Tag Archives: World War One

The Sir John Monash Centre, Villers-Bretonneux

In December 2015, the Australian Department of Veterans’ Affairs announced that construction would begin on the new Sir John Monash Centre at the Australian National Memorial near Villers-Bretonneux, France.

This brand new interpretive centre will tell the story of Australian involvement in France and Belgium in the First World War. The Centre is named after General Sir John Monash, who led the Australian Corps with outstanding success on the Western Front in 1918, including the famous 4 July 1918 victory at Le Hamel, which transformed First World War tactics. Situated at the Australian National Memorial near Villers-Bretonneux, it will be linked inexorably to the site of Australian sacrifice in foreign fields.

Centenaries and anniversaries are popular times for new and refurbished museums. The new memorial museum at Verdun, for example, opened this year, and the Sir John Monash Centre will open for Anzac Day 2018.

The Centre looks like a fantastic layout already, with large investment in multi-media to give an immersive experience. You can see a preview of it here:

I’m excited to see how the project develops, and will no doubt go once it’s opened in 2018. I’m sure it will become a favourite stop on the battlefield tourist trail for European visitors, and a site of pilgrimage for Australians.

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The new Verdun Memorial Museum

Really excited to see the below video for the Verdun Memorial, which is due to open after an extensive redevelopment. It first opened in 1967, and has been extensively modernised to commemorate the centenary of one of the most famous battles of the First World War.

As I have more than a passing interest in redeveloped military museums, it’s exciting to see another project so close to completion! With its forts, trenches and cemeteries, the Verdun battlefield is an incredible site to visit. This looks like an exciting, modern museum that promises to deliver a great visitor experience. I’ll certainly be going back as soon as I can to see this new museum!

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New Military Museum!

I’ve just seen that a new military museum has opened in Mons in Belgium, which looks like a fantastic site!

A redevelopment of an older site, the Mons Memorial Museum has been (re)open since April 2015, and looks to cover the military history of the region from the Middle Ages to the end of the Second World War. I imagine their displays on the First World War, in particular, will be popular given the significance of the Mons region. It was the site of the BEFs first pitched battle in the First World War where on 23 August the first two VCs of the war were won by Sidney Godley and Maurice Dease of the Royal Fusiliers. It is also where the first and last British Commonwealth casualties of the First World War are buried (as I’ve previously blogged about) However, it is interesting to note that they also deal with the social history of Mons under occupation – an increasing trend amongst military museums that are looking to branch out from “traditional” military narratives and engage a wider audience.

Their philosophy is:

The history museum has therefore been transformed into a place where questions are asked and where new technologies (e.g. 3D projectors, “serious games”, interactive tables) are utilised to give form and depth to the historical content. The use of testimonies such as interviews and letters is also at the heart of the concept, which emphasises the notion of passing on the baton, of conveying history.

You can visit it’s website here. It certainly looks as if it will be an important place to visit on the heritage trail, and will no doubt become a mainstay in World War I battlefield tours. They have even put a special exhibition on about Napoleon, so clearly going for a broad remit. Certainly I’ll try and get a visit in soon!

A screen shot of the museum's website

A screen shot of the museum’s website

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The BBC’s World War One Centenary Programming: Five Highlights

Now that the BBC’s Centenary programming has kicked off with Paxman’s much-discussed Britain’s Great War, I thought I would cast my eye over what else is planned for the next four years, and what I am looking forward to. More detailed programme information can be found here on the BBC’s website, but these are the five TV and radio programmes I’m most looking forward to:

 

I Was There: The Great War Interviews (BBC Two)

As a big supporter of oral history, and of learning directly about an event from the perspective of those who lived through it, this programme looks particualrly interesting. These interviews were originally filmed for the BBC’s The Great War, broadcast over 50 years ago, but the programme is slated to include many exerpts of the 250 recordings that were not broadcast in the original series.

 

Voices of the Great War (Radio 4)

In much the same vein as above, this Radio 4 programme will broadcast extracts from the vast resources of the retrospective interviews held in the Imperial War Museum’s Sound Archive. Whilst I doubt there will be much analysis, it is always interesting to hear the accounts.

 

The World’s War (BBC Two)

We know the First World War was a global war, but beyond the Western Front what do we really know about the Empire’s involvement in the conflict? The historian David Olusoga explores this by telling the story of the war from the perspective of hundreds of thousands of Indian, African and Asian troops and ancillaries who fought and died alongside Europeans, both in Europe and in lesser known theatres such as Mesopotamia.

 

Hidden Histories: WW1’s Forgotten Photographs (BBC Four)

This documentary explores the pictures taken by British and German soldiers at the front, very personal snapshots showing a microcosm of the conflict. These aren’t the official War Office pictures that we’re familiar with, but private photo albums, taken with personal cameras that were actually banned at various stages throughout the war. I also declare a slight conflict of interest here as I worked on the programme and I’m eager to see how it has turned out and how it is received!

 

Our World War (BBC Three)

Based on the very successful Our War, and utilising the same format of POV helmet camera footage, surveillance images and night vision, Our World War is a factual drama series that attempts to show what the war would have been like for those who endured it. Over three episodes, different events from across the war will be shown to audiences, from 1914, through to the Somme, and the Hundred Days. I’m wary of how it will all pan out, and whether dramatic license or modern perceptions of “what it must have been like” over-ride historical evidence, but at the same time if it comes off it could be great.

 

So that’s what I’m looking forward to. Let me know if anything else in the schedule has caught your eye!

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