Guernsey and the Great War

 

RGLI

Glint of Light on Broken Glass is set in the Great War, but I did not want to write a ‘war story’.

At the Guernsey Literary Festival on 12th May I will be talking about how the war forms the background of the novel.

Guernseymen were by long tradition exempt from conscription into the British Army; instead each able bodied man joined the Royal Guernsey Militia. This tradition stretches back to the 1330’s as far as records tell.

Of course many Guernsey men volunteered to fight for Britain (or for France, Canada or Australia even). Many were already in the forces before the war broke out, especially the Royal Navy.  Guernsey put over 5,000 men up to fight and over 1100 were killed. The impact of a small community of 40,000 people was profound.

Even at home, far from the war, islanders coped with rising prices, the collapse in the granite industry and the absence of young men to keep offices and industry going. Women found their place in the world changing – “Can women dig?” asked one Press article. Old ways and the Guernsey language were slipping away as the new century progressed and not everyone was sorry to see them go. So our characters Edith, Artie and George face a time of great change – and also great danger.

Glint small

 

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