Edwards, H. (1895) Britain in Arms

Spithead_review_1897Hamilton Edwards (1895) Britain in Arms, published in the story paper Pluck and in 1897 in Boys’ Friend.

For British boys, the First World War started, not in 1914 but in 1895 when, according to the Hamilton Edwards serial, “Britain in Arms,” published in the story paper Pluck, a coalition of Continental powers, envious of empire, attempted to invade the British Isles. Despite some tense moments, the Royal Navy eventually succeeds in destroying the enemy fleet, while the British army under the command of the nation’s most popular soldier, Lord Roberts of Khandahar, invades the Continent and deals the aggressors a lesson they will long remember. “Britain in Arms” offered a new theme for the popular war stories written specifically for boys and young men: a tale of the great war to come, something new and excitingly different from the familiar cycle of stories inspired by the little wars of empire. [Michael Paris (2004) Over The Top, p.1]

The enemy was not always Germany. In 1897 Hamilton Edwards wrote in his Boys’ Friend a serial, ‘Britain In Arms’, described as: ‘The story of how Great Britain fought the world in 1899′, showing what Britons can do for their Queen and Country in the hour of need. A tale of loyalty and devotion to the Old Flag.’ Its chief claim to notice is that it envisaged a form of Mulberry Harbour, nearly half a century before that well-publicized device was put into service. The story opened with joint French and Russian invasion fleets steaming on Britain, Germany being privy to the plan. [E.S. Turner (1948) Boys Will Be Boys]