Future Presentations to be held at Sports Hall Room (SP101), St. George’s School, Sun Lane, Harpenden AL5 4TD

Meet at 7.30pm for an 8.00pm start - tea, coffee and biscuits included during the evening. 

Requested minimum donation on the door (to help cover Hall Hire, Speaker's Fees and Refreshments) : £3.50

28 April - Charles Sargeant Jagger

Dr. Jonathan Black will relate the career of Charles Sargeant Jagger MC (1885-1934) including his Western Front experiences and those related to war memorials (including the one for Bedford in 1922). He was a First Lieutenant with the 2nd Worcesters, October 1917-April 1918 and took part in Third Ypres and Battle of Neuve Eglise (12-14 April 1918); it was for commanding a company during later that he was later awarded the MC and in the battle he was hit by a German machine gun bullet in the chest. In early autumn 1918 the Ministry of Info commissioned him to make low-relief The First Battle of Ypres – The Worcesters at Gheluvelt (ref to the battle in October 1914). Into 1919 on his own initiative he made low-relief No-Man’s-Land inspired by his memories of Passchendaele. 1919-30: he made sculpture for a dozen war memorials in the UK and abroad for the Imperial War Graves Commission and nearly all reference the Western Front in some way.

Jonathan Black read History with History of Art at the University of Cambridge. Between 1997 and 2003, he obtained an MA and Ph.D. in History of Art from University College, London. Hi MA focused on the English Futurism of CRW Nevinson (1913-1916) while his Ph.D. explored the image of the British soldier, or 'Tommy', in the First World War Art of C.R.W. Nevinson, Eric Kennington, and Charles Sargeant Jagger.c 1915-1925. Jonathan has curated several exhibitions and his 2011 monograph, The Face of Courage: Eric Kennington, Portraiture and the Second World War, coincided with the opening of an exhibition with the same title at the Royal Air Force Museum. This exhibition comprised of 40 of Kennington's Second World War pastel drawings and lithographic prints. He is currently Senior Research Fellow in History of Art at Kingston University.

19 May - Nursing through shot, shell and shell-shock: medical women at the Front

Seeking to correct the myth that those who nursed overseas were all well-bred VADs, ‘Nursing through Shot, Shell and Shell-shock’ looks instead at the dedicated service of professional nurses and doctors as well as the volunteers.  Historian and author, Dr. Viv Newman will focus is women who worked in some of the most horrific conditions in all theatres to succour the wounded and in so doing put their own lives, health and indeed mental health at significant risk.  The first evacuation of a traumatised QAIMNS Staff Nurse occurred in early 1915; in the 1920s a TFNS matron was diagnosed as suffering from ‘war nerves’, yet few people today are aware that both professional and volunteer nurses also cracked under the strain of their service and that, to quote terminology used in one nurse’s papers, ‘the cause of her transport was shell-shock’.  This talk focuses on a few of the War’s many unsung nursing and medical heroines and explores the physical and emotional cost of their service.

Dr. Newman has taught women’s war poetry in both academic and non-academic settings and speaks widely at history conferences (both national and international). She gives talks to a variety of audiences ranging from First World War devotees of organisations such as the Western Front Association as well as to Rotarians, Women’s Institutes and U3A. Her work at the University of Essex includes supporting Humanities students with their academic writing.

23 June - The St. Albans City Military Service Tribunal: Conscription, Conscience and Commerce

At more than 100 sittings, the city’s tribunal considered applications for exemption from conscription from 1,050 men. Using the tribunal minute books and registers together with extensive reports in the local newspaper, this talk assesses how the tribunal dealt with the controversy of the city’s 23 conscientious objectors as well as the hundreds of applications made by the city’s large businesses. In particular it investigates the effect of the tribunal’s decisions on the staple trades of the straw hat manufacturers, boot and shoe makers as well the large printing companies.

Julie Moore and Maggy Douglas are both members of the Home Front Research Group of the St Albans and Hertfordshire Architectural and Archaeological Society. The 21-strong group was formed in 2013 to consider the effects of the First World War on the social and economic development of St Albans. Their findings were published in 2016 by Hertfordshire Publications in St Albans: Life on the Home Front, 1914-1918.

