Professor Simkins discusses the raising of Kitchener's Army and the First World War Centenary

Posted on on 27 March 2013
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In the latest video upload from the 'Schools and the Great War Centenary' Conference, filmed by Centenary News, Professor Simkins addresses the conference, held at Wellington College, Berkshire, on 14th March 2013.

Professor Simkins, President of the Western Front Association, discussed the raising of Lord Kitchener's Army at the outbreak of the war, which Simkins describes "a gigantic national experiment and a huge act of national improvisation".

'Kitchener's Army' refers to the large scale, initially volunteer, army which emerged at the outbreak of the First World War in the United Kingdom.

Professor Simkins discussed the varying levels of volunteers from across the United Kingdom and the "deceleration" of the volunteers, as well as the development of 'Pals battalions'.

Professor Simkins also explored several of the "myths" surrounding the motivations for enlistment and the notion of "the soldier as victim".

Professor Simkins challenged some aspects of Sir Professor Hew Strachan's call for a "re-appreciation of the First World War as a global phenomenon by 2018".

Professor Strachan had addressed the conference earlier in the day.

Whilst Professor Simkins stated that he "thoroughly endorsed" Professor Strachan's view on globalisation, Simkins continued that "we don't yet know enough about our own army and our own nation at war that we can afford to ignore it in the search to be global".

"I don't think we should ignore our own national army and national achievements... after all, the Western Front is the core experience of the British people in the First World War, I think it touches more family lives than any other experience".

Centenary News will be uploading recordings of interviews with the speakers attending the conference over the next two weeks.

We will update our Twitter and Facebook feeds to keep you informed of new content.

To watch the full video of Professor Simkin's speech, click here.

To watch the full video of Professor Strachan's speech, click here.

Posted by: Daniel Barry, Centenary News

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