Saturday, 26 September 2020

British Modern Military Society

IN August, historian Paul Barnett gave a fascinating virtual talk, followed by questions and answers, on the “Rout on the Riviera — the disaster at Slapton Sands” where a practice operation before the D-Day landings in 1944 was intercepted by German S-Boats off the Devon coast.

More than 750 mainly US soldiers lost their lives and it was all kept secret until the Seventies.

There was also a talk about the Glorious Glosters at the Imjin River during the Korean War by battlefield historian Chris Finn. On Wednesday next week a talk on “Taranto — the sinking of the Italian fleet in 1940” will be given by historian Paul Beaver.

The Battle of Taranto took place on the night of November 11-12, 1940, between British and Italian naval forces.

The Royal Navy launched the first all-aircraft ship-to-ship naval attack in history, employing 21 Fairey Swordfish biplane torpedo bombers from the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious in the Mediterranean Sea.

The attack struck the battle fleet of the Regia Marina at anchor in the harbour of Taranto, using aerial torpedoes despite the shallowness of the water.

Formed in early 2019, the society organises monthly talks for anyone interested in military history over the last 200 years, from Nelson’s time to the present day.

Talks are given by writers, academics, former military personnel and experts in their field with a wide variety of topics, including El Alamein, the Battle of Britain and the Cold War.

The society is based in Woodcote village hall but covid-19 has put meetings there on hold for the rest of this year. It is hoped these can resume in January and there is a full programme of monthly meetings scheduled for 2021 and into 2022.

In the absence of live talks, the society is running twice monthly talks via Zoom. For more information, visit its Facebook page, email or visit

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