Fantasies of the ‘Soldier Hero’, Frustrations of the Jedburghs
The volunteer, who was so key to the popular imagination of the First World War, did not exist in the same capacity in the Second. Yet men who felt stuck in inactive home front-stationed regiments and who wished to engage the enemy directly could respond to calls requesting volunteers for ‘special duties’. The war offered an opportunity for men, whose boyhoods were suffused with tales of adventure, to play out their masculine fantasies of soldierly heroism. Yet for many the reality of lived military experience was very different. This chapter utilises personal testimonies with British Jedburghs who parachuted in uniform into occupied France as a post-D-Day operational reserve, published and unpublished memoirs and files deposited at the National Archives in order to explore men’s desires to volunteer for dangerous work and their evaluations of their wartime contributions.
I would like to thank Nigel Perrin and Emily Manktelow for their insightful comments on this chapter.