Prof Richard Holmes, acclaimed military historian, dies
- 1 May 2011
- From the section UK
The acclaimed military historian, Professor Richard Holmes CBE, has died at the age of 65.
Known for sharing his knowledge of warfare on BBC documentaries, he also taught at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and Cranfield University.
His specialities included England's conflicts with France in the Middle Ages and World War II. He also wrote numerous books.
His focus was the ordinary soldier, whom he wanted to "put centre stage".
Prof Holmes was educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, as well as Northern Illinois University and the University of Reading.
He served in the Territorial Army in which he commanded the 2nd Battalion the Wessex Regiment and eventually rose to the rank of brigadier.
He became the first reservist to hold the position of director of Reserve Forces and Cadets.
After a spell of teaching at Sandhurst, he joined Cranfield University as a teacher in 1986 where he worked until 2009.
He was patron of the Guild of Battlefield Guides.
Its founder Major Graeme Cooper praised his unique style: "It was this in-depth, quiet and very, very accurate and acute assessment of what he was saying."
"The words were magical at times, and it brought to the listener a new angle on on how to approach that period of history," Maj Cooper added.
Prof Holmes was also a keen supporter of the Army Benevolent Fund, and was the president of the British Commission for Military History and the Battlefields Trust; and vice president of the UK National Defence Association. In 1998 he was made a CBE.
But he was probably best known for his television work, which included television documentaries on the Duke of Wellington, Sir Winston Churchill and Oliver Cromwell whom he championed in the BBC's Great Britons programme in 2002.