"Over the Top": Images of the Football Charges of the Great War

Adams, Iain Christopher (2016) "Over the Top": Images of the Football Charges of the Great War. Journal of Sport History, 43 (2). pp. 192-211. ISSN 0094-1700

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.5406/jsporthistory.43.2.192


Long lines of young Tommies going over the top and staunchly walking into a storm of steel and flame whilst dribbling a football is part of Britain’s collective memory of the World War I. Collective memory is developed and sustained through the continuous production of representational forms. This paper draws on visual cultural studies to explore the images of the “football charges” produced during the war. It concludes that the published images aspired to bolster morale on the home front through buttressing traditional notions of courage and the sporting spirit. However the images created by serving soldiers and Lady Butler did not glorify war but revealed new concepts of courage necessary for survival in the trenches and to go “over the top.”

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