'The Trial of Convoy PQ17 and the Royal Navy in Post War British Cultural Memory'

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This article explores the 1970 case of Broome v. Cassell & Co. in which an elderly wartime naval officer was awarded unprecedented damages for defamation in David Irving’s account of the sinking of wartime Allied convoy PQ17 in 1942. The article examines the discourses and images deployed in this landmark British libel action, as a means of analysing how cultural memories of convoy PQ17 and the wartime Royal Navy were shaped and transmitted in post-war Britain. It is argued here that the trial offers a prism through which to explore wider anxieties that the generation who fought the Second World War held during the late 1960s. It maps how contemporary generational tensions, fears of national decline, and concerns about distorted cultural representations of war in Britain were embedded into the trial. This libel case thus became invested with considerable cultural significance among an ageing community of wartime survivors who were intent upon safeguarding wider memories of ‘their’ war.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-219
Number of pages23
JournalTwentieth Century British History
Issue number2
Early online date23 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jun 2019

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