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British Expeditionary Force vegetable shows, allotment culture, and life behind the lines during the Great War

Mayhew, Alex (2021) British Expeditionary Force vegetable shows, allotment culture, and life behind the lines during the Great War. Historical Journal, 64 (5). 1355 - 1378. ISSN 0018-246X

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Identification Number: 10.1017/S0018246X20000631

Abstract

Popular perceptions of 1914–18 focus on the trenches. Yet, much of soldiers’ time was spent in rear areas and many men never reached the frontlines. By studying life behind the lines it is possible to offer new perspectives on the experience of the Great War. In August 1917 and 1918, the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) took over the usually quiet paths and lawns of Le Havre's Jardin St Roche, which the mayor of the town had agreed to loan to the base commandant. Rather than engaging in battle with the enemy, BEF servicemen and Belgian military personnel, alongside French civilians, were displaying the fruits (and vegetables) of their more peaceful labours. As part of a programme encouraging the cultivation of unused land around the surrounding camps, a vegetable competition was organized in which it was onions, beets, and kale rather than bullets, grenades, and shells that were the produce of war. This article explores the ways in which the organization of these events can throw light on the broader history of the British Army during the First World War. In doing so, it provides novel insights into the functioning of the BEF and the experiences of the men serving in it.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/historical...
Additional Information: © 2021 The Author
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D501 World War I
Date Deposited: 09 Dec 2020 11:03
Last Modified: 19 Nov 2021 09:36
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/107810

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