1910-04-15 00:00:00

Stephen Wraysford lives with René Azaire, his wife Isabelle and their children.

Azaire teaches Stephen about the French textile industry. He witnesses a comfortable middle class life in Northern France alongside industrial worker unrest. Azaire and the significantly younger Isabelle express discontent with their marriage. This sparks Stephen's interest in Isabelle, with whom he soon falls in love.

1910-04-17 02:42:54

Stephen hears somebody crying

During one incident, Azaire, embarrassed that he and Isabelle cannot have another child, beats her in a jealous rage.

1910-04-19 00:35:44

Stephen sees Isabelle doing something suspicious

Around the same time, Isabelle helps give food to the families of striking workers, stirring rumours that she is having an affair with one of the workers.

1910-04-22 08:36:13

Stephen's love to Isabelle turns into an affair

Stephen's love of Isabelle transforms into a passionate affair. Isabelle confronts Azaire with the truth of their relationship and Azaire evicts Stephen. Isabelle leaves with him, running away to Southern France.

1910-08-17 04:20:07

Isabelle flees

Without telling Stephen, she flees, returning to her family home and the one constant in her life: her sister Jeanne. Later, Isabelle's father makes a deal with Azaire for her return to maintain her honour; Isabelle is forgiven but soon regrets leaving her true love, Stephen. However, she does not reach back out to Stephen.

1916-04-21 19:59:48

Stephen being at War

Stephen is a lieutenant in the British Army at the start of the war.

1916-07-01 21:17:19

The Battle of the Somme

Enter story info here

1917-03-14 03:55:34


In one expedition across No-Man's Land, Stephen is badly injured but survives.

1917-06-07 17:42:19

The Battle of the Messines

The Nivelle Offensive in April and May had failed to achieve its more grandiose aims, had led to the demoralisation of French troops and dislocated the Anglo-French strategy for 1917. The attack forced the Germans to move reserves to Flanders from the Arras and Aisne fronts, which relieved pressure on the French. The British tactical objective was to capture the German defences on the ridge, which ran from Ploegsteert Wood (Plugstreet to the British) in the south, through Messines and Wytschaete to Mt. Sorrel, depriving the German 4th Army of the high ground. The ridge gave commanding views of the British defences and back areas of Ypres to the north, from which the British intended to conduct the Northern Operation, an advance to Passchendaele Ridge and then capture the Belgian coast up to the Dutch frontier. The Second Army had five corps, three for the attack and two on the northern flank, not part the operation; XIV Corps was available in General Headquarters reserve. The 4th Army divisions of Group Wytschaete (Gruppe Wijtschate, the IX Reserve Corps headquarters) held the ridge and were later reinforced by a division from Group Ypres (Gruppe Ypern).[b] The battle began with the detonation of 19 mines beneath the German front position, which devastated them and left 19 large craters. This was followed by a creeping barrage 700 yd (640 m) deep, protecting the British troops as they secured the ridge with support from tanks, cavalry patrols and aircraft. The effect of the British mines, barrages and bombardments was improved by advances in artillery survey, flash spotting and centralised control of artillery from the Second Army headquarters. British attacks from 8 to 14 June advanced the front line beyond the former German Sehnenstellung (Oosttaverne line). The battle was a prelude to the much larger Third Battle of Ypres, the preliminary bombardment for which began on 11 July 1917.

1917-06-30 03:53:03

Soldiers writing letters to their nearest and dearest

Enter story info here

1917-08-09 03:53:03

Stephen comes back to Amiens

Stephen has a chance to encounter with Jeanne, Isabelle's sister, while on leave in Amiens.

1917-08-17 03:53:03

Meeting with Isabelle

During this encounter, Stephen meets Isabelle but finds her face disfigured by a shell with scarring from the injury. Stephen discovers that Isabelle is now in a relationship with Max, a German soldier.

1917-10-11 20:17:50

Stephen returning to England

Stephen returns to England briefly, and finds relief at being able to enjoy the Norfolk countryside away from the trenches. When he meets Jeanne again on the way back, he tells her how he dreads returning to the front line after leave. Weir, Stephen's closest friend, is eventually killed by a sniper's bullet while in a trench out on the front line.

1918-06-08 12:34:40

Weir dies

The WWI plot ends with Stephen and Firebrace trapped underground after a German mine explosion; with their way out blocked, they talk and share their experiences, with Firebrace grieving for his dead son John and Stephen telling him of his former love for Isabelle. Stephen finds some explosives and Firebrace, himself close to death, tells him how to lay them in order to blast their way out of the tunnel. Before Stephen completes the task, Firebrace and Weir die.

1978-02-08 00:00:00

Reading an article about the anniversary of the Armistice

Elizabeth: knows little about her grandmother, less about her grandfather. Elizabeth's grandfather's life: far off, unknown, unfamiliar. Private past: nothing Individual memory: nothing

1978-03-19 00:00:00

Elizabeth being in Arras (p. 261)

Collective memory of the WW1: nothing (she "gave no more than a glance to the occasional war memorial or dull newsreel", she was not sure if they had had lorries in those days, or, come to that, whether they still used horses", "she had thought of wars being fought in the countryside, on open ground"), Memory of the battles, the War itself: far off, unknown, sth unfamiliar/alien

1978-03-24 00:00:00

Going to Bapaume and Arch in Albert ("British names") (p. 264).

