Glum Heroes

Hardship, fear and death - Resilience and Coping in the British Army on the Western Front 1914-1918

Peter Hodgkinson

Date Published :
January 2018
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Series :
Wolverhampton Military Studies
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781910777787
Pages : 296
Dimensions : 9.25 X 6 inches
Stock Status : Available
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781912174744
Pages : 296
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : Available


Our vision of the soldier of the Great War is often clouded by sentimentality. ‘Glum Heroes’ is a portrayal of how the soldiers of 1914-1918 coped with their experiences. Using their own words, the book considers coping from both the standpoint of psychological theory that has stood the test of time, but more importantly, in the context of the cultural norms of those born into the Victorian era. The external coping resources available to soldiers encompassed family and friends. The first was a resource limited by distance, and the central role of correspondence in sustaining contact is explored. The second is often misunderstood. The nature of the comradeship enjoyed on active service mirrored that of the workplace of the early 20th century. The use of modern notions of friendship distorts our understanding of how within its limitations such comradeship was supportive. The two kingpins of the internal resources that facilitated coping on active service include the code of manliness and the stoic emphasis on endurance and management of emotion. The role of these is greatly diminished in the modern world. Similarly, spirituality wove its way into soldiers’ coping in ways unfamiliar in the present day. Fear and courage are examined in the light of these coping mechanisms, as is the experience of loss and death on the battlefield. Stripped of sentimentality and viewed without the distorting prism of 21st century preoccupations, the coping mechanisms of Great War soldiers, although very different from our own, were robust and largely effective.

About The Author

Dr Peter Hodgkinson spent a professional career in clinical psychology. He obtained an MA in British First World War Studies in 2006 at the University of Birmingham, and was awarded his PhD there in 2014 on the topic of infantry battalion commanders. He is the author of British Infantry Battalion Commanders in the First World War (Ashgate, 2015); ‘Glum Heroes’: Hardship, Fear and Death – Resilience and Coping in the British Army on the Western Front 1914-1918 (Helion, 2016); The Battle of the Selle: Fourth Army Operations on the Western Front in the Hundred Days, 9-24 October 1918 (Helion, 2017); Fourth Army at the Battle of the Selle 9-24 October 1918: A Battlefield Guide (Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, 2017); and The Resourceful Gunner: Inventor Major Conrad Dinwiddy in the First World War(Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, 2018). He has two daughters and lives in South London.


“ … Glum Heroes confirms our admiration for the Western Front soldiers. It is neither ‘feel-good’ nor a quick and easy read, but is recommended to all serious students of the Western Front.”

- Soldiers of the Queen

“Anyone who has ever been in uniform will recognise many of the traits and coping methods described. Most highly recommended, and far beyond just students of the First World War.”

- Society of Friends of the National Army Museum

More from this publisher