Ellie’s Report on the Podcast War and Leisure Time

The IWM Wartime Leisure and Entertainment podcast gave a fresh perspective on the positive aspects that came out of the war. It told of the times in between the brutal fighting where the men were able to relax and unwind. Although the war that they were fighting in was horrendous, and the conditions that they were living in were seemingly unbearable, this podcast told countless stories of ways that the soldiers kept themselves entertained, and kept their morale high. I thoroughly enjoyed this 30 minute podcast. It gave me quite a lot of insight into the minds of the men at war. Having so many personal interviews with the men who were there to witness the type of entertainment that is discussed, really gave this podcast a personal feel, and like I was right there with the men as they were telling their stories. I believe that this podcast gave attention to every area of entertainment that went on, and did not leave anything out that I would notice having not been there. It gave accounts of things that they did on the front lines while the fighting seized to pass the time, as well as activities that went on while they were at their barracks.  

Clifford Lane was one of the veterans who was interviewed for this production, and he told stories of the men gambling. He said in his interview, “No one can imagine being stuck in a six foot trench in the middle of winter with nothing to do. So we gambled”. He, as well as many other veterans who were interviewed after him, told stories of a game that they played called “Crown and Anchor” while stuck in the trenches. Another account of what the men would do while passing the time in the trenches was explained by Lendon Paine. He told the interviewers, “The troops used to sing quite a lot. Especially in the trenches. Most of their songs were made up”.

Another soldier who fought in the war named Bollock Burke accounted playing soccer with other units while passing the time before reporting to the front. He also said in his interview while talking about the soldiers he fought beside, “they would go into a very well known village nearby… and the troops would get beer”. While all of the previous examples that were given seemed to be remembered fondly by the veterans, the activity that was most accounted was the display of concerts.

In these concerts, the troops were able to come on stage in front of everyone and perform, much like a talent show. There were around ten separate stories that different soldiers that attended these performances told. One of these soldiers was Walter Cooke. He told of one of the first concerts that was thrown, where him and a friend decided that the troops needed cheering up. He said, “these troops want cheering up ya know. Let’s throw them a concert party… They would come up and say something quite comical ya know. Or a fellow would come out of the audience and sing a song”. These concerts allowed for the comrades to get to know each other better while providing them with entertainment.

195 thoughts on “Ellie’s Report on the Podcast War and Leisure Time

  1. I would never have thought about gambling! I think this podcast sheds light into how much time the men had at their hands; there was so only so much they could do when they were trapped in the trenches.

  2. I like how the podcast seems to have been all about the “fun” that could be had during this time, and how it gives insight into the positive aspects of the war. The books we have read, the videos we’ve watched, and the themes we have discussed in class all seem to be negative or sad which makes it nice to read about some of the good things that happened as well. It is also really interesting to think about how during such destruction and devastation there were moments of joy, it all reminds me of the account of the fighting stopping on Christmas and both sides gathering together for Christmas that we have talked about before.

  3. Destructive material tends to be what we expect in WWI movies. It’s dark and I think we expect soldiers to be broken before our eyes. Podcasts and books can give us insight to their leisure activities without detracting from the ominous veil of the war itself. I’m not sure how to best describe my thoughts, but this was a fascinating podcast to listen to. It reminded me of my deployment in South Korea. After a week long exercise, air raid sirens going off at all hours and wearing the multiple layers of protective gear against gas attacks (this included a weighted vest and gas mask), everyone was always happy to have the exercise end and our favorite spots would open back up to relax. We had small bars each squadron ran on the weekends for a kickback spot. Mine was the Backshop Hooch. I’d carry a pack of cards and relax with a beer while playing card games with the guys from my shop and sister shops. We loved to hate on how rundown the hooch was, but it has some of the best memories for me from that deployment. Vets of WWI sound a lot like we did on the games they came up with and the ways they kept up morale. I guess some things don’t change that much from generation to generation.

  4. The bit about the concert really stands out to me. I guess it’s because I like music and performances, but I never knew that the soldiers had enough time and energy to devote themselves to set up time for concerts like that–it takes a lot to set up concerts, let me tell you. Thank you for reporting on this podcast; I enjoyed reading about the information and your opinions on it!

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