What Tommy Did Next: Veterans’ Activities & Organisations of the First World War, in the UK & beyond

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Date / time: 18 March, 9:30 am - 6:00 pm

University of Edinburgh

Keynote: Professor Jay Winter, Yale University, plus 9 panels each of 3 speakers.

Before the First World War the UK had a small standing army, with little state support for veterans or their dependents. The recruitment of a mass army, beginning in August 1914 and extended through the introduction of conscription from 1916, prompted significant changes. The military was no longer drawn from the poorest sections of society but encompassed a much wider demographic, and women entered the military services for the first time in British history. Concomitant changes in state support for servicemen, servicewomen and their dependents were demanded. Yet while some improvements were seen, notably the extension of ‘separation allowances’ to the wives of all sailors and soldiers, the new state systems together with traditional service charities were overwhelmed.

In response, groups emerged during and after the war to advance the cause of veterans and their dependents. Some became involved in politics, with ex-service personnel mobilising across the political spectrum. Others chose to engage with non-political sectors to meet their post-war needs, looking to the church, trade, education or agriculture. Still others wished to shed their service identities entirely and return to the normal civilian lives which had been disrupted by the war.

This symposium is an encompassing event to explore the experiences of male and female veterans and their dependents during and after the conflict, and to investigate how military service influenced their subsequent lives. While it focuses primarily on the UK, the event has also attracted papers that offer comparative analysis with the experiences of veterans in other countries.

For further information, including booking details and full programme, please see the event website – http://www.what-tommy-did-next.org.uk