What’s On

The Bradford WW1 Group meets on the 4th Wednesday morning of each month, from 10.00am to 12 noon.. We are a convivial group and you will be made very welcome indeed.  Our programme of speakers covers a wide variety of topics and, twice a year, we hold ‘Bring and Tell’ sessions where a range of interesting and often unexpected artefacts are discussed!

2020 Programme

22 January    David Blanchard: The Aisle 1918

David’s book about the Aisne offensive was published in 2015 in the Battleground Europe series. Battlefield historian, Chris Baker, described it as “A very good book indeed and for my money one of the best in the series.” David describes the battlefield of May 1918 “scaling the heights of the Chemin des Dames ridge, along the Californie Plateau and descending to the afforested valley to the Aisne river and canal.” We will be there in June !

26 February    Andy Wade: Men of Worth

The Men of Worth project began in 2001 and researches local people from Keighley and the Worth Valley who served the country in wartime. The earliest records are of soldiers who fought before the Battle of Waterloo! Linked to more recent conflicts, the group has worked with the In From The Cold project to identify unrecorded local men and women.

25 March   Peter Hart: The Last Battle – end game on the Western Front                                                                                                                                                    

The final 8 weeks of the war were critical in shaping both the outcome of the conflict and the nature of the peace beyond. Peter Hart, formerly oral historian at the Imperial War Museum, will bring to life – in his inimitable style – his acclaimed 2018 book of this title. Peter draws on the personal experiences of generals and ordinary soldiers as the fighting continued while the politician’s negotiated; on the one side to shift blame, and on the other to gain praise. We are fortunate to have secured as speaker one of the country’s leading WW1 historians: a meeting not to be missed.

 22 April   Tim Lynch: ‘An invisible foe – The 62nd (West Riding) Division’        

In the summer of 1918,fighting in the Bois de Rheims in the ‘champagne’ area of France, one commander likened conditions to his service in the Burmese jungle. Fighting alongside 51st (Highland) Division in a coalition battle with French, Italian and American forces, British troops needed to adapt very quickly to a different style of warfare. This presentation describes the experiences of the 62nd Division and what the battle tells us about the ability of the BEF to fight effectively in the closing months of the First Words War.

27 May   Nigel Holden: Gernhard Fieseler – German Air Ace with Air mindedness                                                                                                                     

Gerhard Fieseler (1896-1987), was a highly intuitive fighter pilot deployed on the Macedonian Front in 1917 – 1918. In the 1930’s he was world aerobatics champion and founded his own aircraft company which built the famous Storch reconnaissance plane and later the V 1. This talk will concentrate on his WW1 career. Nigel’s final career post was as honorary research fellow in Leeds University Business School from where he was recruited to work on the Skipton on the Kriegsgefangen project (see 25 November).

24 June:         TBC

22 July           Martyn Housden: Fidtjof Nansen and Rachel Crowdy         

Fidtjof Nanson was the first High Commissioner for refugees in the League of Nations. When he was awarded the Nobel Peace Price in 1922, the citation referred to “his work for the repatriation of POW’s, his work for the Russian refugees, his work to bring succour to the millions of Russians afflicted by famine, and finally his present work for the refugees in Asia Minor and Thrace”. Nansens’s work overlapped with that of Rachel Crowdy, Commandant of VADs in France and Belgium from 1914 to 1919 and an extremely active Head of Social Affairs of the League of Nations. Her work on people trafficking and the resettlement of deported women and children in Turkey, led to the Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Women and Children. The talk will also show how, in the aftermath of the First World War, attempt to prevent war anticipated initiatives taken by the UN many years later.

