Richard Holmes (military historian)

Edward Richard Holmes, CBE, TD, VR, JP (29 March 1946 – 30 April 2011[1]), known as Richard Holmes, was a British military historian, known for his many television appearances. He was co-director of Cranfield University's Security and Resilience Group from 1989 to 2009 and became Professor of Military and Security Studies at Cranfield in 1995.

Richard Holmes
Edward Richard Holmes

29 March 1946
Aldridge, Staffordshire
Died30 April 2011 (aged 65)[1]
Alma mater
OccupationProfessor of Military and Security Studies
EmployerCranfield University
Military career
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army (TA)
Years of service1964–2000
UnitQueen's Regiment
AwardsCommander of the Order of the British Empire Efficiency Decoration Volunteer Reserves Service Medal

Military career

In 1964 he enlisted in the Territorial Army, the volunteer reserve of the British Army.[2][3] Two years later he received a commission as a second lieutenant with the T.A., and was promoted to lieutenant on 17 June 1968.[4][5] He was promoted acting captain in 1972,[6] substantive captain in 1973,[7] acting major in 1978,[8] awarded the Efficiency Decoration (TD) in 1979,[9] promoted to substantive major in 1980.[10] In 1983, he transferred to and took command of the 2nd Battalion, The Wessex Regiment.[11]

He was promoted to lieutenant-colonel when he chose to give up full-time service in 1986.[12] In the 1988 Queen's Birthday Honours, he was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) (Military Division).[13] He was promoted colonel on 29 January 1989.[14] In June 1991, he was appointed aide-de-camp to the Queen, holding the post until February 1997.[15][16]

In January 1994, he was appointed Honorary Colonel of the Southampton University Officer Training Corps,[17] and in that February, he was appointed Brigadier-General TA at Headquarters Land Command.[18]

In 1995, he became Professor of Military and Security Studies at Cranfield.[19] From 1997 until his retirement in 2000, Holmes was Director General, Reserve Forces and Cadets, as well as having the distinguished honour of being Britain's senior serving reservist.[20] In the 1998 New Year Honours, he was promoted to Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) (Military Division).[21]

From September 1999 to 1 February 2007, he was Colonel of the Regiment of the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment (successor to The Queen's and Royal Hampshire Regiments).[22] On 19 September 2000, he was awarded the Volunteer Reserves Service Medal.[23]

Academic career

Between 1969 and 1985 he was a lecturer at the Department of War Studies at the RMA Sandhurst, becoming Deputy-Head of the department in 1984.[19]

In 1989 he was appointed as the Co-director of Cranfield University's Security Studies Institute at the Royal Military College of Science, at Shrivenham. He became Professor of Military and Security Studies there in 1995, retiring from both positions, although retaining some part-time responsibilities in 2009.[24]

Holmes was also President of the British Commission for Military History, and the Battlefields Trust.[1] He was also a patron of the Guild of Battlefield Guides,[1] He received the Order of the Dannebrog and held honorary doctorates from the universities of Leicester and Kent.[25]

Publications and television work

Holmes wrote more than twenty published books, including Firing Line and Redcoat, and was also Editor-in-Chief of the Oxford University Press' Companion to Military History. His television works included writing and presenting documentary series on the American Revolution such as Rebels and Redcoats in 2003 and Battlefields, a series concentrating on the bloody battles of the Second World War.[26][27] His War Walks television series has been regularly repeated on British terrestrial and digital television channels, including BBC Two and UKTV History. One of his documentary series was Wellington: The Iron Duke,[28] in which he chronicled the Duke of Wellington's life, travelling to India, to Waterloo and numerous other locations.

He used a similar format in his series, In the Footsteps of Churchill, a documentary on Winston Churchill. 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.[2]


Holmes died aged 65 on 30 April 2011 from the effects of non-Hodgkins lymphoma.[29][1]

Personal life

In 1975, Holmes married Catherine Saxton, with whom he had two daughters.[30]


