Shirkers, Skulkers, Deserters and the ‘Live and Let Live’ Principle: Everyday Resistance to Combat on the Western Front in World War 1

With Roger Ball

Fraternisation between opposing armed forces on the Western front on Christmas Day 1914 is part of the British collective memory; sold to us a momentary ‘miracle’ involving a few hundred troops. Of far more interest is the massive scale and crucially the context for these events. The everyday ‘hidden’ resistance of troops on both sides to the conflict ranged from avoiding the front-line by numerous ‘fraudulent’ means through to indirect and direct cooperation between supposed enemies in the trenches. Various forms of these subversive behaviours lasted throughout the war despite the attempts of the ‘brass’ on both sides to suppress them. So come and find out why ‘Blackadder Goes Forth’ could have been a lot funnier and how Tommy and Fritz put their ‘cunning plans from the University of Cunning’ into action.

Freedom of Soul: Bristol and opposition to the First World War

With Colin Thomas

Two weeks before the outbreak of the First World War, Bristol dockers voted for Britain maintaining neutrality and, although their union’s leadership wavered, the local Independent Labour Party kept up its opposition to the war to the bitter end. When many of its local male activists were sent to prison, women members continued to leaflet the case against the slaughter. Includes extracts from television programmes.

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