Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

Footsteps across time : the evolution, use and relevance of battlefield visits to the British Armed Forces

By P Caddick-Adams


This study examines the educational use made by military forces around the world, but primarily those of the United Kingdom, of visits to past battlefields. Investigation suggests this practice commenced formally in Prussia and may be nearing its 200th anniversary; certainly the British Army’s Staff College at Camberley has been visiting battlefields for educational purposes since at least 1885. To date, no extended academic study of this practice has been undertaken, and no specific use of the Staff College Battlefield Tour Archive has been made in this context. An examination is made of educational theory, by which the effectiveness and value of battlefield visiting can be measured. This study creates a typology of battlefield visiting, and thus acknowledges a much older civilian tradition of making pilgrimages to past scenes of conflict (initially to pray for the souls of the dead), which later evolved into civilian battlefield tourism to destinations such as Waterloo and Gettysburg. The work examines the nature of British battlefield visiting, using the Staff College Battlefield Tour Archive, in four phases: before the First World War; during the inter-war period; during the post-Second World War and Cold War periods, and at the time of writing. Throughout the study, parallels are drawn with military battlefield visits undertaken by the American and German armed forces. The conclusion is made that battlefield visiting is a unique and valuable tool in military education that is not well managed, and that no recognition is given to its value in terms of classic education theory

Publisher: Department of Defence Management and Security Analysis
Year: 2010
OAI identifier:
Provided by: Cranfield CERES

