BMMHS Vulcan LogoIn a recent fortunate contact we were introduced to the BMMHS,  they host Talks close to their home in Reading, England, several by speakers who will be known to our friends from our own Lecture Series. Whilst the BMMHS cover a wider range, a good number of the talks are on  Second World War. During the times of Covid restrictions they began to present the talks on Zoom.

The British Modern Military History Society (BMMHS), formed in May 2019, as a non-for profit organisation and organises monthly zoom talks and meetings for anyone interested in the military history and conflicts of the last 200 years spanning from Nelson’s era to present day. BMMHS has a full schedule of talks with speakers already booked through 2021 and much of  2022.  Full details about the society, our talks and activities  can be found on Facebook or our website
BMMHS makes donations to a range of military charities from its talks and meetings.  We are currently working on a book Glimpses of War – Volume 1,  which is a compilation of military stories and personal accounts of war time experiences to raise funds for Blind Veterans UK (formerly St Dunstan’s).  This will be published in the spring of 2021.
We invite all members and supporters of SWWEC to join our Zoom talks and meetings, and to contribute to the future volumes of Glimpses of War with their own or their families’ wartime experiences.

SWWEC will in cooperation with BMMHS list their talks on our website and feel sure many of you might like to attend, even virtually.

For more information click here – BMMHS Events 2021 8th Feb


SWWEC Annual Lectures 2000 – 2015  – some of the very best Lecturers in wonderful surroundings.

In 2000 The Second World War Experience Centre launched its Annual Lecture Series on “The Experience of War in the 20th Century”. The Lectures have now run for the last 15 years, thanks to the support of several sponsors,  most recently the very kind support of Serco plc. Following the end of the kind Serco Support the trustees decided to focus time and resources on extending a wider access to the Archive by the use of the Internet and a full digitisation of the Centre material – this is a significant project and continues.

Lectures  take place in the autumn with eminent academics and authors being invited to deliver the lectures on their specialist subjects.  Lectures have been held  at  The Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds, the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh, The University Leeds, The Royal Hospital Chelsea and this year at the Royal Air Force Club. Speakers  have included:-

Dr. Niall Barr  (Yanks and Limeys: Alliance Warfare in the Second World War)

Martin Bell (War in the Age of Television)

Professor Chris Bellamy (70th anniversary of 1944: A comparison of the breakout from Normandy and the Belorussian Operation, Bagration)

Antony Beevor (Stalingrad)

Dr. Jonathan Boff (The Battle of the Atlantic)

Dennis Butts (Seeking an Oasis: The Poetry of the Second World War – with readings)

Dr. Peter Caddick-Adams (Monte Cassino: Ten Armies in Hell)

Lloyd Clark (The Battle of Kursk 1943: The Death of Blitzkrieg)

Lord Max Egremont (Winter Storms : The Last Years of East Prussia)

Dr. Jonathan Fennell (Disaster to Victory: The Eighth Army and the Path to El Alamein)

Niall Ferguson (Prisoner Taking and Killing)

M R D Foot (Secret Warfare)

Charles Glass (Americans in Paris, Life and Death under Nazi Occupation, 1940 -1944)

James Holland (The War in the West: Germany Ascendant 1939 – 1941)

Professor Richard Holmes (Monte Cassino).

Ben MacIntyre (Operation Mincemeat : The True Spy Story that Changed the Course of World War II)

Major General Mungo Melvin (Sevastopol: Crimea’s Wars from Potemkin to Putin)

Richard Overy (The Nazi Elite in Allied Hands)

Professor Gary Sheffield (The British Soldier in the Second World War: the Experience of Combat)


Local Presentations and events.

SWWEC interviewers  and volunteers will present information about material we hold in the Centre archives in context with the events of the time and often Local connections.


Dr Niall Barr is Reader in Military History at the Defence Studies Department, King’s College London, based at the Joint Services Command and Staff College. Educated at the University of St Andrews, he has previously taught at St Andrews and the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. He joined Staff College in 2000, where he teaches on a wide range of military courses.  He has conducted battlefield tours and staff rides all over Europe. He is currently the Land Warfare Historian on the Higher Command and Staff Course.  His main research interest concerns the fighting methods of the British Army in the twentieth century but he also has an enduring interest in the Scottish military tradition. His next major work Yanks and Limeys: Alliance Warfare in the Second World War has just been published by Jonathan Cape Ltd.

