My Historical Rant

A national memorial is finally to be held to commemorate the generation of men that fell in the First World War, Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said, an announcement made after the sad news that the last British survivor of trench warfare, Harry Patch, had passed away.

I have been and will always be a supporter of any memorial or event that honours the sacrifices made by so many men and women of course, but it is about time that the First World War had a platform for remembrance of its own. Why is this important? So much of what is translated to the public about the First World War through the media is incorrect, perhaps I am hopeful that a dedicated memorial will spark a sense of needing to provide accurate and revised information. For example, to my horror, the BBC seem consistently incapable of delivering correct information about the First World War. Whilst reporting about the death of Mr Patch, who played his part in the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917, the Corporation promptly ran clips of men going over the top at the Somme, and then made the geographical error of placing Passchendaele in France! In addition to this, the BBC continue to claim that on the first day of the Somme, 60,000 men were butchered, showing their incapability to differentiate between casualties and fatalities, once more encouraging the thought that British generals were incompetent murderers.

Not that long ago, Government ministers claimed that too much of historical focus within schools was placed on the World Wars, but if simple information can be got wrong by the nations biggest broadcaster, how much is really being taught in our schools, and at what accuracy?

By an exasperated historian!

Sophie
General Election Coordinator

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4 thoughts on “My Historical Rant

  1. The Patriot, U-571, Braveheart, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, The Thin Red Line, just a few films that are woefully inaccurate. If Hollywood is inept at portraying the truth in “historical films” what hope to dramas have?

  2. I came to the conclusion a while ago that there are very few good historical fictions. Certainly in relation to the First World War at any rate.
    There are two problems. The first is why the ‘public’ (by which I mean those who trot out the same old inaccurate rubbish as was mentioned in the post) have the opinions that they do (a lot is down to fictional work and shoddy reporting, yes, but there are other points too, such as schooling).
    The second is how can we combat it. This is much harder to solve, as living in naive ignorance is much easier than accepting something different to what you think you already know. In short, I’m not convinced that the public opinion can, or indeed will be changed. Modern revisionist historians are trying, but they occupy different spheres to the average joe.

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