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Title: Irregular warfare in occupied Greece 1941-1944 : masculinity and morale in the British Special Operations Executive and the Greek Resistance
Author: Tsoutsoumpis, Spiros
ISNI:       0000 0004 2720 3713
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2012
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The resistance of 1941-1944 is one of the more contested and intensively studied periods of Greek history, yet despite the profusion of work that exists in the period, none has discussed in depth the experience of the men who took part in the fighting. This thesis addresses this discrepancy, discussing the experience of Greek resistance fighters and British SOE operatives. The thesis addresses four main questions: Why did men enlist? How were discipline and cohesion retained? How was morale affected by men's experiences and in what ways did they try to address the problems posed? How did men experience combat and construct their personal and gendered identities? These questions are addressed in four separate chapters. The first chapter is concerned with enlistment, and argues that most resisters were driven to enlist either because they lacked any other choice or because of pressure and coercion. Such men were more often than not 'outside the pale': impoverished peasants; outlaws; and marginal intellectuals, who had nothing to lose by joining up. Motives among British irregulars were equally prosaic: boredom; a desire to escape the rigours of military life; or in the case of escaped POW's lack of any other choice. The second chapter discusses discipline. The radical politics of the resistance groups and their egalitarian ideology had a detrimental effect on discipline: guerrillas were hostile to the authority of the officers which they considered to be at odds both with the Resistance's proclamations and their irregular identities. The Resistance tried to address this problem by inventing new structures of command and authority. However, problems persisted and hindered its function throughout this period. The situation was similar in the SOE. Lack of communications, isolation and influences from the Resistance often led to a disregard for discipline, where men turned against each other, embezzled alms and become involved in black market rackets. The third chapter discusses morale. Guerrilla life was wanting in the extreme: deprivation; boredom; and the tedium of everyday chores took a heavy toll. The resistance authorities tried to address this through indoctrination and leisure activities that were used to bolster morale and imbue men with a sense of purpose. At the same time men also turned to what was familiar and appealing to cope with the strain: religion, superstition and drink. In the absence of a relevant support network, British irregulars turned to their immediate environment for support and affection, men formed friendly and intimate relations with the Greeks whose way of life and habits they adopted, thus demonstrating a strong identification with their cause. The fourth chapter focuses on combat and identity. Both Greek and British men saw their participation in the Resistance as a masculinising experience. The effects of hardship and tribulation were acknowledged but at the same time many saw them as necessary and even praiseworthy occurrences that enabled men to mature physically and psychologically and thus to lay claim to idealized heroic masculinities. The personalized nature of guerrilla warfare also enhanced these perceptions, since it enabled them to assert the values of traditional soldiery such as such as personal valour and initiative, rendering combat exhilarating and even pleasurable from many men.
Supervisor: Summerfield, Penny; Jones, Max Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Greece ; Resistance ; SOE ; Second World War ; Masculinity