Antony is a military historian, educated at Winchester College and Sandhurst. He is a former officer with the 11th Hussars, who served in England and Germany for five years before resigning his commission. He often appears as an expert in documentaries related to World War II. An accomplished author, he has published many books including several prize winning popular histories on the Second World War and the 20th century in general. Crete: The Battle and the Resistance  (1991), Stalingrad  (1998), Berlin – The Downfall 1945,(2002) and The Second World War published in 2012,

Martin Bell, OBE,  is a British UNICEF (UNICEF UK) Ambassador, a former broadcast war reporter and former independent politician. He was the MP for Tatton from 1997 to 2001. He is sometimes known as “the man in the white suit”. Educated at The Leys School in Cambridge and King’s College Cambridge, where he achieved a First Class Honours Degree in English. During his two-year national service he served out his time as an acting corporal in the Suffolk Regiment serving in Cyprus during the emergency.
Martin Bell joined the BBC as a reporter in Norwich in 1962 as a 24-year-old, he moved to London three years later, beginning a distinguished career as a foreign affairs correspondent with his first assignment in Ghana. Over the next thirty years, he covered eleven conflicts and reported from eighty countries, making his name with reports from wars and conflicts in Vietnam, Middle East, Nigeria, Angola, and in Northern Ireland (during the Troubles).

He won the Royal Television Society’s Reporter of the Year award in 1977 and 1993, and was appointed an OBE in 1992. That same year, while covering the war in Bosnia, Bell was seriously wounded by shrapnel while recording a report.

He has published several books
(London – 1996)In Harm’s Way,  (Viking – 2000) An Accidental MP,  (London – 2003) Through Gates of Fire: a Journey into World Disorder,  (Icon Books – 2007) The Truth That Sticks: New Labour’s Breach of Trust,  (Icon Books – 2009)A Very British Revolution: The Expenses Scandal and How to Save Our Democracy

Professor Chris Bellamy is the Director of the Maritime Institute and Professor of Maritime Security at the University of Greenwich. He was previously Director of the Security Studies Institute and Professor of Military Science and Doctrine at Cranfield University and academic provider to the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom at Shrivenham (1997-2010).
In this lecture, we explored the realities of combat and life in the British Army of 1944-5 as it battled its way from the Normandy beaches to the Baltic, and reach a clearer understanding of the achievement of British soldiers in the most important campaign fought by the army in the Second World War.

His most recent major works are The Gurkhas: Special Force (John Murray, 2011), which has also been made into an audio book, and Absolute War: Soviet Russia in the Second World War (Pan/Macmillan, 2007, 2009), which won the 2008 Westminster Medal for Military Literature in 2008 and has been translated into numerous European languages. He is currently completing Crete 1897-1909: the first Modern International Peace Support Operation. Earlier works include Knights in White Armour: the New Art of War and Peace (Hutchinson 1996, Pimlico 1997) which addressed the radical changes taking place in international security following the end of the Cold War. He also had leading Editorial and contributor roles on The Oxford Companion to Military History (2001) and The Times Atlas of the Second World War (1989).

Chris is unusual among academics in his field in having practical experience of war, having been Defence Correspondent of the Independent newspaper from 1990-97. He reported from the 1991 Gulf War, from Bosnia between 1991 and 1996, and from Chechnya in 1995. He was shortlisted for Foreign Reporter of the Year in the British Press Awards 1996 for reporting from Chechnya.

Dr Jonathan Boff is a Lecturer in War Studies at the University of Birmingham, where he teaches courses on the two world wars and on naval history. He is convenor of the part-time MA in Second World War Studies and of a distance learning MA in Military History. His book on the British Army in the last days of the Great War, Winning and Losing on the Western Front, was recently published by Cambridge University Press.

Dennis Butts served in the RAF on National Service for two years before reading English at St.Catherine’s College Oxford. In the course of his teaching career he lectured, until his retirement, at Reading University. Long a keen student of World War II literature, he was a member of the Oasis Trust which arose out of the movement among soldiers during the 1939-45 war to publish British poems from the front. He has written on the subject, notably as the editor of war poetry collections. The poems selected here include the light and ironical as well as the poignant and powerful. The poems in this lecture will be read by the two distinguished actors, ELEANOR BRON and JONATHAN CECIL.


