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

Advertisements

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