Past Meetings

19 Nov 2016


greg-young-v2We welcomed guest presenter, Brigadier General (ret’d) Greg Young of the 15th Battalion Memorial Project.

General Young gave 2 presentations covering the unique story of the Vimy Cross that will soon return to Vimy for the 100th anniversary of the battle and the work done by his group to identify unknown soldiers of the 15th Battalion who have spent the last century under headstones marked by the words, “Known Unto God” and who now have or will soon have a name over their final resting place.

A great speaker and unique topics of the Great War.

23 October 2016. We welcomed Andy Robertshaw speaking on the Strategic background of the Battle of the Somme and an Introduction to Battlefield Archeology. All members felt the show was fantastic.

andy23oct2016

Saturday April 30th, 2016 was another great show at the Newcastle Memorial Community Hall.   A new memorial is in the planning stages for the blood soaked soil of Hill 70 in the shadow of Vimy Ridge. Arthur Jordan is a member of the Hill 70 Memorial Committee and kindly agreed to join us for an informative look into this ambitious project to honour this great event in history.

A few points on the Battle for Hill 70: It was the 1st major action fought by Canadians under command of a Canadian commander in General Arthur Currie. There would be 21 German Counter attacks. Canadian soldiers endured mustard gas and flame throwers. First day casualties were 1,056 Canadians dead, 2,432 wounded and 39 taken prisoner. In the end, 9000 casualties would be the price of victory and six Victoria Crosses would be won. Wikipedia has a good summary story at this link.

“It was altogether the hardest battle in which the Corps has participated,” wrote Currie. “It was a great and wonderful victory. GHQ [General Headquarters] regard it as one of the finest performances of the war.”

On March 19, 2016 we presented

The Chinese Labour Corps during the Great War.

What was the Chinese Labour Corps? Find out here

Our presenter was Clifford J Pereira FRGS, a researcher, curator and museum consultant. Inspired by his own family history, Cliff’s research in London over the last 15 years has been focused on the employment of seamen of African and Asian origin in the Royal Navy from the 18th century onwards.

This has led to some interesting work on Africans, Arabs in the Royal Navy during the Abolition of Slavery in the Indian Ocean with Chatham Royal Dockyards (2007) and UNESCO. He was curator for the Bombay African exhibition at the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) in 2007, which toured the UK and Kenya, making him the world expert on this group of people. He went on to be co-curator for six other RGS exhibitions over the years. For the past four years Cliff has been involved in research for the Dalian Maritime University, China and various projects in the Persian-Arab Gulf. He is now based in Vancouver, Canada.

Cliff’s recent published works include: East African Goans in World War One, Black Liberators: The role of Black and Arab sailors within the Indian Ocean 1841-1941, “Naturalists, ‘Explorers’ and Imperialists: German involvement in the East African Anti-slavery Movement”, (forthcoming).

As you can see we had a very celebrated expert in his field. Mr. Pereira focussed his presentation on the interesting use of the Chinese Labour Corps etc during the Great War.

On 5 December –  Norm Christie went over the top in our final lecture of 2015. Turn out was packed as he reviewed the project to definitively locate 44 soldiers from WW1 buried after Vimy Ridge on 9 April 1917…….. and then forgotten.

He is leading the push on recovery of a gravesite in France believed to contain these Canadian soldiers – click this link.

More news as we have it. Watch the media for developments.

norm_christie 5 DecNorm spent six years with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in England (1990-1993) and in France (1993-1996), including three years as Chief Records Officer.

Andy Robertshaw presented 2 talks on 25 October

‘The Somme 1916 revisited: Why was the battle fought, was it triumph or tragedy?”

and

Finding the fallen and battlefield archeology”

Background on Andy and his contribution to the Movie WAR HORSE

Andy at Beaumont HamelOP

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Bonfire – The Chestnut Gentleman by Susan Raby Dunne, Great War Author and Explorer, who presented “The Real John McCrae” Saturday October 10th