I would like to provide an excerpt from When This Bloody War is Over: Soldiers’ Songs of the First World War by Max Arthur. Lyn Macdonald, a British military historian who specializes in the Great War, wrote the following for the book’s introduction:
The Victorian era did not die with the demise of the old Queen-Empress in 1901 at the birth of a new century. It began to skid to a halt in 1914 at the start of the Great War. By the time it ended, a new era and a new world had been born and music of the First World War can be a pungent reminder that this was a society in transition.
The generation that fought it were Victorians to a man. Men of the Regular Army were even mid-Victorians, those legendary “Soldiers of the Queen’ who had served her in the farthest reaches of her Empire or fought at Omdurman or Spion Kop. Even the youngest of the adventurous youths who joined Kitchener’s Army by the hundred thousand had been born while the Queen still occupied the throne and were nurtured and moulded by the long-accepted mores and disciplines of what was generally accepted as an age of enlightenment.
It certainly was an inventive age. In the lifetime of lads who joined the Army in 1914 at the age of 19 (or not infrequently younger) they had seen Bleriot fly across the English Channel, the birth of film as a popular entertainment, the development of the pneumatic tyre and the explosion of cycling as an everyday means of transport. A fortunate few even owned motor-bikes. People had become accustomed to the sight of motor-vehicles in the streets and aeroplanes in the sky. Wireless was emerging from its experimental infancy, telephones were no longer new-fangled devices, gramophones were commonplace for those who could afford them. Pianos could be purchased ‘on the never never’ for as little as a shilling a week, and every respectable household which aspired to an aspidistra in the window wanted a piano in the parlour. There was an upright piano in every church hall, every boys’ club and in almost every saloon bar where the popular Saturday night sing-song could be enjoyed, even by the poorest, for the price of a ginger ale, sipped slowly to last the evening. There were thousands of accomplished pianists and many who could play by ear so, one way or another, in any gathering there was always someone who could strum out a tune on the piano.
Ms. Macdonald’s introduction lends support for my position. The first paragraph supports that the source era for Steampunk didn’t end in 1901 but died gradually during World War 1 and that the conflict serves as a transition. The second and third paragraphs supports that the Great War could be claimed by either genre-punk.
So, which genre-punk can claim the First World War? The answer is that both can.