26 August   Members’ Morning:  Bring and Tell                                                                                

23 September   Carl Watts: Herbert Read (DSO, MC) – Yorkshire’s Forgotten War Poet

Herbert Read served in the 2nd, 7th and 10th Battalions of the Yorkshire Regiment from 1915 to 1918. During his time in service he was awarded the Military Cross for his actions in leading a trench raid, successfully securing a German prisoner for interrogation and a Distinguished Service Order for his role commanding the 2nd Battalion during the German Spring Offensive of March 1918. He published two volumes of war poetry during the war conflict and is commemorated alongside Wilfred Owens and Siegfried Sassoon in Poets Corner in Westminster Abbey. He became a leading figure in the 20th Century, as curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum and Professor of Art at Edinburgh and Harvard Universities. He counted Picasso, Dali, Graham Greene, George Orwell, Peggy Guggenheim and Man Ray amongst his friends. A Knighthood in 1953 (at the suggestion of Winston Churchill) came as a surprise to his circle of political associates. His headstone at St Gregory’s Minster near Hemsley reads ‘Knight, Poet, Anarchist’.

28 October         Fraser Skirrow: Patrolling and Raiding 2                   

One of Fraser’s previous talks has us “crawling along the ground” as men of the 2nd/5th West Yorks were practicing their scouting skills in no-mans land. Fraser now brings fresh insights into the value of patrolling and raiding based on evidence from our Bradford 2nd line Territorials. He has also accessed German source which confirm the identities of a German officer and British soldier who confronted each other during a trench raid.

25 November   Anne Buckley: Kriegsgefangen in Skipton

Anne came to speak  to us in 2017 as the Skipton project was getting underway. German officers who were POW’s at Raikeswood Camp in Skipton compiled a record of camp life, Kriegsgefangen in Skipton. This has now been translated by a team, led by Anne, of over 30 translators, including staff and students from the University of Leeds, individual local volunteers and the Settle U3A German Group. The descendants of several prisoners have been tracked down and visited by Anne, thus providing further insights into WW1 survival. Under Anne’s editorship, German Prisoners of the Great War has now been published by Pen and Sword.

16 December     Members’ Morning:  Festive ‘Bring and Tell’                                                         


The fourth Wednesday morning of each month is the time for meetings of the World War 1 Group. We begin with coffee and biscuits at 10.00 and the convivial, welcoming atmosphere continues into the business agenda at 10.30 and lively discussion following a visiting speaker. The meeting ends at 12 noon.

Whilst members have particular enthusiasm for the role which Bradford and its citizens played, they also share an interest in all aspects of the Great War. This is reflected in the extremely wide range of topics covered by our programme of speakers. Our Heritage Lottery award provided us with a digital projector, speakers, screen and several laptops for research.

In December 2016 the WW1 Group received the papers, photograph albums and research notes of local researcher PD Lodge. This valuable archive can be made available for study. We also have a display cabinet of donated artefacts.

The Exhibition

The exhibition display panels researched and written by members of the WW1 group were produced by Inchpunch Design and form part of our Heritage Lottery Project.

They have been exhibited twice in the banqueting suite of Bradford City Hall at the invitation of the Lord Mayor’s office; at Bradford Central Library during the presentation about the war poet Humbert Wolfe; at events held in the meeting rooms of the Mechanics Institute and as a back-drop to presentations given by group members in other locations, including the Ilkley Literature Festival in October 2014, at the Bradford Club on 25 February 2015 and on Sam Meekosha Day at the Local Studies Library on 19 November 2015.


Threads of War Exhibition

Throughout July 2016 the WW1 Group staged an exhibition in the Mechanics’ Institute Library entitled ‘Threads of War’. Opened by the Lord Mayor on Saturday 2 July, the display comprised creative textiles in a range of styles reflecting aspects of the Great War. The exhibition was curated by Annie Parkinson of the East Riding Commemorative Quilts Group.


At the invitation of Bradford Cathedral the exhibition will be on display in the Cathedral for the whole of July 2016 and will form the backdrop for the Civic Commemoration of the Battle of the Somme to be held at the Cathedral on Saturday 9th July 2016 at 3pm.