News and podcasts

S1E19 – Dr Waitman Beorn – The Wehrmacht & the Holocaust on the Eastern Front in WW2

Dr Waitman Beorn, Senior Lecturer in History at Northumbria University, talks about the Wehrmacht and motivation to participate in the Holocaust on the Eastern Front in WW2. In the interview, he talks about the extent and nature of Wehrmacht involvement in the Holocaust on the Eastern Front. He points out that while Nazi death squads routinely carried out mass executions on the Eastern Front, many units of the regular German army conducted and participated in such actions. Waitman explains what motivated them to carry out such actions which they frequently…

S1E18 – Dr Emanuele Sica – The Italian soldier in the Second World War

Dr Emanuele Sica, Assistant Professor at the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, talks about the morale and motivation of the Italian soldier during the Second World War. Italy declared war on 10 June 1940 and initially the Italian Royal Army fought against France in the closing stages of the Battle of France. From 1941 to 1943, Italian forces battled British, Dominion, US and other nations in North Africa. After the defeat of Italian and axis forces in Tunisia in mid-1943, Italy was invaded by allied forces.…

S1E17 – Dr Jiri Hutečka – Czech soldiers in the Great War

Dr Jiri Hutečka, Associate Professor at the Institute of History, University of Hradec Králové, talks about the motivation and morale of Czech soldiers fighting in the Austro-Hungarian Army in the Great War. In July 1914, the Austro-Hungarian Army had 36,000 officers and 414,000 NCOs spread across regular and territorial defence force, the landwehr. During the conflict, the army expanded to around 7.8million in 1917. Like the Austro-Hungarian empire, the army was composed of many ethnic, religious and national groupings. Czech soldiers made up around 10% of the total force, the…

S1E16 – Dr Grant Harward – The Romanian ‘Holy War’ on the Eastern Front in WW2

Dr Grant Harward, a historian at the US Army Medical Department, US Army, talks about his recent book ‘Holy War’ on the motivation of Romanian combatants to fight and participate in the Holocaust on the Eastern Front in WW2. He corrects the widespread myth that Romania was a reluctant member of the Axis during World War II and that in Romanian-occupied Ukraine more than 64,000 Jews were killed by Romanian soldiers. Moreover, the Romanian Army conducted a brutal campaign in German-occupied Ukraine, resulting in the deaths of thousands of Soviet…

S1E15 – Dr Damian Shiels – The Irish fighting for the Union Army in the US Civil War

Dr Damian Shiels, archaeologist, historian & writer, talks about the morale and motivation of Irish immigrants fighting in the Union Army during the US Civil War. Damian discusses why Irish immigrants, who came from Ireland and Britain were so enthusiastic to serve in Union blue in the conflict. He also discusses what kept them motivated to endure the rigours of campaign and the intensity of combat. More information on Damian’s work can be found at https://bit.ly/37gPAZy

S1E14 – Dr Spencer Jones – Combat motivations in the Boer War

Dr Spencer Jones, Senior Lecturer in War Studies at the University of Wolverhampton, talks about the combat motivation of the various sides fighting in the 1899-1902 Boer War. This conflict was fought between the British Empire and the two Boer Republics (the South African Republic and the Orange Free State) over the Empire’s influence in Southern Africa. The conflict lasted for three years and started off as a conventional conflict and morphed into an insurgency. It was bitterly contested with brutality on both sides that killed around 50k people. Spencer…

S1E13 – Dr Matthew Ford – Soldiers, guns and morale

Dr Matthew Ford, Senior Lecturer at the University of Sussex, talks about his research into soldiers, guns and morale. He explores the relationship between soldiers, their personal weapons and their will to fight. Central to the discussion is what he calls the socio-technical relationship between a combatant and their weapon. He considers the implications of the work of S.L.A. Marshall, who wrote after the Second World War wrote that only one quarter of infantry soldiers in combat actually fired their weapon at the enemy, and the challenges this research posed…

S1E12 – Prof. Ken Noe – What motivated ‘late’ enlisting Confederate soldiers to join up during the US Civil War?

Historian and author Prof. Ken Noe talks about his recent book on what motivated ‘late’ enlisting men to the Confederates Army during the 1861-65 US Civil War. In the interview, Prof Noe discusses those Confederate volunteers who were so-called ‘late enlisters’, those who joined the southern army after the initial surge of volunteers in 1861. He defined this group as enlisting from 1862 to the end of the war and estimated they numbered around 180,000 men. He aims to correct the stereotype that these men were hesitant non-slave owning farmers.…

S1E11 – Dr Linsey Robb – The motivation of the British civilian worker in WW2

Dr Linsey Robb, Associate Professor in Modern British History at the University of Northumbria, talks about the motivation of the British civilian worker in WW2. During the Second World War, The British government mobilised civilians more effectively than any other combatant nation. By 1944, a third of the civilian population were engaged in war work, including over 7,000,000 women. Linsey talks about what motivated these workers to contribute to the war effort and how this changed over the course of the war. She is a social and cultural historian of…