  • Bir Hacheim: Desert Citadel (1971) ISBN 978-0-345-02405-3
  • The Little Field Marshal: A Life of Sir John French (1981) ISBN 978-0-224-01575-2
  • Firing Line (1985) ISBN 978-0-224-02043-5
  • Acts of War: The Behaviour of Men in Battle (1986) ISBN 978-0-02-915020-7
  • Civil War battles in Cornwall, 1642 to 1646 (Mercia, 1989) ISBN 0-948087-32-3
  • World Atlas of Warfare: Military Innovations That Changed the Course of History ISBN 978-0-670-81967-6
  • Riding the Retreat: Mons to Marne: 1914 Revisited (1995) ISBN 978-0-224-03762-4
  • Battle (1997) ISBN 978-0-7513-6057-8
  • The Western Front (1999) ISBN 978-1-57500-147-0
  • World War II in Photographs (2000) ISBN 978-1-84222-073-3
  • Battlefields of the Second World War (2001) ISBN 978-0-563-53782-3
  • The First World War in Photographs (2001) ISBN 978-1-84222-319-2
  • Redcoat: The British Soldier in the Age of Horse and Musket (2001) ISBN 978-0-00-257097-8
  • Wellington: The Iron Duke (2002) ISBN 978-0-00-713748-0; pbk 0-00-713750-8 (2003)
  • The D-Day Experience: From the Invasion to the Liberation of Paris (2004) ISBN 978-1-84442-805-2
  • Tommy: The British Soldier on the Western Front (2004) ISBN 978-0-00-713751-0
  • In the Footsteps of Churchill (2005) ISBN 978-0-563-52176-1
  • The Napoleonic Wars Experience (2006) ISBN 978-0-233-00198-2
  • Sahib: The British Soldier in India 1750–1914 (2005) ISBN 978-0-00-713753-4
  • Dusty Warriors: Modern Soldiers at War (2006) ISBN 978-0-00-721284-2
  • Battlefield. Decisive Conflicts in History Oxford University Press, (2006) ISBN 978-84-344-1335-1
  • The World at War: The Landmark Oral History from the Previously Unpublished Archives Ebury Press, (2007) ISBN 978-0-09-191751-7
  • Marlborough: England's Fragile Genius (2008) ISBN 978-0-00-722571-2
  • Shots from the Front (2008) ISBN 978-0007275489
  • Soldiers: Army Lives and Loyalties from Redcoats to Dusty Warriors (2011) ISBN 978-0-00-722569-9


  1. ^ a b c d e "Prof Richard Holmes, acclaimed military historian, dies". BBC News. 30 April 2011. Retrieved 30 April 2011.
  2. ^ a b "Obituary: Professor Richard Holmes". The Daily Telegraph. UK. 1 May 2011. Retrieved 17 May 2011.
  3. ^ Reisz, Matthew (12 May 2011). "Obituary: Richard Holmes, 1946–2011". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 17 May 2011.
  4. ^ "No. 44971". The London Gazette (Supplement). 25 November 1969. p. 11383.
  5. ^ "No. 45245". The London Gazette (Supplement). 4 December 1970. p. 13398.
  6. ^ "No. 45636". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 March 1972. p. 4018.
  7. ^ "No. 46046". The London Gazette (Supplement). 7 August 1973. p. 9392.
  8. ^ "No. 47545". The London Gazette (Supplement). 26 May 1978. p. 6548.
  9. ^ "No. 47824". The London Gazette (Supplement). 23 April 1979. p. 5392.
  10. ^ "No. 48229". The London Gazette (Supplement). 23 June 1980. p. 8996.
  11. ^ "No. 49467". The London Gazette (Supplement). 5 September 1983. p. 11712.
  12. ^ "No. 50527". The London Gazette (Supplement). 23 May 1986. p. 7097.
  13. ^ "No. 51365". The London Gazette (Supplement). 10 June 1988. p. 5.
  14. ^ "No. 51713". The London Gazette (Supplement). 24 April 1989. p. 4917.
  15. ^ "No. 52555". The London Gazette (Supplement). 10 June 1991. p. 8947.
  16. ^ "No. 54718". The London Gazette (Supplement). 27 March 1997. p. 3877.
  17. ^ "No. 53601". The London Gazette (Supplement). 28 February 1994. p. 3179.
  18. ^ "No. 53737". The London Gazette (Supplement). 18 July 1994. p. 10279.
  19. ^ a b "Historian and Broadcaster to be Honoured by University". University of Leicester. 2008. Retrieved 23 February 2009.
  20. ^ "No. 56217". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 May 2001. p. 6335.
  21. ^ "No. 54993". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 December 1997. pp. 5–6.
  22. ^ "No. 58238". The London Gazette (Supplement). 6 February 2007. p. 1639.
  23. ^ "No. 55974". The London Gazette (Supplement). 19 September 2000. pp. 10418–10419.
  24. ^ "HOLMES, Prof. (Edward) Richard". Who's Who. Oxford, England: A & C Black. December 2010.
  25. ^ "Professor Richard Holmes". Cranfield University. 2008. Retrieved 23 February 2009.
  26. ^ Rebels and Redcoats – Public Broadcasting Service summary
  27. ^ Rebels and Redcoats on IMDb
  28. ^ "Wellington: The Iron Duke: Richard Holmes: Books". Retrieved 22 April 2014.
  29. ^ Belfast Telegraph: "Tributes to war historian Holmes"
  30. ^ Obituary for Holmes, 'The Independent', 5 May 2011.

