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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.


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.