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History Podcasts

A podcast hosted by Dr Tom Thorpe on all aspects of the Great War from the UK's leading First World War history society The Western Front Association (


United Kingdom


A podcast hosted by Dr Tom Thorpe on all aspects of the Great War from the UK's leading First World War history society The Western Front Association (




Ep316 – AEF Communications during the Great War – Dr. Brian Hall

Academic Dr Brian Hall talks about his research into the development of communications in the American Expeditionary Force during the Great War. Brian is the Programme Leader, BA (Hons) Contemporary Military & International History, University of Salford.


Ep315 – Smuts, Botha and the Great War – Dr Anthony Garcia

Dr Tony Garcia talks about the book he jointly authored with Ian van der Waag on the Great War roles of roles played by the South African prime minister, General Louis Botha, and his deputy, General Jan Smuts during the Great War. These were very different men and they appealed to different audiences. Botha’s nuance and emotional intelligence complemented Smuts’s intellectualism. Thrown into a world conflagration in August 1914, Botha and Smuts – facing internal rebellion and the threat posed by German troops on their borders – led South Africa’s Union Defence Force, and often commanded from the front. South Africa’s campaigns began badly. The campaigns in German South West and East Africa started with reverses at Sandfontein in September 1914 and Salaitia in January 1916. However, Springbok soldiers of all backgrounds proved resilient, and the later campaigns were marked by near uniform success. The “first-battle” experiences had reshaped thinking and led to better leadership and command at all levels. Both Botha and Smuts commanded in the field. Steadily, the South African army they commanded – benefiting from wartime training, sometimes in the field – gained resilience, experience, and battle-hardiness, adapting to the conditions of the campaigns and the demands of the tasks. South Africa’s campaigns were complex and divergent, starting with the invasion of neighbouring German South West Africa – to neutralise the radio stations and so aid security in the South Atlantic. Suddenly suspended following the outbreak of the Afrikaner Rebellion, the campaign recommenced in January 1915. Following its conclusion, an infantry brigade, raised for the Western Front, was diverted to Egypt before facing near annihilation at Delville Wood. Reconstructed more than once, the brigade was accompanied by a field ambulance and general hospital. The South African deployment in France included two brigades of heavy artillery, a signal company, a railway company, and Auxiliary Horse Transport Company, and several South African Native Labour Contingents. At the same time, a large South African force, fighting alongside troops from British Africa and India, broke German resistance in East Africa, and a brigade of field artillery and later the Cape Corps served in Egypt and Palestine. In addition, more than 6 500 South Africans served in the British Army, the Royal Flying Corps, later the Royal Air Force, and on ships of the Royal Navy. Although lionised during the war by a British public hungry for heroes, there is a different side to Botha and Smuts. Shunned by Afrikaner nationalists at the time, they have remained divisive figures. Responsible for the enactment of the Land Act of 1913, which shaped South Africa’s socio-economic and political landscape, Botha’s statue in Cape Town was vandalised in 2015 and 2016. Behind his charming, attractive façade, and Smuts’s stoic machine, were two very human, imperfect, and quite probably inconsiderate, men. Together they provide a wonderful lens through which to examine the potent forces of the early twentieth-century world and the country they hoped to forge. Myopic compatriots had constrained their plans; but it was the outbreak of war in 1914 that offered the most significant opportunities and brought the most adverse challenges. They fought insurmountable odds, and achieved great victories, at home and abroad, but also made startling errors, and, ultimately, in classical fashion risked being crushed by the weight of the world they tried to create. Ian van der Waag is a faculty member in Military History at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. Tony Garcia is Research Fellow at Stellenbosch University. His latest book publication The First Campaign Victory of the Great War was published by Helion in 2019.


Ep314 – The German Army in 1917 – Dr Tony Cowan

Author and academic Dr Tony Cowan talks about his recent book, Holding Out. This book examines German operational command during a critical phase of the First World War from November 1916 to the eve of the third battle of Ypres. The situation faced by the German army on the Western Front in 1917 was very different from the one anticipated in pre-war doctrine and Holding Out examines how German commanders and staff officers adapted. Tony Cowan analyses key command tasks to get under the skin of the army's command culture, internal politics and battle management systems from co-ordinating the troops, matériel and different levels of command needed to fight a modern battle to continuously learning and applying lessons from the ever-changing Western Front. His detailed analysis of the German defeat of the 1917 Entente spring offensive sheds new light on how the army and Germany were able to hold out so long during the war against increasing odds. This is published by CUP. Tony is a retired diplomat and member of the British Commission for Military History, Society of Military History and Western Front Association. He co-edited a translation of the German official monograph on the battle of Amiens (2019).


