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War stories: composure and discomposure in British veterans’ communication of their experiences of the Falklands War, 1982

Beales, John Michael


John Michael Beales


Helen Parr


Scholars have extensively studied the cultural and political impacts of the Falklands War in Britain. However, despite the proliferation of veterans’ memoirs, oral histories, and written accounts of the war there are few academic analyses of veterans’ experiences.

This thesis is the first to examine the composure and communication of veterans’ narratives of their experiences. Building upon the work of Alistair Thomson, and others, on the composure of veterans’ narratives it reveals the limitations of a focus on certain types of combatants evident in popular military publishing and illustrates the ways in which narratives by those deemed to be authoritative due to their rank or peer-determined status were sometimes constructed to deny, repress, or reconcile the past. Interpreting a wide range of sources, it reveals the privileging of selective narratives promoted by military ‘communities’, examines how this has influenced what veterans do and do not say when narrating their experiences and demonstrates how this has affected the popular memory of the war.

Chapter 1 examines methodologies for the interpretation of sources. Chapter 2 examines the development of official and personal narratives about the ‘Bluff Cove’ disaster. Chapters 3 to 5 examine the respective experiences of those involved in the sea, air, and land elements of the war. Chapter 6 examines the hitherto overlooked experiences of medical personnel and the wounded. The final chapter examines the ways in which training has been used to frame veterans’ experiences.

This thesis reveals that a break in the cultural circuit - the interdependent relationship between personal narratives and public discourse - developed due to the gap between the public understanding of the war and veterans’ experiences. In challenging the orthodox representation of the war, the experiences of those previously disenfranchised are reintegrated into its history and the narrative of a comfortable victory is challenged.

Thesis Type Thesis
Additional Information Embargo on access until 1 March 2028 - The thesis is due for publication, or the author is actively seeking to publish this material.
Award Date 2023-03

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