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Remembered Today:

First World War Lectures/Presentations/Discussions on YouTube


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In this lecture, Prof William Philpott looks at the year 1916 and the events on various fronts and suggests that, despite the outcomes on the Somme and elsewhere, final victory was brought nearer as a result of the war of attrition that was pursued in this middle-year of the war.

 

 

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During the First World War, the battalion and regimental stretcher bearers transformed the medical landscape of the western front battlefield and beyond. In this presentation, which was given to was given to a live, online audience, 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.

With little formal medical training prior to their arrival in France, bearer teams worked closely with their RMOs to adapt to the challenging landscape and casualty continuum. By 1916, the stretcher bearer skill set included haemorrhage control, pain management, specialist injury-specific casevac, futility decision making, end of life care, working knowledge of German, PoW walking wounded management, cartography, inoculation, battalion morale maintenance - and most of this whilst under fire.

One quotation pertaining to Stretcher Bearers that has resonated and that inspired Emily was: "The courage demanded to walk quietly into a hail of lead to bandage and carry away a wounded man, that is worth talking about"

First World War stretcher bearers are the prototypes for today's paramedics, and have thus transformed modern civilian as well as military medical care. Their greatest achievement, sustained over the entire period of fighting on the Western Front, was to offer hope of survival and care to soldiers dreading and enduring the consequences of the battlefield.

 

 

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The 1916 Battle of Verdun ended with over 700,000 French and German casualties, many of whom disappeared without trace. After the war, the enormous task of dealing with the remains required new legislation, aroused violent argument and left many people without answers. While French families could raise private memorials, German families could not, and decisions concerning German remains were taken by French authorities.

In this presentation, Christina Holstein describes how the authorities work together when human remains are recovered.

 

 

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In this talk Professor Stephen Badsey examines the Armistice of 11 November 1918 which ended the war on the Western Front. The heart of the story is how the negotiators on either side were selected, how they were able to meet safely on board the famous railway carriage in Compiegne forest, what their rival objectives were in negotiating, the resulting Armistice, and what it meant at the time to the soldiers on the Western Front and to the British people at home.

The part that the victory on the Western Front played in winning the war was being argued about from even before the Armistice was signed. This talk also puts the victory on the Western Front in context, including the importance of the Allied victories on other fronts and at sea, the German claim that their armies were not defeated but "stabbed in the back" by the collapse of their home front, and the remarkable sequence of political events and decisions that took place while the battles of the Hundred Days campaign were being fought.

 

 

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The March Retreat, the German offensive from 21 March to early April 1918, was one of the greatest battles ever fought. In this presentation, Geoffrey Vesey Holt describes how, on the 21 March, 62 German divisions supported by 10,005 artillery pieces inflicted on the British Army one of its greatest defeats including the loss of 21,000 prisoners.

The 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. Nevertheless, as this talk will show, and thanks to the surprisingly good Tank Corps records, they did play a useful role. Despite Fuller’s later claims Haig and his staff followed HQ Tank Corps doctrine in the deployment of the tanks.

As a result, 2, 3 and 4 Tank Brigades provided useful support to Third and Fifth Armies. This included for example the charge of 2nd Tank Battalion which stopped the Germans from breaking through on 22 March, 8th Tank Battalion preventing the encirclement of two British divisions on 24 March and, on 26 March, 12 Whippets, in their first major action, stopping at the last moment a German break-through and demonstrating the virtues of relative speed.

 

 

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Truces and armistices, brief halts in the fighting, temporary fraternisations, all are as old as warfare. They might be called in order to exchange prisoners, retrieve wounded or bury the dead, or, as in 1914, in celebration of a festival common to both sides. The difference in 1914 is that what occurred was widely publicised, and in many cases exaggerated.

he Christmas Day Truce of 1914 has become one of the most famous incidents of the First World War....On Christmas Day 1914 all along the Western Front (and on the Eastern Front too) 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. After a press embargo was broken in the neutral USA the British press reported it pretty much as it was, with pictures, the German press criticised what had happened, without pictures, and the French press said it was treason and only happened on the British sector.

This talk by Gordon Corrigan - which was given to a live, online audience, explains what really happened and not only what its effects were, but what they were thought to be.

 

 

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Prior to 1914 there were generally considered to be only two levels of war: Strategy and Tactics. The former tended to be the role of a 'supreme leader' and his council or of a national government whilst the latter was executed by commanders of armies in the field.