THE ROLE OF MORALE IN THE RUSSIAN INVASION OF UKRAINE

In January 2022, the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC published an assessment on ‘Russia’s Possible Invasion of Ukraine’. It argued that the ‘true calculation of military success can only be taken after a clash of arms begins. In addition, there are several intangibles—such as weather, urban combat, command and control, logistics, and morale—that may play a significant role in the initial stages of a war’.[1] Fifteen or so days into the conflict, morale has been highlighted as a key factor that is dictating the nature and…

S1E10 – Dr Drew Ryder – British Army combatants in Korea, 1950-53

Recent doctoral graduate Dr Drew Ryder talks about the motivation and morale of the British Army combatant fighting in in Korea, 1950-53. In 1950, communist North Korea attacked its southern neighbour sparking a three year war that lasted until 1953 when an armistice was declared. Britain committed troops as part of a United Nations force and nearly 60,000 British combat troops saw action. They were both professional regular soldiers and conscript national servicemen of which 1,078 killed in action, 2,674 wounded and 1,060 missing or taken prisoner. Drew talks about what motivated soldiers…

S1E9 – Andrea Hetherington – Army deserters on the British home front during WW1

Historian, lawyer and author Andrea Hetherington talks about her recent book on British Army deserters on the British home front during WW1.  During that war, more than 80,000 cases of desertion were tried at a courts martial on the home front. Andrea talks about the many motivations for absence or desertion from camps or barracks in Britain. Some soldiers couldn’t cope with what was thought as poor camp facilities, others had a problem with drink and a number were immature. No deserters were executed for desertion on the Home Front…

S1E8 – Dr George Lepre – Fragging in Vietnam

Historian and author Dr George Lepre talks about the ‘fragging’ phenomenon that occurred in US forces during the latter stages of the 1965-72 Vietnam War. You can listen here:  https://bit.ly/3vjhJZL ‘Fragging’is the deliberate killing or attempted killing by a soldier of a fellow soldier, usually an officer or NCO. The word was coined by U.S. military personnel during the Vietnam War, when such killings were most often attempted with a fragmentation grenade. From 1965 to 1968, incidents of fragging were virtually unknown. However, in 1969, 96 instances were recorded, in…

S1E5 – Dr Joseph Ryan – Samuel Stouffer the GI survey

Dr Joseph Ryan, a historian at the United States Army talks about his work on sociologist Samuel Stouffer the GI survey during the Second World War. Samuel Stouffer was a little-known sociologist from Sac City, Iowa. In his role of the Army Information and Education Division’s Research Branch, he spearheaded an effort to understand the American citizen-soldier, his reasons for fighting, and his overall Army experience during the Second World War. Using surveys and interviews, he transformed general assumptions about leadership and soldiering into a sociological understanding of a draftee…

S1E4 – Dr Jeff Rutherford – The Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front during WW2

Historian and author Dr Jeff Rutherford talks about the combat motivation of Wehrmacht soldiers fighting on the Eastern Front during WW2. The interview is based on Jeff’s recent book ‘Combat and Genocide on the Eastern Front: The German Infantry’s War, 1941–1944’ (Cambridge: CUP, 2014) that explores the combat experience and the occupation policies of three frontline infantry divisions. The interview covers the role of Nazi racial ideology and how this provided a legitimizing context in which violence was not only accepted but encouraged and it was the Wehrmacht’s adherence to…

S1E3 – Prof. Kelly Mezurek – African-American soldiers during the US Civil War

Prof. Kelly Mezurek, Professor of History at Walsh University, Ohio, USA, talks about her research into the motivations and morale of African-American soldiers during the US Civil War. The interviewed is based on Kelly’s on her book ‘For Their Own Cause: The 27th United States Colored Troops’ that explores the contribution black soldiers from Ohio made to the Union war effort during the American Civil War (1861-1865). The interview explores why black soldiers enlisted in the Union army and what factors motivated them to serve and endure on active service. Kelly’s…

S1E2 – Dr Robert Engen – Canadian soldiers in the Second World War

Dr Robert Engen, Assistant professor at the Canadian Forces College and the official historian for Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, talks about the endurance and motivation of Canadian soldiers serving in northwest Europe during in the Second World War. Robert talks about the role of small group cohesion, junior regimental leadership and patriotism/ideology in motivating the Canadian infantryman to fight in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany in 1944-45. His conversation with Tom Thorpe is based on his recently published book. ‘Strangers in Arms’ (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press,…

S1E1 – Dr Edward Burke – The British soldier in Northern Ireland, early 1970s

The first episode of the Combat Morale Podcast features an interview with Dr Edward Burke, Associate Professor at the University of Nottingham. Edward talks about his book, ‘An Army of Tribes’, that explores the motivation, cohesion, efficiency, ethics and morale of the British soldier during the early stages of Operation Banner, the deployment of the British Army to Northern Ireland in the early 1970s. Published by Liverpool University Press.

Trailer

Tom Thorpe, the founder and host, introduces the aims and objectives of the podcast.