Opportunities to explore the history, legacy and impact of the First World War

Olivia Miller
Image courtesy of In Flanders Fields Museum

Professor Mark Connelly from the School of Classics, English and History has helped organise an extensive series of First World War events, starting on 23 November. All are open to the public. 

The series, which involves the In Flanders Fields Museum in Ieper/Ypres, Belgium, will cover various historical elements of First World War. Alternating between Canterbury and Ieper/Ypres, it will complement the ‘For Evermore: cemeteries of the First World War’ exhibition at the Museum.

The Canterbury events, which will take place in Keynes College Seminar Room 16 at 18.00, are:

  • Thursday 7 December 2023: Hauling Bodies: exhuming and concentrating the war dead in Belgium – a lecture by Margot Melsens (In Flanders Fields Museum) focusing on this movement of bodies in the post-war year
  • Thursday 1 February 2024: Langemark German Cemetery, a place of myth, misconceptions and mistruth – a lecture by Roger Steward (Battlefield guide and independent scholar)
  • Thursday 22 February 2024: The Belgian War Graves of the First World War – a lecture by Lt Col Rob Troubleyn
  • Thursday 21 March 2024: Missing at the front, 1914-1918: 20 years of archaeological research of missing persons in Belgium – a lecture by Dr Birger Stichelbaut (University of Ghent) and Simon Verdegem (archaeologist)

The Ieper/Ypres events, which will take place in the Educational Room of In Flanders Fields Museum, Cloth Hall, Grote Markt, 8900 at 19.00, are:

  • Thursday 23 November 2023: Commemorating Ireland in the Ieper/Ypres Salient since 1917 – Hosted by Dr Timothy Bowman (University of Kent)
  • Thursday 18 January 2024: ‘The light bulb moment when the penny drops’: Pilgrimage and tourism along the Western Front. Hosted by Amy Harrison (PhD student, University of Kent)
  • Thursday 8 February 2024: Under an English Heaven: Ideas of England in the entrance ways of IWGC war cemeteries on the old Western Front – a lecture by Dr Tim Godden (artist and Honorary Fellow, University of Kent)
  • Thursday 7 March 2024: Photographing the Fallen: Ivan Bawtree and War Graves Photography on the Western Front, 1915-1919 – Hosted by Jeremy Gordon-Smith (photographer and descendant of Ivan Bawtree)

Professor Connelly, a historian whose research interests include the commemoration of the two world wars with a specialism in the work of the Imperial (now Commonwealth) War Graves Commission, will also be providing free guided tours of St. George’s Memorial Church in Ypres. The church maintains its original aims of serving as a memorial to the war dead of Britain and the Commonwealth, as a place of worship and reflection for those visiting the battlefields, cemeteries and memorials, as well as the Anglican community of the district. Guided tours will take place at 10.30 on Friday 24 November, Friday 19 January, Friday 9 February, Friday 8 March.

He said: ‘It is a privilege to continue our collaboration with partners in leper in exploring the impact and legacies of the First World War, which are so apparent in the landscape of West Flanders, and remind us so poignantly of the devastation and desolation caused by conflict. We are also very grateful for the continuing enthusiastic support of the Western Front Association.’