In memoriam – Dr Bob Bushaway

Photo was taken on January 21, 2006  by Katie Fleming (auril2008 on Flickr)

Photo was taken on January 21, 2006 by Katie Fleming (auril2008 on Flickr)

1915 – The making of a World War: Dr Bob Bushaway. Recorded at the WFA’s President’s Conference 2012: A World at War 1914 – 1918: A Centenary Preview held in Birmingham, UK on 3 November 2012.

(c) Western Front Association

Biography from the Centre for War Studies website where Bob was an Honorary Research Fellow:

Bob Bushaway is best known for his work on popular culture. He is the author of By Rite: Custom, Ceremony and Community in England 1700-1880 (London: Junction Books, 1982), but has long been fascinated by the Great War, both its cultural and military history.

His article ‘Name Upon Name: The Great War and Remembrance’, in Roy Porter (ed), Myths of the English (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1992) made a major contribution to the emerging scholarship on the construction of memory. He developed some of these ideas in ‘The Obligation of Remembrance or the Remembrance of Obligation: Society and the Memory of World War’, in John Bourne, Peter Liddle and Ian Whitehead (eds), The Great World War 1914-45 (Volume 2, London: HarperCollins, 2001), pp. 491-507. He has also contributed to the Oxford Companion to Military History ed. Richard Holmes (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001).

In addition to “By Rite”, Bob also edited along with John Bourne – “Joffrey’s War: A Sherwood Forester in the Great War”, Salient Books (31 Mar 2012).

The Australian War Memorial & the Somme blog

How very disappointing to see this sort of commentary being posted on a respected website such as the Australian War Memorial. It almost seems like we are back in the 1960’s with “Oh! What A lovely War” and Alan Clark’s “The Donkeys” being the model for “historical” analysis.

At Saturday’s day school at the Centre For First World War Studies on the Somme 95 years one – both John Bourne & Bob Bushaway comprehensively demolished (again) the “lions led by donkeys” view of the Somme – long lines of untrained Kitchener volunteers walking slowly shoulder to shoulder and carrying 70 lb packs into No Man’s Land and accomplishing nothing.

At the end of his first lecture, John did remark on the recent publication “To End all Wars” by Adam Hochschild and last week’s Matthew Parris article in The Times – and wonder whether his academic work throughout his career had actually accomplished anything – if this was still the persistent view of the Great War held in the public imagination.

To now find the AWM repeating the same mantra is very depressing, particularly as it follows on from the recent National Army Museum’s reference to “Butcher” Haig as part of its Britain’s Greatest General “competition.” The NAM’s tacit acceptance of this unsubstantiated (unless you are Alan Clark) sobriquet has now been used to justify its promulgation by that academic powerhouse Wikipedia.

I referred to this ongoing debate in my earlier post “Who are we preaching to?” – how sad to see it spread to supposedly respectable institutions as the AWM and the NAM. I have posted a comment on the AWM blog but it is “awaiting moderation” – I wonder if it will see the light of day?

Professor Peter Simkins – the new President of the WFA

An excellent choice by the WFA – Peter Simkins was an inspiration on the First World War Studies MA & it was a privilege to hear him lecture. The full WFA announcement is as follows:

At The Western Front Association’s AGM held on 7 May 2011, Prof Peter Simkins MBE, FRHistS was elected as President of the Association, to succeed Correlli Barnett.

Peter Simkins began his working life in 1962 as Archivist and Research Assistant to Captain Sir Basil Liddell Hart, before embarking upon a long and distinguished career at the Imperial War Museum, latterly as its Senior Historian and Head of the Research and Information Office. He played a key part in making the Imperial War Museum the formidable institution it is today and established himself as one of the world’s leading authorities on twentieth-century British military history, especially that of the British Army in the Great War.

After his retirement in 1999 Peter was elected to an honorary chair in Modern History at the University of Birmingham, where he has been active in the Centre for First World War Studies, helping to teach and supervise Graduate students. Few people know more about the Western Front in the Great War and few have done more sterling work for the WFA, indefatigably visiting branches, where he is a much-loved and valued lecturer, and guiding exceptional battlefield tours.

He is the ideal person to succeed the formidable Bill Barnett. The WFA is in good hands.