Dr. Peter Caddick-Adams hails from Staffordshire and was educated at Shrewsbury School, Sandhurst and Wolverhampton University, where he gained First Class Honours in War Studies. Since May 1999 he has lectured at Cranfield University, Shrivenham (the UK Defence Academy), where he was awarded his PhD. He has also lectured for Oxford and Birmingham Universities and to other audiences on military history, doctrine, terrorism, psychological and media operations. Acknowledged as one of the UK’s most experienced battlefield guides, Peter has led over 200 visits to more than 50 battlefields around the world, covering all periods in history, from the Romans to the present day.
He has written two books: The Fight For Iraq (2004), the official British Army pictorial account of the 2nd Gulf War, and By God They Can Fight! (1995), over 100 articles in the Oxford Companion to Military History (2001), and chapters in Lightning Strikes Twice (2001), One Hundred Years of Warfare (2001), A Reader’s Guide to Military History (2001), The Battle of France and Flanders Sixty Years On (2001), Human Resource Management in the Armed Forces (2001) and The Encyclopaedia of Europe (2005). He has presented and contributed to many documentaries and news programmes on terrestrial and satellite TV. More recently, he appeared frequently on BBC News 24, Fox News and CNBC in the aftermath of the 7/7 London bombings and commentated (for Sky) on the funeral of Slobodan Milosevic and (for BBC News24) on Prince William’s graduation from Sandhurst, both in 2006. Most weeks he appears on television or speaks on air about some aspect of current military affairs, terrorism and security issues.

Lloyd Clark is a senior academic in the Department of War Studies, Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and a professional Research Fellow at the University of Buckingham. His books include the highly praised Anzio – The friction of War – Italy and the Battle for Rome 1944; Arnhem – Jumping the Rhine 1944 and 45.; and most recently Kursk,the Greatest Tank Battle ; Eastern Front 1943. A member of the British Commission for Military History and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, he is a regular contributor to BBC, ITV and CNN News programmes. He is currently writing a book on the German 1944 Ardennes offensive

In addition to four novels, Max , Lord Egremont has written acclaimed biographies of Arthur Balfour, Major-General Sir Edward Spears and Siegfried Sassoon. His most recent book is Forgotten Land : Journeys among the Ghosts of East Prussia (June 2011). His Lecture on this Eastern European storm centre covers its fate during the Second World War, finally, after a devastating struggle, being carved up between Poland and the USSR – Stalin’s “Terrible Revenge”

Dr Jonathan Fennell lectures in Defence Studies at Kings College London. Prior to this he was a management consultant in London and a Teaching Fellow in Defence Studies at the Joint Services Command and Staff College. Jonathan was awarded a Doctorate in History from the University of Oxford in 2008. His first book, Combat and Morale in the North African Campaign, was published in 2011 by Cambridge University Press. Jonathans research continues to focus on twentieth century British and Commonwealth history and on the political, socio-cultural, institutional and economic factors that affect the conduct of war and the experience of soldiers on the battlefield. His current research project, which has as its main objective the delivery of a second contracted book for Cambridge University Press, takes a holistic approach to the study of the British and Commonwealth armies in the Second World War.

Niall Ferguson, MA, D.Phil., is Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a Senior Research Fellow at Jesus College, Oxford.

He has published fourteen books. His first, Paper and Iron: Hamburg Business and German Politics in the Era of Inflation 1897-1927, was short-listed for the History Today Book of the Year award, while the collection of essays he edited, Virtual History: Alternatives and Counterfactuals, was a UK bestseller. In 1998 he published to international critical acclaim The Pity of War: Explaining World War One and The World’s Banker: The History of the House of Rothschild. The latter won the Wadsworth Prize for Business History and was also short-listed for the Jewish Quarterly/Wingate Literary Award and the American National Jewish Book Award. He a regular contributor to television and radio on both sides of the Atlantic. In 2003 he wrote and presented a six-part history of the British Empire for Channel 4 in UK.

M R D Foot was educated at Winchester College and New College, Oxford. He joined the British Army on the outbreak of the Second World War and was commissioned into a Royal Engineers searchlight battalion. By 1942, he was serving at Combined Operations Headquarters, and joined the SAS as an intelligence officer being parachuted into France after D-Day. He was for a time a prisoner of war, and was severely injured during one of his attempts to escape. For his service with the French Resistance he was twice mentioned in despatches and awarded the Croix de Guerre. He ended the war as a major remaining in the Territorial Army, transferring to the Intelligence Corps in 1950.
After the war Foot taught at Oxford University for eight years before becoming Professor of Modern History at Manchester University, he become the official historian of SOE, with privileged access to its records, allowing him to write some of the first, and still definitive, accounts of its wartime work, especially in France.
He published many books on Political and military topics and the definitive work on the SOE in France
M R D Foot was a much respected supporter of SWWEC and very much missed following his passing in 2012.

