The book chronicles his disillusionment with the way the ideals of the war were twisted by those at home, to the detriment of the serving soldier.

 The View in Winter written by Ronald Blythe was published in 1979. George the Walking Wounded and Douglas Haig's Batman are moving pieces about Great War veterans.Retrospectives on people and places provides a chance to look in some detail at individual topics, from different viewpoints. Douglas Haig is the first subject, with pieces from Gerard DeGroot , the late Alan Clark and others.

 Aftermath USA is a small beginning to what I hope will grow into a large number of pages, looking at the post-war experience in America. I don't pretend to be any kind of expert on the history of the United States, but I do often come across interesting bits and pieces which ought to be seen more widely. There is an account of Armistice Day 1918 and the story of how America's Unknown Soldier came home.

 Short Stories The beginnings of a collection of pieces of short fiction written (more or less) in the decade after the Great War. I'm hoping to track down some long-forgotten stories which mirror in one way or another the results on everyday life of the war. The Fly by Katherine Mansfield, who died in 1923, is a very strange story. Like the two mentioned below by Kipling and Mrs Belloc Lowndes it is about the loss of a son, and the effect of that loss on the father. I'd be interested to know what others make of it; I'm not absolutely sure I know quite what it all means! The next story is very well known. Written by Rudyard Kipling, The Gardener tells of a woman whose nephew is killed in 1915, and learns after the war that his body has been found. Much of the story is based on Kipling's experience as a member of the War Graves Commission, and of course on the tragic loss of his own son.It's a story which covers a lot of ground in a few pages - and everything is not quite what it seems...  The Unbolted Door , is by Mrs Belloc Lowndes, who was the sister of Hillaire Belloc. I found this one in a ghost story collection called A Century of Creepy Stories (!) but it is more than just a tale of the supernatural.

 Arthur Machen's The Bowmen is in a different category from the other stories. Written in 1914 it is the tale which inspired the still enduring legend of the Angels of Mons . I have now added Machen's essay which introduced the collection of stories which included The Bowmen.

 Poetry is in two sections, with the first section concentrating mainly on work written during or soon after the Great War, and the second section featuring more modern, even contemporary poems. Recent additions include Larkin's MCXIV and Vernon Scannell's The Great War.

 H.V.Morton's London: Writings from the 1920s by a noted journalist and travel writer, about the Lutyens designed Cenotaph, the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey, and Behind the Window: the author's account of a poignant encounter with an ex-soldier, a disabled veteran wearing the Mons star, Ghosts of the Fog is an atmospheric evocation of a foggy day in London town. There is also a short biography of the writer.

 Music Hall - an era coming to an end recalls the post-war decline in a form of entertainment hugely popular before the war years. There are examples of vintage recordings by musical hall artistes (in RealAudio format).

 Crimes of the Times looks at some of the "law and order" stories which captured the public imagination after the war.  The Green Bicycle Mystery , in which an ex-serviceman was accused of the murder of a young woman called Bella Wright, and Horatio Bottomley - the soldier's friend follows the career of one of the more flamboyant and notorious characters of the Aftermath period.

 Memories of Christmas features two pieces written in adult life by men who grew up in the years after the Great War. The piece by Dylan Thomas has all the energy of that writer with the words tumbling down the page like snowballs down a hill. The second piece is written very differently, Jim Hooley , born in Stockport near Manchester in 1913 waited till 1981 to put down his memories. In many ways his story seems more rooted in the realities of everday life at a time when poverty and hardship were suffered by too many people. 

Member of the History Channel
visit aftermath books
In association with Amazon