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The people's war in personal testimony and bronze: sorority and the memorial to The Women of World War II

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/ProceedingsChapter (peer-reviewed)


Publication date22/11/2013
Host publicationBritish cultural memory and the Second World War
EditorsLucy Noakes, Juliette Pattinson
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherBloomsbury Academic
Number of pages21
ISBN (Print)9781441160577
<mark>Original language</mark>English


In British memories of service and the Home Front, the People’s War remains a dominant historical discourse. In personal testimony, we find numerous accounts which subscribe on one level to the construction of the War as a period in which the nation voluntarily united in defence of Britain and its values. The powerful rhetoric of the People’s War deepens the sense of betrayal when individuals feel they have been denied appropriate public recognition of their participation. As the furore over the Memorial to the Women of World War II (2005) revealed, the People’s War meant and means different things to different constituencies. The contention over the elision of female service in the auxiliary forces and on the home front in John Mills’ monument design speaks to the on-going historical debate over the limitations of collective solidarity. In this case, it is the limits of sorority which were illuminated as women challenged the gendered construction of their participation in the People’s War.