World War I – Beginnings

Posted on July 1, 2014 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, Books, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: 1 Comment

On July 28th 1914, World War I began in Europe. Let’s look back at what happened 100 years ago with 10 gems from our catalog.

Many soldiers of all nations documented the Great War in diaries, drawings and photographs, and poetry. One of the most famous war poems, For the Fallen, was written by Robert Laurence Binyon, and is included in The Winnowing Fan – Poems on the Great War.

When the Great War began, people were almost enthousiastic and thought it would not last long. Legends like The Angels of Mons, written down by Arthur Machen, where angels supposedly protected British soldiers, did their part in strengthening people’s convictions.

Of course, reality was much different, as the Diary of a Nursing Sister on the Western Front 1914 – 1915 shows. An anonymous nurse writes about her routines caring for the wounded in France from the beginning of the war until she went back home in May 1915.

Everybody out there In the Field went through the same, regardless of where and for which side they were fighting. Marcel Dupont wrote about his impressions of the nine months he spent on the front line as an officer in the French light cavalry.

Soon it became clear that the war was here to stay. The Pretty Lady, tells about Christine, a French prostitute who fled Ostend and set up her business in London. Written in the typical style of Arnold Bennett, the novel gives an excellent insight into how the war affected the daily life of civilian society.

At this time, in all nations there was the fear of foreign spies infiltrating the country. In the short pamphlet Spy Proof America! J. Francis Logan urges American civilians to volunteer for an anti-spy organisation to help the war effort from within the country.

However, it is decidedly too late for that in England, where a vast German spy network is operating practically openly, in E. Phillips Oppenheim’s novel. After falling afoul of his superiors, the British diplomat Francis Norgate is recruited by the Germans – and becomes The Double Traitor.

He may have been one of the spies The Brighton Boys in the Radio Service had to deal with, along with other enemy soldiers. The novel by James. R. Driscoll tells of three American college friends who enter the military and work as radio operators all over Europe.

When the men are gone, the women have to do their work. Four girls, called The Friendly Terrace Quartette prepare for the war by joining the Land Army, and work in the fields. More and more girls arrive on the scene in Harriet Lummis Smith’s novel to do their bit for the war.

Much more dark is “the bit” that Amelia is to do for her country. She is expected to join the ranks of the War Brides: marry a soldier, get pregnant before he leaves, and soon bear a boy to repeat the cycle. Her sister Hedwig though, is determined to break the chain and thus send a sign to all other women in the short drama by Marion Craig Wentworth from our One-Act Play Collection 004.

Remember – and do not forget!

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1 comment

  1. Walt Allan says:

    It might be of interest to know that I recently finished reading Philip Gibbs’ Now It Can Be Told for Librivox. Gibbs was well known in his time and was one of 6 reporters allowed access to the British troops during 1914-1918. He wrote several books that were compilations of his reporting – which were subject to censorship. Now It Can Be Told was his attempt to report about the psychology of the war – things he would not have been able to say during the war. It is well written and informative. More background on Gibbs can be found at Philip Gibbs Now It Can Be Told

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