Travers, Daniel (2012) ‘The Churchillian Paradigm and the “Other British Isles”: An Examination of Second World War Remembrance in Man, Orkney, and Jersey’. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This dissertation studies Second World War ‘sites of memory’ in the islands of Jersey, Orkney and the Isle of Man, to determine if each island celebrates the war’s events as Britain does, or if they have charted their own mnemonic course. It builds on the work of Angus Calder, Malcolm Smith, and Mark Connelly, who have explored how popular conception of the Second World War in Britain has been structured around a certain set of commemorative motifs, most of which centre on Winston Churchill and the events of 1940. The British war narrative is now commonly referred to as the ‘Churchillian paradigm’ or ‘finest-hour myth’, and continues to be the driving force in commemoration and memorialization on the British mainland. The three islands in this study are culturally and historically distinct from Britain, and each has strong notions of its own ‘island identity’. Each also possesses a tangential and divisive domestic experience of war, one which is often minimized in the iconography of the Churchillian paradigm. Jersey was occupied by Nazi Germany from 1940 to 1945, Orkney was home to several thousand Italian POWs who built important infrastructure in the island, and the Isle of Man was home to 14,000 German, Finnish, Japanese, and Italian internees in what one critic has called ‘a bespattered page’ in the nation’s history. By examining ‘sites of memory’— museums, heritage sites, commemorations, celebrations, philately, and use of public space—this dissertation shows that each island simultaneously accepts and rejects elements of the finest-hour myth in their collective memory. Each island displays its unique (though often quite negative) heritage in order to differentiate itself from Britain, while at the same time allowing them, at certain events, to participate in celebration of Britain’s ‘greatest victory’. In this way, islands’ use ‘Britishness’ pragmatically, by basking in traditionally ‘British’ commemorative tropes, while at the same time deepening their own cultural and historical sovereignty.

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