Individual memory: still nothing Private past of Elizabeth's granddad: closer(?) Collective memory of the WW1: closer, yet unfamiliar ("Nobody told me. My God, nobody told me.", "But nothing had prepared me for what I saw" ).

1978-03-24 00:00:00

Reading Bob's Book (p. 261)

Individual memory: still nothing Private past of Elizabeth's granddaddy: sth unknown,far off, unfamiliar ("Her grandfather had fought in it. If she had no children herself she should at least understand what had gone before her; she ought to know what line she was not continying") Collective memory: Albert is a town with a small museum

1978-03-30 00:00:00

Looking for a diary in the attic(p. 269)

Individual memory: closer ("the 3rd trunk: there were papers, letters, and a notebook...the papers were some handwritten in French. Two books. ") Private past: closer, almost familiar Medium of her granddad's individual memory: his notebook with a 'Greek script'.

1978-03-31 00:00:00

Elizabeth asking Bob to translate the book (p. 272)

Individual memory of her granddad: close Collective memory of the WW1: closer Medium of her granddad individual memory: the notebook of his own

1978-04-21 19:52:58

Elizabeth starts studying Cultural memory of WW1

Alongside the main story, there is the narrative of Stephen's granddaughter, Elizabeth, who, whilst struggling with her already married boyfriend, Robert, unearths Stephen's journals from World War I and seeks to learns about his experiences at Marne, Verdun and the Somme. She discovers that Stephen's journals are encoded, but tries to decipher them.

1978-05-04 00:00:00

Going to Buckinghamshire and talking to the soldier there (p. 393).

Individual memory: nothing new Collective memory: closer (finding out of the regimental history) ("wrote down various other names on an envelope ")

1978-05-04 00:00:00

Reading the Officer's handbook (p. 393)

Individual memory: closer, becoming familiar ("she discovered which regiment her grandfather had been in, and attempted to trace its headquarters") Collective memory: closer ("after a series of telephone calls... she found that the regiment had ceased to exist ten years earlier...the headquarters were in Buckinghamshire, where Elizabeth drove one Sat. afternoon").

1978-05-13 00:00:00

Asking Bob about the diary (p. 394).

Individual memory: closer ("There is sb called Gray, who seems to have been important, but he must be incredibly old if he's still alive")

1978-05-13 00:00:00

Three-year-old copy of Who's Who in the public library in Porchester Road (p. 395).

Individual memory: closer Collective memory: closer ("worked her way through the details of the 52 Grays included")

1978-05-25 00:00:00

Calling Gray (p. 397).

Individual memory: close ("I'm anxious to get in touch with sb who knew him and find out what he was like") The carrier of individual and collective memory: Mr Gray Collective memory: close ("She didn't think she had the army terminology right").

1978-05-31 00:00:00

Coming to Mr Brennan (p. 400).

Individual memory: much closer ("I've come to see you, because I think you knew my grandfather") Collective memory: much closer ("There were a number of old men sitting round the edge of the room, some in wheelchairs, some in armchairs...", "It was that bloody Hitler") The carrier of both individual and collective memory: Brennan

1978-07-07 00:00:00

New notebooks in the attic (p. 410).

Individual memory: familiar, close ("It stopped being history and had turned into experience") Mediums of individual memory: new notebooks

1978-07-08 00:00:00

Call from Bob (p. 419).

Individual memory: familiar, much closer Mediums of individual memory: two large sheets of thin, crackling white paper ("She knew that she had found what she wanted")

1979-04-21 19:52:58

Meeting with Françoise

Elizabeth finally decides to reveal her pregnancy to her mother Françoise, who, to Elizabeth's surprise, is supportive. Over dinner, she learns her mother was raised by Stephen and Jeanne, who married and settled in Norfolk after Elizabeth's grandmother Isabelle's premature death due to the postwar influenza epidemic. Elizabeth and the still-married Robert go on holiday to Dorset, where she goes into labour and has a son, naming him John (after Jack Firebrace's late son). The book ends with Robert walking down the garden of the holiday cottage and having an immense sense of joy.

1979-07-08 00:00:00

Getting ready to meet with Francoise (p. 491).

Individual memory: closer, becoming familiar ("Grand mere born 1878. Mum born...she was not sure...") Collective memory: close ("Having read all the notebooks as well as 2 or 3 more books about the war, Elizabeth finally had some picture in her mind of what it had been like").

1979-07-10 00:00:00

Having dinner with Francoise (p. 492).

Individual memory: much closer, Elizabeth didn't know about her real grandmother. The carrier of individual memory: Francoise Collective memory: much close, familiar totally ("Like a lot of men of that generation , he never really recovered")


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