Portrait of Professor Mark Connelly

Professor Mark Connelly

Professor of Modern British History


Mark Connelly studied for his undergraduate and PhD degrees at Queen Mary, University of London. He was then a British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Lancaster University before coming to Kent in September 1999. 

Research interests

Mark has broad interests in modern military history and warfare, culture and society. He is particularly interested in the commemoration of the two world wars with a specialism in the work of the Imperial (now Commonwealth) War Graves Commission. He is also interested in popular perceptions of war and the armed forces in Britain and the Commonwealth from the mid-19th century.


Mark's teaching explores aspects of the First World War.


Mark supervises postgraduate research students within the broad areas of war, society and culture particularly relating to Britain and the Commonwealth.


Mark is currently Principal Investigator for Gateways to the First World War, an Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded centre to encourage public engagement with the First World War Centenary. Among other projects, this has led him to work with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.


Showing 50 of 63 total publications in the Kent Academic Repository. View all publications.


  • Connelly, M. (2014). Putting the Falkland Islands on the Silent Screen: The Battles of the Coronel and Falkland Islands. The Falkland Islands Journal 10:22-33.
  • Connelly, M. (2013). HMS Vanguard and the Royal Tour of South Africa. Quarterly Bulletin of the National Library of South Africa:8-16.
  • Connelly, M. (2011). The Army, the Press and the Curragh Incident, March 1914. Historical Research [Online] 84:535-557. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2281.2010.00549.x.
    This article explores the connection between the army, the press and the Unionist party during the so-called ‘Curragh incident’ of March 1914 in which certain army officers expressed their unwillingness to impose Home Rule on Ireland. Although there is much scholarship on this aspect of Irish history, there has been no study of the crucial role played by the press and the army's attempts to use it for political purposes. This article centres upon a thorough examination of a broad range of newspapers and other supporting material in order to provide a fresh perspective on the crisis.
  • Connelly, M. and Donaldson, P. (2010). South African War (1899-1902) memorials in Britain: a case study of memorialization in London and Kent. War and Society 29:20-46.
  • Connelly, M. (2009). Season of Goodwill. BBC Who Do You Think You Are Magazine:68-73.
  • Connelly, M. (2009). Ghosts of Christmas Past. BBC Knowledge Magazine:36-43.
  • Connelly, M. (2009). The Ypres League and the commemoration of the Ypres salient, 1914-1940. War in History [Online] 16:51-76. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0968344508097617.
    This article explores British visions of Ypres between 1914 and 1940, and concentrates on the work of the crucial interwar remembrance movement, the Ypres League. The city of Y pres became a crucial symbol of all Britain was fighting for during the course of the First World War, and rapidly developed a holy aura. Led by the league, the horrors of industrial warfare were commuted into a spiritual quest in which British and imperial troops were purified by their experiences in the Y pres salient. After the war, British people visited Y pres in large numbers in order to imagine the sufferings of the servicemen and gain a spiritual benefit often with the assistance of the Y pres League and its publications. This reflected a culture of high diction and ritual greatly at odds with the idea that the twenties and thirties saw the dawn of an age disillusioned with the values of 1914. The British also became resident in Y pres in considerable numbers, and the article explores the relationship between the local population and the immigrants. By exploring the nature of war commemoration through the detailed case study of one particular site, it is intended to deepen the historiography of commemoration studies.
  • Connelly, M. (2008). Shop till you drop: How the annual Christmas spending spree was a victorian innovation. BBC History Magazine 9:31-35.
  • Connelly, M. and Willcox, D. (2005). Are you tough enough? The image of the special forces in British popular culture, 1939-2004. Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television [Online] 25:1-25. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01439680500064918.
  • Connelly, M. (2005). The British Campaign in Aden, 1914-1918. Journal of First World War Studies [Online] 1. Available at: http://www.js-ww1.bham.ac.uk/index.asp.
