War Talks and BAMBY18 Update

As some of you who regularly attend the Talk Series may know, we have been awaiting news on the temporary closure of our venue, the Prince Consort’s Library in Aldershot, for several months.  It has recently been confirmed that the building will close from late July – early December 2018.  During that period, the Library be emptied and a temporary, limited service established by the Army Libraries Information Service (ALIS) within New Normandy Barracks, Aldershot.  This is good news for the Library, which will receive new electrics for the first time in a century, securing its use as a venue for the education of the soldier long into the future.  It is also good news for both the War Talks at PCL Talk Series and the British Army Military Book of the Year 2018, as it gives me a definitive guideline within which to operate.  I had only booked guest speakers up until 8 May 2018 in anticipation of an earlier closure, but can now book-in up to four more speakers before the Library closes, and find a temporary venue for our Talks from September – December 2018.

I have received some kind offers regarding accommodation, notably from within the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, however, this would both limit our audience and create a temptation to stay in the bosom of our academic colleagues at Camberley.  The purpose of the Series and BAMBY18 is essentially twofold: to encourage service personnel and civil servants to carry out informal Professional Military Education (PME) as an enabler of military adaptability, and to support the continued work of the PCL.  Given these aims, it is essential that the Series and BAMBY 18 remain in Aldershot, both the Home of the British Army, and home to four major Army headquarters and six Army major units.  I will therefore be looking for a venue, outside the wire, and easily accessed by military and civilian audiences alike for the Autumn period.  I have had some suggestions, the churches for example, and look forward to hearing your suggestions.  It is anticipated that the Talk Series and BAMBY18 will return to the PCL in December 2018 for the presentation of the BAMBY Prize.

Talking of the Prize, I’m sure you will have seen my earlier Blog posts regarding the shortlist and judging criteria for the BAMBY18, our judges are busying themselves as we speak, reading and deliberating.  As a matter of fact, on Tuesday 10 April 2018, Dr Aimee Fox will speak on her shortlisted book at PCL.  Aimee will be the second of the shortlisted authors to speak at PCL this year, with Lt Gen (Ret’d) Sir John Kiszely KCB MC having spoken there in July 2017.  Now that I have a little room for manoeuvre, I hope to be able to welcome several more of the shortlisted authors along to speak.  Indeed, it is likely that we have tempted Professor Theo Farrell all the way from Australia for a Talk in July!!  The extension to the available time for talks has also allowed me to book an academic whose work I greatly admire and who I have been chasing for several months.  I am pleased to announce that on Wed 23 May 18, Dr David Morgan Owen of King’s College London and the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom will speak to us on the subject of, ‘War as it Might Have Been: British Sea Power and the First World War’.  Hopefully, by moving to a naval topic, we will expand the War Talks audience and broaden the interests of our loyal followers.

I look forward to seeing you all at an event in Aldershot soon,

All the best,

Barney

 

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We Will Remember Them?

Tomorrow sees the 101st anniversary of the death of my Great Great Uncle, 28337 Lance Corporal Joshua Bartle Gailes of the 20th Bn Durham Light Infantry.  He was killed by German artillery as he emerged from the Queen Victoria Communication Trench at St Eloi, near Ypres on Tuesday, 3rd April 1917 and is buried in the Klein Vierstraat Cemetery only a few miles away.  There are, as far as I can tell, another two family members who met their end serving in the First World War: a cousin, PLY/911(S) Private Robert Thomas Platten of the 2nd Bn Royal Marine Light Infantry who fought at Gallipoli, on the Ancre, was killed during the Battle of Arras at Gavrelle on 28th April 1917, and is ‘known unto God’.  The other, another cousin, 143023 Private Adam Barron McClellan of the 25th Bn Machine Gun Corps (Infantry), died of his wounds on 16 April 1918, having been captured at Bailleul in the Georgette Offensive; he is buried at Ghent.

