Belgian Refugees – Building a Story Around History

Estimations vary between 225,000 and 265,000. The estimation does not include the roughly 150,000 Belgian soldiers that have taken leave in Britain at one point in the war and an additional 25,000 wounded Belgian soldiers convalescing in Britain. The fullest account is given in ‘Belgian Refugee Relief in England during the Great War’ by Peter Calahan (Garland Publishing, New York and London, 1982).

Source: Belgian refugees – Wikipedia

BBC – History – World Wars: Shell Shock During World War One

More research….

…everyone had a ‘breaking point’: weak or strong, courageous or cowardly – war frightened everyone witless…

The British army dealt with 80,000 cases of shell shock during WW1. Explore how the army tackled this trauma, and how it was regarded by those back home.

Source: BBC – History – World Wars: Shell Shock during World War One

Soldiers on Leave |First World War (WW1)

Once again, it’s research time. Simple things like having one of my soldiers come home on leave. Let it not be said, I fail to research!  “In the British Army, for example, soldiers were allowed a leave every fifteen months on average, while officers were allowed one every three months.”

Starting in 1915, periods of leave known as “permissionnaires” played a vital role in supporting the morale of troops, allowing fighters to rest, and letting some families come together. These periods showed the limits to the endurance of soldiers, as well as the strength of ties between civilians and combatants, which translated to social cohesion during and after the First World War.

Source: Soldiers on Leave | International Encyclopedia of the First World War (WW1)

World War I Posters

The call to war is evident by the myriad of propaganda posters encouraging the general public to enlist, serve as civilians, donate money, or to take in the downtrodden.

One of the scenes in Lady Grace touches on the heroine’s thoughts of a poster she sees at the train station depicted below, “Women of Britain Say GO!” Rather than inciting empathy for the cause, she questions the ability of any rational woman to encourage their husbands to join and face the probability of certain death.  Writing about this era in England has been a challenging exercise in examining the struggles of those left behind and the fears they may have endured.  Of course, there is often passionate love based on the uncertainty of survival.

As you can see from the examples of posters below, each carries their own theme that is meant for the very purpose of moving individuals to action. These posters are termed propaganda, which for me has a negative connotation.  We think of it as brainwashing or the evil side spreading untruths.

However, propaganda, in the sense of these posters, is a general message designed to persuade the citizens of England to think and behave in a manner that supports the cause of war.  They stir emotions in the hopes of action.

Here are only very few I’ve chosen that are relevant to Lady Grace. If you Google the subject matter, more will come up from not only the United Kingdom but the United States, who entered the Great War in 1917.