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Gary D. Sheffield (born 21 June 1961) is an English academic and military historian.[1] He has published widely, specializing on the conduct of British Army operations in World War I, and frequently contributes to print and broadcast media on the subject.[2]


Early lifeEdit

Sheffield was educated at Raynes Park High School in South-West London, before studying history at the University of Leeds (BA 1982, MA by research 1985) under Edward Spiers and Hugh Cecil.[3]


Following his MA, Sheffield became a lecturer in war studies at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in 1985, and studied at King's College, London under Brian Bond for a part-time PhD awarded in 1994.[3] In 1999 he became a senior lecturer in the Defence Studies Department of King's College, London and Land Warfare Historian on the Higher Command and Staff Course at the United Kingdom Joint Services Command and Staff College.[3]

Sheffield is one of the leading proponents of his generation of the "revisionist school" of thought with regard to the conduct of military operations on the Western Front by the British Army during the First World War.[4] Far from the post-war popular cultural image of the generals who commanded the campaigns being inadequate to the task and this being the cause of excessive casualties to the troops under their orders, the direction of the war by the British General Staff was fundamentally sound and the high casualties suffered by the British Army were unavoidable given the scale and nature of operations and the circumstances under which they were conducted.[5]

In 2001 he published a First World War revisionist book, Forgotten Victory: The First World War, Myths & Realities, drawing approval from the historian Niall Ferguson, who judged it to be "An iconoclastic tour-de-force". The British literary academic Frank McLynn, in a book review in The Independent, accused Sheffield of being a 'single-minded Right-wing ideologist', who had 'tied himself in illogical knots' to 'rescue (Douglas) Haig from the justifiable charge of being an incompetent butcher' and 'launder' his reputation in an 'eccentric and cocksure work', that was 'an insult to the memory of the soldiers who had died in droves under his command on the Western Front.'[6][7]

In 2005 Sheffield was appointed Professor of Modern History at King's College, London and the following year was appointed the first professor of War Studies at the University of Birmingham.[3] In 2013 he was appointed professor of War Studies at the University of Wolverhampton.[1] In 2011 he published his second book on Field Marshal the Earl Douglas Haig, The Chief: Douglas Haig and the British Army (Aurum Press, 2011). Reviewing the book in The Daily Telegraph the historian Nigel Jones commented on its 'solid scholarship and admirable advocacy', yet added that (with reference to Sheffield's thesis that the extremely high casualties of the British Army can be partly explained by Haig's understandable lack of experience in such matters in the years 1914 to 1917): 'the nagging thought remains: what a terrible shame it was that Haig's progress along his learning curve had to be greased by such deep floods of blood.'[8]

Sheffield is a member of the Advisory Board of the Journal of the Royal United Services Institute, Visiting Professor at the Humanities Research Institute of the University of Buckingham, member of the academic Advisory Panel of the National Army Museum and a member of the Academic Advisory Board of the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Trust.[1]

Personal lifeEdit

Sheffield is President of the International Guild of Battlefield Guides.[1] In 2009 Sheffield became a Vice President of The Western Front Association, and in 2019 he became its President. He is variously credited as Gary Sheffield, G. Sheffield and G. D. Sheffield.


  • The Redcaps: History of the Royal Military Police and Its Antecedents from the Middle Ages to the Gulf War (Brassey's, 1994) ISBN 978-1-85753-029-2
  • Ed., Leadership and Command: The Anglo-American Military Experience Since 1861 (Brassey's, 1996; New Edition, 2002)
  • 'Leadership in the Trenches: Officer-Man Relations, Morale and Discipline in the British Army in the era of the First World War (Macmillan, 2000)
  • Forgotten Victory: The First World War - Myths and Realities (Headline, 2001; Review, 2002)
  • Ed. with D. Todman, Command and Control on the Western Front: The British Army's Experience, 1914–19 (Spellmount, 2004) ISBN 978-1-86227-083-1
  • The Somme: A New History (Cassell Military Paperbacks, 2004)
  • Ed. with J. Bourne, Douglas Haig: War Diaries and Letters 1914–1918 (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2005; Phoenix, 2006)
  • Ed., War on the Western Front: In the Trenches of World War I (Osprey, 2007)
  • Imperial War Museum's 1914–1918 The Western Front Experience (Carlton Books, 2008)
  • The War Studies Reader: From the Seventeenth century to the Present Day & Beyond (Continuum, 2010)
  • The Chief: Douglas Haig and the British Army (Aurum Press, 2011. ISBN 978-1845136918).
  • Ed. with Peter W. Gray, Changing War (Continuum, 2013)
  • Command and Morale: The British Army on the Western Front 1914–18 (Praetorian Press, 2014).
  • Douglas Haig: From Somme to Victory (Aurum Press, 2016).
  • Wellington (Pocket Giants series) (The History Press, 2017).

Sources and referencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d "University of Wolverhampton Staff Profile: Professor Gary Sheffield". University of Wolverhampton. Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  2. ^ Osprey Publishing - Profile Gary Sheffield
  3. ^ a b c d "Gary Sheffield – Military Historian". Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  4. ^ 'Re-writing History', 'Socialism Today', April–May 2003.
  5. ^ 'Douglas Haig: The Accidental Victor of World War I', lecture by Prof. Sheffield, January 2003, published on Youtube 13 January 2013.
  6. ^ Blurb of the cover of 'Forgotten Victory' (Pub. Sharpe Books, 2018).
  7. ^ 'Disquiet on the Western Front', a review of 'Forgotten Victory' (2001) by G. Sheffield, 'The Independent', 29 June 2001.
  8. ^ Nigel Jones. "The Chief: Douglas Haig and the British Army by Gary Sheffield: Review". The Daily Telegraph, 11 August 2011. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)

External linksEdit