In addition, there are perhaps a dozen other family members, miners and labourers in the Edwardian era, for whom the Army represented a release.  My Great Grandfather, who fought on the Somme and at Passchendaele, survived the War, and died an alcoholic in 1961.  A Great, Great Uncle joined up in 1915 and apart from a brief spell at Gallipoli spent the war guarding Malta, being famously wounded by a bullet in the arse!  His brother manned a howitzer on the Somme.  In recent weeks, I have discovered cousins who fought on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, with differing degrees of success; one, a Lance Sergeant in the Tyneside Irish, witnessed over 50% casualties in his Unit and subsequently fought at Ypres and during the German Spring Offensives, the other, a Private in the 8th Bn, Norfolk Regiment had a far more successful first day and survived the War albeit after taking part in numerous other actions.

In recent weeks, I have been involved in four Battlefield Tours taking children from England out to Ypres, and down to the Somme.  In all, I would imagine I have escorted almost 200 children, of whom only a handful profess to have family members who fought or died, but all of whom will stand at the Menin Gate in Ypres and respectfully repeat, ‘We Will Remember Them’ at eight o’clock each evening.  Now, I am not being supercilious; I was brought up in a Service family, told to keep the Silence on Remembrance Day on pain of death, and had no knowledge of family members who would then have been elderly veterans (yes, I am that old).  I was thus in the same boat as all the kids taken to Flanders in the last two months at their age, it wasn’t that I didn’t care, just that I didn’t know!!  I have only become aware of the ‘Barnes Platoon’ since 2010, and was the first of my family to visit Joshua’s grave. in almost a hundred years, in February 2015, perhaps one has to turn 40 to find these things vital.

When I was stood at the Gate a fortnight ago, I heard several people complaining that the young kids had ‘no respect’, I would challenge that; they respect what they know and it is down to us Oldies to ensure that kids understand both Remembrance and their own personal stories.  We need to take the plank from our own eyes before we worry about kids’ splinters!  So grown-ups, research your family platoons and tell your kids about them before Remembrance becomes meaningless.  Lets not lose faith with those who lie in Flanders Fields.

All the best,

Barney

 

 

#BAMBY18 – Judging Criteria

The British Army Military Book of the Year 2018 is well and truly off the ground with one of our authors, the excellent Dr Aimee Fox already booked to talk to the ‘War Talks at PCL’ audience on Tuesday 10 April 2018.  In the meantime, if you’d like to judge the books alongside our panel of British Army judges, please have a look at our criteria in the link below and feel free to comment!!

All the best,

Barney

British Army Military Book of the Year

 

Coalition Warfare

‘If I must make War, I prefer it to be against a Coalition’ – Napoleon Bonaparte

A little over two months ago, I set myself an ambitious set of goals for 2018.  Those who follow this Blog will recall I wanted to continue the ‘War Talks at PCL’ series which I founded in July last year, try to breathe life into the British Army Military Book of the Year Prize, which had not run since 2016, and complete a think-piece on ‘Adaptability’ for DCDC, the sponsor of my Army Fellowship at RUSI.  In essence, I have achieved all that and much more: The Talk series has just had its eleventh talk in seven months and enjoys audiences considerably larger than those of last Summer, the British Army Military Book of the Year 2018 is on its feet, with a launch last week and the announcement of a winner due in September, and a think-piece which has grown into a Joint Concept Note almost overnight.  In addition, I have conducted two battlefield tours in Belgium and Northern France, with two more to come in March, organised a First World War Study Day on behalf of HQ Regional Command, and had a book review published in the British Journal of Military History.

Last week, I was privileged to speak at the Defence Research Network’s Workshop at Anglia Ruskin University in Chelmsford, on the value of networking and collaborative working for postgraduate students and Early Career Researchers.  The Defence Research Network is a group of students and young academics from across the UK, all of whom are conducting research in the broad church that is ‘war studies’.  The audience varied in age and interest, with those interested in cybersecurity sitting alongside those investigating the social problems associated with being a veteran.  The variety was eye-opening and so was the friendly, helpful way in which the members of such a diverse group conducted themselves.  It seemed to me that whether practitioners, academics, or students these people had laid ego down and agreed to collaborate in pursuit of their passion for learning.  Of particular interest was the Veterans and Families Research Hub, a virtual meeting place for those investigating that area of ‘war studies’; how wonderful it would be for every area of our subject to have a similar site, operating under a collaborative umbrella, encouraging a cross-pollination of ideas between historians, practitioners, social scientists, and scientists! In turn, I thought of all those people to whom I am grateful for allowing me to do what I do, and who lend an often unseen hand in my projects: my soldiers who help to set up the auditorium for the Talks, my Chain of Command who allow me the time to pursue my objectives, my family and friends who encourage and support at every turn.  No project is truly a lone effort, ‘Every man is part of the continent’.