Ep313 – Anzac Labour – Dr Nathan Wise



Ep312 – Barcombe in the Great War – Ian Hilder

Author Ian Hilder about talks his recent book Great War Barcombe News from a Sussex Village 1914 -1919. This book was published by Country Books in 2018.


Ep311 – The Third Earl of Durham in the GW – Peter Welsh



Ep310 – International Jewish relief work in WW1 – Dr Jaclyn Granick



Ep309 – Russian military strategy in WW1 – Dr Sofya Anisimova



Ep308 – Teachers from Victoria, Australian in the GW – Caroline Torode

Caroline Torode talks about her research into state teachers from Victoria, Australia during the Great War. Her talk is based on her MA thesis that looked at Victorian Government Teachers and their selection and promotion within the Australian Imperial Force.


Ep307 – The 1922 Chanak Crisis and the legacy of the Great War – Dr Jenny Macleod

Dr Jenny Macleod, Senior Lecturer in 20th Century History at the University of Hull, talks about the 1922 Chanak Crisis and the actions of Lloyd [...]


Ep306 – Lambton Ladies in the Great War: Katherine, Eleanor, Beatrix and Anne – Peter Welsh

Peter Welsh about his research into the daughters of the aristocratic Lambton family, their lives and work during the Great War. They were Katherine, Eleanor, [...]


Ep305 – Women doctors on the Eastern and Western Fronts – Dr Ann Robertson

Former medical consultant, historian and author, Dr Ann Robertson, talks about her research into female doctors’ service and the Great War.


Ep304 – The Indian Army in WW1 – Dr Alan Jeffreys

Dr Alan Jeffreys talks about his recent publication of collected essays on the Indian Army recently published by Helion. Alan is Head of Equipment and Uniform at the National Army Museum and also a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Greenwich. His book and interview address the important global role of the Indian Army during the First World War. The edited volume covers the traditional areas of the Indian Army on the Western Front, in Palestine, Mesopotamia and the defence of the Suez Canal; however, there are also chapters on combined operations; Indian prisoners of war in Germany and Turkey; the expansion of the officer corps; and the Sikh experience, as well as the mobilisation of the equine army at the beginning of the war and the demobilisation of the army in the period from 1918 until 1923. Three additional chapters are related to the theme, such as the role of the Royal Indian Marine; the Territorial Army in India; and Churchill’s portrayal of the Indian Army during the Gallipoli campaign in his account The World Crisis.


Ep303 – The Remount Service and the Army Veterinary Corps during The Great War – Dr Jane Flynn

Dr Jane Flynn talks about the Army Remount Service and the Army Veterinary Corps during The Great War. The outbreak of war in 1914, found [...]


Ep302 – The role of birds in the GW – Nicholas Milton

Ornithologist, author and historian Nicholas Milton talks about his recent book on the role of birds in the Great War. This book is published by [...]


Ep301 – Elsie and Mairi Go to War – Dr Diane Atkinson

Dr Diane Atkinson, historian and author, talks about her recent book about Elsie Knocker and Mairi Gooden-Chisholm and their service during the Great War. Diane [...]


Ep300 – The state of GW scholarship – Prof John Borne, Dr Jonathan Boff, Dr Alex Mayhew

Prof. John Bourne, Dr Alex Mayhew and Dr Jonathan Boff discuss the current state of academic research on the Great War. All three have connections with Birmingham [...]


Ep299 – Queen’s Westminster Rifles in the Great War – Steve Hammond

Steve Hammond talks about his research and interest in the Queen Westminster Rifles during the Great War. The Queen’s Westminsters were an infantry regiment of [...]


Ep298 – A Jewish Aid Worker in Ukraine during the Russian Civil War, 1918-1920 – Dr Michael Nutkiewicz

Dr Michael Nutkiewicz talks about his new book, A Ukrainian Chapter. A Jewish Aid Worker’s Memoir of Sorrow. This is the translation of a memoir [...]


Ep297 – Organisational learning on the Western Front – Dr Mike Hunzeker

Dr Michael Hunzeker talks about his new book, Dying to Learn that looks at innovation and learning on the Western Front during the Great War. [...]