‘Campbell College Belfast and the Great War: Remembering the Men Behind the Glass’
17 Feb

Dr. Tom Thorpe, ‘Campbell College Belfast and the Great War: Remembering the Men Behind the Glass’

Dr. Tom Thorpe takes us on a journey back in time to explore the remarkable project he managed, 'The Men Behind the Glass.' This project, named for the photographs of 127 pupils and one staff member killed in the Great War, captured the hearts and stories of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. These hauntingly beautiful images are preserved in glass-fronted frames within the grand Central Hall at Campbell College Belfast (CCB), nestled amidst the Edwardian wood panelling.
Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, this project spanned from June 2017 to November 2018 and consisted of two pivotal elements. First, it collaborated with the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) to meticulously preserve and digitally restore the poignant photographs. Second, it embarked on a profound journey of research and community engagement, delving into the real-life stories of these men. The focus extended beyond their military service to encompass their personal, family, and community roles.
This project aimed to make the college archives accessible to a wider audience, including academics and historians, fostering discussions and research on Ireland's shared and often contested histories during the Decade of Centenaries (2012-2022). Dr. Thorpe worked closely with various stakeholders, including PRONI, the East Belfast in the Great War project, the Western Front Association, and local historical societies.
Intriguing statistics emerge from Dr. Thorpe's research: the average age of these heroes at the time of their death was 26, and they served in various roles, with 81% as commissioned officers and the rest as enlisted men. They fought and fell on battlefields scattered across the globe, from the Western Front to Africa, Egypt/Palestine, Gallipoli, India, Mesopotamia, and even within the UK.

Dr. Tom Thorpe is a passionate public historian, podcaster, Belfast City tour guide, and aspiring academic. His research interests revolve around combatant morale in 20th-century conflicts, exploring the complex interplay of society, context, organizational culture, and personal experiences in motivating individuals to engage in armed conflicts.
Dr. Thorpe holds a Ph.D. in Defence Studies from King's College London, with a focus on small group cohesion in the 56th Division during the Great War. He is deeply involved in the Western Front Association (WFA) and serves as the Secretary of the Antrim and Down WFA branch.
In addition to his academic pursuits, Dr. Thorpe is a prolific podcaster, hosting the WFA's 'Mentioned in Dispatches' podcast and the 'Combat Morale Podcast,' both dedicated to exploring various aspects of warfare and combatants' motivations.

The Meeting Will Be In The Conference Room At Pearse Street Library, Doors Will Open At 13.40 For A 14.00 Start.
Members And Non-Members Of The Western Front Association Are Equally Welcome. Any New Visitors Are Guaranteed A Friendly Atmosphere And A Warm Welcome From A Group Of Like-Minded Enthusiasts.
While Entry Is Free, We Would Welcome A Donation Of 3 Euro To H

The Conference Room, Pearse Street Library, Dublin.
17 Feb 2024 14:00