Reference Awards – Special Subject 2014 Military History

Amanda Duffy, Chair Awards Judging Panel

long long tailbritish army

For the past few years the Information Services Group Reference Awards have included a special award relating to a particular subject.   The criteria for this award are slightly different; the period covered is works produced in the previous four years; nominations can be for a particular book or website, a series of books covering the subject, or an individual author or publisher.

For 2014 we chose, perhaps not very originally, military history as our subject and the dates in question are 2010 to 2013.

We had a very interesting selection of books and websites to choose from. Some of the titles, unfortunately, could not be classified as reference works and so were discarded. But there was plenty of variety from the remaining titles.

Once again we have a Winner, Highly Commended and Commended.

Our WINNER is an enormously impressive on-line guide to the many, many resources available to the interested amateur, the genealogist and the military historian for the 1914-18 War.

The Long, Long Trail: the British Army in the Great War of 1914-1918 –   www.1914-1918.net – is a free gateway site to on-line and print resources. A site about the soldiers, units, regiments and battles of the British Army of the First World War.

The overall design of the website is extremely clear and well set out; it is easy to find your way round – and wander off into byways as the interest takes you. There are sections on how to research a soldier, the army of 1914-18 (the regiments and corps, the order of battle, how the army worked and statistics on size of regiments, casualties, etc.), then there are descriptions of battles and engagements and the battlefields themselves.

There is an comprehensive array of regimental and battle histories, plus information on tactics, training and day-to-day operations.   There are many historic and modern photographs, maps and diagrams of battle sites, and examples of military paperwork (such as discharge papers). These are all scrupulously labeled and explained, as well as being very clearly reproduced.

The site is being continuously updated and expanded. An impressive and growing section is a gazetteer of the Western Front where pages give location and historical background on sites in France and Flanders.

Another interesting section is about visiting areas of the Western Front giving specific information on how to get there, where to stay, local amenities and the sites to see.

I could go on, we certainly were extremely impressed and fascinated by the amount of information available, its clarity and ease of use. This is, in our opinion, the major point of contact for information on the Great War.

The Winner of the Information Services Group Reference Special Subject Award for 2014 is The Long, Long Trail owned, designed, built and written by Chris Baker.

CWGC

In 2012 our special subject was information for genealogists and the winning title was War Graves Photographic Project. So popular has this project been that is now works in conjunction with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and it is the Commission that was amongst the sites nominated for 2014.

We spent a long time looking at the Commission’s website which has recently been revamped to allow in-depth searching for individuals by country, cemetery, name, force and 1st and 2nd World Wars. What you are searching is 1.7 million cemetery and memorial records from throughout the world. There are advanced search facilities to help the enquirer narrow down the results. Our only criticism of this impressive site containing such an enormous amount of information was that the search mechanisms were not intuitive, it was slightly cumbersome in the initial stages of the search. Once you have got beyond this, you are able to delve down to individuals, their records and place of burial or memorial and, linking in with the Photographic Project, a photograph of that grave or memorial.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission website is the winner of our Highly Commended Award in the Information Services Group Special Award for 2014.

Military helmets

Military Sun Helmets of the World covers sun helmets from the Indian Mutiny to the present day, including not only the British army, but also European ‘colonial’ helmets of the French, German and Italian armies, plus America and Asia (specifically Japan and Vietnam).

This is an obscure subject with a limited market but the book is extremely well done and is an attractive publication. Every item described is described in detail and illustrated. The 200 plus illustrations, many of them in colour, are of a good size; there are also period photographs to place the helmets in context. The arrangement is straight geographical, possibly the best and only approach.

The book has a handsome appearance and is an excellent example to how to make a little-known subject interesting and appealing. There is an accompanying website – MilitarySunHelmets. com – for readers to keep up-to-date.

Therefore Sun Helmets of the World by Peter Suciu and Stuart Bates, published by Naval and Military Press at £35 is Commended in the Information Services Group Special Award 2014.

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