Lieutenant Colonel Simon Shephard explores the development of the Operational Level of War and in particular the term now known as Operational Art.

In this video which was delivered to a live, online audience, Simon traces its development on the Western Front via the BEF and latterly via the combined conduct of the Allied Armies during later stages of 1918.

 

 

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One of the most intriguing characters of the Great War, Eric 'Kipper' Robinson served notably in the Gallipoli Campaign, Palestine and The Caspian Sea.

He was decorated on numerous occasions and appears on the fringes of seemingly endless moments of history from the Boxer Rebellion, through the Battle of Heligoland Bight and the Zeebrugge Raid to the 1940 Battle of the Atlantic. This is his amazing story as told by Clive Harris.

 

 

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Author and historian Tom Isitt takes us on a tour of the Italian Front, from 'the howling wilderness' of the Isonzo battlefields to the soaring peaks of the Dolomites.

This was WW1 as most people have never seen it, a vertical war in snow and ice, where death was more likely to come from an avalanche than from an enemy bullet.

Tom travelled the length of the front, from Trieste to the Swiss border, at times walking in the footsteps of the five British divisions that fought there in 1918, to explore some of the most complete and untouched battlefields of the war, where howitzers still sit on mountain-tops 100 years later....

 

 

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At 8:00 a.m. on 2 September 1918, the troops of the 4th Canadian Division, after breaking the Drocourt-Quéant line, advanced over Mont Dury into furious, accurate, and devastating German fire. They faced this fierce resistance unsupported by an artillery barrage that the Canadian high command suspended to allow Brigadier-General Brutinel’s Independent Force to charge down the Arras-Cambrai road. This force was to capture crossings over the Canal du Nord by a coup de main. Due to the lack of artillery support, the 4th Division could not advance, and it suffered crippling losses and disorganization.

That at least is the account supplied in the respected G.W.L. Nicholson’s 1962 Canadian official history and subsequent historians have treated it as canon. Nicholson based his narrative on comments provided in 1961 by Andrew McNaughton, the Canadian Corps’ Counter-Battery Staff Officer in 1918. The official historian’s narrative was clear, concise, convincing, and wrong.

The purpose of this presentation by Dr Bill Stewart is to advance a different explanation of what happened to the 4th Division, and why the official history garbled this event.

 

 

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Sir William Robertson is an important but underrated figure in in the story of the British Army. In this presentation, which was given to a live, online audience, Ross Beadle explains more about 'Wully'.

Apart from being a larger than life figure Robertson has two major claims to have shifted the course of history. He remains to this day the only man to have risen from the lowest rank to the very highest – from Private to Field Marshal. Then, following his appointment as Chief of the Imperial General Staff in December 1915 it was his strategy that dominated British Government policy to the end of the war. Because of the conventional focus on Haig and the BEF, this is often lost sight of, as he tends to be seen merely as Haig’s ‘man of business’ in London. This talk addresses both these aspects of his life.

Firstly there is an examination of his rise through the ranks and the profound obstacles he faced. Just because the purchase of commissions had been abolished in 1871 does not mean that the Army had necessarily become more meritocratic. It had not. Secondly in his two different roles 1914-1915, Robertson was the only completely unalloyed success among the senior officers in the BEF. That was why he was promoted to CIGS. Finally we look at Robertson’s analysis on how the war should be fought and how he imposed his strategy on a reluctant Government. His approach to how to fight the war was by no means identical to Haig’s and Robertson was the only realistic alternative to Haig as a replacement for Sir John French as commander of the BEF.

 

 

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At 3:50 a.m. on 31 July 1917, the Allies attacked across an eleven mile front in the Ypres sector, the beginning of the Third Battle of Ypres. On 1 August nurses and other medical staff at Canadian Casualty Clearing Station No. 2 battled to care for the more than 2,000 wounded soldiers who swamped the 300 available beds in a single 24-hour period. This was not the first crisis that Canadian nurses had coped with, nor would it be the last.

In Casualty Clearing Stations and hospitals, on ambulance trains and in operating theatres, Canadian nurses withstood shellfire and bombing raids, illness and emotional trauma to care for their patients across the Western front. Through the nurses’ own writings and some of their photographs, this talk by Andrea McKenzie illustrates their unique experiences as Canadians, as military officers, and as nurses on the Western Front during the last eighteen months of the war and beyond – from Passchendaele to peace.

