Memory, Narrative and the Great War: Rifleman Patrick MacGill and the Construction of Wartime Experience

Memory, Narrative and the Great War: Rifleman Patrick MacGill and the Construction of Wartime Experience

Memory, Narrative and the Great War: Rifleman Patrick MacGill and the Construction of Wartime Experience

Memory, Narrative and the Great War: Rifleman Patrick MacGill and the Construction of Wartime Experience

Excerpt

On 21 November 1914 an impetuous, self-confident (some would say cocky) 17-year-old Anglo-Irish redhead, Sydney Cadman, left his home in Tottenham and, much to the surprise of his parents, enlisted in the London Irish Rifles. Suffering just one wound worthy of the name, he came through the war in France unscathed. Almost five years afterwards to the day he was demobilized, though the Great War did not end for him then. Having lost his Catholic faith while in France, highly conscious of the transience of life and with no obvious career ahead of him, he returned to civilian life an angry, but somewhat lost, young man. The immediate post-war years were a time of difficult transition, which saw him drinking heavily and fighting in public. A return to Tottenham, marriage and a family brought order to his life, externally at least; but for the rest of his life he was haunted by appalling nightmares that had him screaming and lashing out as he relived his wartime experiences, including one particularly traumatic entombment in which he lost several close friends. And yet, at the very end of his life, when his memory was failing somewhat, he found an unexpected degree of happiness as his mind went back to those years in France. Singing songs from that time, some obscure, some obscene and all out of tune, he held imaginary conversations with long-dead colleagues and recalled a very different, much happier war to that of his earlier nightmares. Sydney Cadman was my maternal grandfather; he fought at Loos and at High Wood too. His life-long engagement with the war and his differing . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.