Writing history on the page and screen: Mediating conflict through Britain’s First World War ambulance trains

Rebecca Harrison

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The article explores the significance of 'caregiving' films during the First World War (particularly focusing on newsreels about ambulance trains), in narratives about authenticity in British media during the conflict. In doing so, the article compares public, state-censored moving images with the personal testimonies of those who served on the trains to reveal disparities between what people encountered on the Front Line and what audiences saw back home. However, the research also reveals that official films and secretly written diaries alike used a similar vocabulary to describe the war and its effects on caregivers and the wounded. Thus, the article proposes that the newsreels served an educational, even instructional, purpose, and offer viewers now historical records that represent more than just wartime propaganda.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)559-578
Number of pages20
JournalHistorical Journal of Film, Radio and Television
Issue number4
Early online date16 Nov 2015
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015


  • British cinema
  • First World War
  • propaganda
  • ambulance trains
  • caregiving

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