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Richard Holmes (military historian)

Richard Holmes (military historian)

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Encyclopedia
Brigadier
Brigadier (United Kingdom)
Brigadier is a senior rank in the British Army and the Royal Marines.Brigadier is the superior rank to Colonel, but subordinate to Major-General....

 Edward Richard Holmes, CBE, TD
Territorial Decoration
The Territorial Decoration was a medal of the United Kingdom awarded for long service in the Territorial Force and its successor, the Territorial Army...

, JP
Justice of the Peace
A justice of the peace is a puisne judicial officer elected or appointed by means of a commission to keep the peace. Depending on the jurisdiction, they might dispense summary justice or merely deal with local administrative applications in common law jurisdictions...

 (29 March 1946 – 30 April 2011), known as Richard Holmes, was a British soldier and noted military historian, particularly well-known through his many television appearances. He had been the Professor of Military and Security Studies at Cranfield University
Cranfield University
Cranfield University is a British postgraduate university based on two campuses, with a research-oriented focus. The main campus is at Cranfield, Bedfordshire and the second is the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom based at Shrivenham, Oxfordshire. The main campus is unique in the United...

 since 1995 and co-director of Cranfield's Security and Resilience Group since 1989.

Background and career


Holmes was educated at Forest School, Snaresbrook and Emmanuel College, Cambridge
Emmanuel College, Cambridge
Emmanuel College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge.The college was founded in 1584 by Sir Walter Mildmay on the site of a Dominican friary...

, as well as Northern Illinois University
Northern Illinois University
Northern Illinois University is a state university and research institution located in DeKalb, Illinois, with satellite centers in Hoffman Estates, Naperville, Rockford, and Oregon. It was originally founded as Northern Illinois State Normal School on May 22, 1895 by Illinois Governor John P...

 and the University of Reading
University of Reading
The University of Reading is a university in the English town of Reading, Berkshire. The University was established in 1892 as University College, Reading and received its Royal Charter in 1926. It is based on several campuses in, and around, the town of Reading.The University has a long tradition...

. In 1964, he enlisted in the Territorial Army, the part-time volunteer reserve of the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

. Two years later he gained his commission, eventually rising to the rank of Brigadier
Brigadier
Brigadier is a senior military rank, the meaning of which is somewhat different in different military services. The brigadier rank is generally superior to the rank of colonel, and subordinate to major general....

. He spent most of his Territorial Army career with the 5th (Volunteer) Battalion, The Queen's Regiment
The Queen's Regiment
The Queen's Regiment was an infantry regiment of the British Army formed in 1966 through the amalgamation of the four regiments of the Home Counties Division...

, a NATO-centred infantry
Infantry
Infantrymen are soldiers who are specifically trained for the role of fighting on foot to engage the enemy face to face and have historically borne the brunt of the casualties of combat in wars. As the oldest branch of combat arms, they are the backbone of armies...

 battalion
Battalion
A battalion is a military unit of around 300–1,200 soldiers usually consisting of between two and seven companies and typically commanded by either a Lieutenant Colonel or a Colonel...

.

Between 1969 and 1985, he was a lecturer at the Department of War Studies at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst , commonly known simply as Sandhurst, is a British Army officer initial training centre located in Sandhurst, Berkshire, England...

, becoming Deputy Head of the Department in 1984. He was promoted acting Captain
Captain (OF-2)
The army rank of captain is a commissioned officer rank historically corresponding to command of a company of soldiers. The rank is also used by some air forces and marine forces. Today a captain is typically either the commander or second-in-command of a company or artillery battery...

 in 1972, substantive Captain in 1973, acting Major in 1978, awarded the Efficiency Decoration
Territorial Decoration
The Territorial Decoration was a medal of the United Kingdom awarded for long service in the Territorial Force and its successor, the Territorial Army...

 (TD) in 1979, promoted to substantive Major in 1980. In 1983 he transferred to and took command of the 2nd Battalion, The Wessex Regiment
Wessex Regiment
The Wessex Regiment was a Territorial Army infantry regiment of the British Army between 1971 and 1995. It had two battalions: The 1st Bn with its headquarters at Le Marchant Barracks in Devizes and the 2nd Bn which was headquartered at Brock Barracks in Reading...

. He was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel when he chose to give up full-time service in 1986. In the 1988 Queen's Birthday Honours
Queen's Birthday Honours
The Queen's Birthday Honours is a part of the British honours system, being a civic occasion on the celebration of the Queen's Official Birthday in which new members of most Commonwealth Realms honours are named. The awards are presented by the reigning monarch or head of state, currently Queen...

, he was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) (Military Division). He was promoted Colonel on 29 January 1989.