External links

100 Greatest Britons

The 100 Greatest Britons was a television series broadcast by the BBC in 2002. It was based on a television poll conducted to determine who the British people at that time considered the greatest Britons in history. The series included individual programmes featuring the top ten, with viewers having further opportunity to vote after each programme. It concluded with a debate and final determination of the ranking of the top ten. Although many living people were included among the top 100, all of the top ten were deceased.

2011 in the United Kingdom

Events from the year 2011 in the United Kingdom.

Great Lives

Great Lives is a BBC Radio 4 biography series, produced in Bristol. It has been presented by Joan Bakewell, Humphrey Carpenter, Francine Stock and currently (since April 2006) Matthew Parris. A distinguished guest is asked to nominate the person they feel is truly deserving of the title "Great Life". The presenter and a recognised expert (a biographer, family member or fellow practitioner) are on hand to discuss the life. The programmes are 28 minutes long, originally broadcast on Fridays at 23:00, more recently at 16:30 on Tuesday with a repeat at 23:00 on Friday.

Holmes (surname)

Holmes is an English-language surname with several origins.

The name can be a variant of the surname Holme. This surname has several etymological origins: it can be derived from a name for someone who lived next to a holly tree, from the Middle English holm; it can also be derived from the Old English holm and Old Norse holmr. Another origin of Holmes is from a placename near Dundonald, or else a place located in the barony of Inchestuir. The surname is also sometimes an Anglicised form of the Gaelic Mac Thomáis; similarly, Holmes can also be a variant of Cavish, derived as an Anglicised form of Mac Thámhais.

List of University of Reading alumni

This is a list of University of Reading alumni.

List of alumni of Emmanuel College, Cambridge

This is a list of alumni of Emmanuel College, Cambridge.

List of people from the London Borough of Waltham Forest

Waltham Forest is the birthplace of William Morris, best known as one of the principal founders of the British Arts and Crafts Movement. Morris was a designer of wallpaper and patterned fabrics, a writer of poetry and fiction, and a pioneer of the socialist movement in Britain.

Other famous people such as Footballer and former England Captain David Beckham, I, Claudius star Derek Jacobi, former Essex and England Cricket Captain Graham Gooch and film director and producer Alfred Hitchcock were also born in the borough.

Among those who were born in the London Borough of Waltham Forest, or have dwelt within the borders of the modern borough are (alphabetical order):

Patrick Agyemang

Damon Albarn

Keith Albarn, manager of Soft Machine and father of Damon Albarn, taught art at Walthamstow College of Art in the 1960s

Jodi Albert, former Hollyoaks actress

Richard Ayoade

Danny Bailey

David Bailey

Trevor Bailey, Essex and England cricketer

Jill Barklem

Robert Barltrop

Graham Barnfield, pundit and academic, moved to Highams Park in 2001. He lived in the former home of actress Tara Moran.

David Beckham, grew up in Chingford having been born at Whipps Cross Hospital in Leytonstone on 2 May 1975; as a child he attended Chingford School and played football for Ridgeway Rovers, a local side

Steve Bell

John Berger, socialist artist and writer, lived in Highams Park as a child

Peter Blake (artist), artist, painted sleeve cover of the Beatles Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band

Blazin' Squad, members of the band lived in or near Highams Park and studied at Highams Park School

Paul Boateng

Mick Box, guitarist for Uriah Heep born in Walthamstow

Boy Kill Boy

Matthew Bourne, choreographer and dancer, was born in Walthamstow

Frederick Bremer, inventor

Sir Reader William Bullard

Lee Butcher, Leyton Orient Goalkeeper

Edward Buxton (conservationist)

David Cairns, musician, guitarist with Secret Affair was born in Walthamstow


Maurice Chambers

Cornelius Cardew

Harry Cohen, MP for Leyton, attended Selwyn School

Terry Coldwell

Terry Cole

Phil Collen, lead guitarist of Def Leppard

Jack Cornwell VC, born in Leyton in 1900

Fanny Cradock

Bobby Crush

Johnny Dankworth, jazz musician, born in Highams Park in 1927, attended Selwyn School and Sir George Monoux Grammar School

Paul Di'Anno, lead singer of Iron Maiden 1978-1981.

Alan Davies, stand-up comedian and regular guest on quiz show QI, was born in Chingford

Curtis Davies, Premiership footballer

Chris Day

Eric Deakins

Joe Dever, author and games designer, was born in Chingford in 1956

Adam Devlin, guitarist for The Bluetones lives in Walthamstow

Benjamin Disraeli, former British Prime Minister, attended Higham Hall School in Walthamstow

John Drinkwater

Iain Duncan Smith, MP

Ian Dury, singer and songwriter, studied at Walthamstow Art College

Fleur East, singer-songwriter, runner-up to The X Factor UK, 2014

East 17, British pop boy band, including singer/songwriter Brian Harvey

Sir George Edwards (aviation), aircraft designer (Concorde) and industrialist was born in Hale End Road, Highams Park, on 9 July 1908.

