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An 'Unspectacular' War? Reconstructing the history of the 2nd Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment during the Second World War

Craggs, Tracy (2008) An 'Unspectacular' War? Reconstructing the history of the 2nd Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment during the Second World War. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

This thesis focuses on one battalion of infantrymen who trained for, and served during,the D-Day landings and north-west Europe campaign. Battalion histories in this detail are rare, as they usually form part of self-serving and uncritical histories produced by the parent regiment. This small unit acts as a microcosm of the' infantry of the line during the period, reflecting the typical high casualty rates and long periods on the front line. The existing sparse evidence about the 2nd Battalion was enhanced by interviews with veterans of the unit, which proved central to the study. Their memories revealed a wealth ofrich and previously unknown detail. Existing secondary literature is critical of the battalion's, and 3rd Division's, efforts on D-Day and the units of the 3rd Division were dubbed 'The Unspectaculars' in the press. These criticisms are challenged in the first three chapters of the thesis, which examine the level of training the infantrymen received; the battalion's performance on D-Day; and the progress ofthe battalion from D-Day onwards. The performance of the battalion is argued to have been solid yet unspectacular for much of the campaign. However in February 1945 came its spectacular moment, at the Battle of the Bridge. Chapters Four and Five address what life was like for the infantrymen of the battalion and assess what happened to these soldiers when they returned home, since for many, the war did not end when Germany surrendered. The thesis provides a social and cultural history of the 2nd Battalion, albeit within the military sphere. While individual memories remain an important source, the narrative of the battalion also' forms a group memory, particularly focusing on one outstanding officer, Major 'Banger' King. A group record is also apparent during commemorative events, in particular the 60th anniversary of D-Day, in June 2004.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield) > History (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.486464
Depositing User: EThOS Import Sheffield
Date Deposited: 29 Apr 2013 10:30
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2013 08:52
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/3626

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