Witnesses to Death: Soldiers on the Western Front

  • Natasha SilkEmail author


This chapter explores the response of British soldiers who fought on the Somme between July and November 1916 to bereavement. While historians concede that these soldiers were affected, sometimes profoundly, by their battlefield experiences, this is usually balanced by the belief that in time they became hardened to the sights of violent death. Nevertheless, the belief that emotional stoicism was such a vital part of the pervading construct of masculinity that emotional responses from soldiers were rare and when they did occur, were frowned on, deserves to be more thoroughly interrogated by historians. The diaries, memoirs, trench journals, and oral testimony of soldiers provide ample proof that they constructed, processed, or attempted to mask their feelings in a variety of ways in response to bereavement.


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of KentCanterburyUK

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