Worldwide £6k prize hunt leads to publishing windfall for First World War scholars

SHELL shock, British tank operations on the Western Front (1916-18) and ‘Operation Mars’ (1918) are the eclectic subject matters of three new books that have been commissioned following a worldwide hunt for the most promising First World War scholars.

wfa_logoOne of the world’s leading publishers of military history, Helion & Company Ltd, teamed up with the Western Front Association (WFA) back in April to announce an inaugural £6,000 annual prize fund – recognising and rewarding the tremendous breadth and depth of quality research currently being undertaken on innumerable aspects of the First World War.

The prize winners were announced at the Oriental Club in London on Tuesday 24 November, following months of scrutiny by a distinguished panel of judges. In addition to a publishing contact, they each received a very respectable cash sum and a bronze figurine.

“The panel was delighted with the response during this first year of prizes,” says Duncan Helion and Company LogoRogers, owner of Helion & Company Ltd. “The entries displayed a remarkable variety of subject matter, outstanding research and original thinking – showing that there are plenty of additions to make to the historiography of the First World War in the coming years.

‘We would like to thank everyone who took the time and trouble to enter a proposal. As the prizes develop, we hope many more people will be encouraged to submit entries.”

Dr Stefanie Linden’s PhD on shell shock – recently completed at the Centre for Humanities and Health at King’s College, London – won the Edmonds Prize. A Consultant Psychiatrist and Clinical Research Fellow at Cardiff University, Stefanie was praised by the panel for her highly original research and use of previously untapped sources ‘combined with the rigour of her work and her highly creative way of presenting it, (her PhD) tells us many new things about an oft-discussed but still frequently misunderstood aspect of the war’.

Holmes Prize recipient Colin Hardy has completed a Master’s degree in British First World War Studies and submitted Reconography: Intelligence and Reconnaissance in British Tank Operations on the Western Front 1916-18. ‘Although niche’, stated the panel, ‘his work reflects deep research, a high standard of writing and a notable originality’.

The Terraine Prize for a proposal based on private research was hotly contested, with almost all entries receiving some of the judges’ votes. However, Sanders Marble – Senior Historian at the US Army Office of Medical History – won the judges over having ‘identified a major gap in literature on the Western Front’ with Operation Mars 1918. The King’s College-educated Texas resident ‘…gave convincing testimony of not only the need for the study, but why his specific proposal will contribute to the literature’, the panellists added.

Bob Paterson, Chairman of the WFA, said: “On behalf of the WFA as a whole, I wish to express how pleased we are to be involved in these awards. The furthering of education is one of the WFA’s key objectives – and these awards perfectly assist in this quest and complement our PhD scholarship programme’.”

The deadlines for applications to the WFA’s new scholarship programme are 1 December 2015 and 1 March 2016 respectively for the 2015/16 and 2016/17 academic years. Awards of around £1,000 will be given to students to help further understanding and knowledge of the Great War. Larger grants may be available depending on the merit of applications. For more details, please click here.

Courage without gloryThe evening’s events also included the launch of Courage Without Glory. The British Army on the Western Front 1915 – the much anticipated follow-up to prize fund panellist Dr Spencer Jones’ Stemming the Tide. Officers and Leadership in the British Expeditionary Force 1914.

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