If only it were possible for us all working in ‘war studies’ to get along, lay down the egos, and forget the schoolyard politics.  Perhaps there is something about the very study of war which creates an atmosphere in which many of the participants want to fight and strategise, the subject area certainly seems replete with factionalism and skulduggery?  I am a historian of operational military history, this is my interest and my passion, others are interested in gender and war, others in the cap-badges of the 25th of Foot, none is invalid, all are equally important in understanding war. Some are Professors, some have no formal qualifications, some are Generals, others are Private soldiers; does this matter?  Surely the only thing that matters is the quality of the output and the advancement of knowledge?  So, my message is that we should stand up for each other, assert the importance of education, and through compromise and maturity seek to promote our study in all its glorious diversity.  In the end, if we don’t study the scourge of mankind in width, depth, and context what hope can there be to understand it, and ultimately tame it?  Oh and Napoleon, Old Chap, you were wrong, it was a series of coalitions which finally defeated you!!

Take care, and before you start scheming, think am I the solution, or part of the problem.

All the best,

Barney

 

 

The British Army Military Book of the Year Prize 2018

After a year long hiatus, the British Army Military Book of the Year is back!  The shortlisted books in the #BAMBY18 are, in no particular order:

Unwinnable: Britain’s War in Afghanistan 2001-2014 by Prof Theo Farrell.

Learning to Fight: Military Innovation and Change in the British Army, 1914-18 by Dr Aimee Fox.

The Future of War: A History by Professor Sir Lawrence Freedman.

Anatomy of a Campaign: The British Fiasco in Norway, 1940 by Lt Gen (Ret’d) Sir John Kiszely KCB MC.

Passchendaele: A New History by Dr Nick Lloyd.

We Were Warriors: One Soldier’s Story of Brutal Combat by Johnny Mercer MP.

If you want to judge the books alongside our judges, we look forward to hearing your thoughts and opinions!!

The British Army Military Book of the Year (BAMBY) Prize 2018.

I have been involved with the British Army Military Book of the Year prize, colloquially called the BAMBY, since 2010.  The competition has been in abeyance for the last year, due to a staff shortage at the Prince Consort’s Library, Aldershot, but I am pleased to announce that my offer to organise the BAMBY for 2018 has today been accepted by the Education Branch of the Army.

Historically, the BAMBY considered a shortlist of six titles on military subjects, the judging panel consisting of serving and retired Army personnel each of whom received a complimentary copy of each book.  The shortlist was announced in March each year, judging completed by September, and the winner announced in October.  An important part of the competition was the accompanying Talk Series, which allowed each author to speak to a predominantly military audience about their book.  The competition concluding with the prize-giving and a further talk by the winning author just before Christmas.  The model I offered to Education Branch is subtly, but importantly different.

The Prize will continue to consider a shortlist of six books but the judging panel will be far more representative of the Army than it was previously.  I was a Judge on the BAMBY for seven years, but was the only Other Rank; there were no female or BAME judges and the average rank of judges was Lt Col.  In future, the judging panel will be far more representative, transparent, and will change annually.  I will also be standing down as a judge to concentrate on organising the programme, and shortlist.  The Judges will no longer receive a free copy of each book, instead they will be able to take a copy out from the Prince Consort’s Library, and will use a judging template to make a more objective decision. The Prize will thus become more affordable for the Army.  Another cost-saving measure is the decision to purchase a perpetual trophy rather than an annual prize; the trophy will be held at Prince Consort’s Library.

