Mud, blood and not so much poppycock

Alex Mayhew

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


This article explores the origins of the ‘myths’ that have come to dominate popular memory of the First World War in Britain. Perceptions of the conflict as a bloody exercise in futility, orchestrated by inept generals, and fought in fields of mud are undoubtedly unrepresentative. Yet, far from pure fiction, such impressions can be historicised. Drawing on wider research into soldiers’ perception of crisis during 1914–1918, this piece argues that the kernel of many of these ‘myths’ can be found in the lived experience of the western front in 1917.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Enduring Impact of the First World War
Subtitle of host publicationA Collection of Perspectives
EditorsGail Romano, Kingsley Baird
PublisherAuckland Museum
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2020
EventThe Myriad Faces of War: 1917 and its Legacy Symposium - Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington, New Zealand
Duration: 25 Apr 201625 Apr 2016

Publication series

NameBulletin of the Auckland Museum
PublisherAuckland Museum
ISSN (Print)2744-3590


ConferenceThe Myriad Faces of War: 1917 and its Legacy Symposium
Country/TerritoryNew Zealand


  • Battle of Passchendaele
  • First World War
  • historical memory
  • historical myths
  • morale
  • 20th century Britain


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