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The Great War on the Small ScreenRepresenting the First World War in Contemporary Britain$
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Emma Hanna

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780748633890

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748633890.001.0001

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Survivors: Veterans and the Nature of Personal Testimony

Survivors: Veterans and the Nature of Personal Testimony

(p.63) 3 Survivors: Veterans and the Nature of Personal Testimony
The Great War on the Small Screen

Emma Hanna

Edinburgh University Press

In Britain during the 1960s there was a marked increase in interest for the stories and experiences of the ordinary person. The fiftieth anniversaries of the First World War stimulated large-scale acts of public remembrance interfaced with this increased interest in the wider context of historical-social studies. Despite the contentious views of some historians who found oral testimony an unreliable and undesirable source for accurate historical study, the personal testimonies of men who fought on the Western Front became a key feature of television documentaries about 1914-18. When the eightieth anniversaries of the conflict were marked in the 1990s, war veterans and their memories were placed at the core of many televisual memorials. The old soldiers' recollections of their conditions, commanders and particularly their comrades made for emotionally powerful programmes, culminating in The Last Tommy (BBC, 2005) in which Harry Patch, Britain's last remaining Western Front veteran, was taken back to the battlefields.

Keywords:   Oral testimony, Memory, Harry Patch, Remembrance, High Command, Conditions, The Last Tommy (BBC, 2005)

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