It is intended that the shortlist will be available by Easter 2018.  The criteria for shortlisting is that the book must be on a broadly military subject, must be published in the United Kingdom in the preceding twelve months, for our purposes 1 January – 31 December 2017, and must be a first edition.  The Judging Panel will be appointed from amongst volunteers, regular attendees at the ‘War Talks at PCL’ Talk Series, and ex officio appointees. The Panel will be ten in number: five Officers and five Other Ranks, representing the full spread of ranks and Corps.  The 50:50 rank split representing the use of the Library by different ranks.  The BAMBY Talks will sit as a sub-set of the ‘War Talks at the PCL’ Talk Series and will run from April – September each year.

Although owned by Education Branch, the BAMBY sits easily alongside the ‘War Talks at PCL’ Talk Series, with a shared aim to encourage soldier education, and library use, as well as my personal aim to return PCL to a pre-eminent position for the discussion of military affairs within the Army.  I am really pleased to be running the Prize, and look forward to meeting you all soon!!

All the best,

Barney

Resolutions

It seems rather apt that my first blog in 2018 should be about my resolutions for the New Year.  This isn’t going to be some boring post about losing weight and getting fit, there is enough of that about at the moment, rather it is going to describe the projects with which I am involved in 2018, and the changes I’ll be making in my professional life.

Inevitably, I will start with the second season of the War Talks at the PCL talk series which commences later this month. The establishment of the Series has been perhaps the greatest achievement of my career; in 2017 the eminent speakers who gave their time without recompense spoke to hundreds of people in the historic Prince Consort Library, Aldershot, and I’m hoping to build on that success in 2018.  The Series is booked up until May 2018; I am hoping to book more speakers after that, however, there is a strong possibility that the Library may be closed for restoration over the Summer, and I will be forced to find a new, temporary venue.  The other news on the War Talks front is that I’m looking to record the Talks in future and upload them to the Web.  In a related project, I am hoping to re-invigorate the British Army Military Book of the Year Prize this year and have a model which, like the Talk Series, is at no added cost to the MoD, representing a significant saving to the Department; I will Blog on this subject when I have the appropriate permissions.  Finally, I am planning two Study Days at Prince Consort’s Library, one on behalf of HQ Regional Command, and another in conjunction with Mr Simon Bendry, the organiser of the government’s School Childrens’ Battlefield Tours which promises to be a fabulous opportunity for teachers and children.

The School Children’s Battlefield Tours have been running since 2014 and I have been lucky enough to have been involved in the delivery of them since 2015.  I am hoping to provide support to three tours this Spring, including a first outing as a Battlefield Guide in February.  I am also hoping to Guide on a special tour on behalf of 7th Infantry Brigade in March, which will take BAME students out to France and Belgium to examine the role of the Indian Army on the Western Front in the First World War.  I have a real passion for taking children out to the Western Front both to counter some of the rather unfortunate mythology surrounding the Great War, and to use my experience in the British Army to help the students understand both the organisation today and what it feels like to be a soldier on operations, albeit in a wholly different context.  My interest in the First World War is lifelong, but was really engaged by my MA in Military History; whilst I have extracted an article from my dissertation for the Air Power Review (April 2017), I intend to write a wider article for the British Journal of Military History on the full MA dissertation in 2018.  The BJMH will also publish my first Book Review in February.  I have plans for a further article on bayonet training in the Victorian Army but that will have to wait until the Summer!

The biggest change for me in 2018 will be the assignment in September to be the Army Visiting Fellow at RUSI.  This tremendous opportunity, will see me working on a paper on behalf of the Army at RUSI whilst helping to build a closer relationship between both organisations on behalf of CGS.  I am really excited by this move and the other doors it has opened for me.  Perhaps the biggest is writing a Think Piece on behalf of my academic sponsors at Shrivenham on the subject of ‘Adaptability in the Future Force Concept’; I will be working on this paper until June, it promises to be challenging, interesting, and to keep me busy until summer leave.  There are a few other bits and bobs on the go currently, not least of which is the eminence grise of a PhD proposal, but I’ll talk about later in the year.  I have the small matter of being a Warrant Officer in the Army to contend with too, but look at the opportunities the Army has afforded me!!  Whatever the press may say, ‘Be The Best’ is an appropriate tagline for the most professional Army in the World and I intend to try my hardest to be just that!