In June 1991 he was appointed Aide-de-Camp
Aide-de-camp
An aide-de-camp is a personal assistant, secretary, or adjutant to a person of high rank, usually a senior military officer or a head of state...

 to the Queen
Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom
Elizabeth II is the constitutional monarch of 16 sovereign states known as the Commonwealth realms: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize,...

, holding the post until February 1997. In January 1994 he was appointed Honorary Colonel of the Southampton University Officer Training Corps, and in that February, he was appointed Brigadier
Brigadier
Brigadier is a senior military rank, the meaning of which is somewhat different in different military services. The brigadier rank is generally superior to the rank of colonel, and subordinate to major general....

 TA at Headquarters Land Command. In 1995, he became Professor of Military and Security Studies at Cranfield.

From 1997 until his retirement in 2000, Holmes was Director Reserve Forces and Cadets, as well as having the distinguished honour of being Britain's senior serving reservist. In the 1998 New Year Honours
New Year Honours
The New Year Honours is a part of the British honours system, being a civic occasion on the New Year annually in which new members of most Commonwealth Realms honours are named. The awards are presented by the reigning monarch or head of state, currently Queen Elizabeth II...

 he was promoted to Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) (Military Division). From September 1999 to 1 February 2007 he was Colonel of the Regiment
Colonel (UK)
Colonel is a rank of the British forces, ranking below Brigadier, and above Lieutenant Colonel. British Colonels are not usually field commanders; typically they serve as staff officers between field commands at battalion and brigade level. The insignia is two diamond shaped pips below a crown...

 of the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment
Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment
"PWRR" redirects here. For the railroad with these reporting marks, see Portland and Western Railroad.The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment is the senior English line infantry regiment of the British Army, part of the Queen's Division...

 (successor to The Queen's and Royal Hampshire
Royal Hampshire Regiment
The Royal Hampshire Regiment was a British Army line infantry regiment from 1881 to 1992. Its lineage is continued today by the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment.-Formation and antecedents:...

 Regiments). On 19 September 2000 he was awarded the Volunteer Reserves Service Medal
Volunteer Reserves Service Medal
The Volunteer Reserves Service Medal is a medal awarded to all members of the reserves of all of the branches of the British Armed Forces - the Royal Naval Reserve, the Royal Marines Reserve, the Territorial Army and the Royal Auxiliary Air Force...

.

Academic


In 1989, he became Co-Director of Cranfield University
Cranfield University
Cranfield University is a British postgraduate university based on two campuses, with a research-oriented focus. The main campus is at Cranfield, Bedfordshire and the second is the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom based at Shrivenham, Oxfordshire. The main campus is unique in the United...

's Security Studies Institute at the Royal Military College of Science
Defence College of Management and Technology
The Defence Academy - College of Management and Technology is a British postgraduate school, research institution and training provider formed in 2009 from five departments of the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom, and as such part of the British Armed Forces. Since 1984 Cranfield University...

, Shrivenham. He became Professor of Military and Security Studies there in 1995, retiring from both positions—although retaining some part-time responsibilities, in 2009.

Public service


Holmes was also president of the British Commission for Military History and the Battlefields Trust, patron of the Guild of Battlefield Guides, chairman of Project Hougoumont, member of the Board of Trustees of the Royal Armouries
Royal Armouries
The Royal Armouries is the United Kingdom's National Museum of Arms and Armour. It is the United Kingdom's oldest museum, and one of the oldest museums in the world. It is also one of the largest collections of arms and armour in the world, comprising the UK's National Collection of Arms and...

, Patron of "Soldier On!" and a vice president of the UK National Defence Association
UK National Defence Association
The UK National Defence Association is a pressure group campaigning in support of Britain's Armed Forces and calling for an increase in the UK Defence budget. It is politically independent and Tri-Service ....

. He has received the Order of the Dannebrog
Order of the Dannebrog
The Order of the Dannebrog is an Order of Denmark, instituted in 1671 by Christian V. It resulted from a move in 1660 to break the absolutism of the nobility. The Order was only to comprise 50 noble Knights in one class plus the Master of the Order, i.e. the Danish monarch, and his sons...

 and held honorary doctorates from the universities of Leicester
University of Leicester
The University of Leicester is a research-led university based in Leicester, England. The main campus is a mile south of the city centre, adjacent to Victoria Park and Wyggeston and Queen Elizabeth I College....

 and Kent
University of Kent
The University of Kent, previously the University of Kent at Canterbury, is a public research university based in Kent, United Kingdom...

