SAHAAS First World War Home Front Conference

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Saturday 20th September 2014

By Bryan Hanlon

The SAHAAS Home Front Conference covering 1914-15, on 20th September 2014 at the Dagnall Street Baptist Church in St Albans, brings together speakers with wide-ranging knowledge and expertise about the First World War and its context.

Dr John Bourne, former Director of the Centre for First World War Studies at Birmingham University and Vice-President of the Western Front Association, will be giving the first keynote presentation, focusing on the state of the country in the period leading up to the war. Dr Bourne is the author of Britain and the Great War, 1914-18.

He will be followed by two expert speakers who both live in St Albans. Dr Mark Freeman is Senior Lecturer in Education at the Institute of Education, University of London. Mark has published widely on modern British social, educational and business history and is the author of St Albans: A History. His presentation will focus on life in the city in the months leading to war.

Alan Wakefield is Section Head, Photographs, at the Imperial War Museum and will give a presentation on how the Territorial Force came into being and the establishment, organisation and infrastructure supporting St Albans’ own “Saturday Night Soldiers”. Alan is the co-author with Simon Moody of Under the Devil’s Eye: Britain’s Forgotten Army at Salonika, 1915-1918. He contributed a number of articles to the Daily Telegraph’s Inside the First World War series earlier this year.

We are delighted to welcome Dr Daniel Nagel, Assistant Lecturer at the University of Mannheim, to give the second keynote presentation. Dr Nagel will provide insights into how the war was perceived in the German city of Worms (twinned with St Albans for over 50 years), and the effect the conflict and its aftermath had on this medium-sized city on the Rhine, south of Frankfurt.

Research by the Home Front Research Group has revealed that St Albans was a key rallying point and training area for the Army during the First World War and this will be the subject of the presentation given by Gareth Hughes, a member of the group. Following his retirement from the Metropolitan Police after 31 years service, Gareth started investigating the stories of men commemorated on Redbourn’s war memorial. This has led to wider research in St Albans and contributions to two books due to be published in the next two years.

Following a break for refreshments, the conference will continue with a presentation by Dr Julie Moore examining food supply and distribution pre- and post-1914. Julie is Deputy Director of the University of Hertfordshire’s Heritage Hub, encouraging links between individual researchers, museums, local history and cultural groups in Hertfordshire. She has researched the history of agriculture in the county around 1900 and more recently carried out a project about the history of the university, resulting in the publication of Sixty Years of Innovation.

There will be two opportunities for questions and answer sessions with our expert speakers and the conference will end with a panel session drawing on the wide-ranging research so far carried out by the Home Front Research Group. This session will examine the response of citizens to the challenges of wartime during those crucial first 18 months of the war.

Other than Dr Bourne and Dr Nagel, all the speakers are members of the Society.

This page was added by Jonathan Mein on 02/05/2014.

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