 

 

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In this video, Chris Taft, from the British Postal Museum outlines the contribution made by the postal service to the First World War. This presentation explores not only the vital work of managing the postal system at home but the huge task of delivering mail to a world at war.

Chris also explores the role played by women who had to carry on the postal business at home managing in circumstances where vast numbers of the regular workforce were off at war.

The talk draws on original research from the Royal Mail Archive, held by The Postal Museum.

This was filmed in front of a 'live' audience at a recent branch meeting of The Western Front Association

 

 

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Despite the explosion of interest in all things First World War during the centenary period the lives of Britain’s war widows remain largely unexplored. This talk by Andrea Hetherington looks specifically at the issue of war widows’ emigration to the dominions of Australia and Canada.

British emigration to the dominions was promoted both before, during and after the war with missionary zeal by private companies and charities. War widows were particularly targeted and the operations and motivations of the two major players in assisted emigration will be explained. War conditions eventually put an effective end to emigration until after the Armistice but plans were made by both the charities and the British Government to facilitate the anticipated high demand for emigration to the Dominions once hostilities were over.

With the British Government introducing its own Overseas Settlement Scheme in 1919 the opportunities for war widows to emigrate were greater than ever. Despite this the numbers of war widows taking advantage of these schemes were much lower than anticipated and the reasons for this will be examined. Using information from passenger manifests, census returns and documents supplied by the descendants of war widows this paper will also look at the lives of some of the women who did make these journeys.

 

 

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Based on the testimonies of individuals, most of them unpublished, in this presentation Emily Mayhew describes how, without medical training or experience, Army chaplains took on new and unexpected roles in hospitals, aid posts, and sometimes on the battlefield, as they tried to find ways of offering service in a place of suffering.
 
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Drawing on never-before-seen memoirs and letters, Neal Bascomb talks about this little-known story of the biggest POW breakout of the Great War.

In the winter trenches and skies of World War I, soldiers and pilots alike might avoid death, only to find themselves imprisoned in Germany’s archipelago of POW camps, often in abominable conditions. The most infamous was Holzminden, a land-locked Alcatraz of sorts that housed the most troublesome, escape-prone prisoners. Its commandant was a boorish, hate-filled tyrant named Karl Niemeyer who swore that none should ever leave.

Desperate to break out of 'Hellminden' and return to the fight, a group of Allied prisoners led by ace pilot David Gray hatch an elaborate escape plan. Their plot demands a risky feat of engineering as well as a bevy of disguises, forged documents, fake walls, and steely resolve. Once beyond the watchtowers and round-the-clock patrols, Gray and almost a dozen of his half-starved fellow prisoners must then make a heroic 150 mile dash through enemy-occupied territory towards free Holland.

 

 

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In October and November 1914 the British Expeditionary Force was locked in desperate combat at the First Battle of Ypres, proportionately the bloodiest battle fought by the BEF in the entire war. Individual officers played a crucial role in this inferno.

This lecture by Dr Spencer Jones studies the career of one of the most important commanders at First Ypres: Brigadier-General Charles FitzClarence VC, an officer of fearsome reputation who had earned the unusual nickname 'The Demon' for his ferocity in battle.

 

 

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Short notice but this came up on my Twitter feed this morning

"In his first official public lecture as a Professor, Tim Grady will share insights on ‘Tidying the Dead: Bodies and War Commemoration in Britain and Germany, 1914-2020’."

Wednesday 1st June 6pm

https://www1.chester.ac.uk/news/professor-discuss-first-world-war-commemoration-and-‘tidying’-dead-0?list=6800

Need a streaming link to view online

 

 

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On 2nd June 1918 a squadron of the newly formed Royal Air Force set out on a secret mission which has been hitherto kept secret. In one of the first attempts at what we would now call 'precision bombing' the men of 25 Squadron tried to assassinate the Kaiser during his visit to a chateau near the front.

This top-secret mission has remained classified information for a century. It was felt that by killing their head of state and commander in chief it would serve as a mortal blow to the German forces and they would collapse very quickly after the assassination.

The Official History makes no mention of any attack, and public records say nothing. Was it sanctioned by the C-in-C, Sir Douglas Haig? By the War Office? Was the King informed of the attempt to kill his royal cousin? Was Lloyd George, the Prime Minister asked? We do not know; but someone in London must have sanctioned the attack.

In this presentation John Hughes-Wilson seeks to explain who could have ordered an attack to 'Kill the Kaiser'.

 

 

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