What are the origins of the ‘myths’ that have come to dominate popular memory of the First World War in Britain? Perceptions of the conflict as a bloody exercise in futility, orchestrated by inept generals, and fought in fields of mud are undoubtedly unrepresentative. Yet, far from pure fiction, such impressions can be historicised. Drawing on wider research into soldiers’ perception of crisis during 1914-1918, this piece argues that the kernel of many of these ‘myths’ can be found in the lived experience of the western front in 1917.
This is the synopsis of a piece I have recently written for a special issue of the Bulletin of the Auckland Museum. This - and the rest of this special collection - is available here.
This stems from a presentation I gave at the conference The Myriad Faces of 1917 that took place in Wellington, New Zealand, in 2017.