The commemoration of the Great War in the City and East London, 1916-1989
The aim of the thesis is to understand how the communities of the City and East London area reacted to the human losses of the Great War. It is an investigation of how the intangible and abstract emotions of grief, pride and bereavement were turned into solid expressions via the war memorials movement. It is also the aim of the study to provide a balance to the fashionable view of the twenties and thirties as a time of disillusion over the Great War and a period in which the values of 1914 were completely rejected. Undoubtedly the War and the tenets surrounding it did undergo a form of examination and questioning during this period; but the thesis seeks to show that through the war memorials and Armistice Day rituals the values that provided the dynamic behind the War were still accepted by many throughout the inter-war years. By examining the development of Armistice Day and the growth of a common "war memory" in a detailed local case study, war memorials will be put into their true context; many studies take the erection of the memorial as an end in itselE However, the memorials were designed to serve a continuing need to remember and so this aspect must be integral to the study. The factors that influenced the nature of these memorials and the associated rituals are part of the project; class, religion, politicial traditions, social and economic influences. The thesis seeks to show how far the traditional bonds of community in the East London area were applied to the scale of human loss; how it was explained and made into a comprehensible phenomenon thaink to the actions of the local agents of authority and influence - clergymen, rabbis, councillors, teachers and employers. The thesis is therefore a detailed, case study of the effect of the War on a distinct area which contextualises and in many cases challenges received opinion.