Cheltenham Western Front Association


Meetings are normally held at The National Star College, Ullenwood Manor, Ullenwood, Cheltenham, GL53 9QU

Jun 11 2019 Gloucestershire Constabulary in the Great War
This talk looks at the various intakes from the Constabulary into the military (reservists then the volunteer intakes), what the constabulary's additional roles were in wartime, and the impact of the war on the development of the Special Constabulary and Women Police.
The latter involves one particular "Woman of the Empire", determined to save women from the perils of drink and "loose morals" with all their their newfound independence and wealth.
Bob Brunsdon
Jul 9 2019 Hartlebury VAD
A priceless work happily ended'? 'In March 1919 Hartlebury VAD hospital closed its doors to patients for the last time.  The records of such hospitals were destroyed after the war and with them the stories of the soldiers and nurses who lived and worked there, but not Hartlebury. The Commandant of the hospital, Frances Gibbons, had 4 autograph books which she preserved. Douglas was fortunate enough to be asked to do the research on the books and found that there were four more books, collected by a nurse at the Castle, in the possession of the Hive in Worcester. From the jumble of photographs and messages in the 7 books has emerged Douglas' publication which he will talking about - it tells the story of the 436 soldiers recorded, their final messages, their poems and art work, the nurses who looked after them and the countless trips, entertainments and sports they took part in.
Douglas Smith
Aug 13 2019 Sir William Robertson: Architect of Victory?
Haig gets all the attention but he was only half of the double act that set British war plans from December 1915 to February 1918, all the way through the Somme and Passchendaele battles. The other half of the act was Sir William Robertson, Chief of the Imperial General Staff and famously the only man ever to rise from the lowest rank all the way to Field Marshal. This talk explores his role in setting the BEF’s ultimately victorious strategy and the accusations made against him of duplicity towards the Government.
Ross Beadle
Sep 10 2019 They Didn't Want To Die Virgins - Sex and Morale in the BEF on the Western Front
A former university lecturer with his PhD in military history, Bruce will discuss the collective amnesia when it comes to recalling the sexual activities of the British soldier on the Western Front. Perhaps a conspiracy of silence with some inclined to let sleeping dogs lie. That the soldier could find the time, inclination, and indeed partners to enjoy a sex life amidst the mud and carnage is often a revelation even to those who are Western Front experts. Yet, as official venereal disease treatment figures attest, many a man or boy - even those with wife or sweetheart at home - took every opportunity offered to satisfy their lust, or assuage their natural youthful curiosity. Sexual adventures took place in regulated brothels, with ‘wayside’ prostitutes, and with compliant local women, themselves seeking the excitement of ‘wild love’. And the army not only turned a blind eye but effectively became a procurer as Edwardian morals were sacrificed for morale and the need to keep men healthy enough to die in the line.
Dr Bruce Cherry
Oct 8 2019 More to this Case than Meets the Eye
In the early evening of 3 July 1918 at Pont Coulogne, Calais, 40 year old Detective Sergeant Harold Arthur Collison DCM MSM MFP, a mature and experienced policeman made a decision that ultimately led to his murder at the hand of a British Officer. To this day that decision has never been properly explained. Join David in taking a policeman's view of that decision and some of the other mysterious elements surrounding this case.
David Saunders
Nov 12 2019 The Learning Process in Practice: Tactics and Training in the BEF 1916-1918
Our President, Peter Simkins, examines the 'learning curve' or change in practices undertaken by the BEF as a result of the Somme experience and expressed in contemporary tactical and training documentation. He calls on his vast experience as a leading academic, testing the outcomes in battle as victory loomed in 1918, that support such influential works as his book From Somme to Victory.
Prof. Peter Simkins MBE
Dec 10 2019 Members’ Evening
For our December meeting we draw on the wide and varied expertise and knowledge of our Branch members. We have a small selection of ten-minute length presentations throughout the evening on a Great War related subjects of their choice.



To The National Star College:

By car:
Via the M4, M5 or other roads shown below (click on map to download a bigger version).
The site entrance is on Ullenwood Manor Road, off Leckhampton Hill. Once on site, follow signs for visitors and disabled parking. Park and follow signs at the rear of the car park for reception.

Star College

By rail:
Cheltenham and Gloucester stations are both about 15 minutes away from Ullenwood, and there are generally taxis available.