Published online by Cambridge University Press: 17 August 2021
Chapter Three, ‘At Camp’, explores how military camps produced new tensions as the men began to observe and interact with troops from other part of the empire and among the Allied forces. Colourful descriptions of the ‘Empire united in arms’ elided the asymmetries of power and inter-colonial competition at stake in the militarised setting. The struggle to achieve status within an envisioned hierarchy of colonial races manifested in how the men wrote about those they met and how they represented themselves – in their uniform, fitness and soldierly bearing – in these spaces. Military sports days and leisure activities afforded new opportunities away from the battlefield to prove martial manliness, creating physical spectacles captured in official photography of the pageantry of the British Empire at war. The chapter thinks, too, about how these camp spaces encouraged curiosity about the new people the men were meeting and how they recounted moments of intimate and human connection that ran parallel to more antagonistic constructions of identity.