Deutschland, Österreich, Osteuropa, England, Belgien und Frankreich
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.
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