The "Other War": Images of the second world war in service comedies

Spicer, A. H. (2004) The "Other War": Images of the second world war in service comedies. In: Bennett, S., Caunce, S., Mazierska, E., Sydeny-Smith, S. and Walton, J., eds. (2004) Relocating Britishness. Manchester: Manchester University Press, pp. 167-182. ISBN 9780719070266 Available from:

[img] Rich Text (RTF)
Service Comedies.rtf

Download (165kB)


This chapter argues, following Angus Calder, that there was an official line of commemoration of the Second World War: a mythic construction that celebrated heroism, courage, resourcefulness, loyalty and patriotism. It valorised the virtues of the responsible middle class and of officers. Drawing on a range of cultural sources, The chapter concentrates on a counter-hegemonic construction: the 'other war' - a war of skivers, shirkers and petty criminals out for individual gain who displayed the reverse qualities to those lauded in the official myth. The mode for this alternative construction was comedy, which could present this disturbing and unsettling construction under the guise of 'harmless fun'. The chapter focuses on a group of service comedies made from 1945-65 that celebrated the wit, respurcefulness and bloodymindedness of the working-class ordinary serviceman and woman which were highly popular and so spoke to a deep-seated irreverence in Britsh culture.

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: 'This extract is taken from the author's original manuscript and has not been edited. The definitive, published, version of record is available here:
Uncontrolled Keywords: British culture, second world war, service comedy, mocking humour, commemoration, official myths
Faculty/Department: Faculty of Arts, Creative Industries and Education > Department of Arts and Cultural Industries
Faculty of Arts, Creative Industries and Education
Depositing User: Professor A. Spicer
Date Deposited: 16 Jan 2014 12:54
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 17:45


Activity Overview
Origin of downloads

Additional statistics for this repository are available via IRStats2

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item