On Tuesday 5th July 2022 a Festschrift was presented to our Founding Secretary General, Professor Christopher Duffy.
The Festschrift, the book of essays, was published by Helion under the title The Changing Face of Old Regime Warfare, Essays in Honour of Christopher Duffy and edited by Alexander S Burns https://www.helion.co.uk/military-history-books/the-changing-face-of-old-regime-warfare-essays-in-honour-of-christopher-duffy.php?sid=18947b37085ebe8d70eda262d41494d5 .
The presentation was a joint event organised by Helion and the BCMH at the Cavalry & Guards Club. I am most grateful to Bernard Hornung, our contact at the Friends of the Lines of Torres Vedras for making the arrangements.
Our President, Bill Philpott, gave a short introduction about Christopher and the Commission. He was followed by Michael Orr who had first met Christopher at Balliol and then worked with him at Sandhurst. He talked about the respect that staff and students had for Christopher, his accessibility to new arrivals, the chaos of his room and the readability yet depth of his writing.
Alex Burns, editor of the Festschrift then spoke about Christopher's influence on younger historians. He had been brought up in Strawtown, Indiana which did not possess a public library. Nevertheless he managed to find a copy of Armies of Frederick the Great aged 10 and, on a trip to Europe, undertook a school project about the battle of Rossbach.
In his response Christopher made four major points.
1) He felt immensely privileged to have been employed by the Army to do work that he would have chosen to do anyway.
2) He had greatly enjoyed working with historians in former Communist countries - East Germany, Hungary and Czechoslovakia as well as Austria - it was fun while it lasted!
3) Whilst in Vienna he was immensely grateful to be given a personal tour of the private rooms at the Hofburg Palace.
4) But Christopher's main remarks related to the interest in military history amongst members of the general public. This had driven the demand in the subject in recent decades which had been picked up by small specialist publishers. The quality of most work now was extremely high. He felt there was no difference, with a few exceptions, between 'professionals' and 'amateurs' - much of the recent work on, say, the 1813 campaign was, he asserted, of a standard that he could not have achieved! This was why he had always insisted that the BCMH should be open to everyone. The Congresses held by the International Commission were essential in spreading ideas across boundaries and attendance at them had led to the creation of the British Commission in 1965.
Christopher’s works are listed here: