Narrating Britain’s War: A Four Nations and More Approach to the People’s War

Daniel Travers, Paul Ward

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

    4 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Since 1940, memories of the Second World War have been central to understandings of British national identity. During the war itself, there was a concerted effort by the state to produce an unproblematic account of the war as one of Britain standing alone in adversity. At the centre of the development of this war story was Winston Churchill. Elements of the war considered to be in the spirit of ‘Britishness’ were deliberately maintained into the post-war period by national consensus, and features of this story, such as Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain and the Blitz, became the accepted version of the war experience. This essay explores wartime and post-war construction of the war myth and its historiographical discussion. It examines the continuing engagement of British society with the Second World War through commemoration and memorialisation. The essay considers the complexities of the public history of the Second World War by taking a ‘four nations and more’ approach suggesting that the ‘Churchillian paradigm’ masks the assertion of local, regional and national identities through commemoration of the diverse experiences of war across the United Kingdom.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe Long Aftermath: Historical and Cultural Legacies of Europe at War (1936-1945)
    EditorsManuel Braganca, Peter Tame
    Place of PublicationOxford
    PublisherBerghahn Books
    Pages77-95
    Number of pages406
    ISBN (Print)978178238153-2
    Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2015

    Keywords

    • Second World War
    • four nations history
    • national narratives
    • Winston Churchill

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