Analysis Of Tommy's War By Thomas Livingstone

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Tommy’s War is a series of diaries kept by Thomas Livingstone between the years 1913-1918, which were later compiled and published as a book. These diaries chronicle the daily life of the Livingstone family, but also give insight to the changing atmosphere of Glasgow and Britain during the First World War. Personal narratives are incredibly useful for learning about an individual’s reaction to an important event. While Livingstone is just an everyday man living in Scotland during the First World War, his diaries prove to be quite useful for discovering how the war impacted families and individuals in Glasgow. Several important themes emerge throughout the course of Livingstone’s writings, including the changing gender roles and the looming …show more content…
In the beginning of the war, the number of men volunteering was high - two and a half million in the first sixteen months (Bibbings, 338). However, as the war progresses, these numbers begin to get smaller and smaller. As the war went on and increasing reports of men who had experienced the horrors of trench warfare were circulating the homefront, the number of men who did not want to enlist were increasing (xiv). It seems that Livingstone is very aware of this fact, and seems to have mixed feelings about the potential of enlistment. The first of these entries, dated 23 October 1915, states “the king has appealed for more men” (pg. 111). Several days later, on 1 November, Livingstone notes that he has received a letter from Lord Derby encouraging him to enlist before he faced the danger of conscription. (pg. 111). The Derby Scheme was a system that required men to visit the enlistment office and attest to whether they would join the forces at a later date, but did not require them to officially enlist (Bibbings, 348). Livingstone visits the enlistment office and does attest positively, that he would be willing to enlist if needed, however, this seems to be a move to avoid the future possibility of conscription, rather than an actual desire to serve. In May 1916, conscription was officially (and reluctantly) introduced in Britain (Howard, 70). Livingstone’s process of enlistment is of significant interest, as there was such a great need for men to enlist, yet it took Livingstone six months to go through this whole procedure. He was in group 39, most likely because he is married and has a son. In the end, we learn that he does not meet the physical requirements for service, an outcome that he does not seem entirely saddened by. He also records that he went through an examination that took several hours (143). This does not seem entirely accurate, as the military

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