ABSTRACT

This chapter examines the extent to which former Prisoners of War mobilised as a distinct veteran community in post-war Britain. It assesses the extent, reasoning, role and effects of ex-prisoner engagement in ex-POW veteran’s associations. Moreover, it establishes presences of former prisoners within broader post-war veterans’ activities, associations and, importantly, in the dominant narratives constructed about the conflict in its aftermath. This reveals ex-POW assimilation within ubiquitous British veteran activities, a fact underscoring multiple service identities held by some former war veterans. In its third section the chapter shifts emphasis, crediting disassociation amongst former POWs. Distinct reasons driving this jettisoning of service identity for former POWs are assessed. However, in their disassociation, ex-POWs are shown to be representative of most ex-servicemen and ex-servicewomen in Britain and Ireland after the First World War who chose not to join veterans’ associations nor to continue to perform their service identities. This necessitates new lines of inquiry in veterans’ studies and the chapter concludes by suggesting where such studies might focus, illuminating ‘informal’ or private spaces where captivity experiences, and ex-POWs, may have been active and able to ‘perform’ their service identity despite their absence from, or assimilation within, formalised veterans’ associations.