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

Expert talk on the Battle of Verdun by Tim Cockitt on Friday 8th October at 6.00pm via Zoom

This was the longest battle of WW1, from February 1916 through to December 1916.  The British were not directly involved, and the battle is not so well understood in UK, compared to the Somme. 

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Lyn Macdonald podcast

Back in March I noted the death of distinguished First World War historian, Lyn Macdonald. Whilst I have read several of her books I had never heard her speak, so I was delighted when a talk of hers at the 2017 Chalke Valley History Festival was broadcast on the History Hits Warfare podcast. Entitled They Called it Passchendaele it’s a fascinating talk with some interesting thoughts on remembrance.

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The death of Lyn Macdonald

Sorry to hear of the death of Lyn Macdonald, influential and pioneering historian of the First World War. Her book, 1915: The Death of Innocence, really helped me to understand the ten months my grandfather spent on the Western Front with 28th Division, before going to Salonika. You can read her obituary here:

28th Division – The Prequel!

Towards the end of October 1915, units of the 28th Division entrained for Marseille, sailed to Egypt and then, after a period of training and reorganisation, to Salonika. Barely a month before, the Division had been embroiled in a bloody and confusing battle to hold the German Hohenzollen Redoubt at Loos; a battle they had subsequently lost.

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A virtual battlefield tour – but not in Salonika!

My thanks go to James Stewart-Smith of Classic Battlefield Tours for sharing details of this forthcoming virtual battlefield tour by well known military historian, Patrick Mercer OBE. It is nothing whatsoever to do with Salonika, but during these days of seemingly endless lockdown, the chance to get out on any sort of virtual tour is very welcome.

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22 April 1915 at 5pm: Gas!

From Before Endeavours Fade, by Rose E. B. Coombs, MBE (An After the Battle Publication).

[Steenstraat], lying amid the rich fields, was at the western end of the French line on April 22 1915. Their line ran eastwards to a point south of Poelcappelle where it joined the sector held by the Canadian Corps with the British 27th and 28th Divisions beyond them east of Zonnebeke and Polygon Wood.

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