Podcast: The Remembrance of War

Welcome to my first podcast, ‘The Remembrance of War’ which features interviews with Dr Edward Madigan and Alice Pearson. Please join us as we discuss the remembrance of war from both historical and present-day perspectives.

Listen here (running time 27 minutes)

Service of remembrance at the Cenotaph 1953. Image by Mirrorpix/UIG. Used under Britannica ImageQuest Licence.

Dr Edward Madigan is Senior Lecturer in Public History at Royal Holloway University of London and Director of the MA in Public History programme. Alice Pearson is Director of the Household Cavalry Museum in London. In the podcast we explore the development of remembrance in Britain and Ireland since the 19th Century, whose voices have been included and whose have been marginalised, the First World War centenary commemorations between 2014 and 2018, and the meaning of remembrance today, including for younger generations.

Remembrance means different things to different people. My early thinking was influenced by two books, ‘Forgotten Victory’ by Gary Sheffield and ‘Not Forgotten’ by Neil Oliver, both of which I read for the first time over 15 years ago. Sheffield’s study was the first I had encountered which challenged the prevailing narrative that the enormous loss of life in the First World War was futile.  Oliver’s book which accompanied a Channel 4 series of the same name made me aware that remembrance was not just about the service personnel who died in the theatres of war. It was also about those who returned from war, and about the civilians on the home front impacted by conflict, including children. 

In 2014 I went on a First World War battlefields and cemeteries tour in France and Belgium. For three of our group, the tour was deeply personal as we visited the grave of a third cousin, the memorial where an uncle was listed as one of the missing, and a cemetery where the fallen Irish comrades of a father now laid at rest. I witnessed at first-hand three people with three different kinds of remembrance.

This podcast follows my review of ‘We’re here because we’re here’, the First World War centenary event where 1,400 silent actors gathered in public spaces on 1 July 2016.  Dressed in period army uniforms, each actor represented a soldier killed on the first day of the Somme Offensive exactly one hundred years before. Whilst this staging was poignant and resonated with the public, it also highlighted that remembrance remains largely focused on the dead. In this podcast we highlight some of the forgotten voices – the survivors who were often physically or mentally scarred, and the bereaved.

I hope you find ‘The Remembrance of War’ podcast thought-provoking. Please feel free to share your comments about any of the themes discussed.

This podcast has been produced as part of my postgraduate studies in Public History at Royal Holloway University of London 2020/21. The ‘Last Post was added to Freesound by ‘Benboncon’ and is used under the Creative Commons Attribution License.

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