The provisional speaker programme for the 2023 season is set out below. Meetings will start at 19.00 and will be held in conjunction with the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland via Zoom. Details to follow. The dates are:
8 FEBRUARY - DR JENNY MACLEOD, ‘BRITISHNESS AND COMMEMORATION’.
Dr Jenny Macleod is a Senior Lecturer in 20th Century History at the University of Hull. Her books and articles have mainly focused on the relationship between the memory of the First World War and national identity. In her book, Gallipoli: Great Battles (Oxford University Press, 2015) she compared the way the Gallipoli campaign has been remembered and commemorated in Australia, New Zealand, Britain, Ireland and Turkey. She studied at the University of Edinburgh and Pembroke College, Cambridge.
‘Britishness and Commemoration’. In the wake of the terrible losses in the First World War, vast numbers of war memorials were created. Among these were national memorials in Edinburgh, Dublin and Cardiff. In London, rather than a national memorial, the Cenotaph and the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior stood for all the Empire's dead. These memorials tell us interesting things about the relationship between Britishness and English, Scottish, Irish and Welsh identity as it was perceived in the inter-war period. More recently, decisions in Canada, Australia and New Zealand to inter their own Unknown Warriors indicates some developments in the loosening ties of the British world.
8 MARCH – DR TIM BOWMAN, ‘THE DISBANDMENT OF THE SOUTHERN IRISH REGIMENTS, 1922’.
The establishment of the Irish Free State, following the Anglo-Irish Treaty of December 1921 and the demand for cuts in the British army in the light of the worsening economic situation, led to the disbandment of the Southern Irish Regiments in 1922. The Royal Irish Regiment, Connaught Rangers, Leinster Regiment, Royal Munster Fusiliers and Royal Dublin Fusiliers were formally disbanded in June 1922. Many of the soldiers of these regiments transferred to other units within the British army. The reduction of the size of the army also affected two of the 'Northern' Regiments; the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and Royal Irish Fusiliers both of which had recruiting areas which took in counties in both Northern Ireland and the Irish Free State. This talk will consider the disbandments of 1922, along with continuing Irish recruitment to the British army in the inter-war period.
Dr Timothy Bowman is Reader in Military History at the University of Kent. His book, The Disparity of Sacrifice: Irish recruitment to the British Armed Forces, 1914-18, co-authored with William Butler and Michael Wheatley, has just been published in paperback by Liverpool University Press.
Link to Register for the talk: https://bit.ly/40PMO4t
12 APRIL – DR TONY COWAN, ‘THE GERMAN ARMY IN 1917’.
Analyses German higher-level operational command in the First World War through a case study of the Allied spring 1917 offensive (the battle of Arras and Nivelle offensive) and how the German army defeated it. Topics include the relationship between traditional principles, military organisation and personal factors; the increasing importance of intelligence; the difficulty of converting learning into performance; and the system for mitigating attrition.
Dr Tony Cowan was awarded his PhD by King’s College London. His book Holding Out: The German Army and Operational Command in 1917 will be published by Cambridge University Press in spring. He has lectured and written about German higher-level command in the First World War, regional identities in the German army, the development of German defensive tactics and the state of the army at the end of 1916. He edited a translation of the German official monograph on the battle of Amiens and he was one of the historians on the British army’s major staff rides in 2016 and 2018 studying the lessons of the First World War.
Link to Register for the talk is here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-german-army-in-1917-by-dr-tony-cowan-tickets-513843789607
10 MAY - DR LAURA PATRICK, THE REGIMIENTAL MUSEUMS OF NORTHERN IRELAND
Over the last 10 years, heritage funding has become increasingly competitive, a situation further exacerbated by the COVID-19 crises. Unfortunately, our regimental museums have not escaped these sector wide constraints. With some museums in Northern Ireland facing the prospect of closure, how can we ensure our stories, collections and archives are protected sustainably for future generations?
Dr Laura Patrick is the Regimental Heritage Officer and Director of the Virtual Military Gallery, Royal Irish Regiment Benevolent Fund.
Link to register for the talk is here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-regimiental-museums-of-northern-ireland-tickets-560623769787
14 JUNE – DR TONY GARCIA & PROF IAN VAN DER WAAG, ‘BOTHA, SMUTS AND THE GREAT WAR’.
In this web-based talk, the audience will be taken on a captivating journey through the road to 1914 and the onset of the First World War. It was a time of upheaval for South Africa, characterized by significant events that left an indelible mark on its history. The narrative begins with a challenging start for leaders Botha and Smuts, as they faced various obstacles along the way. One such hurdle was the 1914 Afrikaner Rebellion, which set the stage for the consequential Battle of Sandfontein. However, a turning point came in 1915 with the triumphant conquest of German South West Africa. As the talk progresses, the intricate interplay of domestic politics, intelligence gathering, and an international outlook during 1915-1916 will be explored in detail. The audience will gain insights into the arduous campaigning efforts undertaken in both Africa and Europe throughout 1916, showcasing South Africa's active participation in the global conflict. The talk will also delve into the machinery and politics of war from the perspective of the Union in 1917, shedding light on the complex challenges faced during this period. Moreover, the audience will be presented with a fascinating glimpse into high politics during 1917-1918, with a particular focus on Smuts's influential role in London within the Imperial and British War Cabinets. Lastly, the talk will uncover the pivotal roles played by Botha and Smuts in the closing stages of the war, as well as their involvement in the momentous Paris Peace Conference. The audience is invited to join this intriguing exploration, as the captivating tale of South Africa's journey to the First World War and its far-reaching impact on the nation's history unfolds.