  • Connelly, M. and Miller, W. (2004). The BEF and the issue of surrender on the Western Front in 1940. War in History [Online] 11:424-441. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1191/0968344504wh308oa.
    This article explores the reasons behind the surrenders of large numbers of British troops in the 1940 battle for France and Flanders. The article contends that the surrenders do not indicate poor morale but merely a pragmatic reaction to the situation. British troops fought gallantly and with some skill for as long as the situation appeared reasonable, and surrendered only when resistance no longer seemed to offer any valuable service. The reasons behind this approach to battle are identified in British military training and the structure and philosophy of the entire British army.
  • Connelly, M. and Miller, W. (2004). British Courts Martial in North Africa, 1940-3. Twentieth Century British History [Online] 15:217-242. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/tcbh/15.3.217.
    This article seeks to demonstrate that the exemplary aspect of military law was applied in courts martial cases in North Africa between 1940 and 1943. It will show that there was a clear desire to make examples, which coincided with the preoccupations of the High Command concerning the state of discipline and morale within the British Eighth Army. The article will reveal that Auchinleck, Montgomery, and Alexander shared many common ideas on discipline and morale, but that their concerns often overstated the scale of the supposed problem. These fears created an atmosphere in which the details of individual cases were often overridden in the name of discipline and military efficiency. Paradoxically, such an attitude only added to the High Command’s concerns, for by ensuring a high level of convictions, the outcomes of courts martial appeared to confirm the validity of its views.
  • Connelly, M. (2004). Britain and the Debate over RAF Bomber Command's role in the Second World War. Historische Literatur, Rezensionszeitschrift von H-Soz-u-Kult 2:6-17.
  • Connelly, M. (2004). Battleships and British Society, 1920-1960. International Journal of Naval History [Online] 3. Available at: http://ijnhonline.org/volume3_number2-3_AugDec04/article_connelly_battleships_augdec04.htm.
    This article will explore the image of the Royal Navy’s battleships in British society between 1920 and 1960. Although much of what follows might be said to apply to Royal Navy as a whole, particularly ‘glamorous’ vessels such as aircraft carriers, cruisers and destroyers, it is the contention of this piece that the Royal Navy’s battleships by virtue of their sheer size and power captured the public imagination more than any other type of warship. The study of the image of the battleship in popular culture provides a significant insight into the atmosphere of Britain helping to reveal and highlight attitudes not just towards the Royal Navy, but also towards politics, the empire and Britain’s role in the world. Christopher M. Bell’s recent work has revealed that the Admiralty had an ambiguous attitude towards propaganda and publicity in the inter-war years. Disdainful of what it regarded as cheap appeals to the popular imagination, at the same time the Admiralty realised that it had to maintain the profile of the Navy. As foreign navies expanded abroad and the RAF tirelessly highlighted its benefits at home, the Admiralty rather reluctantly became involved in publicity activities.[2] Ralph Harrington’s has recently the great importance of HMS Hood to the British people showing that it was far more than a utilitarian and functional piece of equipment.[3] This article seeks to expand Harrington’s thesis by looking at British battleships in general, and place them within the wider framework of British society between 1920 and 1960, the year in which the last British battleship, Vanguard, was scrapped.[4] The article will examine the political and military arguments behind British naval policy in general, and the attitude towards battleships in particular. From this point, it will go on to the main theme of the piece: an exploration of the image of battleships in British culture, and how they were regarded as symbols of local, national and imperial pride and security. Although many inter-war criticisms of battleships were proven by events during the Second World War, it will be shown that they continued to exert an important grip on the national imagination. Finally, the piece will turn to the case of Britain’s last battleship, HMS Vanguard, and show how it came to symbolise the passing of an era.