. Holmes lived in Hampshire
Hampshire
Hampshire is a county on the southern coast of England in the United Kingdom. The county town of Hampshire is Winchester, a historic cathedral city that was once the capital of England. Hampshire is notable for housing the original birthplaces of the Royal Navy, British Army, and Royal Air Force...

 with his wife and two daughters. In his spare time he sat as a Justice of the Peace
Justice of the Peace
A justice of the peace is a puisne judicial officer elected or appointed by means of a commission to keep the peace. Depending on the jurisdiction, they might dispense summary justice or merely deal with local administrative applications in common law jurisdictions...

 for North-East Hampshire
Hampshire
Hampshire is a county on the southern coast of England in the United Kingdom. The county town of Hampshire is Winchester, a historic cathedral city that was once the capital of England. Hampshire is notable for housing the original birthplaces of the Royal Navy, British Army, and Royal Air Force...

.

Publications and television work


Holmes wrote over a dozen books, including Firing Line and Redcoat, and was also editor in chief
Editor in chief
An editor-in-chief is a publication's primary editor, having final responsibility for the operations and policies. Additionally, the editor-in-chief is held accountable for delegating tasks to staff members as well as keeping up with the time it takes them to complete their task...

 of the Oxford University Press
Oxford University Press
Oxford University Press is the largest university press in the world. It is a department of the University of Oxford and is governed by a group of 15 academics appointed by the Vice-Chancellor known as the Delegates of the Press. They are headed by the Secretary to the Delegates, who serves as...

' Companion to Military History. His television works included documentary series on the American Revolution
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

 such as Rebels and Redcoats
Rebels and Redcoats (TV Series)
Rebels and Redcoats is the story of the American Revolutionary War narrated by Richard Holmes in a four part series. Throughout the entire program there are clear explanations about the politics going on behind the scenes, the impact of other nations like Canada and France, battle tactics and...

in 2003 and Battlefields, a series concentrating on the bloody battles of World War II. His War Walks
War Walks
War Walks was a BBC documentary series presented by historian, Professor Richard Holmes. The series was about several famous European battles...

television series has been regularly repeated on British terrestrial and digital television channels, including BBC Two
BBC Two
BBC Two is the second television channel operated by the British Broadcasting Corporation in the United Kingdom. It covers a wide range of subject matter, but tending towards more 'highbrow' programmes than the more mainstream and popular BBC One. Like the BBC's other domestic TV and radio...

 and UKTV History
UKTV History
Yesterday is a television channel broadcasting in the United Kingdom as part of the UKTV network of channels. The channel originally launched on 30 October 2002 and relaunched in its current format on 2 March 2009. The channel is available on satellite through Sky, cable services primarily through...

. One of his most noted documentary series was Wellington: The Iron Duke, in which he chronicled the Duke of Wellington's
Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington
Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, KG, GCB, GCH, PC, FRS , was an Irish-born British soldier and statesman, and one of the leading military and political figures of the 19th century...

 life, travelling to India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, to Waterloo
Waterloo, Belgium
Waterloo is a Walloon municipality located in the province of Walloon Brabant, Belgium. On December 31, 2009, Waterloo had a total population of 29,573. The total area is 21.03 km² which gives a population density of 1,407 inhabitants per km²...

 and numerous other locations. In the BBC poll to find the 100 Greatest Britons
100 Greatest Britons
100 Greatest Britons was broadcast in 2002 by the BBC. The programme was the result of a vote conducted to determine whom the United Kingdom public considers the greatest British people in history. The series, Great Britons, included individual programmes on the top ten, with viewers having further...

in 2002, he presented the programme on Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell was an English military and political leader who overthrew the English monarchy and temporarily turned England into a republican Commonwealth, and served as Lord Protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland....

.

He used a similar format in his series, In the Footsteps of Churchill, a documentary on Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

. In this, he travelled across the world, including South Africa, Sudan, Egypt and various locations in the United Kingdom and Europe. He also wrote a book to accompany the series. Both the book and the television series have received much critical acclaim. With John Keegan
John Keegan
Sir John Keegan OBE FRSL is a British military historian, lecturer, writer and journalist. He has published many works on the nature of combat between the 14th and 21st centuries concerning land, air, maritime, and intelligence warfare, as well as the psychology of battle.-Life and career:John...

 Holmes also developed the BBC documentary Soldiers, A History of Men in Battle
Soldiers, A History of Men in Battle
Soldiers, a history of men in battle was a BBC television documentary series about the history of warfare from antiquity to the Falklands War. Each episode looked at warfare from the perspective of different participants: infantryman, artillerist, cavalryman, tanker, airman, guerrilla, surgeon,...

.

Death


Holmes had been suffering from a form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma but eventually died of pneumonia.
He died on 30 April 2011, aged 65.

External links