History Soc: The Great War Through Fitzwilliam Eyes

Thu, 18/10/2018 - 19:00
Trust Room
Dr John Cleaver discusses the correspondence from the era of the Great War in Fitzwilliam College's archives.

In Fitzwilliam College, we possess much correspondence from the era of the Great War. At that time, Fitzwilliam Hall provided a base for students whose limited means precluded college membership. Its principal officer was the Censor of Non-Collegiate Students, William Fiddian Reddaway – who was determined to enhance Fitzwilliam Hall and eliminate its perceived inferiority to the colleges. Reddaway inspired the enthusiasm of the Fitzwilliam men. When war came, he received many letters from graduates, from those who had interrupted their studies to serve, and from those who joined Fitzwilliam during the war.

We can build up a picture both of the social backgrounds of the men and of their lives and deaths in the war. Most were infantry officers, inevitably including Second Lieutenants who survived only a few weeks on the Western Front. Others saw combatant service for extended periods in many parts of the world; others provided medical, spiritual and welfare support; and still others enhanced the technology of warfare.

Dr Cleaver, a Life Fellow of the College, wrote Fitzwilliam: The First 150 years of a Cambridge College; his new book Letters to the Censor: Fitzwilliam Hall in the Great War was published in September 2018. 

Drinks and nibbles provided afterwards.

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Emma Gossage
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