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What Tommy Did Next - Veterans' Organisations and Activities during and after the First World War, in the UK and beyond

March 18, 2017
Centre for the Study of Modern Conflict, University of Edinburgh

William Robertson Wing
Old Medical School, Teviot Place
Edinburgh EH8 9AG
United Kingdom

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Keynote address plus 9 panels of 3 speakers each - see event website for programme.

Before the First World War the UK had a small standing army, with few state supports for veterans or their dependents. The recruitment of a mass army, beginning in August 1914 and extended through the introduction of conscription from 1916, prompted significant changes. The military was no longer drawn from the poorest sections of society but encompassed a much wider demographic. Moreover, women entered the military services for the first time in British history. Concomitant changes in state supports for servicemen, servicewomen and their dependents were demanded. Yet while some improvements were seen, notably the extension of ‘separation allowances’ to the wives of all sailors and soldiers, the new state systems together with traditional supports offered by service charities were overwhelmed.

In response groups and associations were founded both during and after the war to advance the cause of ex-servicemen, ex-servicewomen, and their dependents. Some veterans became involved in politics, with ex-service personnel mobilising (or being mobilised) across the political spectrum. Others chose to engage with non-political sectors to meet their post-war needs, looking to the church, trade, education or agriculture. Still others wished to shed their service identities and return to their normal civilian lives which had been disrupted by the war.

This symposium is designed as an encompassing event to explore the experiences of veterans (ex-servicemen and ex-servicewomen) and their dependents during and after the conflict, and to investigate how military service influenced their subsequent lives. While it focuses primarily on British veterans, the has attacted speakers who will offer comparative analysis with the experiences of veterans in other countries.

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March 18, 2017, 9:45am BST

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