The First World War Uncovered Special Interest Day

The inspiration for Biggles; the lesser-known role of the French Army in the trenches and how to read photographs of your military ancestors

Saturday 23 November
Commencing at 10.30am

In the Marshall Auditorium in AirSpace

The First World War Uncovered looks at different aspects of the Great War with three authoritative speakers.

Dr Geoff Hales looks at the career of Captain W E Johns, a bomber pilot in the Royal Flying Corps who was most famous for his fictional aviation character, Major James Bigglesworth, known to many childhood fans as Biggles.

Johns’ career was equally exciting as that of Biggles. He was an infantryman at Gallipoli and Salonika and then joined the Royal Flying Corps. He survived crashes in training and in combat before being shot down, captured and threatened with a firing squad.

Dr Hales’ talk weaves together the careers of W E Johns and his fictional hero, taking them beyond their days in the Royal Flying Corps and into their future endeavours.

Jonathan Krause is a Lecturer in Strategic Studies at the Royal Air Force College at Cranwell. An expert on the French Army in the First World War, his book Early Trench Tactics in the French Army is the first in the English language to look at how the French Army developed its own system of trench warfare.

In 1914, the French Army had over 60 divisions fighting on the Western Front, totaling over two million men in uniform. By comparison, the British Expeditionary Force had a mere six divisions, four infantry and two cavalry. Even by 1918, the French still maintained nine armies on the Western Front, compared to five British, two American and one Belgian.

Such a heavy and sustained deployment of men led to approximately 1.3 million Frenchmen dying in the Great War; an average of some 890 per day. The French effort was enormous and yet, argues Krause, it remains grossly underrepresented in the history books.

Jonathan Krause will discuss the efforts of the French Army from 1914 to 1916 and how the French trench warfare techniques differed in comparison to those of the British and German armies.

Neil Storey will be looking at how to interpret photographs of family members in uniform. He will give advice on how to identify the roles of family members in the First World War using the clues to be found in their photographs. He will also explain how to further develop your family military research.

Neil Storey has been a specialist collector of medals and militaria for almost thirty years. His knowledge is nationally respected and he has appeared on numerous BBC radio and television programmes.

Neil writes regular features for Family Tree Magazine. He wrote the acclaimed book Military Photographs and How to Date Them and is a regular expert at the prestigious Who Do You Think You Are? Live! family history event at Olympia.

Places on the First World War Uncovered Special Interest Day must be booked in advance. Ticket prices include entry to the museum.

Ticket Prices:

Adults £21.50
Child £9.90
Senior £16.40
Student £13.20
UB40 £13.20
Disabled £13.20
Carer £9.90

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