chapter
4 Pages

Introduction

Always in war, one side’s cause for rejoicing becomes the other’s occasion for mourning. Therefore, as well as offering an essentially cross-national narrative of events that took place between Armentières and La Bassée over three-and-ahalf years in the First World War, the following work also sets out to examine how natural loyalty to our own can be deformed into notions of national superiority that distort the reporting and thence our understanding of what happens in war. Nowhere was this more the case than in the First World War, the culmination in modern guise of imperialism and nationalism alike. The examination here is, of necessity, limited, confined to one relatively unfamous sector of the Western Front and utilizing, mainly, contemporaneous published accounts. The emphasis on published reports maintains the focus on nationalism; the very different voices of those who developed an abhorrence of both war and chauvinism were, for the most part, heard only in private.