  • Connelly, M. and Goebel, S. (2018). Ypres. [Online]. Oxford University Press. Available at: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/ypres-9780198713371?cc=gb&lang=en&.
    The following is the book jacket text written by Mark Connelly: In 1914 Ypres was a sleepy Belgian city admired for its magnificent Gothic architecture. The arrival of the rival armies in October 1914 transformed it into a place known across the world with each combatant ascribing the place with a set of values and images. It is now at the hub of First World War battlefield tourism with much of its economy devoted to serving the needs and interests of people from across the world. The surrounding countryside is dominated by memorials, cemeteries and museums many of which were erected in the 1920s and 1930s, but are being added to constantly as fascination with the region increases. This work explores the ways in which Ypres has been understood and interpreted by Britain and the Commonwealth, Belgium, France and Germany, including the variants developed by the Nazis, looking at the way in which different groups have struggled to impose their own narratives on the city and the region around it. It explores the city’s growth as a tourist destination and examines the sometimes tricky relationship visitors had with local people as well as the behaviour of the visitors themselves who hovered between being respectful pilgrims and tourists intent on being shocked, thrilled and excited. The result of new and extensive archival research across a number of countries, this book offers an innovative overview of the development of a critical site of Great War memory.
  • Connelly, M., Bowman, T. and Beckett, I. (2016). The British Army and the First World War. Cambridge University Press.
  • Connelly, M. (2016). Celluloid War Memorials: British Instructional Films battle reconstructions, 1921-1929. Exeter University Press.
  • Goebel, S. and Connelly, M. (2016). Ypres. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Connelly, M. (2015). The Great War, Memory and Ritual: Commemoration in the City and East London, 1916-1939. [Online]. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell & Brewer. Available at: http://www.boydellandbrewer.com/store/viewItem.asp?idProduct=14664.
    The modern idea that the Great War was regarded as a futile waste of life by British society in the disillusioned 1920s and 1930s is here called into question by Mark Connelly. Through a detailed local study of a district containing a wide variety of religious, economic and social variations, he shows how both the survivors and the bereaved came to terms with the losses and implications of the Great War. His study illustrates the ways in which communities as diverse as the Irish Catholics of Wapping, the Jews of Stepney and the Presbyterian ex-patriate Scots of Ilford, thanks to the actions of the local agents of authority and influence - clergymen, rabbis, councillors, teachers and employers - shaped the memory of their dead and created a very definite history of the war. Close focus on the planning of, fund-raising for, and erection of war memorials expands to a wider examination of how those memorials became a focus for a continuing need to remember, particularly each year on Armistice Day.
  • Bowman, T. and Connelly, M. (2012). The Edwardian Army: Recruiting, Training, and Deploying the British Army, 1902-1914. [Online]. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Available at: http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199542789.do.
    The period 1902-1914 was one of great change for the British army. The experience of the South African War (1899-1902) had been a profound shock and it led to a period of intense introspection in order to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the force. As a result of a series of investigations and government-led reorganisation, the army embarked on a series of reforms to improve its recruitment, standards of professionalism, training, and preparation for war. Until now many of the studies covering this period have tended to look at the army in a top-down manner, and have often concluded that the reform process was extremely beneficial to the army leading it to be the most efficient force in Europe by the outbreak of war in 1914. Bowman and Connelly take a different approach. The Edwardian Army takes a bottom-up perspective and examines the many difficulties the army experienced trying to incorporate the reforms demanded by government and the army's high command. It reveals that although many good ideas were devised, the severely overstretched army was never in a position to act on them and that few regimental officers had the opportunity, or even the desire, to change their approach. Unable to shake-off the feeling that the army's primary purpose was to garrison and police the British Empire, it was by no means as well prepared for European continental warfare as many have presumed.
  • Connelly, M. (2012). Christmas: A Social History. London: I. B. Tauris.
  • Connelly, M. (2006). Steady The Buffs!: A Regiment, a Region, and the Great War. [Online]. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199278602.001.0001.
    This book fully revises standard regimental history by establishing the framework and background to the regiment's role in the Great War. It tests the current theories about the British Army in the war and some of the conclusions of modern military historians. In recent years, a fascinating reassessment of the combat performance of the British Army in the Great War has stressed the fact that the British Army ascended a ‘learning curve’ during the conflict resulting in a modern military machine of awesome power. Research carried out thus far has been on a grand scale with very few examinations of smaller units. This study of the battalion of the Buffs has tested these theoretical ideas. The central questions addressed in this study are: the factors that dominated the officer-man relationship during the war; how identity and combat efficiency was maintained in the light of heavy casualties; the relative importance of individual characters to the efficiency of a battalion as opposed to the ‘managerial structures’ of the BEF; the importance of brigade and division to the performance of a battalion; the effective understanding and deployment of new weapons; the reactions of individual men to the trials of war; and the personal and private reactions of the soldiers' communities in Kent. This book adds a significant new chapter to our understanding of the British army on the Western Front, and the way its home community in East Kent reacted to experience. It reveals the way in which the regiment adjusted to the shock of modern warfare, and the bloody learning curve the Buffs ascended as they shared the British Expeditionary Force's march towards final victory.
  • Connelly, M. (2005). The Red Shoes. [Online]. London: I. B. Tauris. Available at: http://www.ibtauris.com/Books/The%20arts/Film%20TV%20%20radio/Films%20cinema/Film%20theory%20%20criticism/The%20Red%20Shoes%20Turner%20Classic%20Movies%20British%20Film%20Guide.aspx?menuitem={477DA164-4C3C-4B51-87A3-EBBD8774C73D}.
    Since its release in 1948 "The Red Shoes" has come to be regarded not only as a British classic, and as perhaps the most widely loved of all of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger' collaborations, but as a highlight of world cinema. Its fantastic - and indeed fantastical - mixture of dance, music, colour and light has inspired audiences across the decades. The first comprehensive study of the film that marks the pinnacle of the directors' remarkable relationship, Connelly's book offers fresh insights into this intriguing and beguiling work and into the characters at the heart of the story: the Svengali-like impresario and his obsession, the ingenue dancer embodied by the brilliant Moira Shearer. According to many accounts the most successful British film ever made, it is fitting that "The Red Shoes" should be celebrated in 2005, the centenary of Powell's birth.
  • Connelly, M. (2005). The Red Shoes. London: I B Tauris & Co Ltd.

