Philip Dutton

Formerly a Curator at the Imperial War Museum (retired March 2014), who has spent most of his career in museum work - including the Towner Art Gallery (Eastbourne), the Royal Engineers Museum (Gillingham) and a secondment to the Australian War Memorial, Canberra. He has a particular interest in the history of the Great War - especially the literary history of the conflict, notably trench memoirs and war-inspired novels. He also has a keen regard for British First World War film (official and unofficial) and German First World War satirical medallions (which he got to know well at the IWM). In recent years he has written campaign and battle narratives for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's website, summary accounts of Anzac forces in the Great War to accompany the Royal Mail commemorative stamp issues, and contributed to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Battle of the Somme centenary commemorations.

A little known personal journal and a global health catastrophe

Samuel Pepys Junior and the 1918 Spanish Influenza pandemic in Great Britain – as reflected in his ‘A Last Diary of the Great Warr’.[1] The ‘Spanish Flu’ pandemic of 1918-1919, despite its cost in human lives worldwide, is notable for … Continue reading

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PAX 1919: a medal for the vanquished

Death, conquest, famine and disease, have ever been the monstrous outcomes of armed conflict. But it was the perception that an equal or even greater set of horrors were embedded in the formal conclusions of the Great War – the … Continue reading

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Armistice 1918: an unenthusiastic response

Befitting a world-wide conflict that caused unprecedented human and animal casualties, vast material destruction and immeasurable suffering and misery, the ending of the First World War was greeted with displays of uninhibited joy and relief.[1] Once the news of the … Continue reading

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A View from a Bridge – Riqueval,  2 October 1918. David McClellan and images of victory

If the sustained upturn in Allied fortunes occurring during the ‘100 Days’ of offensive operations on the Western Front after the Battle of Amiens could be expressed visually, no better image might perhaps be found than 2nd Lieutenant David McClellan’s study … Continue reading

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‘The shape of things to come’: the Battle of Hamel, 4 July 1918

Prelude – a battle little known Though hardly the immediate basis for a lasting ‘special relationship’, a small and very successful battle took place on the Western Front on 4 July 1918 – exactly one hundred years ago – which marked … Continue reading

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The smaller picture: ‘In Retreat’ – Herbert Read and the 2nd Green Howards during the German March Offensive 1918

PRELUDE –‘The enemy is rather threatening for the moment.’ Wednesday 20 March 1918 (BEF GHQ, France): much concerned for the welfare of his wife and recently-arrived third child – a much longed for son (born 15 March), Sir Douglas Haig … Continue reading

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Eighty miles a day: how a journey through war torn France prepared a cycling journalist for the task of translating Henri Barbusse’s epic novel, ‘Le Feu’

The period 1890-1914 witnessed a huge surge in popularity for the use of the evolving forms of the bicycle. With the arrival of the modern ‘safety bicycle’ cycling became a craze, and one that was quickly encouraged by the media … Continue reading

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The French infantryman’s experience on the Western Front 1914-16: a soldier-novelist’s reaction

 2017 marks the centenary of the publication in English of a remarkable French wartime novel – one which aimed to ‘tell the truth about the war’ The scale of losses experienced between 1914 and 1918 by the French Army was … Continue reading

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The French soldier novelist and the British cycling journalist: some notes on ‘Le Feu’ by Henri Barbusse, and its first English translator, William Fitzwater Wray.

In our absorption with the many Great War centenary commemorations in the UK it is easy to overlook the magnitude of losses experienced between 1914 and 1918 by our principal ally in that conflict, France. In late August 1914 alone, … Continue reading

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Curatorial Concerns: how two British scholar curators reacted to German medallic propaganda produced during the First World War

In this age of instant digital communication it is hard to believe that barely 100 years ago the staid ‘commemorative medal’ [1] could have had any immediate and meaningful bearing on what people thought and felt about their roles as observers … Continue reading

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The Poet’s Brother, or ‘A death in the family’: the experience of mourning and commemoration in the Sassoon family

Introduction Almost fifty years after his death[1] Siegfried Sassoon continues to exert a powerful influence on British viewpoints of the history of the Great War. As a chronic post-war ‘revenant’ he established, especially via his prose reconstructions of his fictionalised … Continue reading

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C R M F Cruttwell (1887–1941) – Oxford historian. Participant and chronicler of the Great War

Charles Robert Mowbray Fraser Crutwell was an Oxford historian and academic. During the war, he served in Belgium and France until he was declared unfit for general service, and recommended for light duties at home. After the war, he returned … Continue reading

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