Echoes of the ‘Great War’

Imperialism, displacement and migration

World War One is often characterised in the popular memory through the narrative of trench warfare on the Western Front. However, it was a global war fought by imperialist powers, ranging from Africa and the Middle East to the South Pacific. These conflicts, essentially struggles to create or maintain empires, shaped the modern world, not only for the warring powers but crucially for their colonial ‘subjects’. We live with the resonances of WW1 today, from Rwanda to Kurdistan and from Palestine […]

The World’s War

Forgotten Soldiers of Empire

Documentary, talk and discussion David Olusoga's recent documentary The World's War challenged perceptions of WW1 with the stories of the millions of Indian, African and Asian troops who fought and died alongside white European troops on the western front and elsewhere. Using letters and diaries writer-director Dominic Rai brings to life the experiences of Indian soldiers in Flanders, popularised in the acclaimed novel Across the Black Waters by Mulk Raj Anand. Watch this talk:

Trade Unions and Resistance to the Great War

Class cohesion and spurious patriotism: trade union internationalism in the First World War In this talk Kevin Morgan considers the trade union radicals who from the earliest months of the war took up an internationalist and anti-war stance, and who gathered increasing support as the war went on. Their contribution to the anti-war movement has often been overlooked because of the unions’ majority pro-war stance. Nevertheless, this minority tradition was to receive a further stimulus with the […]

Deserters, Conchies and Reds

Bristolian opposition to the First World War

The Bristol Deserter – Alfred Jefferies – His War Story During World war One nearly 300 British soldiers on the Western Front were shot at dawn for deserting or for ‘cowardice’. One victim, Alfred Jefferies, a Bristolian, was executed on 1st November 1916. Based on official archives, including war diaries and court martial records, Geoff Woolfe describes Alfred’s tragic war story, whilst questioning the extent to which the full facts of some war events can be known. Freedom of Soul Two weeks […]

Opening the Archives

Resistance to World War One in Bristol

In a long tradition of Opening the Archives events the excellent Central Reference Library staff have done us proud in presenting a collection of primary sources relating to resistance and reaction during World War One. So come on down and sample the actual sources in the Bristol Room, from anti-war posters, flyers and pamphlets to jingoist vitriol. Highly recommended.

Women Resisting the Great War

The Friends of Alice Wheeldon In 1917 a Derby socialist and feminist in the anti-war movement, Alice Wheeldon was sent to prison on the evidence of an agent provocateur for plotting to kill Lloyd George. The evidence was flimsy, her accuser so dubious the prosecution kept him away from the trial. In this new, revised edition of The Friends of Alice Wheeldon Sheila Rowbotham reveals how militarism and fears about security contrived to devastate the lives of an ordinary family in Derby. The […]

Hidden Histories of World War One

Bristol Radical History Group are hosting the international History From Below network conference which brings together historian-activists from all over Europe. This is a great opportunity to hear international perspectives, as participants in the conference give short presentations on hidden histories of World War One. In addition we will be exhibiting a collection of anti-war art by one of the most influential graphic artists of the 1980s, Gee Vaucher of CRASS, who will be discussing her work […]

World War One: Arming All Sides

After the First World War many believed the arms trade to be a primary cause of war. The unprecedented scale of death and destruction wrought by modern weaponry led a majority of people to support disarmament and international conciliation. The Arming All Sides project questions what role the arms trade played before, during and after the war, what opposition was mounted to the trade and how the war affected what people thought about making and selling armaments. Join us to explore how the arms […]

1914-1918: The War within the War

As we mark the centenary of the First World War, this epochal event is usually remembered as a bloody conflict between rival alliances of nations. But there was another struggle as well: between people who regarded the war as a noble and necessary crusade, and a brave minority who felt it was tragic madness and who refused to fight. Writer Adam Hochschild describes this battle in an illustrated talk, focusing on the country where that tension was sharpest, Great Britain. Adam Hochschild's […]

The Nightmare Trail

By Davis Adams
Scenes from the Life of Poet and War Casualty: FW Harvey The poet FW Harvey (1886-1957) spent the last thirty years of his life in Yorkley in the Forest of Dean. I was brought up in the Forest of Dean and was always taught that Harvey was our very own war poet and First World War hero who won a medal for “conspicuous gallantry” which included killing a number of German soldiers at close quarters. However this book is about Harvey the man, who was both human and flawed. The book challenges some […]