This Day In History

1918 Battle of the Selle. In a carefully-planned attack, rehearsed over 5 days, 5th East Lancashires mount a remarkably successful night assault near Briastre. They move off at 2 a.m., in a heavy downpour which lasted throughout the engagement, to the sound of the Regimental March being played by the battalion band. Met by heavy machine-gun fire and an artillery barrage which causes 50 casualties, they charge through with a yell and are on their final objective well before the 7 a.m. deadline set, taking 300 prisoners in the process. Casualties are 2 officers and 13 men dead, and 6 officers and 109 men wounded. Some 22 German dead were counted on the battalion front. Study of the ground the next day shows that the battalion had gone through no fewer than 6 defensive belts, including a very strongly-held railway embankment, before reaching its final objective. The 300 prisoners were ‘of far better physique and appearance’ than any of the enemy previously encountered, and turn out to be picked troops. They said that they were members of Kaiser Wilhelm’ bodyguard; that they had never before known defeat; and that they had been sent to hold the line at all costs.
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Speakers Panel

Are you an organisation, club or community in Lancashire with a Talks and Lectures programme?

The Lancashire Infantry Museum can offer a number of expert speakers able to give illustrated talks on many aspects of military history. Our talks mainly tell the story of Lancashire’s soldiers through the ages, with a particular emphasis at present on World War I, as we pass through the centenary years of that most tragic conflict.

We ask for a minimum donation of £50 per talk, all of which goes directly towards preserving the memory of Lancashire’s Lads at the Lancashire Infantry Museum.

Please scroll down to see our list of speakers and subjects currently covered.  The great majority of talks are fully illustrated and will require a digital projector and screen, which our speakers can bring with them when required.

To request a speaker, please e-mail the Curator at

JOHN DOWNHAM OCT04John Downham served in The Queen’s Lancashire Regiment for over 30 years, retiring with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He has a longstanding passion for military history, and has published books and articles, lectured and led battlefield tours and studies on a wide range of regimental campaigns. He has a particular interest in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic period.

·        The Battle of the Somme. The WWI battle which destroyed a generation, and changed Britain forever. Lancashire’s soldiers suffered greatly; this is their story.

·        A Rapier Amongst Scythes- The British Expeditionary Force in 1914. How the force which the Kaiser called “that contemptible little army” destroyed his dreams of an easy victory, and the part played by our own East Lancashire, South Lancashire, and Loyal North Lancashire Regiments.

·        Ypres 1914: The Triumph of the Old Contemptibles.  The battle where Britain’s tiny but superbly professional pre-war army sacrificed itself to blunt Germany’s onrushing horde.

·        Ypres, The Salient & Passchendaele 1914-18. The commitment of the East Lancashire, South Lancashire, and Loyal North Lancashire Regiments to the three distinct Battles of Ypres.

·        WWI  – Not  The Western Front . The story of the Lancashire Regiments which fought in Gallipoli, Mesopotamia, Africa and elsewhere

·        Afghanistan. The history of the British Army’s two centuries of involvement, and the role played by Lancashire’s regiments.

·        Waterloo.  Insights into the Allied and French armies which fought the epochal battle.

·        The Peninsula War – Spain & Portugal 1808-1814. The small war which became pivotal to the history of Europe, turned the unregarded British army into an Empire winning force, and made a little-known colonial Sepoy general into the great Duke of Wellington.

·        Wellington In The Pyrenees – The Peninsula War 1812-1814. Wellington’s great campaign of 1813/14 which brought final victory in the Peninsular War, precipitated the fall of Napoleon, and is considered by many to be amongst Great Duke’s greatest military achievements.

·        Quebec 1759. How one perfect musket volley by the regiment which was to become Preston’s own Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, caused half a continent to change hands and ensured that North America remained part of the English-speaking world.

·        The Preston Fight 1715.  The second Battle of Preston, when the First Jacobite Rebellion was brought to a bitter and bloody end amongst the streets and alleyways of the town.

Terry Dean

Terry Dean has a particular interest in World War 1 and is a member of the Western Front Association. 

       A Bantam’s War – An account of a Bantam battalion’s experiences on the Western Front based on a shorthand diary kept by a soldier in the battalion.

       Monty’s Mentor – The story of James Walter Sandilands who uses his pre-war experiences in fighting the Dervishes and Boers to quickly progress from Captain to Brigadier General on the Western Front. He gives his young Brigade-Major (Captain Montgomery) lessons and experiences he would never forget.

.         Several Battalion Commanders  – The stories of five officers with highly varied backgrounds (including service with the Royal Irish Rifles, the Indian cavalry, and the Durham Light Infantry) who commanded a battalion of Lancashire Fusiliers in France between January 1916 and the Armistice.

.         The Lancashire Contemptibles – The 1914 experiences of Lancashire’s infantry and cavalry regiments, who shaped the course of the War. The talk covers their movement to France and events to the end of 1st Ypres in November 1914.

.         Leadership, Morale and Esprit de Corps: The Winning Factor?  – Brigadier General R J Kentish DSO was the inspirational first Commandant of the 3rd Army School and Senior Officer’s School. He was known and respected by many senior commanders including Field Marshal Haig

        Macdonell’s Multi-Continental Three-Dimensional War – Based on over 500 letters written by Lt Col Ian (formerly Daniel) Harrison Macdonell, this talk tells the story of his service between 1898 and 1920, seeing combat as a pilot in France and West Africa, and as an infantry commander in France and Mesopotamia.

.        Returned to the RegimentThe life story of Lt. Col. Sir Gilbert Mackereth M.C. who was one of the “Several Battalion Commanders” above. In addition, the exhumation of his remains from his threatened grave in Spain and return of his cremated remains and medals to Bury.

10 05 18_pocketcam_0360_edited-2Roger Goodwin was the last Director of Public Relations for the British Hong Kong Garrison, was Chief Information Officer for the Army in Northern Ireland, and is a Falklands veteran. He has long been interested in all military history, with a lifetime passion for aviation.  He now spends as much time as possible taking new pictures of old aeroplanes.

·        Knights Of The Sky – The First Fighter Aces 1914-18. The dawn of war in the air, and the young men who became their nations’ star heroes.

·        The Birth of Air Power – From Leonardo to 1914. Mankind’s first faltering steps to use the air for war.

·        The Falklands 1982.  Background and insights into the largest land-naval-air combat between modern armed forces since WWII.

.       The Greatest Tragedy. The Wrecking of the Sea Horse, Lord Melville & Boadicea, 30/31 January 1816. On one day 200 years ago, three ships were wrecked on the coast of Ireland and 510 men, women and children from two regiments were drowned. It was the greatest loss of life in the history of today’s Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment – more than any battle, on any battlefield, ever. How and why did it happen?


David Rogan has had a long-standing interest in military history, and in particular campaign tactics and logistics. He has visited battlefield sites all over much of the world, and is an accomplished war-gamer. David can normally only accept engagements in the Southport area, or daytime-only bookings in Preston.

·        The German General Staff in WWI. The shape and nature of WWI was largely dictated by the ambitions and actions of the group of all-powerful men who controlled the massive German army.

·        How British Concrete Built German Pillboxes. A look at some of the technical innovations of WWI, in particular the all-too-effective use of concrete by the Germans. The source of their raw material will amaze you!

·        The War of the Spanish Succession.  Marlborough’s great Flanders victories at Malplaquet, Oudenarde and Ramillies 1706 – 1708, and the incredible logistics required to move an 18th Century army.