Happy New Year in 2018

Barney

 

For Want of an Audience.

As 2017 draws to a close, I look at my middle-age spread and realise that most of my leisure time is spent either eating or drinking. I love good food and a nice pint; I enjoy both in a place with good service, great atmosphere, and most importantly with good company.  This year I have been lucky enough to have sampled tea on a London bus, dined at the Ritz and a club in St. James’, indulged my love of oriental cuisine in the Nepali heartland of Aldershot, and enjoyed luncheon and supper in my two favourite local gastropubs.  Indeed, only last week I had a lunch meeting with a very good friend at one such hostelry, the Foresters’ Arms in Church Crookham.  In a three hour conversation, one particular topic stood out for me though: Cherished and long-established organisations searching for a new audience, and in the process being prepared to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Our love of military history, specifically the Great War, is our common bond.  We are both keen visitors to the Western Front battlefields and have an interest in how that conflict is seen.  We bemoaned the way in which three organisations in particular had recently revised their ‘offer’, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the Imperial War Museum, and the National Army Museum.  In each case, in the hunt for a new, younger audience each organisation has, to differing extents, abandoned what it was that made them attractive to their traditional older audience.  The most notorious of these is probably the National Army Museum which, following a multi-million pounds refurbishment, has re-cast itself to tell the social history of Britain through a lens of the British Army.  This apparently, will bring in people who aren’t really interested in the Army, but who are interested in how the Army developed alongside society.  In short, in the hunt for an audience, the National Army Museum, and the other two to a greater or lesser degree, has ceased to be a military museum and, like so much else, a museum which reflects social change which may or may not have coincided with war.  War, that disastrous, human activity, has become something which we as a society can only discuss in hushed whispers, through a politically correct medium; War is, for my younger readers, something like the Dark Lord Voldemort, we know what it is an what it isn’t but we never speak its name.

I understand the problems facing museums and other ‘heritage’ organisations, revenue is tight and their natural audience is getting older and, in fact, dying.  Indeed, this year  saw the closure of the Durham Light Infantry Museum which told the story of that fine Regiment in which many of my ancestors were proud to serve.  The Museum closed because finance was tight and the audience was static, in short it could not pay its way.  The problem here is threefold, first in chasing a younger demographic by pursuing social history, one alienates the older demographic seeking military history, leaving them disinclined to visit and commit revenue. Secondly, we are all getting older, that’s physics, in fact we, as a society, are getting older at an accelerating rate; people come to heritage as they get older, so Q.E.D  an aging population represents a growth market for museums, Finally, perhaps it isn’t the museum that is wrong but the location or quantity, in other words it is the delivery model that is broken not the subject matter; in the case of the Durham Light Infantry museum it sat in a country park on the edge of the historic city of Durham, away from its cultural heart and within a landscape of numerous military museums within a thirty mile radius, The Green Howards at Richmond, the Northumberland Fusiliers at Newcastle, and the Historic Dockyard at Hartlepool.  In short, there is still a demanding and lucrative audience, but we must learn to deliver to it rather than deciding to take our ball away to play with the cool kids in a different neighbourhood.

And so to the meat of my blog, apologies for the delay, it is Christmas! Chapter Four of ADP Land Operations talks about the importance of knowing your audience and communicating your message in the all new concept of ‘Integrated Action’.  At the same time, in a rush to recruit from parts of society which have not been traditional recruiting grounds, the emphasis in the Army has become one of diversity in recruiting, this would be a dangerous strategy at anytime but is even more so at a time when recruiting amongst the traditional audience is falling.  Instead, the Army should look to the problems with the model: Why is it failing to recruit amongst the young in the urban North? What is it about the Army that puts off teenage boys?  If we can find the answers to those two questions, and engage with children from a young age and society as a whole, even on a commercial level, we can solve the recruiting problem.  Looking for recruits in different demographics is not going to answer the problem, it will just drive away the traditional audience, neither will appealing to humanitarianism, we must not wrap War in a euphemism or shield it with tender images.  If we want to improve recruiting we must re-connect with ‘the scum of the Earth’, improve the offer by giving the audience what it wants, and concentrate on the business of closing with the Queen’s enemies, rather than navel-gazing over a new logo or strapline.

