James Holland is an internationally acclaimed and award-winning historian, writer, and broadcaster. The author of many best-selling histories including Fortress Malta: An Island Under Siege, Battle of Britain, Dam Busters, and most recently, The War in the West, he has also written nine works of historical fiction. He has presented and written several television programmes.
The Second World War continues to be one of the most enduringly fascinating episodes in history for many of us – for its huge reach, for its complexity, for the totality in which it affected every man, woman and child of all the main combatant nations, but above all because of the immense human drama it involved.
THE ENCIRCLEMENT OF KIEV, 1941:
HOW THE GERMANS WON THEMSELVES TO DEATH IN THE EAST
On 14 September, 1943, German armoured units linked up just to the north of Lubny in Ukraine, so completing a giant encirclement of more than three-quarters of a million Red Army troops. The Nazis hailed it as the greatest victory ever, and a giant leap towards the final, complete defeat of the Soviet Union. But was this the case? Or could the seeds of Germany’s ultimate defeat be seen in this victory? Was Nazi Germany, in fact, winning itself to defeat? In this event, Stephen Prince and James Holland will challenge many of the assumptions so often made about Operation BARBAROSSA and the early months of the German invasion of the Soviet Union.
In this special day of events at the festival, we will be discussing the astonishing De Havilland Mosquito, one of the most inspirational and iconic aircraft ever built. Joining us for an extended session will be John Lilley, the brainchild behind the People’s Mosquito project, and also Des Curtis, DFC, a former RAF navigator whose astonishing wartime experiences carrying out attacks first in Scandinavia, then training with 618 Squadron with bouncing bombs due to be used on an attack on the German battleship, Tirpitz, and then on anti-U-boat operations in the Channel and Atlantic are truly extraordinary.
THE DUNKIRK 25-POUNDER
Also included in the programme will be the setting up and firing of a very rare Dunkirk 1940-era 25-pounder field gun by the Garrison Artillery Volunteers, the Larkhill based team now unique as the only organisation still training and using wartime artillery drills. Keith Brigstock will be explaining the gun’s history and significance as well as overseeing the live-firing demonstration.
2.00-3.00pm A WAR OF EMPIRES: JAPAN, INDIA, BURMA & BRITAIN 1941-1945
Robert Lyman (included in WW2 day ticket)
3.45-4.45pm 1945: VICTORY IN THE WEST
James Holland & Stephen Prince (included in WW2 day ticket)
The final months of the war in the west were brutal for all concerned: the conditions, the bitterness of the fighting, and the huge scale as the war pushed on, village by village, town by devastated town into Germany, over a 300-mile front. Peter Caddick-Adams had been going to bring forty years of study and experience to bear in a talk to reveal fresh analysis and thought-provoking perspectives to a period of the war that has been surprisingly under-told. However, very sadly, he has had to have major heart surgery and so can no longer attend. We feel, though, that the subject of his planned talk is still both highly relevant and worth discussing. With this in mind, James Holland and Stephen Prince will be talking about those final months of the war in the West, drawing upon Peter’s conclusions and much of his research. Stephen Prince is a familiar face at the history festival. He is the Head of the Naval Historical Branch and also Deputy Head of the Naval Staff, and immensely knowledgeable and qualified to discuss these climactic months of the war. James Holland has also studied this period in great detail so this will be a lively and informed discussion.
THIS TALK IS INCLUDED IN THE SECOND WORLD WAR DAY TICKET OR CAN BE BOUGHT INDIVIDUALLY.
Through compelling eye-witness testimony and expert analysis, James Holland will bring to vivid life the final bloody scramble across Europe and show what it was really like to fight in the dying days of the Second World War. The Sherwood Rangers were one of the great tank regiments and endured some of the fiercest fighting in Western Europe, stretching from the Normandy beaches to the bridges at Eindhoven. They were the first British unit into Germany, grinding across the Siegfried Line and on into the Nazi heartland.
In this special local history event, the panel will discuss how farming has changed in the Chalke Valley since the start of the Second World War but also our attitude to the natural world that surrounds us, and what we can do to safeguard its future. James Holland will be joined by Allen Chalk, who began working as a farm worker at Chalk Pyt Farm in Broad Chalke in 1944, and Simon Smart, founder of the Chalke Valley Farmer Cluster.
The Outdoor Programme daily ticket gives you access to everything on the festival's massive Outdoor Programme. The child ticket is applicable for ages 5-15; Under 5’s are free
We have talks on the IPGL and History Hit Outdoor Stages, the Living History encampments and static displays, Speaker's Corner talks, performances from the History Tellers and others, live music, two bars, the Emporium, book shops and numerous cafes and food stalls. Anyone with an Outdoor Programme ticket can access up to twenty-five different scheduled events on any one day, so it is truly great value.
For those wishing to experience The Trench, Sword School and Children's Creative History events, these are ticketed separately and need to be pre-booked. Rides on the Vintage Fairground are payable at the ride.
Tickets to individual events in the Hiscox and Smith & Williamson tents also provide access to the Outdoor Programme on that particular day (1 person per ticket).