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Chief of Army's History Conference 2007

The theme of this year's conference was on "1917: Tactics, Training and Technology". It was all the the Great War on the Western Front. Going back to the nation's favourite war guaranteed a good turnout, although things were a little cramped by renovations at the National Convention Centre.

The Chief himself attended for only one day, as he had to be in Perth for the funeral of one of his men.

Professor Gary Sheffield of the University of Birmingham and Professor Robin Prior from UNSW@ADFA carried on a jovial debate over the merits of the Third Ypres operation.

There were good presentations on the Canadian Army by Dr Tim Cook of the Canadian War Museum (who has read my WWI thesis!), on the New Zealand Army by Dr Glyn Harper from Massey University, South African Army by Bill Nasson of the University of Cape Town, French Army by BG Robert Dougherty, and the German Army by Professor Andrew Wiest.

The presentation on the US Army by Professor Andrew Wiest of the University of Mississippi was macabre, given that its subject was how the US Army ignored the years of battle experience gained by its Allies, preferring to learn its lessons the hard way, at the cost of large numbers of Americans lives. (Not for the last time, American troops were better cared for when under foreign command.) He told me that if I looked at the files in the US National Archives on the Great War, I might be the first to read them in decades, perhaps since the war. It appears that the Great War is not as popular in the US.

Final presentation by Dr Daniel Todman of the University of London on Third Ypres: Fact and Fiction included music by Iron Maiden, which I feared might freak out some of the older members of the audience. His presentation was very thought-provoking indeed.

Tried to shake John Coates down for biographical details for the Wikipedia, and Jeff for a reference for a fellowship.

Spent some time with the Army History Unit discussing the book. They had some papers for me to sign. It's pretty much a bog standard defence contract. In a nutshell, their job is getting Australian Military History out there, and they are doing a very good job of it.

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