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Touring behind the lines: British soldiers in French towns and cities during the Great War

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 April 2013

KRISTA COWMAN*
Affiliation:
School of Humanities, University of Lincoln, Lincoln, LN6 7TS, UK

Abstract:

This article explores the importance that accessing urban life assumed for British soldiers stationed in France during World War I. Many who fought on the Western Front had never visited a foreign country before sailing to France. Drawing on contemporary letters and diaries and later memoirs, it considers how men responded to the new experiences they found in French towns and cities behind the lines. Through exploring activities from shopping and dining to cinema and prostitution, it argues that urban outings became critical to sustaining morale by offering opportunities to engage with civilian life on a reasonably regular basis.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2013 

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References

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2 R. White considers tourism amongst Australian soldiers in World War I, but his argument that this was a key reason why many enlisted is not replicated in British accounts. My concern here is with tourism as a subsidiary activity to war rather than a motivating factor. See White, R., ‘The soldier as tourist’, War and Society, 5 (1987), 6378CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

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111 IWM 02/29/1, J.A. Johnston, unpublished memoir.

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