Educated at Ardingly College, West Sussex, I took a gap year to work and travel to Kenya and S Africa for 18 months. On my return I joined the Army and was commissioned from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst into The Royal Anglian Regiment. I served for 26 years reaching the rank of Lt Col having seen operational active service in Northern Ireland and Dhofar Oman. My last appointment in the Army was commanding a Reserve Force Infantry Battalion based in Leicester and covering 5 counties in the East Midlands.
On retiring from the Army aged 47 I was appointed as CEO of a local charity in Leicester whose role was to facilitate and encourage rural communities to take ownership of their own services and facilities through volunteering. I was responsible for gaining 6 National Lottery Grants for the charity totalling nearly £2m. In 2013 I gained a Heritage Lottery Grant to support communities in their own commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of WW1 and this is where the presentation “Sacrifice and Remembrance” was born.
After 18 years in this role I retired and now live in Southsea, Hants where my wife, Jane, is Headmistress of Portsmouth High School for Girls – a GDST school. We have 3 children- two are teachers and one a doctor. My interests include golf, jogging, tennis and researching and delivering these presentations on a voluntary basis with any donations received going to my nominated charity “Combat Stress” – the veterans mental health charity. These presentations have to date been given to 5,600 people with over 18 bookings already registered up to November 2018.
Sacrifice and Remembrance helps to commemorate the 100th anniversary period of WW1. The presentation is not about the rights or wrongs of going to war but the sacrifice made and how that sacrifice of 1.7m is commemorated through the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC). It tells about the scale of sacrifice, the personalities involved in establishing the CWGC, the founding principles of the organisation, stories behind some of the headstones, recent work of the CWGC in particular the building of a new cemetery at Fromelles Pheasant Wood to commemorate the 250 Australian soldiers recently discovered in a mass grave, and how we now remember the fallen in recent conflicts.
The Miracle Flower – From Flanders to the Tower tracks the evolution of The Poppy in remembrance from Capt John McCrae’s iconic poem "In Flanders Fields", Moina Michael's promotion of the flower in America , Anna Guerin's idea of encouraging French widows and their children to make the flower with the proceeds raised returning to help them lead their lives, and Major George Howson's establishing the Poppy Factory to help disabled service personnel. The involvement of British Troops in Afghanistan where they once again patrolled through fields of poppies this time the Opium poppy is mentioned. The presentation covers the controversies surrounding the poppy, and how remembrance may be conducted in the future. It concludes with the display "Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red" display at the Tower of London in 2014
For Valour the Victoria Cross Story covers the evolution of the Victoria Cross and the bravery of those who have been awarded this highest award for gallantry. The personal involvement of Queen Victoria in the medal's conception is highlighted. The criteria for the award is outlined with explanation given of other similar awards (Conspicuous Gallantry Cross, George Cross and George Medal) outlined with examples of awards of these to military personnel and civilians. The role of Hancocks, the London jeweller, in making the medal is covered. Selected stories of VC awards in WW1, WW2, Korea, Falklands, Iraq and Afghanistan are highlighted. The presentation concludes with Lord Ashcrofts VC collection housed in the Imperial War Museum.
Iconic Memorials for the Fallen highlights those national memorials which commemorate the scale of the sacrifice in particular WW1 and WW2 beginning with the Theipval Memorial, the memorial for the missing in the Battle of the Somme. Following on from this iconic Lutyens memorial the Cenotaph in London another one of his creations is covered. The story behind the Tomb of the Unknown Warrrior in Westminster Abbey which was unveiled on the same day as the Cenotaph is described as well as the similar memorial in Arlington cemetery in Washington. Other memorials highlighted include Iwo Jima and Vietnam Memorials in Washington, Bomber Command Memorial in London, Ring of Remembrance in Northern France and finally the Armed Forces War Memorial at Alweras in Staffordshire.
The Tragedy of War Vietnam looks back at different aspects of this war from all sides in a non judgemental way ; the political dimension of the war overseen by 5 US presidents, the way the campaign was fought by the Americans and Vietcong, key battles including Diem Bien Phu and Hamburger Hill, war crimes at My Lai and Hue, the role of the media, public demonstrations against the war, prisoners of war, the scale of the sacrifice and Vietnam today
The Forgotten Heroes of My Lai covers the story of the great courage of 3 US helicopter crewmen who intervened to stop the killing of the over 500 civilians at My Lai in 1968. Led by the pilot Hugh Thompson the crew tried to prevent further killings of innocent civilians and rescued over 11 from the slaughter. They reported the incident to their senior officers who covered up the massacre and it was not until another soldier, Ronald Ridenhour, in a letter to the President Richard Nixon, was this dark episode first revealed. With the subsequent release of photos by Ron Haberle and the reporting of the incident by the journalist Seymour Hersh did the world become aware of this atrocity. Some 30 years later the bravery of the crew was finally recognised with the award of the Soldiers Medal to Hugh Thompson, Larry Colburn and Glenn Andreotta (award given posthumously to the latter). Despite the terrible background this is an uplifting story of outstanding moral courage by many who were prepared to intervene and speak out and reveal what happened on that day.
The Sinking of the Laconia covers the sinking of the troop ship by a U Boat in September 1942 and the bravery of the three U Boat commanders who came to the rescue of the survivors. Their actions were compromised by the bombing of the U boats by a US Liberator bomber based in the Ascension Islands which led to the lifeboats being cast adrift with the survivors enduring 27-40 days of extreme hardship as they rowed to safety to the West Coast of Africa. A story which shows that even in war there is respect, and courage between two opposite sides of the conflict as well as highlighting the physical endurance of the survivors in the lifeboats.
Loughborough Grammar School
Southampton Division of The National Trust
Sherborne St Johns Fellowship
Rotary Club of Southampton West
Upper Broughton History Group
Portsmouth Grammar School
Lyndhurst Rotary Club
Stubbington Belles W.I
St Johns College Southsea
St Swithuns School, Winchester