FIRST World War enthusiast Dave Smith will be explaining the events of 100 years ago at a talk to a Bognor Regis group.
Mr Smith is guest speaker at a special meeting being held by Bognor Regis Twinning Association to mark the forthcoming centenary of the end of the ‘war to end all wars’.
His talk will take place at 7.30pm tonight (Friday) at Aldwick Parish Council’s offices in Pryors Lane. Tickets cost £5 each and include coffee and cakes.
Mr Smith said: “I love the history of the 20th century and the First World War is obviously an important part of that.
“I’ve been to the battlefields about 30 times. There are so many visitors there now that a lot of money is being spent on modern visitor centres.
“You can talk to people all you like about the war but you have to go to the sites to see them for yourself.
“When you see the cemeteries, it particularly brings it home to you. You think ‘Wow, this is incredible’ and the reality strikes you about the trench warfare and the way of life at that time.”
Mr Smith’s talk will bring to life the last days of the war in autumn 1918.
His focus will be about how the effort of the Allied forces saw Germany decline from its strong position at the start of the year to having to surrender in the November.
Retired Aldwick resident Mr Smith, 67, was a history teacher for 34 years. The last 25 of them were spent at Chichester High School for Boys.
He took some pupils to the war’s battlefields for their history lessons but found there was a lack of explanation about what they were seeing.
He decided to carry out research and provide a commentary – and his enthusiasm grew from there.
“I would take groups of 30-40 high school boys and they would be laughing and joking in the coach on the way there.
“But their mood would change as soon as they arrived at the sites and they saw what the war must have been like,” he said.
Mr Smith retired in 2007 but still returns to the battlefields when he is asked to lead a guided tour for a group.
His latest talk follows one he gave to the twinning association in 1916 for the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.
He also gave a talk about the same subject for the town’s Rotary Club as well as one about the war in general to the town’s branch of the University of the Third Age.