This small fold out map of London and suburbs was distributed to soldiers, including class member Lorraine's father-in-law William James Knox, so they wouldn't get lost while on leave in London during the Great War. A precious item of memorabilia long treasured by the Knox family.
We had an excellent final session with John on Friday 15th December. It was great to have him back in fine form after illness having resulted in the holding over of the November session.
Participants were most intrigued by John's exploration of all the 'what if's' he saw emanating out of the Great War and his strong suggestion that, had things gone just a little differently, there would not have been 50 million to over 80 million dead in World War II.
During the session Bev, aware of timetabling deadlines and concerned, along with other group members, that this very well received course continue, kept gentle (?) pressure on John to continue teaching 'Over There' in 2018. We succeeded - 'we're in' (at least very firmly pencilled in) John's diary for 2018, with sessions adjusted to fit in with John's travel commitments where necessary.
John mentioned that he has a wonderful collection/reference list to DVD, You Tube, and other source material which he envisages drawing upon throughout next year's course.
So, if you are interested in finding out more about the First World War and the 100th anniversary milestones next year, come along to 'Over There', third Friday, 1.30 - 3.30 in the U3A Meeting Room.
There are a number of You Tube Channels which cover the Great War - something for 'Over There' members to watch during the summer break.
John explained at our last session that there are some You Tube Channels which are better than others... while the following 'Great War Channel' rated a mention, if not perhaps his highest rating, it does provide weekly anniversary updates such as for this week....
The Great War Channel - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUcyEsEjhPEDf69RRVhRh4A
Here's a link to a BBC program 'The Peacemakers' which you might like to watch in association with John's notes to keep you 'in the zone before we next meet.
Our late October session ‘Technology in World War I’ provided a fascinating and at times gruesome survey highlighting technological advances of the Great War. We learnt that deadly, sharp shooting German snipers armed with scoped sniper rifles appeared, impacting on trench warfare. We learnt of a responding innovation - the use of a dummy head to find the location of an enemy sniper. The papier-mâché figures were painted to resemble soldiers to draw sniper fire. Some were equipped with rubber surgical tubing so the dummy could "smoke" a cigarette and thus appear realistic. Holes punched in the dummy by enemy sniper bullets then could be used for triangulation purposes to determine the position of the enemy sniper, who could then be attacked with artillery fire. We learnt that fake trees were sometimes used as sniper posts. We learnt of developments in machine gun technology and in poison gas, including mustard gas. John explained that although gas was not a great killer of men it incapacitated them for life. For example only one of the 144 men named on the Benalla Memorial he has researched died of gas. Two more died before 1922 from its effects. We learnt about developments in artillery; plastic surgery; submarines; aeroplanes; barbed wire; tanks; helmets; trench coats and much more. Thank you John Barry for another wonderful session.
Our next session, ‘The What If War and The Treaty of Versailles’, will be followed up on December 15th by a session with John over coffee at a local café to ask further questions and raise any issues we would like to discuss with him in greater depth.
This month’s report is rather short as our September class ‘Australians Behaving Badly’ fell before the last newsletter deadline, while our October class on ‘Technological Advances of the Great War’ falls after this newsletter’s deadline. We are all thoroughly enjoying ‘Over there’; have enormous regard for John Barry’s knowledge of and passion for his subject matter and are hopeful that the course will continue in 2018.
John Barry’s course on the Great War, ‘Over There’, continues to fascinate and provoke us all.
At our August session John drew upon the experiences of Australian troops a century ago in Poziers, Ypres and many other battles to explain his thinking about why the generals, including Haig, behaved with such little imagination.
In September John drew upon a range of resources to explore areas of false mythology surrounding Australian soldiers under the theme ‘Australians Behaving Badly’. Stories and legal cases abounded as he explored themes including discipline; views of Australian soldiers; compulsory military service and the impact of venereal disease on soldiers. We were shocked to discover that, although his wife wouldn’t have been told why, a soldier’s pay, and therefore the allowance received by his wife and family, stopped as soon as the soldier received a diagnosis of VD.
In all sessions John has incorporated the home front in a most engaging way, such as when attributing the widely held false belief that all soldiers in the North East were Light Horsemen to the fact that the umbrella unit for all local military service was a Light Horse Regiment.
At our next session John will introduce the technological advances associated with the Great War.
Our new course with John Barry commenced on July 21st with a fascinating and powerful overview of the causes of the Great War. Each participant described reasons for attending ‘Over There’ which John plans to add insight into during the course. At our next session, for example, after exploring the war strategies of the various powers and Gallipoli, John anticipates covering the experience of Australian troops at Pozieres (one of the class had a relative there) and the Pals Battalions (for our English class member). He also plans to explain, after years of thinking about it, why he think most of the generals behaved with such little imagination and to provide an overview of the Australian homefront. Participants who have not already accessed the digital war records of their relative/s, please mention this in class so that support to do so can be provided.
The anniversary of the first year of First World I, particularly the landing at Gallipoli, was remembered through many anniversary activities. As John Barry’s column for the Cooee projects in the Benalla Ensign so tellingly reminds us every week, the war continued on for a further four years. We are now encountering anniversary milestones of the final 18 months of the war. For a number of us, relatives were still fighting, some killed or injured. John Barry has taught classes for U3A previously and it seemed that a course which would be both timely and a further outcome of the work he is doing each week for the Ensign would be worth offering at U3A. When approached, John expressed interest in developing such a course.
‘Over there’ will provide description and analysis of 100th anniversary milestones in the First World War over the months from July 1917 to the end of the war November 1918 and its aftermath. Content will include, for example, ‘How WWI began’; ‘The aims of the parties – what were they trying to do?’; ‘Changing Technology during the course of the war’; ‘Blockades, Famine and Terrror’; ‘What happened at the end?’ and ‘How did WW1 effectively come to be an 80 year war?’ Participants will be able to track and make links to the experience of relatives and the Benalla community in relation to the war at that time. The class will incorporate documentaries, video segments and lots of opportunities to ask questions!
Do you take an interest in John Barry’s Anzac Commemoration column in the Ensign each week? Do you have relatives who fought in the final 18 months of the First World War? Are you interested in finding out more about 100th anniversary milestones in the First World War over the months from February 1918 to the end of the war? In 2018 John Barry will continue to explore themes including ‘How WWI began’; ‘The aims of the parties – what were they trying to do?’; ‘ChangingTechnology during the course of the war’; ‘Blockades, Famine and Terrror’; ‘What happened at the end?’ and ‘How did WW1 effectively come to be an 80 year war?’, drawing upon his collection of DVD's and other resources throughout the course.
The third Friday of the month between 1.30 and 3.30 pm - U3A Meeting Room, Fawckner Drive.
If you would like to enrol in this course please contact Bev on 5762 8171 or email@example.com
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