WW1 talks at Dunsden Village Hall

The Dunsden Owen Association has announced an exciting new series of talks to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the end of the first world war.
They will be given in Dunsden recently re-furbished village hall, entrance £4 on the door including refreshments.


Suzanna Rose – Tuesday 10 July, 7.30pm
From Shellshock to Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

Professor Suzanna Rose (nee de Wreede) JP DL PhD MA RN is a Visiting Professor of Psychology at the University of Reading. She retired from the NHS in 2014 where she set up and clinically practiced in three specialist services treating Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. She was also head of Psychological Therapies and head of Research. She became a Governor of Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust in 2015. She is President of the Berkshire Branch of the British Red Cross. In the past she has led several disaster responses both within the UK and overseas. She is also the Red Cross Representative Governor of the Royal Star and Garter Homes. She has published extensively and has spoken at conferences in many parts of the world. In 2007 she was made a DL of the Royal County of Berkshire and 2012-13 she served as High Sheriff of the Royal County.

Her presentation will look at responses to traumatic events over the centuries, including WWI shellshock, WWII battle fatigue and leading on to the formulation of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder in the 1980s. We will look at causality and treatment options over the years. Current treatments will be discussed in some detail.

Inderpal Dhanjal – Tuesday, 11 September 2018, 7.30pm
Indian Soldiers in the Great War

Inderpal leads the Legacy of Valour Society (legacyofvalour.org), a national community-based initiative that undertakes research on Sikh and Indian soldiers’ history. The Society launched an exhibition, ‘Indian Soldiers in the Great War’ at Reading Museum in August 2015. This award-winning display was subsequently presented with great success at the Houses of Parliament and throughout the UK. It will be seen for the last time in Slough from 29 July to12 August, this year. Admission is free. Subsequently, it will be permanently displayed at the Sikh National Museum in Derby.

India provided Britain with a massive volunteer army in its hour of need. Over 1.5 million Indian service personnel (one in six) served during 1914–18, fighting in all major theatres of war. India provided not only manpower but also significant quantities of finance, materiel and other supplies.

Inderpal’s talk will provide an intriguing introduction to this heroic and little-known aspect of the First World War. His talk goes beyond the headlines to provide detailed analysis in addition to some unfamiliar historical insights. It also looks at the economical, political, social and military impact of the India’s involvement in the Great War.

The talk also provides an opportunity to better understand the relationship between Sikhs and the British and explains the ‘Spirit of Khalsa’ and its ethos of ‘Sacrifice and Martyrdom’ that won them so many battlefield laurels. Indian soldiers won the Victoria Cross 11 times (the highest military honour in the British army). Overall, 13,000 gallantry medals were awarded to Indian soldiers. Indian War dead from WW1 are buried or commemorated in 38 countries.

The Legacy of Valour Society is currently developing another exhibition called ‘Sikh Martial History’ which will be shown in Slough from 29 July to 12 August, 2018. A book is also being produced to accompany the exhibition. Admission will be free.

Robin Sanderson and Richard Crompton – Tuesday 9 October7.30pm
Tunnelling for victory in WW1

Robin and Richard are descendants of WW1 tunnellers who have become active in researching the remarkable story of their relatives’ contribution to the British war effort.

Everybody damns the Tunneller; GHQ because he invariably has his job finished months before the rest of the Army are ready for the ‘Great Push’… Brass hats because they dislike his underground habits; Regimental officers because he refuses to allow them to use his deep and snug dugouts; Subalterns because of his superior knowledge; Tommy because… of his extra pay; and last and loudest, the Boche damn him because of his earnest and unceasing attempts at uplifting and converting them into surprised angels. It is also owing to his success in this noble work of the missionary that the Tunneller is highly respected by all branches of the forces’. [E Synton, 1918]

Hellfire Jack’ or John Norton-Griffiths, MP for Wednesbury, was an engineer who in 1913 formed the first Royal Engineers tunnelling companies by recruiting miners and Manchester sewer workers who he knew could tunnel faster and quieter than the Germans. By mid-1916 the British had around 25,000 trained tunnellers. Almost twice that number worked alongside them fetching and carrying essential elements of mining paraphernalia, pumping air and water and removing spoil. Parts of the Western Front became labyrinths of underground workings. Troops not directly involved in tunnelling knew little of the plans because leaks of information might lead not only to the wastage of colossal effort and the ruination of a plan, but the loss of many lives in the most hideous of circumstances: entombment, drowning, gassing or obliteration in cramped and claustrophobic galleries beneath no man’s land.

How did the tunnelling companies go about their epic work? This fascinating illustrated talk will also include the demonstration of a number of historic tunnelling artefacts.

TBA – Tuesday 13 November7.30pm
Quakers, pacifism and the ‘war to end all wars’

War, in our view, involves the surrender of the Christian ideal and the denial of human brotherhood…We regard the central conception of the [Military Service] Act as imperilling the liberty of the individual conscience – which is the main hope of human progress…’

Since declaring its commitment to peace in 1660, the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) has opposed all wars. World War I was no different and many Quakers resisted the call to arms. Instead many members of the Society became actively involved in providing humanitarian relief for those affected by the conflict.

From 1916 onwards, Quakers were among 16,000 conscientious objectors who refused to fight as conscription laws enlisted 2.5 million extra British troops. Many were subjected to harsh treatment, both by military tribunals to whom they had to prove their right to opt out of conflict, but also at the hands of those in the community that objected to their stance.

What does it mean to commit to peace today and how do Quakers pursue this commitment?

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