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Dear Old Blighty

E. S. Turner

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‘So the recruiters, rolling up their sleeves, varied the appeal to pride, honour, manliness and vengeance with warnings to eschew shame, disgrace, betrayal, sloth and cowardice. From a poster showing the ruins of Belgium a woman asked, ‘Will you go or must I?”

First published in 1980, Dear Old Blighty is E.S. Turner’s superb account of life ‘on the home front’ in Britain during the Great War of 1914-1918: a time of conscription, propaganda, ‘spy fever’, industrial unrest in the arms factories, and grieving families turning to spiritualism. When even the blind were being recruited to serve as listening sentries for approaching Zeppelins, all were expected to contribute to the war effort; and, as Turner shows us, the means of exhortation (and the penalties for non-compliance) were many.

‘No matter where you open a page, you learn something you feel you should have known.’ Miles Kington, Independent