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

By P Caddick-Adams

Abstract

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: oai:dspace.lib.cranfield.ac.uk:1826/4645
Provided by: Cranfield CERES

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