The Widening of the First World War conference 2015

27th July - 31st July 2015


TThe Ottoman Empire may now seem to take centre stage but the demands of the Western Front remain insatiable. A campaign to defeat the Turks at the Dardanelles and then remove them from the war is launched with high expectations, given the frustration of all endeavor on the Western Front, but no such success is won. Against the same adversary, a force is sent to Mesopotamia to secure Britain's oil supply and here initial gains are dangerously over-extended, the prelude to disaster the following year. Meanwhile from March to September on the Western Front, British and French offensives and a major German attack employing the new weapon, poison gas, give rise to strategic consideration that for the Entente the primacy of the fighting in France is undeniable. Into an increasingly polarised debate over this, the divisive issue of the competence and co-ordination of British and French High Command seriously affects concerted political/military direction of the war effort.

1915 was a year which offered little prospect of success for the Allies but endless fascination for the student today. Was British military leadership inept, employing unimaginative, provenly unsuccessful tactics time and again? The offensives on the Western Front and on the Gallipoli Peninsula are often quoted as prime examples of this, so many months before the claimed notoriety of the Somme. Is this a fair assessment or do such charges fail properly to understand the nature of the problem facing a High Command inexorably committed to attack?

We shall certainly be looking at this issue but though we have chosen to be Anglo-centric in our considerations, this will not exclusively be the case. We shall consider one of our entente partners, France or Russia from the perspective of their domestic scene while engaged in a major war.

Further topics selected include the Great War and its challenge to Medicine and Surgery; Faith and war; Prose and Poetry published during the war; the Indian Army; the town of Halifax in West Yorkshire gearing itself up for war; Bereavement, coping with loss; Household economy; Espionage; Sex and the soldier and the citizen; and interviewing those who earned the Victoria Cross. Surely we have here a range of topics to whet the interest of all who share our commitment of learning more about the Great War.

This conference is currently under developmen. More information will follow shortly.


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