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

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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