I thought it best to perhaps first post an introduction to this blog, giving a little idea as to who I am and what I hope to achieve with this blog over the next four or so years as the centenary of the First World War progresses. I know well enough that I am merely adding my voice to the cacophony that will doubtless arise over the coming months and years, but it is something that I wish to do.
I make no claims at being a professional historian and all ideas, thoughts and opinions on this blog will be firmly and entirely my own, unless I am quoting from another.
My name is Laura and I am an undergraduate studying history and English literature at the University of Leeds. My interest in the First World War was sparked with my AS-Level literature class, where we looked at the poetry of the period; all the way from Brooke’s early idealism to Sassoon’s worry in 1919 that the war would be forgotten and that the sacrifices made would not be honored. While many around me did not enjoy the lessons, I loved them fiercely and wanted more than anything to know more, to understand what had driven these men to write such heart-rending, at times even violently angry and incredibly bitter, poetry.
Of course, I came to understand what had made them write with such passion, with such strength of feeling that I, as a young person who has never experienced warfare in any capacity save for seeing images on film and reading books, can never fully comprehend, though I do my earnest best to appreciate it. I came to understand, but I wanted to know more. To know about the men who fought on the Somme and at Passchendaele and the countless other battles that to us in our present have become synonymous with bloodshed and a horrific waste of human life. I ached to know about the women who nursed and those who stayed at home to work. I wanted to know more about why this war had been fought and how.
It is something that I am still looking at now, constantly discovering new things, new stories, new men and women whose strength I admire, whose courage I am in awe of. There are always new books to be read, research to be done and I want this blog to chronicle that between 2014-2018.
I have also been lucky enough to be granted admission to a volunteer research project which looks at the Leeds Pals battalion and again, I will use this blog to document the progress of the project. It is a partnership between Leeds City Museums and the Nidderdale Area of Natural Beauty. There are many facets to the project which I am excited to delve into -opportunities for archaeology, object conservation, working with schools and even tracing ones own family history.
There will be reviews of the BBC One series of programmes and I hope to have a post up regarding Mr. Paxman’s documentary Britain’s Great War in the near future. There will also be content containing my own opinion on various events of the war (and even the comments of today on the centenary, though I think perhaps I may attempt to stay away from the incendiary bomb that was Mr. Gove’s comment); ‘On This Day’ segments as well as book, theatre and film critiques.
I hope that this blog continues to grow as the centenary progresses and perhaps might even gain something of a readership -stranger things have happened!