Deutschland, Österreich, Osteuropa, England, Belgien und Frankreich
Edited By Hans-Heino Ewers-Uhlmann
Boy of my heart. The Death of Roland Leighton
This paper offers a case study of the peculiarly militaristic influences of juvenile literature and the culture of childhood that were at work in the Edwardian period. It focuses on Rowland Leighton, a young and enthusiastic volunteer of 1914; who, raised in such a militaristic culture, was desperate to experience the ‘excitement and romance’ of war on the Western Front.
On 23 December 1915 Lieutenant Roland Leighton of the Worcestershire Regiment died of wounds in the casualty clearing station at Louvencourt on the road between Amiens and Albert. He was just twenty years old. Given that the average life expectancy of a junior officer on the western front was about six weeks, there is nothing surprising about this particular death. After all, young men were dying in considerable numbers on both sides of the line all through that so-called ‘quiet period’ of Christmas and New Year 1915–16, and Leighton had served for more than his allotted span.
Leighton, like so many of the young middle-class men who died, was believed by his family and friends to be one of the most promising young men of his generation. In some cases this was probably true, but more often than not it was part of an idea that came later, the myth of the ‘missing generation’ – that generation of the brightest and the best young men needlessly wiped out in the trenches who, had they been spared to take up their rightful place...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.