A Military Odyssey around Britain
- John Sadler
15th May 2024
War was Britain’s furnace for two thousand years and we are that forging. Rome conquered England if not Scotland and imposed military rule on the north. Saxon raiders, then Vikings and finally Normans each invaded in turn. England and Scotland spent three hundred years at war with each other – a very nasty form of endemic, asymmetric warfare and those scars still linger. Edward III pursued expeditionary warfare against France and established a tradition that has since characterised UK military activity, the projection of force across the globe; most strikingly in recent times with the Falklands War of 1982. In 1914 Lord Haldane asked ‘what is the Army for?’ Nobody yet has a definitive answer, nor ever will.
All of this experience and the many traditions it has fostered are preserved in the aspic of our military museum collections, the broad threads of history and grand strategy but also the human dimension of individual stories. Author John Sadler, in the company of Captain Graham Trueman, formerly of 3rd Battalion the Light Infantry, has visited 50 museums to tell 50 of those stories. Recent campaign experiences in Afghanistan and emerging global threats have thrown into stark relief the need to determine the role of the UK’s armed forces and of its global aspirations in a world which is both unstable and threatening. To ascertain how we move forward, we need to understand what went before. The author has interviewed military figures and museum curators to get to the truth. Leon Trotsky warned that ‘You may not be interested in war, but war is always interested in you…’