Book section

  • Connelly, M. (2018). Ripples of the Somme: commemorating and remembering the battle, 1916-2016. in: Jones, S. ed. At All Costs: The British Army on the Western Front 1916. Helion, pp. 474-496. Available at: https://www.helion.co.uk/browse-title-series-more/the-wolverhampton-military-studies-series/books-in-series/at-all-costs-the-british-army-on-the-western-front-1916.html.
    A study of the way the Battle of the Somme has been commemorated over the last one hundred years.
  • Connelly, M. (2018). The Great War in British and Australian cinema, 1914-40. in: Locicero, M. ed. Two Sides of the Same Bad Penny. Gallipoli and the Western Front, a comparison. Helion. Available at: https://www.helion.co.uk/two-sides-of-the-same-bad-penny-gallipoli-and-the-western-front-1915-a-comparison.html.
    A comparative study of the way the British and Australian film industries reacted to the Great War and the various war films they produced.
  • Connelly, M. (2017). The British Army and the First World War: Various chapters: Introduction, Chapter 6: The Western Front, 1914, Chapter 7: The Western Front, 1915, Chapter 8: The Western Front, 1916, Chapter 9: The Western Front, 1917, Chapter 10: The Western Front, 1918. in: The British Army and the First World War. Cambridge University Press. Available at: https://www.cambridge.org/gb/academic/subjects/history/military-history/british-army-and-first-world-war?format=PB.
  • Connelly, M. (2016). The British media and the image of the Empire in 1917. in: Turning Point Year: The British Empire at War in 1917. University of British Columbia Press.
  • Connelly, M. (2015). The Battles of the Coronel and Falkland Islands (1927) and the struggle for the cinematic image of the Great War. in: Kurschinski, K. et al. eds. The Great War: From Memory to History. Wilfred Laurier University Press, pp. 305-328.
  • Connelly, M. (2014). La Significance de Dunkerque pour les Britanniques. in: Martens, S. and Prausser, S. eds. La guerre de 1940: se battre, subir, se souvenir. Villeneuve-d'Ascq, France: Presses Universitaires du Septentrion.
  • Connelly, M. (2014). Trench warfare: Britain and the memory of the Great War. in: Heroisches Elend: Der Erste Weltkrieg im intellektuellen, literarischen und bildlichen Bewusstsein der europäischen Kulturen. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.
  • Connelly, M. (2014). Propaganda, Memory and Identity: the Battle of the Falkland Islands, December 1914. in: Welch, D. ed. Propaganda, Power and Persuasion. From World War I to Wikileaks. London: I. B. Tauris.
  • Connelly, M. (2013). Rommel as media icon. in: Rommel: a reassessment. Pen and Sword.
  • Connelly, M. (2013). Lieutenant-General Sir James Grierson. in: Jones, S. ed. Stemming the Tide. Officers and Leadership in the British Expeditionary Force 1914. Solihull: Helion.
  • Connelly, M. (2012). The issue of surrender in the Malayan campaign, 1941-2. in: Afflerbach, H. and Strachan, H. eds. How Fighting Ends: A History of Surrender. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 341-351.
  • Connelly, M. (2011). The Cenotaph. in: Musgrove, D. ed. 100 Places that made Britain. London: Random House/BBC Books, pp. 367-371.
  • Connelly, M. (2010). British reactions to the strategic air campaign, 1939-1945. in: Primoratz, I. ed. Terror from the Sky: The Bombing of German Cities in World War II. Berghahn.
  • Connelly, M. and Goebel, S. (2009). Zwischen Erinnerungspolitik und Erinnerungskonsum. Der Luftkrieg in Grossbritannien. in: Arnold, J., Süß, D. and Thiessen, M. eds. Luftkrieg: Erinnerungen in Deutschland und Europa. Go?ttingen, Germany: Wallstein.
  • Connelly, M. and Goebel, S. (2009). Zwischen Erinnerungspolitik und Erinnerungskonsum: Der Luftkrieg in Großbritannien. in: Arnold, J., Süß, D. and Thießen, M. eds. Luftkrieg: Erinnerungen in Deutschland und Europa. Göttingen: Wallstein, pp. 50-65.
  • Connelly, M. (2007). "We can take it!" : Grossbritannien und die Erinnerung an die Heimatfront im Zweiten Weltkrieg. in: Echternkamp, J. and Martens, S. eds. Der Zweite Weltkrieg in Europa: Erfahrung und Erinnerung. Paderborn, Germany: Schöningh.
  • Connelly, M. (2007). Trafalgar: back on the map of British popular culture? Assessing the 2005 Bicentenary. in: Hoock, H. ed. History, Commemoration and National Preoccupation: Trafalgar 1805-2005. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Connelly, M. (2007). We Can Take It! Grosbritannien und die Erinnerung an die Heimatfront im Zweiten Weltkrieg. in: Echternkamp, J. and Martens, S. eds. Der Zweite Weltkrieg in Europa: Erfahrung und Erinnerung. Paderborn: Ferdinand Schoningh.
  • Connelly, M. (2007). Bomber Harris: Raking through the ashes of the Strategic Air Campaign against Germany. in: Paris, M. ed. Repicturing the Second World War. Representations in Film and Television. United Kingdom: Palgrave MacMillan, pp. 162-176.
  • Connelly, M. (2007). Gallipoli (1981) : 'a poignant search for national identity'. in: Glancy, M., Harper, S. and Chapman, J. eds. The New Film History: Sources, Methods, Approaches. United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 41-54.
  • Connelly, M. (2007). Trafalgar: Back on the map of British popular culture? Assessing the 2005 bicentenary. in: Hoock, H. ed. History, Commemoration, and National Preoccupation: Trafalgar 1805-2005. Oxford: British Academy/Oxford University Press. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.5871/bacad/9780197264065.001.0001.
  • Connelly, M. (2004). 'Britain and the memory of the Great War'. in: Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut Jahrbuch 2002/2003. Essen: Kulturwissenschafliches, pp. 193-212.

