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The Long Shadow of the First World War

It was a great pleasure to be asked to speak to the Sixth Form in this anniversary centenary year of the start of World War One. As I explored in my talk, we need to look at the First World War not as a set of gates which shut off most previous social and military history, but rather the culmination of a series of social and industrial developments that occurred through the nineteenth century. My audience was as attentive, if not more so, than those officers to whom I currently lecture with the RAF; I hope to have brought some enlightenment to the students.

Dr. Peter Caddick-Adams

Tuesday’s Enlightenment Lecture by Dr. Peter Caddick-Adams, on how the First World War changed society forever, was an illuminating account of the ways in which this war in particular has shaped our culture. Despite the many social changes the war brought about, Dr Caddick-Adams showed us that from the point of view of the military historian, the enduring themes through history remain the same. The focus remains on people and the paramount need for communication, contact and collaboration.

Rosie Turner (Upper Sixth, Feilden)

How did World War One affect our society? More ways than you’d expect, according to Dr Peter Caddick-Adams, who on Tuesday 28 January gave us an enlightening lecture on the way that the war changed the world we live in. As well as being a lecturer in Military and Security studies at the UK Defence Academy, Dr Peter Caddick-Adams is a battlefield guide and the author of Monty and Rommel, which analyses the leadership, strategy and logistics employed by two famous generals. He was awarded the Territorial Decoration in 1997, whilst occupying the position of the Official NATO Historian in Bosnia. Since then, he has been the UK Historian during the Iraq war of 2003. Needless to say, Cokethorpe was lucky to have him!

His credentials mean that Caddick-Adams is no stranger to giving informative and interesting lectures. He discussed how many things that we encounter in our everyday lives have actually been affected in use or development by the First World War. As is suggested by its name, telegraph poles were originally used in order to send countless telegraphs and aid in the communication from the frontline, to the Generals (who, as it turns out, were wrongfully represented by Stephen Fry in Blackadder) who would co-ordinate their troops with information from all over France and England.

Now, of course, they are used to aid communication in everyday life through telephone calls, allowing us to reach not only to Europe, but across the world. This is just one example of the surprising ways that society has been changed for the better by the worldwide tragedy that was the First World War. Originally used to aid the movement of weapons, rations and troops, trains and railways were a vital development in technology which affected not only the pace of the war but also the way that few have travelled ever since then.

Emily Thompson (Upper Sixth, Queen Anne)


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