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War as it is Fought

I get very uneasy when characters in war dramas start up the "what are we fighting for" dialogue. That's not how I've ever heard members of the Armed Forces speak.

 

As a writer I'm very lucky to live in the era of helmet-cam footage from Iraq and Afhganistan. The vocabulary may be different, but this is the first era in which we can hear what men say in and out of combat.

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I'm using this photo of a bit of old smashed rum jar (and my boot for scale) which I saw in Gully Ravine, Gallipoli. Evidence of a daily life which is hard to discern in  a general WW1 picture of a harmonica-playing corporal and an officer with bum-fluff waist-deep in a muddy trench for four and a half years. And waiting to go over the top for every second of it.

 

I wanted a group of men we could follow for all that time and get a sense of having to solve problems and get things done under exraordinarily difficult circumstances. We all know that a Police procedural drama - Prime Suspect, The Wire, The Bill - is as much a drama about fighting budgets, worn-out kit and your own gadabout officers as it is about fighting for Truth or Justice or any of that high-flying stuff.

 

I hope that Tommies, by concentrating on the potentially war-winning work of the Signals Service, can shine a light on the answers to lots of questions I have about the daily experience of every soldier.