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Douglas Haig at University Centre Shrewbury

Free public lecture on controversial First World War general

University Centre Shrewsbury is hosting a free lecture by a renowned historian from the Imperial War Museum on one of the most controversial British generals of all time. People are invited to hear the talk by Peter Hart on 'Douglas Haig: Britain's Greatest Commander in Chief?' at Rowley's House in Shrewsbury town centre on Wednesday 20th January, from 1pm to 2.15pm.

The talk is one of a series of lunchtime lectures at Rowley's House on military history, which are part of a wider programme of public events run by University Centre Shrewsbury.

Peter's lecture explores the different views of Haig's leadership as Commander in Chief of the British Expeditionary Force in the First World War.

Peter said: "On one side there is the myth of stupid insensitive Haig, the high priest of attrition, banging his head against a brick wall on the Western Front, ignorant of modern warfare and failing to appreciate the power of the tank or machine gun. It highlights the missed chances of Gallipoli and the wanton sacrifice of a generation - all summed up and encapsulated by the incredible insights of war poets.

"But there is another view - one that takes account of the problems faced by Haig and his subordinate commanders. This more sympathetic perspective recognises the sheer complexity of modern warfare. It sees that there was a grim necessity to wear down the might of the German Empire on the battlefields of the Western Front before there could be any hope of victory.

"It discusses the 'learning curve' that had to be surmounted before the new legions of the British Empire could gain the skills required of the new 'all arms' tactics that would finally defeat the German Army in 1918."

Peter has been an oral historian at the Sound Archive of the Imperial War Museum in London since 1981.

He is widely published on the First World War among other periods of military history. His books include: The Somme, Jutland 1916; Bloody April; Passchendaele, Aces Falling (on the air war in 1918); 1918 A Very British Victory and Gallipoli.

His latest work is Voices from the Front: An Oral History of the Great War.

Admission to the lecture at Rowley's House, Barker Street, Shrewsbury, SY1 1QH, is free. However, booking is essential as places are limited.

To book email [email protected] or call 01743 297185.

Alternatively, people can visit Rowley's House or Guildhall in Frankwell Quay. The helpdesk at Rowley's House is open 11am to 2pm Monday to Thursday. The information point at Guildhall is open 9am to 5pm Monday to Thursday and 9am to 4pm on Fridays.