Last night saw the first Talk in the third season of War Talks. Thirty-five guests joined the guest speaker, Professor Charles Esdaile of the University of Liverpool, and me on board the First Sea Lord’s Flagship, HMS Victory. Charles gave an engaging, witty, and informative talk on the mythology of the Battle of Waterloo with the help of props including the Mess Bar, tables, and more than a few members of the audience. His intimate knowledge of the battlefield, highlighted the various national mythologies and helped illuminate his thesis: that all nations carefully craft myths and it is the job of historians to clear them away. Charles succeeded admirably, receiving fulsome praise from the predominantly Royal Navy audience. Following the Talk, the audience were treated to a tour of the ship, the Officer of the Day pointing out the stories and tall tales associated with Victory. We are much the wiser having discovered the purpose of a tow rag, why the cat is out of the bag, and why all’s well at eight bells. This War Talk, perhaps my all time favourite, was facilitated by Cdr Kay Hallsworth and Victory’s WO, I am extremely grateful to them both, and indeed to the rest of her crew who have the privilege to serve on that 260 year old warship, protecting her for the nation.
Our next Talk is only a little over a week away and will be held at the Aldershot Military Museum. This Museum is yet another important heritage gem tracking the history of the home of the British Army since 1850. It is run by the indomitable Mrs Kirsty Hoyle who is working miracles in updating the Museum and turning it into a fantastic community asset for the people of Aldershot and Farnborough. Our speaker, at the twenty-first War Talk since July 2017, will be Professor Jim Storr who will speak on the subject of ‘War and Warfare in the Twentieth Century’ on Tuesday 25th September. Like the talk on Victory, there is a bonus in coming to talks at the Aldershot Military Museum: a free tour of the Museum with its fabulous exhibits including Sir Brian Horrocks’ Jeep which he drove during the campaign in North West Europe 1944-45, and Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery’s barn which once held his Tac HQ caravans now at Duxford. These two talks are just the start of what promises to be an incredible season, together with some one off specials, it creates what I believe to be one of the best military talk series’ in the country. Please come along to the talks, they are free, fun, and informative.
Right, I know what you have all been waiting for…the results of the British Army Military Book of the Year Prize 2018. The six books have caused considerable debate amongst the six judges on the panel. They have done a fabulous job, reading the books without any reward; they represent different Corps, Ranks, and Genders and are a real cross-section of the modern British Army. They are Regulars and Reservists with a love of reading and desire for professional military education and I am very grateful to them. So without more ado, the winner of the British Army Military Book of the Year 2018 is Dr Aimee Fox for her book ‘Learning to Fight: British Military Innovation and Change in the British Army, 1914-1918’. The scores out of a maximum of 300 were as follows:
Dr Aimee Fox: 229
Dr Nick Lloyd: 226
Lt Gen (Ret’d) Sir John Kiszely: 224
Prof Theo Farrell: 221.5
Prof Sir Lawrence Freedman: 213.5
Johnny Mercer MP: 165
The result was extremely close, but I’d like to personally congratulate Dr Fox on an excellent book, well done Aimee, you have done yourself and your Alma Mater very proud.
Have a great weekend,