Siblings, masculinity and emotions
Author: Linda Maynard

Drawing on a broad range of personal accounts, this is the first detailed study of siblinghood in wartime. The relative youth of the fighting men of the Great War intensified the emotional salience of sibling relationships. Long separations, trauma and bereavement tested sibling ties forged through shared childhoods, family practices, commitments and interests. We must not equate the absence of a verbal language of love with an absence of profound feelings. Quieter familial values of kindness, tolerance and unity, instilled by parents and reinforced by moral instruction, strengthened bonds between brothers and sisters. Examining the nexus of cultural and familial emotional norms, this study reveals the complex acts of mediation undertaken by siblings striving to reconcile conflicting obligations to society, the army and loved ones in families at home. Brothers enlisted and served together. Siblings witnessed departures and homecomings, shared family responsibilities, confided their anxieties and provided mutual support from a distance via letters and parcels. The strength soldier-brothers drew from each other came at an emotional cost to themselves and their comrades. The seismic casualties of the First World War proved a watershed moment in the culture of mourning and bereavement. Grief narratives reveal distinct patterns of mourning following the death of a loved sibling, suggesting a greater complexity to male grief than is often acknowledged. Surviving siblings acted as memory keepers, circumventing the anonymisation of the dead in public commemorations by restoring the particular war stories of their brothers.

Open Access (free)
Linda Maynard

For me the war means Percy. 1 When war broke out in August 1914, William ‘Percy’ Campbell volunteered immediately. Commissioned in the Wiltshire Regiment, he joined the 7th Division, fighting in the First Battle of Ypres. Killed in action on 24 October 1914, aged just twenty years, he had been on active service a mere seventeen days. His body was never recovered. Almost sixty years later, his younger brother Pat wrote a short fraternal memorial to his dead sibling. At the outset, he summarised the loss experienced by the war generation: Everyone

in Brothers in the Great War
Open Access (free)
Linda Maynard

Brothers appear as an ‘absent present’ in the historiography of war. Possibly the very prevalence of fraternal relationships has made them largely invisible, ‘hidden’ in plain sight. Despite insightful studies dedicated to sibling relationships, there are surprising omissions in histories of families, masculinities and wartime. Privileging the lateral ties of the ‘brotherhood of the trenches’ has led to the presence and significance of real-life brothers being overlooked. The all-embracing concept of military comradeship obscured not only differences in class

in Brothers in the Great War
Open Access (free)
Linda Maynard

To celebrate his eighteenth birthday, Geoff Falk planned to visit relatives in Liverpool. Clouding his anticipated enjoyment was his ‘unhappiness’ that his older brother, Cecil, could not share the day with him. Cecil, an officer serving on the Balkan front, reassured his sibling that there was no need to rein in his pleasure. Such gestures were unnecessary, given his confidence in the enduring strength of their bond. ‘You & I miss one another very much,’ he wrote, ‘we have always been equals & always shall be.’ 1 Other accounts too attest not only to the

in Brothers in the Great War
Open Access (free)
Linda Maynard

platform took on a heightened intensity amid the whirlwind of mobilisation. Strangers joined with intimates to see off loved ones. Such moments can be seen as theatre or spectacle, belying their emotional import as testified by their prevalence in sibling narratives. 3 Caught up in the initial novelty, siblings experienced and recorded a range of emotional responses. As the war progressed, the cumulative effects of saying goodbye took their toll on those left at home. Sibling narratives reveal varied responses to appeals to serve their country, supplementing existing

in Brothers in the Great War
Open Access (free)
Linda Maynard

invocation of the ‘lost generation’ – the ‘best’ of the cohort of young men who fell in the Great War; through his emphasis on the loss experienced by his fraternal family unit; and through his use of the slightly admonitory second-person ‘you’, which draws the attention of both the imagined questioner and his intended reading public to their collective, continuing duty to remember the sacrifice of the fallen. Even Denning’s choice of title – The as opposed to My Family Story – indicates his intention to present his family’s history, in which his and his siblings

in Brothers in the Great War
Open Access (free)
Linda Maynard

According to fraternal accounts of combat, serving alongside a brother fortified the heroic qualities of self-control and endurance. Brothers formed a separate blood unit within the military unit. Some siblings believed this made them almost invincible. For the Francis brothers, Ted explained, it supported their physical and psychological survival: The main idea with Harry and I was keeping alive. We had no thought for practically any other people, there was only our skill and our knowledge and being aware of the danger and not feeling frightened. In

in Brothers in the Great War
Open Access (free)
Linda Maynard

experienced by surviving siblings. Challenging the convention that male grief was carefully managed, fraternal narratives reveal the spectrum of responses to brothers’ deaths, rebutting the view that open displays of emotion were condemned as unacceptable. The passing of time did not obviate the urge to mark these untimely deaths. 3 Anniversaries prompted painful feelings of loss, anger and guilt: veteran reunions; commemorative activities; other deaths and funerals; subsequent wars; and visual or aural reminders of the deceased. 4 Even where bonds between brothers

in Brothers in the Great War
Open Access (free)
Linda Maynard

We met many heroes of that kind. 1 Referring to the devotion of single young men to their parents and siblings, the chairman of the Preston military service tribunal, Harry Cartmell, spoke of his work as a valuable instruction on the economic condition of the country. What makes this admission most surprising is Cartmell’s former experience as a Poor Law guardian. His admission indicates the hidden depths of familial support borne by young men and women, especially in working-class families. 2 Caring for dependants was embedded in the Poor Law

in Brothers in the Great War
Bonnie Clementsson

material from several other European studies. The result is persuasive. Regardless of whether one follows kinship patterns between biological relatives ( cousins , second cousins , third cousins ) or relatives through marriage ( wife's cousin , wife's sister , two siblings marrying two other siblings , etc.), a common developmental trend becomes visible. From the middle of the eighteenth century onwards, the number of matrimonial unions within people's own kinship groups steadily increased in all social groups. Between the final decades of the nineteenth century and

in Incest in Sweden, 1680–1940