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Veterans of the People’s War – The Representation and Identity of Second World War Veterans since 1945

Beadnell, Harriet Emma (2019) Veterans of the People’s War – The Representation and Identity of Second World War Veterans since 1945. PhD thesis, University of York.

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This thesis explores the representation and identity of Second World War veterans since 1945. The first section provides context in showing the origins of the most dominant images of the Second World War veteran in commemorative and political culture. These depictions highlight the selective representations of this generation as being tied to certain anniversary commemorations, or as the silent, proud and marching successors to the Remembrance Day rituals. Due to the life cycle, developments in awareness of war trauma and the surge in interest in war commemoration, their status has increased over time. While these representations are important to understanding the public image of Second World War veterans, they do not show the diversity of identities assumed by this generation. The remaining four chapters of this thesis argue that there is a spectrum of ways that this generation relate to their memories. While some adopt identities based upon many of the identifiable tropes of the cultural idea of the veteran, such as wearing medals, others have forged alternative identities surrounding pacifism or other aspects of their lives such as their career. Why some have chosen to remain silent about their memories is explored, to show the array of ways that this generation view the importance of the war to their lives. Exploring veterans associations, British Legion branches and clubs, uncovers the activities which are absent from cultural representations, but shape how veterans form a sense of group identity. This thesis also highlights how some individuals have cultivated veteran personas by using the internet.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > History (York)
Depositing User: Miss Harriet Emma Beadnell
Date Deposited: 22 May 2020 15:35
Last Modified: 22 May 2020 15:35
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/25966

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