‘ … and then there was one’ Cultural Representations of the Last British Veteran of the Great War

Paul Long, Nick Webber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

This article reflects on the cultural representations of the last British veterans of the Great War, who passed away several years before the centenary commemorations. Focussing on Harry Patch (1898–2009) — celebrated as the last veteran to have fought on the Western Front — the article examines the ways in which Patch has served as a signal figure. The authors pay particular attention to the rhetorical motifs and narrative tropes of the popular press, evaluating how representations of Patch positioned him as a proxy not only for the generation who fought and died but as a focal point for working through contemporary perspectives on the meaning of the Great War. In so doing, they draw attention to the highly affective nature of this engagement, arguing that the loss of these veterans has not granted a form of closure but instead moved the territory of historical struggle to a new battlefield.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-155
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of War and Culture Studies
Volume12
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2019
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • affect
  • Great War
  • public history
  • representation
  • UK Press
  • war veterans

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