Webinar Talks on WW1

The Western Front Association has a series of webinar talks in December. These are free and open to all. The webinars are all on Monday evenings at 8pm UK time.

‘Tank Corps operations during the German Spring Offensive of 1918’ – 6th December, Geoffrey Vesey Holt

Some 204 tired Mark IV tanks and the 36 new Medium ‘A’ Whippet tanks, manned by just converted crews, would, given their number alone, not be able to make a decisive contribution to the defences during the German offensive in the spring of 1918. Nevertheless, as this talk will show, and thanks to the surprisingly good Tank Corps records, they did play a useful role. To register for this event please click here:  Tank Corps operations

‘The Christmas Day Truce of 1914’. – 13th December, Gordon Corrigan

On Christmas Day all along the Western Front there were sporadic instances of carol singing by both sides, leading to meetings in no-man’s-land, fraternisation, exchange of gifts and even at least one football match. This talk explains what really happened and not only what its affects were, but what they were thought to be. To register for this event please click here: The Christmas Day Truce

‘Big Hands, Little Maps’: Operational Art and its genesis on the Western Front. – Monday 20th December, Lt Col Simon Shepard

This presentation sees the return of Lt Col Simon Shepard who will be exploring the development of the Operational Level of War and in particular the term now known as Operational Art.  Simon will trace its development on the Western Front via the BEF and latterly via the combined conduct of the Allied Armies during later stages of 1918. To register for this event please click here: Big Hands, Little Maps

Remembrance at Whitehall and Sandham Memorial Chapel, November 2021

Easing of COVID restrictions enabled the Society to participate and lay wreaths in two services this year: at the Field of Remembrance, Westminster Abbey; and at Sandham Memorial Chapel.

Field of Remembrance, Westminster Abbey

This year the Field was formally opened by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, the Patron of the RBL Poppy Factory. The SCS had its remembrance plot in the location opposite the west door of St Margaret’s Church. The Society was represented by Chair, Alan Wakefield, and Jonathan Saunders. With excellent weather throughout the opening ceremony, it was good to be back at the Field in person after last year’s event being held behind closed doors due to COVID-19. Thanks to all those members who continue to support the SCS remembrance plot through planting crosses of remembrance and making donations to the Poppy Appeal.

Sandham Memorial Chapel

For the second year a memorial service was held at Sandham Memorial Chapel. A gathering of approximately 40 people took part in the act of Remembrance. This was led by Reverend Mark Christian himself a veteran army chaplain. The exhortation was read by David Innes. Wreaths were laid at the entrance to the chapel by the National Trust, Salonika Campaign Society and Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum. Individuals laid Poppy Crosses too. The ladies of the WI produced a net covered with poppies in different styles. This will be placed on the altar of the parish church. After the service, tea, coffee and cake were served by the volunteers of the Chapel. The exhibition was made available as well as viewings of Stanley Spencer’s paintings inside of the Chapel walls. Some SCS members then retired to The Carpenters Arms for lunch. Next year a larger gathering is being planned at the Chapel by the National Trust.


With thanks to Alan Wakefield, Darren Rolfe, and Keith Roberts for words and pictures.

We Will Remember Them …

Photographs of the impressive war memorial at Clitheroe Castle in Lancashire. Clitheroe was in the recruiting area of the East Lancashire Regiment which provided a battalion – 9th (Service) Battalion – for the British Salonika Force (22nd Division, 65th Brigade), which was formed in Preston in September, 1914.

More talks…

Following on from our last post about an online talk, and listed in chronological order, here are some more opportunities to hear from experts on different areas of the Great War.

From ‘Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum’

(i) On Wednesday 20th October Patrick Crowley presents on online talk and live Q&A on the Catastrophe at Kut.

Just a simple town in Mesopotamia (now Iraq), between Basra and Baghdad, Kut al Amara was the site of a Great War conflict that is less widely known than others of 1916, such as the battles of the Somme and Verdun, but one which would have a similarly catastrophic human cost.

Though initially successful on campaign in Mesopotamia, as Allied forces pressed towards Baghdad, poor logistic support, training, equipment and command left them isolated and besieged by Turkish forces.
Numerous attempts to relieve those under siege at Kut would fail, and on 29 April 1916 the British Army suffered one of the worst defeats in its history.

Over 13,000 troops, British and Indian, were taken into captivity; many would not survive their incarceration, while others would undertake elaborate schemes to escape.

In this online talk, Patrick Crowley recounts the dramatic tale of the Siege of Kut and its terrible aftermath, while shedding some light on the personal experiences of the men of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry’s 1st Battalion. Hear stories of both the besieged themselves, and those involved in attempts to relieve them.

Patrick Crowley is a historian and battlefield tour guide, now retired from the Army after thirty-four years’ service in the Queen’s Regiment and Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment. He was awarded the American Meritorious Service Medal for his service in Iraq.

Details on how to register to watch this are available on this link: Catastrophe at Kut.

From ‘Western Front Association’

(ii) On Monday 25 October 2021, at 8.00pm (UK time) Fraser Skirrow will give a talk ‘Ill met by moonlight – British and German raiders clash in the outpost war’.

This talk is the story of a couple of raids, one British (by the 2/6th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment), one German. These took place in the area of ‘The Apex’ near Bullecourt on the nights of 11 and 13 Seotember 1917. What is unusual is that we have the story from the contemporary British account, the results of prisoner interviews and detailed accounts from the German raiders and defenders. Comparing and contrasting these stories gives us a vivid and personal insight into two violent nights in the outpost war, and the circumstances surrounding the deaths of individual soldiers on both sides.

Fuller details and how to register to watch this are available on this link: ‘Ill Met By Moonlight’: British and German raiders clash in the outpost war.

(iii) On Monday 1 November 2021, Dr Emily Mayhew will give a talk entitled ‘Walking quietly away into a hail of lead to carry away a wounded man: Stretcher bearers of the Western Front’.

During the Great War, the battalion and regimental stretcher bearers transformed the medical landscape of the western front battlefield and beyond.  In this presentation, Emily Mayhew will detail how bearers developed extraordinary skills at both the point of wounding and during the casualty evacuation phase that ensured casualties were able to survive complex injuries that would otherwise have been deemed fatal. 

Fuller details and how to register to watch this are available on this link: ‘Walking quietly into a hail of lead to carry away a wounded man’: Stretcher Bearers of the Western Front