Dates for your diaries – October 2018

This autumn we will be marking the centenary of the armistice that ended fighting on the Western Front – the news didn’t reach other parts of the world immediately and fighting continued, especially in Africa and Russia.  Here are some related dates for your diaries this autumn. 

  • Durham Branch of the Western Front Association First World War Centenary Conference and Exhibition on Saturday 13 October in Chester-le-Street. You’ll find details of speakers, topics and how to book on under Durham branch.
  • “To Serve King and Country” – an exhibition based on the museum’s WWI project and the results of volunteers’ research from 20 October 2018 to 3 March 2019. There’ll be a programme of events and activities for the duration of the exhibition – more details as they are arranged will be on the museum’s website under Events, on the project website under Events and included in the newsletter.
  • On Wednesday 25 October staff and volunteers from the DLI Research and Study Centre will be running a drop-in handling session between 11.00 and 3.00 – suitable for all ages! Here’s your chance to get up close to pieces of equipment and to ask questions.  The session will be repeated on Wednesday 20 February 2019.  The session is included in normal museum admission charges (FREE for Friends and annual pass holders).
  • Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday this year are on the same date Sunday 11 November. We will represented at the services in the morning at Barnard Castle parish church and at the War Memorial in the museum’s grounds.  There will be other events throughout the day leading up the national commemorative event in the evening – more details as they are confirmed.
  • Singing for the Brain choir will be in the museum in the morning on Friday 30 November and they will be including some WWI songs in their repertoire.

And if you know of another WWI-related event that’s taking place, we can put information about it in the newsletter.  Contact us through the project website at or email us at

War and the Reith Lectures 2018

By Judith Phillips

At the July meeting of the WWI bookgroup (report will follow in a later newsletter), two members talked about the current Reith Lectures, broadcast on Radio 4.  This year’s title is The Mark of Cain and, in the five lectures, Professor Margaret MacMillan will explore the tangled history of war and society.

In the lectures Professor MacMillan considers whether war is an essential part of being human and are we, as human beings, destined to fight.  Each lecture has a particular focus:

  • Managing the unmanageable (war and peace)
  • Civilians and war
  • Fearing and Loving: making sense of the warrior
  • War and humanity
  • War’s fatal attraction.

This year the lectures have been given at BBC Broadcasting House, the University of York, Beirut, Stormont in Belfast and the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.  Each lecture is followed by questions from members of the audience, and this has often broadened the debate.

Professor MacMillan – a Canadian – has written two significant books on the First World War period: Peacemakers: the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 and the Attempt to end War (2001) and The War that Ended Peace: How Europe abandoned Peace for the First World War (2013). 

If you haven’t heard the lectures, you can find them on the BBC iplayer.