A Tumblr on reading, writing and watching World War I, curated Senna, who likes history, costume dramas and Australia. Those are her great grandparents on the left.
A round-up of recommended reading and watching.
Highlights: • Reviews of pop culture about WWI
• War poetry
• Photos from then
• Aussies at War
Have a question or comment? Ask me anything!
Sitting in a trench waiting for a rifle-grenade isn’t fighting; war is clambering out of the top trench at 3 o’clock in the morning with a lot of rum-drugged soldiers who don’t know where they’re going - half of them to be blasted with machine-guns at point-blank range - trying to get over the wire which our artillery have failed to destroy.
—Siegfried Sassoon, in his diary, 4 April 1916.
They came […] and told me that my little Tommy had been hit by a stray bullet and died last night. When last I saw him, two nights ago, he had his notebook in his hand, reading my last poem. And I said good night to him, in the moonlit trenches. Had I but known! - the old human-weak cry. Now he comes to me in memories, like an angel, with the light in his yellow hair, and I think of him at Cambridge last August when we lived together […] in rooms where the previous occupant’s name, Paradise, was written above the door.
—Siegfried Sassoon diary entry on the death of his friend David Cuthbert Thomas, 19 March, 1916.
Breathless, we flung us on the windy hill,
Laughed in the sun, and kissed the lovely grass.
You said, “Through glory and ecstasy we pass;
Wind, sun, and earth remain, the birds sing still,
When we are old, are old.…” “And when we die
All’s over that is ours; and life burns on
Through other lovers, other lips,” said I,
—“Heart of my heart, our heaven is now, is won!”
“We are Earth’s best, that learnt her lesson here.
Life is our cry. We have kept the faith!” we said;
“We shall go down with unreluctant tread
Rose-crowned into the darkness!”… Proud we were,
And laughed, that had such brave true things to say.
—And then you suddenly cried, and turned away.
—The Hill - Rupert Brooke
Welcome to a debunking of historical misconceptions of women and their role during World War I. The post is inspired by the sheer amount of bad history that comes up, with accusations along the lines of how feminists were all sending men to die while they sit at home pretty eating bon bons or some shit like that. It’s a common thing apparently in MRA circles, since they can’t seem to stop talking about how feminists during World War I were trying to kill all men.
It’s pretty damned irritating, and as a bad historian, I plan to use this post to debunk this notion once and for all. Or at at least create a resource for people who get stuck looking at this type of bad history and have no idea how to respond to it.
I’m going to split this into two main parts: White Feather, and whether women were just sitting at home pretty while the men were out there getting themselves shelled. I should note that this is focusing only on British World War I history; this is because the claims are related to British suffragettes, and as such, I kept my focus on British WW1 history.
We had a young volunteer here called Bobbie Kernaghan. He said he was seventeen but looked about fifteen to me. He was just out and so keen to get at the Germans, they had killed his favourite uncle. I straightened his pack and checked his rifle (everything we have and wear is plastered with mud) before we went up and over on the 9th. We had hardly gone ten yards when he got it in the chest. He looked like a schoolboy asleep when they brought him in and laid him down.
He lay covered over in the bottom of the trench for a few days. Every time I passed him I thought of when I was seventeen and of the nine years I’ve had since then. You get very callous here after a while, you simply have to, but this lad’s death got through all my callousness.
The Divisional Commander inspected us this morning and congratulated us on our ‘great work at Ovillers’. Great!
—Letter from Tom MacAlindon, Royal Irish Rifles (source)
Dear child, there is no more to say; we have lost almost all there was to lose and what have we gained? Truly as you say has patriotism worn very very threadbare.
—Edward to Vera, April 1917