The Sir Michael Howard Centre in 2018


The Sir Michael Howard Centre has been particularly busy over the last year and there is every indication that 2018 will be just as busy and exciting for the cohort of historians of war at King’s College London!  The Centre has just hosted its annual lecture, with over 70 people in attendance.  Professor Jo Cox spoke about ‘Sharks in the Channel and Lions on the Loose: Rumour and the Second World War’.

The Centre is hosting or co-hosting five conferences and/or workshops this year.  These range in scope from the early 20thC to very recent history, and the topics will appeal to a broad range of historians.

On 23 April 2018, there is the first Joint KCL/Oxford History of War Conference. The event aims to bring together postgraduate research students working at King’s College London and the University of Oxford in order to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas or work in progress, and foster new connections and exchanges between the two institutions. Queries to

The Second World War Research Group conference is on 14-15 June, at the Strand campus, and the theme is ‘The Peoples’ Wars? The Second World War in Socio-Political Perspective’.  Among the themes being addressed are resistance in eastern Europe, China under occupation, German and Italian counter-insurgency, propaganda in Allied countries, women in the front line, and pacifism. The Keynote speakers are Prof Nicholas Stargardt (Oxford) and Dr Daniel Todman (Queen Mary). Queries to: Alex Wilson:

More information on the Second World War Research Group can be found on our website:  You can also follow us on Twitter@SWWresearch and like us on Facebook:

A few weeks later, on 26 June 2018, the SMHC is partnering with the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, and the Centre for Historical Analysis and Conflict Research, exploring ‘Applied History: The British Army and the Study of War’.  The conference Keynotes are General Sir Nicholas Carter (Chief of the General Staff) and Professor  Sir Lawrence Freedman (KCL). Queries to: Dr Jonathan Fennell:

On 2 July 2018, the King’s Contemporary British History conference will address   ‘The UK Through Comparative and Transnational Perspectives’. The Keynote speaker is Professor Guy Ortolano, New York University. The intent is to consider Britain’s place as a nation in the wider global context as we prepare to leave the European Union.  Transnational and comparative perspectives have been rare in the study of modern British history.  The aim of the conference is to generate discussion and reflection, to revisit major debates and ask where those debates stand now.  The topics for discussion include the new military history, British intellectual history, comparative empires, British foreign policy, and various themes arising out of anniversaries, such as the 1938 Munich Conference and Appeasement, Global Revolution (1968 anti-Vietnam protests), UK anti-terrorist strategies and reconciliation (1998, Good Friday Agreement).   Queries to: Dr Maggie Scull:

More information on the King’s Contemporary British History can be found on our website: You can follow us on Twitter @KingsCBH and like us on Facebook

Later this year, on 14 Nov 2018, the Sir Michael Howard Centre is hosting a workshop in conjunction with All Souls, Oxford, on ‘Early Cold War: New Perspectives’. This workshop is aimed particularly at scholars interested in deterrence, intelligence and counter-insurgency subjects, and capitalises on the latest scholarship emerging on the early Cold War years (1946-69).  The workshop is being held at the Strand Campus, Room K6.07.  Queries to: Dr Christina Goulter:

Forthcoming Seminars and Lectures:

On 20 February, the Second World War Research Group will host a lecture by Dr David Jordan on “A Most Cooperative Organization”: The Trials and Tribulations of Air Support in North West Europe, June-December 1944′, Ramslade Room, the Joint Services Command and Staff College, The Defence Academy of the United Kingdom.  Queries to Dr Andrew Stewart:

The Sir Michael Howard Centre for the History of War is hosting three seminars on the Strand over the next month:

27 February  ‘Did Louis IX Read Vegetious?  New Perspectives on the Battle of Taillebourg (1242)’, Dr Amicie Pelissie du Rausas (University of Poitiers).

13 March  ‘Manpower and State Power in Eighteenth Century Wars’, Dr Erica Charters (University of Oxford).

27 March  ‘He Don’t Mean To Fight You, He Only Means to Kill You’: The Significance of the Victorio Campaign, 1879-1881’, Dr Robert Watt (University of Birmingham).

Book Launches, Book Discussions:

 28 February.  ‘The London Cage’.  Dr Helen Fry will be discussing her latest book, which deals with the interrogation centre run by the British Secret Service between 1940-1948.  8th Floor, Open Space, History Department, Strand (1700-1930).  Register via Eventbrite page.

21 March.  Book launch.  Dr Aimee Fox will be discussing her book, Learning to Fight: Military Innovation and Change in the British Army, 1914-1918This is the first in-depth study of the Army’s process for learning during the First World War.  Strand, K6.07, 1730-1900.  Queries to: or register via Eventbrite page.    

Recent Publications:

Dr Mike Finch’s article, ‘A Total War of the Mind: The French Theory of la guerre révolutionnaire, 1954-1958‘ has been published online by War in History and is available here. You can read a blog post about Mike’s article here.

Dr Aimée Fox’s book, Learning to Fight: Military Innovation and Change in the British Army, 1914-1918 was published by Cambridge University Press in January 2018. You can see an interview with the author here.

Dr Tim Benbow’s Corbett Prize-winning (2015) article on the RN, sea power and British strategy has now been published online by Historical Research and can be accessed here.

Forthcoming Publications:


Jonathan Fennell, Societies at War: The British and Commonwealth Armies and the Second World War (CUP, 2018).

Societies at War is the first comprehensive history of the British and Commonwealth Armies in the Second World War.  Jonathan Fennell, by making use of a vast array of new sources, places the story of the citizen soldier at the same level as accounts of the great wartime political and military leaders.  He uncovers how fractures on the home fronts of the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand and South Africa profoundly affected the fighting front line.  He reveals how soldiers’ political beliefs, many of which emerged as a consequence of their combat experience, proved instrumental to the social and political changes of the postwar era.  Societies at War transforms our understanding of how the great battles and campaigns of the Second World War were won and lost, and offers new insights into the relationship between war and socio-political change.

Book Chapters

Jonathan Fennell  ‘South African Veterans and the Institutionalisation of Apartheid in South Africa’ in Ángel Alcalde and Xosé Manoel Núñez Seixas, ‘War Veterans and the World after 1945: Cold War Politics, Decolonization, Memory  (Routledge, 2018).

Conference Papers

Colleagues have also participated in several high-profile international conferences.

Several people took part in the University of Warwick’s conference, ‘Command in the 21st Century’, 5-7 September.  Dr Aimée Fox presented on ‘Innovative by Instinct?  Military Innovation and the Role of Command in the British Army of the First World War’, and Dr Christina Goulter, ‘High Command and Leadership in the Air: the RAF in World War II and What the Biographers Missed’.

The King’s Air Power Studies Research Group co-hosted a conference ‘Air Power in an Age of Uncertainty’ at the RAF Museum, 29 September, and David Jordan presented on ‘RAF Operations in an Age of Uncertainty’.

Several members of the Defence Studies Department will also be presenting at the Society for Military History conference in Louisville in April.

 All told, the Sir Michael Howard Centre has much to look forward to in the coming year.

Image: Sir Michael Howard, via the Sir Michael Howard Centre.

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