Meeting: Amateur Soldiering Tradition in Britain & the Empire 1899-1945

Speaker: Professor Gary Sheffield

Wednesday 8th April 2020; 7:30 pm

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


We recognise the current issues and concerns regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19) and at this stage it is with considerable regret that we have decided to CANCEL both this BMMHS event scheduled to take place on Wednesday 8th April 2020 and the following event on Wednesday 13th May on the Battle of the Atlantic. 
We plan to reorganise the cancelled talks at later dates and will post details on the BMMHS website and Facebook once things become clearer.
As responsible event organisers and in line with our values, the health and safety of all those who attend our events is our primary concern and priority.
The advice from Public Health England to minimise risks to health is for you to wash your hands regularly and thoroughly, to carry tissues to capture sneezes and if you do feel unwell, seek medical advice, avoiding large public gatherings as you would with the flu.
If you are planning to attend future BMMHS events then please continue to check this website for further updates. 
If you have any further questions then please do not hesitate to contact us on
In the meantime we will continue to monitor the evolving situation closely guided by information from the UK Government and Public Health England.  Other scheduled talks will be under regular review and we will make decisions on them nearer the time and according to the situation prevailing and the latest medical advice.
We look forward to continuing normal service once we have been advised that it is safe to do so.
The BMMHS Executive Team
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The British Modern Military History Society will this month be hosting a presentation given by the emminent historian and author Professor Gary Sheffield on:- 

Amateur Soldiering Tradition in Britain & the Empire 1899-1945

Amateur Soldiering Tradition in Britain & the Empire
EMPIRE FORCES IN GREAT BRITAIN 1939-1945 (H 1821) Troops and nursing sisters of the 2nd Australian Imperial Force line the rails of a troopship as it docks at Gourock on the Clyde, 19 June 1940. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

From the mid 19th century onwards Britain had a tradition of part time  ‘civilian soldiering ‘ in Britain and across the British Empire . Gary Sheffield’s talk will be examining the significance of this  tradition in the Boer war and the two World Wars.

He will be considering whether or not British society was militarised by this tradition and the overall significance of the phenomena  of  civilian soldiering in wars of the 19th and 20th Centuries .  

The Entire British Empire is With Us – Fighters from Great Britain and British Colonies] (Art.IWM PST 16037) photographs of British Empire and Commonwealth soldiers including, in the centre, a British so... Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:
DOMINION AND EMPIRE FORCES IN THE UNITED KINGDOM, 1939-45 (H 2045) King George VI inspecting men of the Australian Imperial Force at Salisbury, 4 July 1940. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:
THE COLONIAL REGIMENTS IN THE BRITISH ARMY DURING THE FIRST WORLD WAR Acting Governor The Hon. E. B. Jarvis CMG presenting medals for the Great War to one of the soldiers of 4th Battalion, King's African Rifles at Bombo, Uganda. Bombo was the Depot of 4th KAR. © IWM © The rightsholder (Q 67815)
WEST AFRICAN TROOPS IN INDIA DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (IND 2864) Indian soldiers mingle with troops of the 81st West African Division after the latter had arrived in India for jungle training. The first African colonial troops to fight outside Africa, the 81st Division went on to Burma in December 1943. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

Event Details and Entry Cost​

When we host Meetings in Woodcote Village Hall, entry cost is just £8, payable (cash only) on the door.  This includes your entry ticket to the talk, a Q & A, refreshments (beer, wine, soft drinks) and light snacks (sandwiches etc.).  At each talk, we also make a contribution to a military related charity of our speaker’s choice. We also hold a raffle at each talk.

Doors open at 7:00pm and talks are scheduled to start at 7:30 pm. Entrance to the main hall is via the main entrance on the Reading Road in Woodcote.

Car parking is available on site, but can get quite busy. Disabled parking and access to the hall is available. 

As many of our talks do ‘sell out’ in advance, we recommend you reserve your places well in advance to avoid disappointment by contacting us on   We will then confirm your reservation back to you if seats are available.

If you have any other questions,  please contact us on 

We look forward to welcoming you to our meeting.

Meeting Venue: Woodcote Village Hall​

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

If you are unable to attend this meeting but would be interested in attending any of our future presentations or joining any organised trips please contact us on so we can keep you updated.

Our Allies the Colonies - Royal West African Frontier Force (Art.IWM PST 15417) Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:
DOMINION AND EMPIRE FORCES IN THE UNITED KINGDOM 1939-45 (H 948) Gunners of the 1st Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery, with a 2-pdr anti-tank gun in a sandbagged position, Aldershot, December 1939. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

Biographical notes – Professor Gary Sheffield

Gary Sheffield is an internationally-recognised expert on the First World War, especially the role of the British army. His research interests are, broadly, Britain in the age of total war, 1914 to 1945, and military history, especially land warfare, since Napoleon.
Sir Max Hastings has described Gary as “one of the Britain’s foremost historians of the First World War – insightful, original, and superbly informed”.
Professor Gary Sheffield MA, PhD, FRHistS, FRSA, is co-director of the First World War Research Group. He was educated at the University of Leeds (BA, MA) and King’s College London.
He started his academic career in the Department of War Studies, Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, before moving to King’s College London’s Defence Studies Department, based at the Joint Services Command and Staff College, Shrivenham, where he was Land Warfare Historian on the Higher Command and Staff Course, the UK’s senior operational course for senior officers.
Awarded a Personal Chair by KCL in 2005, he took up the newly-created Chair of War Studies at the University of Birmingham in 2006 before moving to the University of Wolverhampton in September 2013.
Gary Sheffield
Professor Gary Sheffield
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In Haig's Shadow released 1st October 2019

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