Please see "Venue" for details of the times and where we meet.

We are happy to have visitors at any of our meetings.

2019

8 March: David Blanchford - The Aisne again, May 1918.  The Essence of Blitzkrieg.

After relatively unsuccessful attacks on the Somme and the Lys, General Ludendorff sought a new sector in which to continue the heavy assaults of his 1918 Spring offensive. He chose the thinly held Aisne front between Soissons and Reims.

The German advance here was the furthest ever made, on one day, on the Western Front since the advent of trench warfare in late 1914. On the first day of the battle the German army advanced fifteen miles, opening up a salient twenty-five miles wide and taking almost 25,000 prisoners. The British Army’s IX Corps was virtually wiped out.

This talk will examine the characteristics of this German offensive that led Major General H E Essame to remark, ‘The technique now to be demonstrated in its highest perfection by the Germans [on the Aisne] was to set the pattern for most of the coming offensives of the war and to continue to be employed in World War Two on the Russian Front and finally, with remarkable initial success, in the Ardennes in December 1944.’

This talk also considers how the German’s tactical success proved their strategic failure. Although the initial offensive was a brilliant set piece, it lost momentum in subsequent days due to poor planning and over reaching ambition.

The Third Battle of the Aisne was the last successful German offensive of the war; thereafter the British and the French took the initiative on the Western Front.

12 April: Terry Dean - Territorial Gunners at War.

The story of the part-time Territorials of the 1st West Lancashire Brigade Royal Field Artillery in WW1 based on Captain Wadsworth’s book which records their exploits.   The Brigade exchanged their 12 out-dated 15-pound field guns for 18 pounders in September 1915 and crossed to France.

They gained experience on quiet sectors of the front then fought in the Somme battles from late July 1916 before moving to Ypres where they doubled their firepower to 24 guns.  In September 1917, after providing artillery support to aid the taking of Hill 37 south-east of St Julien, their war continued south Cambrai where they helped withstand the German’s severe counterattack on 30 November. After this they moved to Givenchy and opposed the German’s Georgette offensive in April 1918, before partaking in the advance to victory.

Woven into the talk are narrations from Captain Wadsworth’s book by his grandson together with narrations from Reverend Coop’s book which tells the story of the 55th Division.  Also woven into the talk is information about the changes in the Brigade’s structure during the war, its guns, ammunition and tactics.

10 May TBC by WFA Patron, Sir Hew Strachan