A lecture by Major Gordon Corrigan MBE commemorating the life of Field Marshal Earl Haig of Bemersyde and the forces he commanded.
Professionally excellent though it was, the British Expeditionary Force of August 1914 was tiny compared to the mass conscript armies of the European powers. At that time, the only possible source of regular reinforcement was the Indian Army. Four days after the declaration of war, India mobilised an infantry corps and a cavalry brigade (later increased to two cavalry divisions) for the Western Front. Arriving in Marseilles in September, the men of many races fought in all the major battles of 1914 and 1915, before the infantry were redeployed to Mesopotamia. Part of General Sir Douglas Haig’s First Army after Christmas 1914, they were the first troops to break the German line at Neuve Chapelle. In his lecture, Major Gordon Corrigan will discuss the effectiveness of the Indian Army on the Western Front and will argue that their contribution has often been undervalued.
Major Gordon Corrigan MBE served as an officer in the Royal Gurkha Rifles before leaving the Army in 1998. He is now a professional historian and author. His publications include Sepoys in the Trenches, The Indian Corps on the Western Front 1914 – 1915; Mud, Blood and Poppycock: Britain and the First World War and Loos 1915, The Unwanted Battle. His next book, entitled Waterloo – A New History of the Battle and its Armies, is due to be published in 2014 by Atlantic Books. He has conducted extensive military history study tours and has lectured in the United States. Major Corrigan is an Honorary Research Fellow of the Universities of Birmingham and Kent. His television appearances include The Gurkhas, Napoleon’s Waterloo and Battlefield Detectives.
The audience are invited to attend a wreath-laying ceremony at the mounted memorial to Field Marshal Earl Haig at 1400 in Whitehall.
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An optional £10 sandwich lunch shall be available from 1215.
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