In 1993 I completed my PhD research on the writings of Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967), which was later published in an British and American trade edition: Siegfried Sassoon: Scorched Glory (Macmillan/St Martin’s Press, 1997). In true Sassoon-fashion I had ‘stumbled’ (‘stumbling’ and ‘blundering’ are recurring words in Sassoon’s war writings) across his Sherston-trilogy in my first year at Amsterdam University. It led me to his war poetry, to other war poets, and to that whole historical & socio-cultural phenomenon: the Great War and its impact on British society.
It made me wonder what had happened in my own native country, the Netherlands, at the time. I knew it had remained neutral, but at school we had never been told anything about the period, and it seemed to me that in a country that was so near the battlefields of the Western Front and so close to two of the main warring nations, Britain and Germany, the war could hardly have passed unnoticed.
The main subject was aboout the Belgian refugees and soldiers who had fled to the Netherlands during the first part of the war and the influence of the role of the neutrality of the Netherlands.
Paul was a guest at the Radio 1 programme OVT to talk about the electric fence between the borders of Belgium and The Netherlands to prevent people from crossing the border.