Edited book

  • Connelly, M.L. and Welch, D. eds. (2004). War and the Media: propaganda and reportage, 1900-2003. [Online]. London: I. B. Tauris. Available at: http://www.ibtauris.com/Books/Humanities/History/General%20%20world%20history/War%20and%20the%20Media%20Reportage%20and%20Propaganda%2019002003.aspx.
    Propaganda has been a major tool of war from the earliest times and has never been more vital, and had no greater effect, than in the 20th century - a time of continuous global conflict and two world wars. This title includes contributions from leading academics, media professionals and from the armed services. All aspects are covered: the Press; radio and television, state information services; "virtual war" and psychological operations. The 20th century has seen major shifts in the relationship between war and propaganda, fuelled by the huge technological advances, making propaganda and censorship increasingly potent weapons. The text covers conflict from the Boer War, British and German propaganda in World War I and World War II, the Cold War, the Gulf War and Kosovo. An important aspect - not generally realized except among media professionals - is the control of propaganda by the Ministry of Defence which has access to the largest single television audience in the world through "BBC World". The role of propaganda in the "war against terror" is also analysed in detail.


  • Connelly, M. (2016). Celluloid War Memorials. The British Instructional Films Company and the Memory of the Great War. Exeter Press. Available at: https://www.exeterpress.co.uk/en/Book/9/820/Celluloid-War-Memorials.html.
    Chapter One: Forging an identity: The Battle of Jutland (1921) and Armageddon (1923)
    Chapter Two: Twisting the dragon’s tail: Zeebrugge (1924)) (
    Chapter Three: Filming the holy ground of British arms: Ypres (1925)
    Chapter Four: Retreating to Victory: Mons (1926)
    Chapter Five: Praising the not-so-silent service: The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands (1927)
    Epilogue and conclusion


  • Brooks, H. and Connelly, M. (2017). The St. Barnabas Hostels’ Pilgrimage, 1923. [Live Performance].
    In this fifteen minute dramatized reading, all of the texts have been drawn from St. Barnabas Pilgrimages, 1923 (London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, n.d.). Extracts from the book include material from the Daily Express coverage of the pilgrimage; the testimony of Mrs William McLean to the People’s Journal; Mary Macleod Moore’s account for the Toronto Saturday Night. Macleod Moore was the London correspondent for the paper and for the Montreal Gazette. She had travelled extensively behind the lines during the war reporting on conditions. B.S. Browne was a member of the Ypres League.


  • Connelly, M. (2007). Ypres: The first battle, 1914. War in History [Online] 14:116-118. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0968344506072127.
    The article reviews the book "Ypres: The First Battle, 1914," by Ian F. W. Beckett.
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