And now I’m off to my favourite little pub in the world, The Anchor at Lower Froyle, near Alton in Hampshire for a pint and a bite to eat.  The management at The Anchor know their audience, there are no gimmicks, they give us what we want and we reward them in turn.  Not for them a new image or an appeal to a different demographic, build it and they will come one might say, they did and so did we!!

Cheers all and a Merry Christmas.

Barney

 

 

Mission Command – Some Thoughts

Christmas decorations are tricky things, they spend eleven months in a box and one on a tree, they are an important staple of the Christmas experience; we always know when some are missing.  This week I was chatting to a friend, an intelligent, educated, and extremely competent Army officer who had lost a box of precious decorations.  Quite correctly, the loss was assessed to have been a result of the latest house move: the Army’s removal service, left to carry out a task unsupervised, had mislaid Christmas!  In a curious twist, later that same day I read an anonymous blog on the excellent Wavell Room site entitled ‘The Erosion of Mission Command in Barracks’.  In that article, the author bemoaned the perceived trend of an Army increasingly failing to follow its own doctrine in barracks.  The cause of this erosion was, it was claimed, a combination of risk-aversion by commanders, and the proliferation of management information systems.  Superficially we might consider both scenarios to be resultant from a lack of trust and familiarity, for me, however, they highlighted a deeper problem: we have little faith in the competence of those on whom we depend.

Trust, as the latest ADP Land Operations states with outstanding clarity, is a pre-requisite of command at all levels, but upon what is trust built? The answer, I propose, is experience; it is a fair bet that on the next move the Christmas decorations will be more tightly policed!  The root cause of greater application of the ‘long-handled screwdriver’ by higher commanders in barracks, is the failure of subordinates in whom trust has been previously placed; ‘Once Bitten, Twice Shy’.  The follow-on questions begged are: Why did subordinates fail in the past? What can be done to address the causes of failure? How do we put Mission Command back into operation in barracks?  In my experience, failure in barracks has three causes, failure of communication, failure of understanding, and lack of education.  We fail to articulate precisely what it is that we want because we assume our subordinates have the time and the knowledge to solve the problem, our subordinates fail to understand because instructions aren’t clearly articulated or they don’t have the time, experience, or inclination to carry out the task, and everyone fails because whilst we may have taken time to train our soldiers, we have failed to ensure they are educated: Train for the Known, Educate for the Unknown.

So if we communicate better, get to know subordinates better, understanding their strengths and weaknesses, and ensure that they are not just trained but educated, Mission Command should be fit for purpose in barracks? Well yes and no.  Certainly, in long established teams in a stable organisation this would be the case, but in an organisation committed to constant change perhaps befehlstaktik is preferable? I leave you with that thought as I contemplate my mince pies, auftragstaktik is, for me, the preferred answer; communication and education are key.  Before you go, make sure you brief your movers and make them a cuppa, know your team, Christmas comes but once a year!

Merry Christmas!!

Barney

 

 

War Talks at PCL – 2018

Today I want to talk about the second season of my ‘War Talks at the PCL’ talk series commencing in January 2018.  Our first season, which ran from July to December 2017, featured talks by Dr Matt Ford, Lt Gen (Ret’d) Sir John Kiszely KCB, Prof Gary Sheffield, Dr Dan Todman, Dr Jacqueline Hazelton, Dr John Greenacre, Maj (Ret’d) Mike Peters, and Drs Stuart Mitchell and Mike Peters.  I am enormously indebted to these busy people for supporting the Series, they have done so without any reward, kindly giving their time and expertise freely; quite simply, the Series would not have run without their philanthropy.  The Series operates without a budget, depending purely upon goodwill to deliver what I believe to be an outstanding, prolific, and valuable resource of informal professional military education.

