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Title: Culture, combat and killing : a comparative study of the British armed forces at war in the Falklands
Author: Johnston , Peter
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis utilises the direct memories of combat veterans to, explore the importance of issues such as culture and combat arena and role to the experience of combat and killing. By utilising oral history, in conjunction with retrospective memoirs and contemporary documentary sources, I have compiled and collated a variety of experience in order to illustrate how war impacts at the personal level, and the social bonds and processes that become essential in combat. The thesis explores the role of men in combat, how they related to the act of killing, and how that experience differed in various combat arenas, be it land, sea or air. It is a comparative study of the social and cultural forces present in the British armed forces, and how they mediated and dictated the combat and killing, by comparing the experiences of soldiers, sailors and airmen. The variety of experience has allowed one to analyse and identify salient trends in military culture, and the long-term consequences and enduring nature of these aspects of military life on the individual. The conflict analysed in this study is the Falklands War of 1982. While short in duration, as the last war fought by the British outside of an international coalition, it was a truly British conflict, and as such the attitudes and reactions to the experience of war were not clouded by external cultures. It also involved all three branches of the armed forces in direct combat, providing the opportunity to analyse how combat environments and weapons shape experience. Significantly, the war was also fought by professionals, who had joined the military in a time of peace. While considerable work has been done in analysing combat experience, it is predominately dedicated to the First and Second World Wars, instances where the majority of participants were civilians in uniform. Yet the experiences of professional servicemen at war were remarkably different and merit further study. This dissertation seeks to continue the trend of analysis of individual combat experience, but in contrast this research seeks to place the experience of the professional British serviceman in its proper context, alongside his historical predecessor, in order to help chart how the cultural responses to combat have changed over the twentieth century for those who have experienced it in all of the combat arenas.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available