The Long Shadow of the Air War: composure, memory and the renegotiation of self in the oral testimonies of Bomber Command veterans since 2015

Greenhalgh, James (2021) The Long Shadow of the Air War: composure, memory and the renegotiation of self in the oral testimonies of Bomber Command veterans since 2015. Contemporary British History . ISSN 1361-9462

Full content URL: https://doi.org/10.1080/13619462.2021.1906654

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The Long Shadow of the Air War: composure, memory and the renegotiation of self in the oral testimonies of Bomber Command veterans since 2015
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Abstract

The following article examines oral testimonies collected by the International Bomber Command Centre project since 2015. The study considers the challenges posed by post-war discourses that contest the morality of bombing and contemporary constructions of Britishness to Bomber Command veterans making account of their lives. The contested nature of bombing’s position within narratives of the Second World War creates a discursive environment where veterans struggle to assemble satisfying life stories. Despite using a set of similar narrative frameworks to counter questions concerning the morality or purpose of bombing, veterans found limited opportunities to demonstrate personal agency or achieve emotional composure. The interviews illustrate unresolved and challenging feelings stemming from a discourse that has proved inimical to creating satisfying selfhoods. In addition, the difficulty of integrating the story of Bomber Command into narratives of Britain’s wartime myth proved to be a source of considerable discomfort for the interviewees. In their attempts to situate themselves within longer trajectories of Britain and its military in the twenty-first century, the testimonies are thus revealing of the importance to Britain of its wartime past in forming current identities and the ongoing conflict in how Britishness should confront more complex versions of its history.

Keywords:Bombing, Oral History, Composure, Memory, Dresden
Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V147 Modern History 1950-1999
Divisions:College of Arts > School of History & Heritage > School of History & Heritage (History)
ID Code:44396
Deposited On:31 Mar 2021 09:07

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