College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

Historian Explores How Aerial Warfare Blurred Front Lines and Home Front

Less than 100 years ago in a time of war, the line between the battlefield and the home front was clear. War was ugliest on the front lines, and civilians who lived in places removed from the points of conflict were somewhat insulated from the danger.

“Air raids were denounced by the media and others during World War I as instruments of terror and atrocity, and yet, by World War II, air raids were commonplace,” Grayzel said. “I hope to shed some light on how governments and ordinary citizens developed strategies to cope with this genuinely new type of warfare, one that made all spaces potential targets.”

Her research focuses on how air raids collapsed the boundaries between the home front and the front lines during and after World War I. As soldiers on the front lines worried about loved ones at home being bombed, Grayzel argues that this affected gender roles. Instead of being noncombatants sitting in homes far removed from war zones, women were now exposed to the direct effects of war and began to lay claims to acting as heroically as their husbands and sons on the more traditional battlefields.

“Attacks on civilians are neither unique nor unprecedented,” she said. “In all modern wars, natural and legal borders are permeable, and we need to remember that devastating losses will not always happen in somebody else’s home.”