Ode to Bully Beef: WWII Poetry They Didn't Let You Read
The Second World War (1939-45) was not greeted with the same lavish outpouring of patriotic fervour that had attended August 1914. Any rags of glory had long since been drowned in the mud of Flanders. The Great War had been heralded as `the war to end all wars'; veterans were promised `a land fit for heroes'. Both of these vain boasts soon began to sound hollow as depression, unemployment, poverty and a rash of new wars followed. The sons and daughters of those who had embarked upon their own patriotic Calvary did so again in an altogether more sombre spirit.
One significant difference between the two conflicts is that, whilst both were industrial wars, the Second World War was far nearer
the concept of total war. The growth of strategic air power, in its infancy in 1918, had by 1939 become a reality. In this war, even more widespread and terrible than the last, there were to be no civilians. Death sought new victims everywhere; British citizens were now in the front line, there was to be no respite, no hiding place.
This is the poetry and prose of those who were there, ordinary people caught in the terrible maelstrom of mass conflict on a scale hitherto unimagined; this is their testimony.