A not-for profit society raising funds for military charities

Welcome to the British Modern Military History Society. 

We organise monthly talks for anyone interested in military history over the last 200 years from Nelson’s times to the present day.   

With top quality talks given by writers, academics, former military personnel, and experts in their field with a wide variety of topics, we are based in Woodcote Village Hall RG8 0QY (near Wallingford) in South Oxfordshire.  We can accommodate up to 100 people in pleasant surroundings, offering a warm and welcoming evening out.

Next BMMHS Event

BMMHS Zoom Talk

Tuesday 5th December 7:30p

Ian Binnie

Ian Binnie is a retired secondary headteacher. Since retirement he has immersed himself in a wide range of historical research and projects. He is Trustee and Education Co-ordinator of the Gallipoli Association and a member of the Council of the Waterloo Association. For a number of years he volunteered at the Fusilier Museum, Warwick and he is a member of the Committee of the Friends of Museum.

He has always had a keen interest in the Second World War, particularly the British Army. Monty served initially in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and it was whilst volunteering at the regimental museum that he developed a great interest in Montgomery.

James Holland, in his book Normandy ’44: D Day and the battle for France, wrote “History has not been kind to Montgomery, particularly over the last 50 years as one historian after another has lined up to crucify both his character and military reputation”. Using a wide range of sources Ian will provide a balanced view of the man that many still regard as the U.K.’s greatest ever general.

The British Army in Normandy 1944 General Montgomery stops his car to chat to troops during a tour of 1st Corps area near Caen, 11 July 1944. Source IWM B 6934
Cuban Missile December Meeting

The Cuban Missile Crisis

by Bill Pyke


Woodcote Village Hall, Reading Road, Woodcote, RG8 0QY

Wednesday 13th December 7:30pm

The Cuban Missile Crisis, 14-27. October 1962:

How close did Britain come to nuclear Armageddon?

Bill Pyke

Arthur M. Schlesinger, a key presidential aid during President Kennedy’s administration described the Cuban missile Crisis of October 1962 as ‘the most dangerous moment in human history’. This comment was by no means an exaggeration. Over 13 days in late October 1962 the Crisis deepened following the covert siting of offensive Soviet strategic missiles in Cuba. This all led to an unprecedented Cold War confrontation that brought the world to the verge of nuclear war.

Between June and October of that year the Soviet Union, under a clandestine operation codenamed ANADYR, shipped military equipment to Cuba that included jet bombers, strategic and tactical missiles including their nuclear warheads. In addition, over 40,000 Soviet military personnel travelled to Cuba dressed as so-called ‘civilian’ advisors. All this took place in conditions of the deepest secrecy. However, ultimately U.S signals intelligence followed up by air reconnaissance over Cuba revealed the scale of operations and the ominous implications for American security.

A U.S. Navy reconnaissance aircraft makes the mid-Atlantic interception of a Soviet freighter carrying Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles (IRBMs), October 1962
RAF Quick Reaction Alert (QRA). Flight crew scrambling to their Vulcan bomber, early 1960s
Regional seats of Government (RSGs) in the event of the likelihood of a nuclear attack.

But what did all this mean for Britain? What were the reactions of the prime minister Harold Macmillan and his defence chiefs to this deepening crisis? Britain had a formidable array of nuclear weapons: the national independent deterrent comprising the RAF’s 140 V-force jet bombers; the jointly controlled Anglo-American inventory of 60 intermediate-range Thor missiles; and an undisclosed number of nuclear-armed aircraft that the USAF’s Strategic Air Command (SAC) that were based at several airfields in England. Soviet leaders recognised that this nuclear arsenal was a direct threat to their homeland. Consequently, this also made the U.K. a priority target should the crisis have ever escalated.

How and why did this the crisis happen? What preparations were in place in the U.K.’s top secret ‘War Book’? Just over six decades have passed since the Cuban Missile crisis, and with the current fraught situation in Ukraine, what lessons can we learn?

Thor missile being raised for fuelling. RAF Feltwell, Norfolk, ca. 1960

Bill Pyke is an independent air power researcher who has focused on the role of the RAF in areas of policy, intelligence, and operations both during the Second World War and the Cold War. Bill completed an MA in Air Power studies with distinction at the University of Birmingham in 2016 under the guidance of Air Commodore (Retd.) Pete Gray. He has subsequently written in the RAF’s Air Power Review and his new biography of Air Marshal Sir John Slessor was published in March 2022.  He has given presentations on various Cold War themes at conferences and talks at King’s College, London, and at both RAF museums: Hendon and Cosford. Bill previously had a 42-year career in the oil industry.

 He has always maintained his keen interest in the role of the RAF during the Cold War.

Bill Pyke

BMMHS Event Registration 

Contact us on info@bmmhs.org to register for BMMHS Events and for Zoom talks the log-in details will be emailed to you on the morning of each talk.

BMMHS Village Hall Meeting Tickets 

Entry cost is just £8, which includes your entry ticket to the talk, a Q & A, and refreshments (beer, wine, soft drinks).  We ask for payment in advance. If you are unable to pay in advance there will be a facility to pay by cash or card on the door. 

For details of how to make an advance payment click here

BMMHS Events 2024

Stalingrad Mike Walsh

Latest News

Change of Event

Change of talk Village Hall Meeting  Wednesday 15th November Due to personal circumstances Dr Emily...

Read More

What you are saying about BMMHS

Event registration & payment

Contact us:

Zoom Talk FAQs

BMMHS Zoom Talks Logo

Village Hall FAQs

BMMHS Village Hall Meetings Logo
Venue Address
Woodcote Village Hall
South Oxfordshire

Glimpses of War

A compilation of military stories and eyewitness accounts to raise funds for Blind Veterans UK.

Registered charity in England and Wales (216227) and in Scotland (SC039411). Proceeds raised are donated to Blind Veterans UK.
Glimpses people

Click above to order your copies

Useful links

Copyright © 2023 bmmhs.org – All Rights Reserved

Images © IWM & NAM