Five things I learnt at the 4th GWF Conference

Richard Van Emden – “Boy Soldiers of the Great War”
BritishArmyWWIMedalRollsIndexCards19141920_124810857The story of Jack Auguste Pouchot, the fifteen year old who won a Distinguished Conduct Medal for attempting to rescue two wounded men lying in No Man’s Land and who subsequently went on to join the Royal Flying Corps. Jack was killed flying a SE5a near Le Cateau on 5th October 1918 and is buried in Marcoing British Cemetery

Peter Barton – “La Boisselle: Archaeology, History, Technology and Genealogy”
Close-up-view-of-British-French-trenches-showing-openings-of-X-Incline-and-W-AditThe fantastic work being carried out by the La Boisselle Study Group in a truly multi-disciplinary study of a unique segment of the Great War frontline situated in the village of La Boisselle on the Somme. The surviving brick floors of the original farm buildings are covered only by inches of turf, while 100 feet underneath, the tunnels cut within the chalk still look pristine.

Peter Hart – “1914 – the French at War”
Screen Shot 2013-04-14 at 10.55.26The true cost paid by the French nation in the Great War – in particular the 27,000 killed on 22nd August 1914 in the Battle of the Frontiers – is an area frequently ignored by those who focus solely on British activities on the Western Front.

Simon Justice – “Drawing the Line: British Plans for Defence of the Western Front 1917-18”
scan0008That Martin Samuels was mistaken when he accused GHQ of an incomplete application of mis-understood & ineffective German defensive principles in the run-up to the Spring Offensive. Papers within the National Archives demonstrate that “defence in depth”, “blobbing” etc were all present in 1916 planning. The role and achievements of “warrior-gurus” such as Ivor Maxse, Cecil Pereira & Richard Haking is emerging through academic research.

Alan Wakefield – “Carry On Up The Tigris – the experiences of British and Indian troops in Mesopotamia 1914-1918”
800px-Maude_in_BaghdadThat the 27,000 “British” dead from the fighting in Mesopotamia could have been largely avoided if we had simply stopped after securing the oil ports and not decided to take the 400 mile distant prize of Baghdad as well.