Suggested articles


  1. (1999). (Professor Dept of Defence Science, National Defence Academy, Japan), ‘The Causes of Japan’s Defeat
  2. (2006). A Dark Tourism Spectrum: Towards a Typology of Death and Macabre Related Tourist Sites, Attractions and Exhibitions’, article in Tourism: An Interdisciplinary International Journal,
  3. (2001). A Grand Assault-at-Arms: Tournaments and Combative Exhibitions in Victorian England’, article in The Journal of Manly Arts,
  4. (2002). A History of doi
  5. (2005). A Military Practitioner’s View’, article in doi
  6. (1993). An Analysis of the Role of the Mentor doi
  7. (1994). and Its Critics: The US Army Command and General Staff School, 1920-1940’, article in the doi
  8. (1988). and the Myth of a New Man in Germany After the First World War’, doi
  9. (1983). Army and Society in Imperial Germany: The Pains of Modernization’, article in
  10. (1983). article in
  11. (2005). Battlefield Archaeology – A Guide to the Archaeology of Conflict (British Archaeological Jobs Resource,
  12. (2004). Battlefield Pilgrims at Gettysburg National Military Park’, article in Ethnology, doi
  13. (1996). Conifers and Commemoration: The Politics and Protocol of Planting doi
  14. (1992). Constructing Memory: The Vimy Memorial’, essay in
  15. (1933). Continuity or Break in German History?’, article in History Today,
  16. (2003). Crucifix, calvary, and cross: materiality and spirituality in Great War landscapes’, article in World Archaeology, doi
  17. (1994). D-Day and Geography’, article in doi
  18. (2001). Dangerous Liaisons: the Anti-Fraternization Movement in the US Occupation Zones of Germany and Austria 1945-8’, article in doi
  19. (1960). Defoe and the Sources of His “Tour”’, doi
  20. (2006). Determining the potential of American Vietnam Veterans returning to Vietnam as Tourists’, article in the doi
  21. (1982). Discussion Groups and Their Tutors’, article doi
  22. (2000). Drafting the Vimy Charter for the Conservation of Battlefield Terrain’, doi
  23. (1987). Facing “People’s War”: Moltke the Elder and Germany’s Military Options After 1871’, article in the doi
  24. (2002). Facing the Future: History in the Writing of British Military Doctrine’, article doi
  25. (2005). Footprints in the Mud: the British Army’s Approach to the Battlefield Tour Experience’, article in Defence Studies, doi
  26. (1986). From Tirpitz Plan to Schlieffen Plan: Some Observations on German Military Planning’, article in the doi
  27. (1983). Games, and Military History’, article in
  28. (1915). Geography: The Influence of Terrain in the Outcome of the Gallipoli Campaign, doi
  29. (1916). Germany's Decisive Victory: Falkenhayn’s Campaign in
  30. (1985). Guide for Collectors (London: Arms and Armour Press
  31. (2000). History as Monument: The Sculptures on the Vimy Memorial’, article in Dispatches,
  32. (1977). In Quest of the Unknown Clausewitz: A Review’, article doi
  33. (2001). Intersecting Memories: War and Remembrance doi
  34. (2003). Invading Europe: The British army and its preparations for the Normandy campaign, 1942-4’, article doi
  35. (2004). Inventing the Railroad and Rifle Revolution: Information, Military Innovation and the Rise of Germany’, article in the doi
  36. (1995). JFC Fuller and the Revolution in British Military Thought’, article in
  37. (2006). Landscape and Memory’, article in
  38. (2003). Liddell Hart’s “Sherman”: Propaganda as History’, article in doi
  39. (2005). Making History Relevant for the Intelligence Community’, article in Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR) Newsletter,
  40. (2005). National Spain Invites You: Battlefield Tourism during the Spanish Civil War’, article in The American Historical Review, doi
  41. (2002). Observing Conducted Tours: The Ethnographic Context in Tourist Research’, article in doi
  42. (2005). Of War Plans and War Guilt: The Debate Surrounding the Schlieffen Plan’, article in doi
  43. (2005). One of the Greatest Moments in My Life”, Lessons Learned on the Canadian Battle of Normandy Foundation Battlefield Tours’, doi
  44. (2007). Panzer Pioneer or Myth Maker?’, review article in the doi
  45. (1994). Paul Fussell at War’, article doi
  46. (2004). Pilgrimage to War’, article in Geographical
  47. (2000). Pour la France: Conflict and Commemoration in France After the First World War’, article in the
  48. (2000). Probing the Memory of War: the Vitality of Military History’,
  49. (2006). Recalling the Ghosts of War: Performing Tourism on the Battlefields of the Western Front’, article in Text and Performance Quarterly, doi
  50. (2004). Reframing Remembrance: the politics of the centenary commemoration of the South African war of 1899-1902’, article in the doi
  51. (2006). Relics: Venerated Detritus’, article in Vortex 3, University of the West of England (UWE) online journal at, accessed 19
  52. review of ‘Charles Langlois 1789-1870. Le Spectacle de l’histoire
  53. (1988). Rides at the [US] War College Prior to World War I: Their Use and Effectiveness,
  54. (2003). Ritual and Memory: Exploring International Cicil Religious Pilgrimage’, paper published by the
  55. (2005). Secondary Sources – academic journals Defence Studies, various volumes (but especially Volume 5/1,
  56. (2004). Sites in the imagination: the Beaumont Hamel Newfoundland Memorial on the Somme’, Cultural Geographies, doi
  57. (2006). Spectacle, Architecture and Place at the Nuremberg Party Rallies: Projecting a Nazi Vision of Past, Present and Future’, article in Cultural Geography, doi
  58. (2005). Staff Rides, Tours and Battlefield Tours. A Historical Perspective 1890-1914’, article
  59. (2003). State University, ‘Evaluating an All-Ranks Military Staff Ride’, doi
  60. (2002). Teaching History in the Backyard’, article in The History Teacher, doi
  61. (2002). Thackeray’s Waterloo: History and War in Vanity Fair’,
  62. (2006). That Sacred Turf’, article in Vortex 3, University of the West of England (UWE) online journal at, accessed 19
  63. (1993). The ‘Principles of War’ and Military Thinking’, article in doi
  64. (2003). The art of War’, online article in The New
  65. (1914). The Battle of Guise,
  66. (1996). The Communication Styles of Teachers doi
  67. (1991). The Crisis of Military Leadership in the 1930s’, article in doi
  68. (1967). The Education of Military Elites’, article in the
  69. (1914). The Great War in History: Debates and Controversies, doi
  70. (1905). The Life of Reason, Volume One, Reason and Common Sense (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons and London: Constable and Co,
  71. (1995). The Myths of Langemarck’, article in The Imperial War Museum Review,
  72. (1978). The Offensive and the Problems of Innovation in British Military Thought, 1870-1915’ article in doi
  73. (2001). The Principal Source of Understanding: Navies and the Educational Role of the Past’,
  74. (2002). The Return of Military History?’, article in
  75. (1979). The Traditions of German Strategic Thought’, article doi
  76. (2005). The United States Army’s Historical Staff Rides: History and Historiography’, doi
  77. (1993). The Use of [Polish] Historical Experiences in the Modern Art of War’, article in the doi
  78. (1983). Thoughts on Military History’, article in
  79. (1999). War and Thanatourism: Waterloo, 1815–1914’, article in doi
  80. (1981). War and the Past: the Place of Military History’, article in History Today,
  81. (1998). War and Tourism: An American Ethnography’, article in Annals of Tourism Research, doi
  82. (2002). War Memorial Gardens as Dramaturgical Space’, article in
  83. (2001). We Will Remember Them” Memory and Commemoration in War Museums’, article in doi
  84. (1998). WWI: Massacre of the Innocents’ article in The Quarterly Journal of Military History,

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.