Charles Glass , the award-winning American author and broadcaster, was ABC News’ chief Middle East correspondent from 1983-93. His work has appeared worldwide in newspapers and magazines, and on television networks. In 1987, as described subsequently in his Tribes with Flags , he was held captive for 62 days in Lebanon by Shi’a militants; his escape, almost the only known one by a Western hostage in that country, was headline news. His other books include The Northern Front, on the beginning of the American war in Iraq (2006). Most recently he has told the story of the American citizens who remained in Paris when the Germans occupied the city in 1940.

James Holland is a historian, writer, and broadcaster. The author of the best-selling Fortress Malta, Battle of Britain, and Dam Busters, he has also written nine works of historical fiction, five of which feature the heroic Jack Tanner, a soldier of the Second World War. He is currently writing a three-volume new history of the Second World War in the West and a book about the Defence of the Admin Box in Burma. He regularly appears on television and radio, and has written and presented the BAFTA-shortlisted documentaries, Battle of Britain and Dam Busters for the BBC, as well as the Battle for Malta, Cold War, Hot Jets, and Normandy 44. Co-founder and Programme Director of the hugely successful Chalke Valley History Festival, he has his own collection at the Imperial War Museum, and is Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

Ben Macintyre, a weekly columnist in The Times since 1998, on history, espionage, art, politics and foreign affairs, before taking up his current post as Writer at Large and Associate Editor on the newspaper, Ben MacIntyre was the editor of The Times Weekend Review. He joined the newspaper in 1992 as New York Correspondent, becoming Paris Bureau Chief and then US Editor, based in Washington, and returning to the UK in 2002 as parliamentary sketch-writer. He is the author of seven historical works including Agent Zigzag, which was four weeks in The Sunday Times bestseller list top ten and Operation Mincemeat, published in 2010.

Major General (Ret’d) Mungo Melvin CB OBE is a Senior Associate Fellow, Royal United Services Institute. His military career spanned from 1974 to 2011. His final tour was as the Senior Directing Staff (Army) at the Royal College of Defence Studies in London, responsible for strategic research, analysis and teaching. He is now Senior British Army Adviser for the First World War centenary commemorations, and in this capacity is editing a battlefield guide of the Western Front. He is also an adviser to the House of Commons Defence Committee, and is President of the British Commission for Military History. He is the author of the prize-winning Manstein: Hitler’s Greatest General (2010). His major new work, Sevastopol: Crimea’s Wars from Potemkin to Putin, is due to be published in 2016.
Recent events in Ukraine have threatened to return Europe to the old tensions of the Cold War, a war the West thought it had won, and one consigned to the history books. The Russian annexation of Crimea in March 2014 serves to remind us that military power still matters. The driving force of the Russian intervention was to safeguard their Black Sea Fleet base at Sevastopol, together with associated airfields, logistics and communications facilities in Crimea. For Russia, Sevastopol is no some distant Gibraltar: it is their Portsmouth, a vital national naval citadel. Prince Potemkin annexed Crimea in 1783 on behalf of Catherine the Great and recommended the foundation of Sevastopol. The city was the object of two great sieges in 1854-55 and 1941-44, ‘heroic defences’ in Russian eyes. In 1954, Khrushchev ‘gave’ Crimea to Ukraine. Now Russia controls Crimea and Sevastopol again, as Putin reminded the world on 9 May 2014. Mungo Melvin will tell the story of this remarkable place, highlighting its enduring strategic significance and emotional appeal to Russians down the centuries.

Richard Overy was Educated at Caius College, Cambridge and awarded a research fellowship at Churchill College, he taught history at Cambridge from 1972 to 1979, as a fellow of Queens’ College and from 1976 as a university assistant lecturer. In 1980 he moved to King’s College London, where he became professor of modern history in 1994. He was appointed to a professorship in Exeter University in 2004.

He is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and the British Academy and has published numerous books on political and military matters. In 2007 as The Times editor of Complete History of the World he chose the 50 key dates of world history.

Gary Sheffield is a Professor at the University of Wolverhampton, having been appointed to this newly-established Chair in 2006. Previously, he was Professor of War Studies at University of Birmingham, and Professor of Modern History at King’s College London . He was also a lecturer in War Studies at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, and Land Warfare Historian on the Higher Command and Staff Course at the UK’s Joint Services Command and Staff College . He has researched and published on leadership, command and generalship and on perceptions of the First World War in modern British media and popular culture.He is currently researching a a study of the British and Commonwealth soldier in the Second World War, provisionally entitled Citizen Army.