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.
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.
As part of my research for Lady Grace, I needed to know how families were notified of the death of their loved ones. The next of kin of officers often received telegrams, while the families of non-officers received a letter. The link to the article below talks more of the sad process during World War One and contains examples of correspondence.
From looking at the demise of my distant cousins in the war, I discovered that their bodies were never returned to their homeland. They were buried where they fell in the distant lands of France, Belgium, and Turkey. Not having their bodies returned to be buried near their families surely added to the grief.
I’m reminded of the movie Water Diviner, with Russell Crowe, that was released a few years ago. It’s a story about three of his sons who died in the battle at Gallipoli, Turkey (where Thomas Holland, my second cousin also fell). He travels to the far away land to search for their bodies and give them a proper burial. You can read my review about the movie at my entertainment blog by CLICKING HERE. (“This film is dedicated to all those who remain ‘lost and nameless’ and who live on in the hearts and memories of their families.”)
The book Lady Grace is a bit more somber than Lady Isabella and focuses on loneliness, young love, and grief as its themes. Grief can come in many forms and is not always about losing a loved one in death. We grieve over bad decisions, the things we never did, the love we never knew, and the love we lost, among other events in our lives.