Obituary: Professor Richard Holmes

Historians in the News

...Richard was a pioneer of a type of television history that explored the experiences of the common soldier; what he really felt at Naseby, the Somme, at El Alamein or at Basra. His books – Firing Line, Redcoat, Sahib, Tommy, Dusty Warriors – are full of this. On television he was able to combine genuine scholarship with a genius for storytelling and an ability to communicate complex events in a supremely accessible way. He understood the military mind but was no apologist for generals or senior commanders. He understood weapons and how they worked or failed to work and what this meant to your average squaddie at the critical moment of combat. The several series of War Walks that he went on to make for the BBC capture this ability magnificently. He could draw out the significance of the tiniest detail, a slight advantage in terrain, the supremacy of one weapon over another, of literally how ‘the want of a nail’ could cost you the battle. And everything he said was delivered in his enthusiastic, passionate, unique style. He will be sadly missed and, as one of the great communicators, his death is a great loss to television....

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