Volume 2, Issue 3 - EDITORIAL
Time to don your tin hats! Here comes the First World War centenary… again!
1 July 2016 will mark 100 years since the opening of the Battle of the Somme. Amidst the many questions that will be asked of the conduct, bloodshed, and legacy lies a golden opportunity for historians to explore themes that rarely get an airing. Pals, mud and machine guns dominate public perceptions while newspapers, documentaries and books recycle the same emotive tropes. Yet these Anglo-centric narratives, as important as they are, can overshadow the international contributions that were made to one of the most important battles of the twentieth century.
The BJMH is proud to bring you three articles on the battle of the Somme from three international scholars. The French commitment to the battle, so often overlooked, is vividly brought to life by Elizabeth Greenhalgh who has skilfully charted the important role played by Ferdinand Foch. Meleah Hampton has produced a magisterial account of the Australians on the Somme, which offers some serious and trenchant criticism of our cover star Hubert de la Poer Gough. And in a fine work of micro-history, Bill Stewart has artfully unpicked the attack of the 44th Battalion of the 4th Canadian Division on 25 October 1916 shedding light on the Canadian participation in the latter stages of the battle. The historical duckboards of the Somme may be well-trodden, but these articles offer a challenge to simple parochial, national views of that seminal battle and provide genuinely original insights which we are proud to showcase here.
If the centenary of the First World War is beginning to feel a little too similar to the attritional slog of the war itself, then let Philip Abbott, Paul Donker, and Kenton White provide a little nineteenth century respite. Looking at the diverse effects of the Napoleonic War on art, military thought and mapping they showcase the enduring resonance of that conflict just over two hundred years on.
While the centenary of the First World War will probably rumble on in predictable ways, the BJMH will continue to publish fresh and original research produced by historians from across the globe. We hope you enjoy this issue.
DR STUART MITCHELL
Senior Lecturer RMA Sandhurst & Editor BJMH
Image: General Hubert Gough and King Albert of the Belgians on the old Somme battlefield, 1917. Morale raising visits to troops in the field were frequently undertaken by members of the Royal Family, senior politicians and high ranking Army officers. The Press Bureau - Nationaal Archief