Just searching out material for talking about ‘Bravery and Cowardice’ to the Writing War Seminar. Noted that an excess of bravery is recklessness, which is about what I feel now. Or would that just be stupidity? Last week of term, pick something stupidly big and complicated to talk about, in the company of brilliantly clever people. Main aim I think is going to be to raise some points for discussion – I’ll post ideas up here as I put them together.
One of those talking points is going to be about how we – historians, historians of war, men – sorry, how I use/ have used narratives of bravery and of cowardice. Do they have relevance, are they just fantasy fodder, that sort of stuff. Anyway, in the process I came across this miraculous site, which holds copies of all the covers of Victor comic annuals from 1967 to 1991. I grew up with The Victor. Each week’s flimsy paper edition had a different ‘true’ story of a soldier winning the VC as its first story. To my credit, I remember, aged about 9, writing a letter to ask them the publishers why it was always a British soldier and never a German one. Strangely it was never published….
These comic annual covers actually do a great job of charting the changing place of war in British youth culture. Note how they start to concentrate on fantasy, then move into sporting endeavour. Is that where our heroes are supposed to come from now?