MA Study Day: Gary Sheffield: Morale and Leadership

Two ‘meaty’ lectures first on ‘morale’ and then on ‘leadership’ delivered as if we were conference stalwarts at a symposium on the First World War rather than a bunch of MA postgrads (neerdowell adult learners). Notes alone never to justice to it, even if I could touch-type fast enough to keep up, ‘slides’ act as some kind of aide memoire but you have to annotate these as you go along, or embellish them further a later date.

A video record would of course be handy, not for those who don’t turn up so much, but because you can and should watch over a lecture three, four even five times as there is quite a bit expressed in body language and facial expression. Really, you latch onto something that the speaker feels is of great importance, or trivial; they don’t have to say it and often don’t.

During the coffee breaks I catch up with two fellow students and learn about a sniper in the 35th at Passchendaele (my grandfather was a machine gunner in 104th Brigade of the 35th) and about the 35th RAF Division.

Having read and taken notes on the Alexander Book ahead of the presentation the presentation felt like a valuable shared experience: it made a difference to me to be able to ask some informed questions. I too have been guilty of turning up having not read the course book. Not this time.

At the end of the day I was able to share with Gary my first thoughts on a dissertation topic based on the billeting of new recruits for two weeks on the town of Lewes in East Sussex. I was worried there might not be much too it; on the contrary it should make an interesting, focused peice of research.

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