Julie is a member of the University of Hertfordshire’s History Department and their ‘Everyday Lives in War’ First World War Engagement Centre. The Centre supports individuals, schools, community groups and local history societies uncover some of the less well-known stories from the First World War. She has a particular interest in the areas of food and farming, and has recently begun to research the experiences of conscientious objectors working on farms in Hertfordshire. Maggy was born and brought up in St Albans. She graduated in Business Studies and spent most of her working life in the City. She currently works part-time for the Hertfordshire library service in Harpenden and volunteers for other local organisations, such as the Abbey Theatre and Health Walks. Having served in the Territorial Army in her younger days, Maggy has enjoyed in particular investigating the development of the St Albans Volunteer Training Corps and its relationship with the City Tribunal.

22 September - Members’ Evening and Annual General Meeting

20 October - John Singer Sargent's "Gassed" And Popular Perceptions Of Blinded Veterans
This talk, by Gary Haines, investigates the representation of blinded veterans of the First World War in England. Two key works of literature - DH Lawrence's 'The Blind Man' and Vera Brittain's 'Testament of Youth' - will be discussed in relation to John Singer Sargent's famous oil painting 'Gassed', 1919.

Sargent's depiction of the sightless soldier shaped popular perceptions of those blinded in battle. 'Gassed' is a painting that has evolved into more than oil on canvas. It has become an icon of suffering. The work of St Dunstan's, now Blind Veterans UK, forms the conclusion of this discussion. They fought against misconceptions surrounding those blinded in war and enabled the blind to lead more self-sufficient lives.

Gary Haines is a freelance archivist, teacher, writer and curator. For the last three years, he has been performing research at Birkbeck College into cultural perceptions of the blinded British soldier.

17 November - The Work Of The Shorncliffe Trust : A Light In The Darkest Hour, WW1 Commemorations 2014-2018 And Beyond

The old training grounds at Shorncliffe in Kent encompass over 200 years of military, social and cultural history. The Shorncliffe Trust intends to tell the story of Shorncliffe (and the men and women who trained and lived there) from its earliest days defending Britain against invasion, to its role in the birth of the modern army through the role of Sir John Moore, its extension through the Victorian period to the Edwardian and the First and Second World Wars and beyond to the modern day role of The Brigade of Gurkhas. They aim to mark the centenary of the First World War, by securing the Shorncliffe Redoubt and begin the task of regenerating the site into a world class heritage and education centre. Our Speaker, Steve Head, will tell the story so far with particular emphasis on the Great War period and the special programme of remembrance which took place in 2016 (http://shorncliffe-trust.org.uk/trust.html)

Steve Head has the role within the Shorncliffe Trust, as both Lead for Education and a Trustee, to develop, promote and deliver the educational objectives of the charity which involves work closely with national and international education establishments, societies, charities, museums, historians and other interested parties. He has a particular interest in World War One having extensively researched several ancestors. During the day he teaches in the offender learning environment having gained his CertEd in 2011 and is currently studying part time for a BA in History at Birkbeck University of London.

15 December - ‘Very Like England’ – The 1920s and 1930s Commemorations of the Battle of the Somme

This talk will explore the key themes associated with the memory of the Battle of the Somme in the inter-war period, the controversy over the Thiepval memorial and how it came to have particular resonances for certain communities in Britain and the Empire.
Professor Mark Connelly was drawn into his History anorak lifestyle when, as a small boy, he became fascinated by ladybird history books. For him, the subject of History was all about castles, knights, Airfix kits (constructed with incredibly little skill and amazing amounts of glue) and Action Man Scorpion tanks. This obsession has been taken into adulthood and he now combines his interest in films, television and visual images with his interest in military history, this is reflected in many of his publications. Not content with keeping his interests to himself he now shares his passion for history with others, most notably his students and his family. As a result, he claims that his wife is now adept at spotting a Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone or a war memorial in a misty churchyard from quite some distance away.

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