History at Chester - Daddy, What Did YOU Do in the Great War?

As far as the British government was concerned, the answer to this question was simple: men of military age should volunteer for the army and then fight – normally in the trenches of the Western Front – to defend their homes, family and country. As this well-known poster implied, the First World War was certainly not the time for a healthy young man to be sitting at home in a comfortable armchair; his place was instead at the front. The ideas underpinning the poster still lie at the very heart of British narratives of the First World War, namely heroic male sacrifice for the good of the nation.

Yet this understanding of the conflict leaves behind huge gaps. Most obviously, there is no place for women, whose sole role was relegated to ‘keeping the home fires burning’. But beyond this, where in this narrative are the troops from Ireland, India, Australia and other parts of the Empire who fought on the British side? Other notable absentees include Chinese labourers, Belgian refugees or even the vast numbers of German prisoners locked up in Cheshire and beyond. As a History student at Chester, it is these other stories of the conflict that you will study. We may well ask the question of how people experienced the Great War. But the answers we seek are diverse ones that capture the vast range of war stories told by those who actually lived through it.

Want to Know More?

To find out more about the exciting topics you’ll study as a History student at the University of Chester, feel free to contact Programme Leader Thomas Pickles by emailing t.pickles@chester.ac.uk

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