Dr Antonio Garcia, FRGS, CGeog, PMP, MBA. Antonio is a civil servant and a tutor and affiliated researcher at the Centre of War and Peace at the Open University. He also serves as a visiting lecturer at Durham University, and non-resident research fellow at Stellenbosch University. Antonio has led the successful delivery of a number of portfolios, programmes, and projects, in national and international roles, including UN Peacekeeping, international NGOs, the civil service and the military; as well as working at the intersection of international peace, security, and education.
Ian van der Waag. Ian van der Waag is Professor of Military History at Stellenbosch University, a Fellow of the Modern War Institute at the USMA, West Point, and regional ambassador for the Western Front Association. His recent publications include A Military History of Modern South Africa (2015; 2018), In Different Times: The War for South Africa, 1966-1989 (co-editor SUN Press, 2019), and Sights, Sounds, Memories: South African Soldier Experiences of the Second World War (editor, 2020).
Link to Register for the talk is here: BOTHA, SMUTS AND THE GREAT WAR Tickets, Wed 14 Jun 2023 at 19:00 | Eventbrite
NO MEETINGS IN JULY OR AUGUST
13 SEPTEMBER – IAN MONTGOMERY, ‘FINDING OFFICERS FOR KITCHENER’S ARMY: A CASE STUDY OF 10TH BATTALION, ROYAL IRISH RIFLES.
The rapid expansion of the British Army during the First World War necessitated the recruitment of junior officers from beyond the traditional ‘officer class’. In the case of the 36th (Ulster) Division most of the initial group of officers came, like the other ranks, from the Ulster Volunteer Force. As the War progressed however it became necessary to look beyond this initial group to find suitable officers.
This talk will look at the officers who served with 10th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles (South Belfast Volunteers) from its creation in September 1914 until the Battle of the Somme. It will examine the backgrounds and careers of the first group of volunteer officers as well as those who were posted to the Battalion at a later stage.
Ian Montgomery is a retired archivist.
Ian’s event can now be accessed via this link https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/finding-officers-for-kitcheners-army-tickets-558545513667
Link to Register for the talk is here:
11 OCTOBER - DR PAURIC TRAVERS, ‘COLONEL ARTHUR LYNCH: BOER WAR TRAITOR, GREAT WAR HERO?’
Irish Australian, journalist and polymath, Arthur Lynch (1861-1934) led an Irish brigade fighting for the Boers in South Africa. His exploits led to his election as a nationalist MP for Galway but when he attempted to take his seat in the House of Commons, he was arrested, charged with high treason and sentenced to death - the sentenced was later commuted. As MP for West Clare during the Great War, Lynch was an enthusiastic supporter of the British war effort. In the final year of the conflict, with the tide of opinion in Ireland running strongly against recruitment, he accepted a commission as Colonel to raise a regiment in Ireland and fight in France. This lecture will explore Lynch’s transformation and the reasons behind his apparent change of heart.
Pauric Travers is an educator and historian. An emeritus professor of Dublin City University, he is a graduate of the National University of Ireland and the Australian National University. His most recent publication is Donegal: the Irish Revolution 1912-23 (Four Courts Press, 2022). He is currently working on a biography of Colonel Arthur Lynch.
Link to Register for the talk is here: https://bit.ly/3KcgliG
8 NOVEMBER - DR ANN ROBERTSON, ‘WOMEN DOCTORS AND THE GREAT WAR’ (TBC).
Ann Robertson qualified from the University of Birmingham in 1975 and pursued a career in anaesthesia from July 1976. She became a Consultant Anaesthetist in 1987 working at Hairmyres Hospital, East Kilbride before moving to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. Her interest in WW1 came whilst working with Mr Tom Scotland, orthopaedic surgery. Ann wrote about anaesthesia in WW1 in his book War Surgery 1914-18 and a prequel to that book, Wars, Pestilence and the Surgeon’s Blade contains her chapter Development of Military Anaesthesia in the 19th century.
During the first 10 years of the twentieth century the right of women to vote began to be fought for. Some women felt that in order to gain this right, women should prove themselves in a theatre of war. Thus, the first medical women to go to war set off to Bulgaria in 1912 with the Women’s Sick and Wounded Convoy Corps.
Once WW1 broke out women doctors from across the Commonwealth were keen to work abroad with injured soldiers. They were refused by the British Authorities but the Red Crosses of Belgium, France and Serbia gladly accepted their offer of help. This talk aims to cover all their exploits initially in Belgium and then on both the Western and Eastern fronts and also Russia.
Link to Register for the talk is here: https://bit.ly/3HYmEnk