Renmore History Society

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The reality of life for the ordinary soldier, from Waterloo to WW2.
Brian MacGabhann

Only recently has the voice of the ordinary soldier been heard, and their experiences recorded. For centuries they have been silent; their experiences interpreted and reported on by others. But this has led to some significant misunderstandings of what actually happens in battle, both among historians and among the public at large.

This talk looks at the reality of life for the ordinary soldier in battle, and seeks to record and report their actual experience of it. In doing so it throws up some remarkable facts, such as that in even the fiercest battle, nearly half of those in the thick of it never fired their weapon, or the fact that there is no recorded instance of an actual bayonet charge, or that Napoleonic cavalry charges never actually came into contact with each other. The talk makes use of history, psychology, movies, and even a bit of poetry.