Network43

Tweeting through the Blackout

Four people and the story of a generation

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Spr. James Campbell

28 year old James Campbell was a technical assistant in a shipping company when the war broke out. He loved his music and enjoyed intellectual debates in the pub. He had seen the war coming and had made up his mind to take part in it. When he volunteered he was immediately snapped up by the Royal Engineers and eventually sent off to North Africa. Later he was deployed in Sicily and Italy where he was part of the winning campaign that resulted in Mussolini’s fall. But James’ journey was cut short due to a major injury he suffered on the frontline. He is recovering in London and hoping to go back to fight soon.

His character is a tribute to the brave men who fought around the world. Nearly 300,000 British soldiers died on the frontline. When the war broke out in 1939 some men volunteered to join the armed services, but Britain could only raise 875,000 men. In the first years the armed forces suffered defeat in almost every frontier. In 1940, 2 million British men aged between 19–27, who were not working in ‘reserved occupations’, were called up. Initially men under 20 were not liable to be sent overseas, but this exemption was lifted by 1942. From 1943, the larger and better British army hardly suffered any major strategic defeat.