Eamon Everall, studied at Waltham Forest School of Art

Ken Farnes

Joanne Fenn

Patrik Fitzgerald

Marion Foale

Quinton Fortune

James Foster (cricketer, born 1980)

Samantha Fox

Neil Gerrard, MP for Walthamstow

Terry Gibson

Sir Stephen Gomersall

Graham Gooch

Jon Goodman

Nickolas Grace

Michael Grandage

Peter Greenaway, CBE

Mark Greenstreet

Gunshot (British Hip hop group)

Fitz Hall

King Harold I

Steve Harris, founder and bass player of Iron Maiden

Brian Harvey (musician)

Martin Hayes (footballer)

Paul Hayes

Darren Hayman

Barry Hearn

Don Henderson

Peter Hennessy, historian

John Hewer "Captain Birdseye"

Steve Hillage

James Hilton

Sir Alfred Hitchcock

David Holdsworth

Dean Holdsworth

Helen Hollick

Richard Holmes (military historian)

Tom Hood, humourist and playwright, born at Lake House in 1835

Sydney Horler

Justin Hoyte

Mick Hume, journalist

Nasser Hussain, OBE

Doug Insole, England Cricketer

Jonathan Ive, designed the iPod (all generations) iMac (all generations), iBook, Powerbook, MacBook and MacBook Pro, as well as the new iPhone

Iron Maiden

Derek Jacobi

Harry Kane

Tolga Kashif

Colin Kazim-Richards

Lena Kennedy

The Kray twins, buried in Chingford cemetery

Kwasi Kwarteng, Conservative Party politician

Terry Lawless

T E Lawrence

Lethal Bizzle

Leyton Buzzards

John Lill

Russell Lissack, from Bloc Party grew up in Chingford

Natasha Little

Valentine McEntee, 1st Baron McEntee

Morell Mackenzie

Bryan Magee

Dominic McVey, Britain's youngest self-made millionaire

Shazia Mirza

George Allan Mitchell, VC

Chris Moncrieff, political journalist

George Monoux, Lord Mayor of the City of London, 1514

Bobby Moore

Tara Moran

More Fire Crew

Ian Morgan

Roger Morgan

William Morris

Tony Mortimer

Fabrice Muamba

Frank Muir (Writer and radio personality)

Jimmy Neighbour

Grant Nelson, radio DJ, went to school in Chingford

Peter Nicol, MBE

Ross Noble

Michael Nyman, composer and musicologist

Ronnie O'Sullivan

Cornelia Parker

Grayson Perry, ceramicist and 2003 Turner Prize winner, has his studio in Walthamstow

Mark Petchey

Pascale Petit, poet, twice shortlisted for T.S. Eliot Prize, lives in Walthamstow

Eddie Phillips

Leslie Phillips, comedy star of the Carry On Films, lived in Chingford

Sol Plaatje

Fred Pontin, founder and managing director of Pontins holiday camps

Ruth Rendell

Lt.Col V.C. 'Dope' Richmond, designer of the R101

Tony Robinson

Alliot Verdon Roe

Jonathan Ross

Paul Ross

Ken Russell

Pam St. Clement

Nick Saloman

June Sarpong, television presenter

Graham Saville

Baroness Scotland, Attorney General, grew up in Walthamstow and attended Walthamstow School for Girls

Jamie Shea

Teddy Sheringham, footballer, born on 2 April 1966 in Highams Park

Rita Simons, British actress, singer and model

Talvin Singh

John Smith, avant–garde filmmaker, born in Highams Park, attended Selwyn Avenue School and George Monoux School

Rodney "Gypsy" Smith

Vivian Stanshall, musician, painter, singer, broadcaster, songwriter, poet and writer, best known for his work with the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, grew up in Grove Road, Walthamstow

Seán Mac Stíofáin

Meera Syal

Thomas Griffith Taylor, (1890-1963) Antarctic explorer

Norman Tebbit

Nicola Walker

Angela Watkinson, MP

Michael Watson

Geoffrey Wellum

Danniella Westbrook, former EastEnders star lives in Chingford

Adam Woodyatt, English actor who plays Ian Beale in EastEnders, born in Walthamstow 1968

Phil Woosnam

Peter Waterfield, Born in Walthamstow

Wessex Regiment

The Wessex Regiment was a Territorial Army (TA) infantry regiment of the British Army between 1971 and 1995. It had two battalions: The 1st Bn (Rifle Volunteers) with its headquarters at Le Marchant Barracks in Devizes and the 2nd Bn (Volunteers), which was headquartered at Brock Barracks in Reading. In 1994, the battalions were amalgamated to form the 2nd Bn the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment, later the Royal Rifle Volunteers. Most recently, its remnants can be traced to the formation of The Rifles.

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