Saturday, 30 April 2011

Richard Holmes

Professor Richard Holmes CBE TD JP is dead.

I happened to visit the BBC News website about thirty minutes ago, and saw the headline about Professor Holmes' death. He was only 65 years old, and the news of his death has stunned me. I met him on several occasions, and have heard him speak about various aspects of military history, particularly the Great War. He had a way of making events come alive as he talked about them, and his delivery always seemed to place emphasis on the story part of history.

He was not only a distinguished academic and broadcaster, but also a long-serving member of the Territorial Army, eventually ending up as a Brigadier and Director of Reserve Forces and Cadets. He was the first reservist to achieve this distinction.

His contribution to British military history will be sorely missed.

20 comments:

  1. A sad loss his TV work was superb and his affable manner charming.

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  2. Sgt Steiner,

    I agree with you 100%.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  3. Damn! a great loss, I always enjoyed his TV programmes he'll be sadly missed.

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  4. This is very sad

    He managed to put things across in such an accessible and friendly way without pomp and grandeur

    By today's standards 65 is young

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  5. sad news, I was very fond of his work, particularly his program on Waterloo.

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  6. I was lucky enough to go on a weekend tour of the Mons WW1 battlefield with him as guest speaker , he was excellant captivating , a sad loss .

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  7. Ray Rousell,

    As a I wrote in reply to Sgt Steiner, I agree with you 100%.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  8. Geordie an Exiled FoG,

    You are right about his style. It was informative without being condescending; one did not feel that one was being talked down to.

    A sad loss ... and what was a shock to me (as was Paddy Griffith’s death) is that fact that he was only four years older than I am!

    All the best,

    Bob

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  9. Don M,

    His death is a very sad loss to anyone interested in military history.

    I don't remember seeing his programme about Waterloo; I will look out for it as I am sure that it will probably be re-transmitted as part of a tribute at some time.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  10. Mosstrooper,

    Richard Holmes was an excellent TV historian - which is how most people would have seen him - but in the flesh he was even more impressive. He knew his subject and had a way of talking that could almost transport you back to the events he was describing. As I said in my blog entry, he told the 'story' of history so well.

    I only ever saw him 'perform' in a lecture hall; I envy the fact that you we able to go with him on a battlefield tour.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  11. What sad news! I can only agree with everything else that has been said here.
    He did, indeed, have a gift for explaining military history in a lucid and entertaining way; he also exhibited a genuine empathy for the men about whose travails in combat he wrote, as witness his comments in 'Redcoat' - a book I must now reread.

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  12. Arthur1815,

    He will be missed by the many people who read his books, saw his TV programmes, or heard him speak. He had a gift that is so often lacking with some historians ... he could tell a good story.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  13. Tim Gow,

    Very sad news indeed.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  14. The other thing I liked about Richard Holmes' War Walks was the way he could tell the story of a battle without computer gimmickry &c.

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  15. Arthur1815,

    Very true.

    A lot of presenters – or more likely programme producers – seem to think that we cannot use our own minds to 'see' the action; they have to provided some form of CGI (and often not very good CGI) to do it for us.

    Richard Holmes did not need to use that sort of gimmick.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  16. Johntheone,

    Yes, it was terrible news that someone who was still quite young, and who still had so much that they wanted to achieve, should die.

    May he rest in peace.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  17. There was a bit of thunder around the other day. That's Holmes and Griffith, I thought. Paddy's just taken exception to something the Brigadier said...

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  18. Guthrum,

    You might say that; I could not possibly comment!

    Holmes and Griffith ... now that would be a pairing!

    All the best,

    Bob

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