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Open City Docs Fest: After War

ucyow3c4 July 2014

pencil-icon  Written by Matthew Green

The centenary of World War One and the withdrawal from Afghanistan have inspired multiple events exploring the dilemmas of returning soldiers, but few have delivered the combination of raw emotional punch and intellectual rigour that was on display at the After War panel at the Open City Docs Fest on 22 June.

A soldier in AfghanistanJake Wood, who was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after serving as an Army reservist in Afghanistan, showed dramatic footage from his helmet-camera that brought home the chaotic reality of combat.

He spoke movingly about the sense of dislocation he felt on returning to his job in a City investment bank, a theme echoed by Kevin Weaver, a war photographer who has battled the symptoms of PTSD since being shot and wounded while covering the war in Bosnia.

(more…)

Sex and the Somme

Ben Stevens H P Stevens26 June 2014

As the First World War centenary commemorations continue apace, there is a risk that inconvenient truths about the war will be quietly airbrushed from the official record.

One particular area that some may like to ignore is the use of brothels by British troops or ‘Tommies’ while in France and Belgium.

UCL Media Services © University College London

UCL Media Services © University College London

Dr Clare Makepeace (UCL History) made it the focus of her lecture ‘Sex and the Somme’ on 18 June, which was the first in a new series of First World War –themed Lunch Hour Lectures on Tour at the Guardian’s London offices.

She began by explaining how when the Tommies set off, each one was dispatched with a message from Lord Kitchener folded into their pay books. In it, he reminded them that the honour of the British Army depended on their conduct and warned them to “be on guard against excesses” especially “temptations both in wine and women” and to “avoid any intimacy”. (more…)