Oval: HOME


20th January

Rupert Brooke & The Glitterati at Gallipoli

Peter Hart

This presentation chronicles the story of the poet Rupert Brooke, who Yeats described as 'the handsomest young man in England'. The talk will detail his early life and his war service.

In 1915 he joined the Royal Naval Division's Hood Battalion, and sailed with them in February 1915.

Brooke received a mosquito bite which caused blood poisoning. French surgeons carried out two operations to drain the abscess but he died of septicaemia on 23 April 1915 without having seen action.

17th February

British League of Help

Dudley Giles

The British League of Help was formed in 1920 as a charitable body with a single purpose: to provide aid to communities in the areas of northern France devastated during the Great War. It pursued its objective by encouraging British cities and towns to become a 'Godparent' to a small town or village that had been destroyed; the village was 'adopted', a relationship was established with the people who had returned to their ruined homes, and various types of aid relevant to their particular needs were provided.

16th March

The Empire Strikes Back - The Battles of Trekkopjes & Gibeon 1915

James White

For most of the campaign in South West Africa the German Schutztruppe spent their time retreating but on two notable occasions they took to the offensive. With modern day battlefield photographs this is the tale of the two battles one of which saw Rolls Royce armoured cars going in action.

20th April

Their 38 years of highly scientific training - German Kavalrie leading up to and just after mobilisation.

Geoff Massey

A look at the changes made to equipment, uniforms & training after 1871,

organisation in the years prior to mobilisation and in July 1914, logistics in 1914 campaign

and tactics

18th  May

Soldiers of God - Army Chaplains of The Western Front

Rodney Attwood

Focuses on the British soldier's faith (or lack of it), the role of the Christian religion in British national life in the early twentieth century and how the actions of British Army Chaplains reflected what they found among the soldiers. I discuss difficulties in reconciling going to war with the third commandment, 'Thou shalt not kill' and Christ's teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. I also cover the role of 300 clergy who enlisted as fighting soldiers or in the

15th  June

An Inauspicious beginning - The early trials and tribulations of 59th (2nd North Midland) Division

Bill Mitchinson

The 59th (2nd North Midland) Division was an infantry division of the British Army during World War I. It was formed in late 1914/early 1915 as a 2nd Line Territorial Force formation raised as a duplicate of the 46th (North Midland) Division. After training in the United Kingdom and saw service in the Easter Rising in April 1916, the division joined the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) on the Western Front in early 1917. It saw action at Ypres and Cambrai, and was almost destroyed during the German Army's Spring Offensive in March 1918. The reconstituted division took part in the final advances of the war

20th July

The 3 Battles for Gaza & The Advance To Jerusalem

Stuart Hadaway

Gaza was a defensive stronghold for the Ottoman forces in southern Palestine and a strategically important position because of the town’s water wells. Water was a commodity in limited supply in the region and was important for the Allies given the large number of mounted troops and the requirement to maintain adequate supplies for both men and their horses.

17th August

I am fortunately in good health

Chris Swinburne

The story of my grandfather Capt. George Swinburn MC, 24th Battalion Tyneside Irish, Northumberland Fusiliers from answering the call to arms in autumn 1915 until 4 July 2016.

21st September

Forgotten Great war Soldiers of the Midland Railway

Quintin Watt

This presentation examines the wartime experiences of eighteen employees of the Midland Railway, who formerly worked on the South Staffordshire line between Wolverhampton (High Level) and Castle Bromwich.  The talk follows the route of this forgotten railway and explains how these railwaymen-soldiers fought and died in the Great War.  It includes case

19th October

The Birmingham Pals

The Birmingham Pals were the three infantry battalions of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment of the British Army raised from men volunteering in the city of Birmingham in September 1914, shortly after the outbreak of the Great War.[1] They consisted of men volunteering for Kitchener's New Armies and the battalions became, respectively, the 14th, 15th and 16th (Service) battalions of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. A further battalion, 17th, was formed in June 1915 as a reserve battalion, and was reformed in September 1916.


16th November

Who Killed Captain Duncan Martin 20th Brigade on 1 July 1916?

Ross Beadle

It is one of the best-known stories of 1st July. Captain Duncan Martin of the 9th Devonshire's makes a plasticene model to illustrate to his commanding officer how his men will be hit hard by a machine gun in the Mametz communal cemetery known as 'The Shrine' that has not been taken out by the preliminary bombardment. He is overruled and they go 'over the bags' on 1st July. Casualties are heavy including Martin himself. And many are now buried in the Devonshire's cemetery nearby. In mythology he is the man who 'predicted where he would die' - as described by the Daily Mail a couple of years ago when his medals were sold at auction.

16th December

Members Meeting