Fighting Proud: The Untold Story of the Gay Men Who Served in Two World Wars

Fighting Proud: The Untold Story of the Gay Men Who Served in Two World Wars

by Stephen Bourne


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In this astonishing new history of wartime Britain, historian Stephen Bourbane unearths the fascinating stories of the gay men who served in the armed forces and at home, and brings to light the great unheralded contribution they made to the war effort. Fighting Proud weaves together the remarkable lives of these men, from RAF hero Ian Gleed - a Flying Ace twice honoured for bravery by King George VI - to the infantry officers serving in the trenches on the Western Front in WWI - many of whom led the charges into machine-gun fire only to find themselves court-martialled after the war for indecent behaviour. Behind the lines, Alan Turing's work on breaking the 'enigma machine' and subsequent persecution contrasts with the many stories of love and courage in Blitzed-out London, with new wartime diaries and letters unearthed for the first time. Bourbane tells the bitterly sad story of Ivor Novello, who wrote the WWI anthem 'Keep the Home Fires Burbaning', and the crucial work of Noel Coward - who was hated by Hitler for his work entertaining the troops. Fighting Proud also includes a wealth of long-suppressed wartime photography subsequently ignored by mainstream historians. This book is a monument to the bravery, sacrifice and honour shown by a persecuted minority, who contributed during Britain's hour of need.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781788313469
Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
Publication date: 09/27/2018
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 7.78(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Stephen Bourbane is a writer and historian. An expert on Black and LGBT British history, he has written for BBC History Magazine and History Today and is a regular contributor to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. His most recent Amazon-bestselling book Black Poppies (History Press, 2014), a history of the contribution of black men and women to the First World War, won the Southwark Arts Forum Award for Literature. He has also written widely on homosexual representations in film.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations vii

Acknowledgements ix

Author's Note xi

Preface xiii

Introduction 1

Part I World War I, 1914-1918

1 Lord Kitchener 5

2 Unfortunate Fellows 11

3 Edward Brittain 19

4 James Whale, R. C. Sherriff and Journey's End 23

5 Ralph and Monty: The Man I Love 31

Part II World War II, 1939-1945

The Army

6 Kiss Me Goodnight, Sergeant Major 43

7 Prisoners of War Part 1: Dudley Cave 53

8 Prisoners of War Part 2 61

The Navy

9 Rum, Bum and Concertina 67

10 Terri Gardener: Behind Enemy Lines 75


11 The Killing Skies 85

12 The Flyer Richard Rumbold 91

13 The Hero Ian Gleed 97

14 The Writer Hector Bolitho 105

The Home Front

15 Brief Encounters in the Blackout 115

16 Against the Law 121

17 Lily Law Goes to War 127

Entertainment on the Home Front

18 Noël Coward and In Which We Serve 137

19 'Snakehips' Swings into the Blitz 145

20 Brian Desmond Hurst 'Old Twank' 155

Part III Not Forgotten

21 1914-1918 165

22 1939-1945 175

23 My Friend Ken 187

Conclusion 197

Appendix: Cinema and Television 201

Notes 207

Bibliography 223

About the Author 229

Index 233

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