La Vie En Rose for 2009 April 28 (entry 0)

< Save it for a rainy day
Overheard at the IWM >

PhD notes: There is another R Richardson who uses the rare books & music reading room at the BL. And they're working on microbiology.

the more I read, the more I find it difficult to imagine that the balkan front was anything like the western front — it was simply too much fun. here’s the thing — I guess, my research on western front is not really extensive enough for me to do some kind of comparison. there is a vast, vast divide between rank and file men who had to be out in the “trenches” and mountains, who had very little comfort and hard work to do in intemperate weather. Fighting was at least a relief from the boredom of macedonia, but an infrequent one. Soldiers were frustrated by the lack of work — the lack of fighting work — in Macedonian. The reputation that the Macedonian front had simply made matters much worse for them.

One the other hand: relief workers, hospital staff, and officers had plenty of their own work to do. Unlike soldiers, who were expecting to and were expected to fight, they were doing what they had signed up to do. The importance and value of work comes into play here — as do gender and class notions behind what is proper work for certain types of people to do. Whether they were upholding this or breaking down these boundaries…

Also, the reputation that the Macedonian front had, is not altogether untrue. it’s possible that the western front has just as many diversions for troops behind the front line — I don’t know, but no one was really complaining about it were they? it’s only because these men were having a “picnic” of a time not fighting that they should not have been allowed to have these distractions, public felt. Totally unfair, but there you have it.

This ‘picnic’ atmosphere however, created a unique social consortium of the British and their Allies on that front. The ways in which they attempted to and failed to re-create a home-like society is revealing of their priorities. But what significance, then, is the fact that most of the average soldiers, the lower classes of men, were stuck in the front lines, and participated in this society, if at all, as transient members, or simply as observers?

things I need to look at then: more rank and file men. public opinion — newspaper library. urgh.


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