Our second season commences on Tuesday 30th January 2018, with a Talk by Dr Michelle Jones of the Veterans and Families Centre of Anglia Ruskin University.  Michelle’s subject will be ‘Encountering Children in Theatres of Armed Conflict: A New Challenge to the Operational Environment’.  Children often represent the largest constituency in developing countries, given that conflict is most likely to be encountered in these countries, Michelle’s work is invaluable for Defence particularly in light of the emergence of ‘Integrated Action’ as a key component of British military doctrine.  Isn’t it time we considered children when thinking about our audience?  The second talk will take place on Thursday 15th February 2018, and will be given by Maj Paul Knight PhD.  Paul is one of the new generation of ‘soldier-scholars’ who combines command of a Reserve Signals Squadron with independent study and writing.  Paul will talk about ‘The British Campaign in Mesopotamia from 1914-18’, teasing out some lessons for the modern British Army from the experience of the Indian Expeditionary Force ‘D’.

The third talk in the Series will take place on Tuesday 27th February 2018, with a Talk by Mr Robert Lyman.  Robert is a former Army officer, author and public speaker whose 2003 book, ‘Slim, Master of War: Burma and the Birth of Modern War’ forms the basis of this Talk.  Along with Montgomery, Slim was one of the towering British field commanders of the Second World War and one whose leadership and command style has informed generations of Army officers ever since.  Robert’s talk is followed on Wednesday 14th March 1918 with a Talk by Maj Gen (Ret’d) Craig Lawrence CBE.  Craig was commissioned into the 2nd King Edward VII’s Own Gurkha Rifles in September 1983, serving for over thirty years, and completing his service as Director of Joint Warfare in Joint Forces Command.  Craig is an author and has written a commemorative history of the Gurkhas, however, he is also a lecturer on strategy at the Royal College of Defence Studies and it is in this capacity that he will be delivering his talk entitled, ‘Getting Strategy Right (Enough)’.

Our fifth Talk will be given by Dr Chris Kempshall of the University of Sussex.  It coincides with the Headquarters Regional Command First World War Study Day on Tuesday 20th March 2018.  Talking on the eve of the centenary of the German 1918 Spring Offensive, Chris will examine ‘The Anglo-French ‘Entente’ in 1918: Lessons for 21st Century Interoperability’.  Like Michelle’s talk, Chris’s talk is prescient in the light of current doctrine, which emphasises joint and multinational operations. Chris’s Talk is followed on Tuesday 10th April 2018 by a talk by Dr Aimee Fox.  Aimee is a Lecturer at King’s College London working at the Joint Services Command and Staff College at Shrivenham, her work in learning and innovation is ground-breaking, and she is tipped as a future academic superstar.  Aimee will speak on the title of her recent book, ‘Learning to Fight: Military Innovation and Change in the British Army 1914-18′.

Our final two Talks are by a pair of real academic heavyweights.  The first, on Tuesday 24th April 2018, will be given by Prof Lloyd Clark of the British Army’s Centre for Army Leadership.  Lloyd’s subject will be, ‘Leading Edge: Patton, Montgomery, and Rommel as Leaders During the Inter-War Years’.  This Talk promises to be utterly fascinating, examining the experiences of three of the Second World War’s iconic commanders and looking at how  their leadership styles developed in peacetime.  Our final speaker on Tuesday 8th May 2018, the 73rd anniversary of VE Day, will be Dr Jonathan Boff of the University of Birmingham.  Jonathan wrote perhaps one of the finest books on the Hundred Days Campaign of 1918 and is a formidable educator and researcher.  I am personally indebted to him for accepting me onto the excellent MA in Military History programme at Birmingham and for opening up a world of opportunity to me.  Jonathan’s talk is entitled, ‘Haig’s Enemy: Crown Prince Rupprecht and Germany’s War on the Western Front’ and will accompany his second book which is due for publication in March 2018.

All in all, the programme promises to be truly inspirational.  It currently ends in May 2018 subject to renovations to the Library.  Once the renovation date is clarified I will add further dates, but in the mean time if you have any subjects which you’d like to listen to, or speakers you’d like to hear please drop me a line.  I’m always happy to hear from potential speakers, particularly female and BAME speakers and Id particularly like to include some naval or air power speakers in future; the future is Joint.

All the best to you all,

Barney