John Sadler - Military Historian

Home 31st October 2014
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Douglas John Sadler
BA(Hons), M.Phil., FRHistS FSA (Scotl.)

My main specialism is in military history, I am an accomplished, author, lecturer, battlefield tour guide, heritage professional and historical interpreter.

For all those who like Bernard Cornwell style genre fiction, my current offering 'Blood Divide' a novel of Flodden is on the shelves, (Lion Hudson - ISBN 978 1 78264 089 9; e-ISBN 978 1 78264 090 S), loads of gratuitous violence and a fair amount of early Renaissance, sharp end medical gore. I hope you enjoy and remember; I need the money...

For this autumn, however, I'm extending my story telling - I've been doing this for years but now, through Time Bandits I'm formalising the offer, lively stories from Greek Myths to World War Two, tales of mystery and suspense and all with a local interest.

Of my two current works jointly authored with Rosie Serdiville, our fifth and sixth published collaborations 'Ode to Bully Beef' was published in the spring and 'As Good as Any Man' was be published by History Press in August

'Tommy Rot', our alternative Great War anthology was published by History Press last year and 'Ode to Bully Beef' followed this March, two volumes of soldier's doggerel and verse from each of the world wars. We've also completed 'As Good as Any Man' a fascinating biography and Great War diary of a black Tommy who served at Third Ypres. the story of how the diary was found is as interesting as the memoir itself. The diary was published by History Press in August.

Inspired by the excellent War-Games' special exhibition in Sunderland Museum, I've put together a movable handling collection of toy soldiers through the ages - the fruits of half a century's steadfast refusal to grow up, this is available not just as part of our Great War handling collection but as a separate feature - 'the miniature battlefield' - coming to a venue near you!

Time Bandits is recruiting. We're looking for like minded individuals regardless of age, sex, colour etc who have a passion for history and like getting paid to indulge themselves. We cover all periods from Bronze Age to Cold War, across a wide range of locations. We thrive on fresh challenges. Training and kit are provided. If you are interested in historic combat, gunplay, clothing, textiles, medicine, food technology, equestrian, vehicles or craft based skills, then we'd love to meet you.

Good news for adult learners is that CLL has been superseded by a CIC which is offering an Explore type programme. On 26th April we staged a further session but with a difference; on terrorism with a simulated attack to follow!

I'm offering something new for the autumn - this will be looking at Frontiers, a bias towards the Anglo-Scottish border of course but setting this in the perspective of other frontiers, what these mean in the modern context and what we learn (if anything) from history.

I do offer a whole range of local and family history courses which I've delivered in libraries, to WI & focus groups, usually an hour to an hour and a half, daytime and evening, rates are 100.00 per session.

Our historic murder mysteries always go down well and we've performed these at the Keep, at DLI Museum and Segedunum. We're always looking to hear both from people who might want a booking and from those who'd like to take part!

We can provide fully costumed re-enactors for corporate hire, weddings and social events, choose your period - Spartans, Romans, Vikings, Knights, Reivers, Roundheads, Redcoats & Tommies, gunfighters, saloon girls and suffragettes!

We've formed a link with - a new website intended to promote travel, tourism and leisure in the region, check it out. I've just returned from guiding a four day tour of Scottish Battlefields for Cultural Experience, we covered both Bannockburn and Flodden we were at the later 500 years on and to the hour - a 'real time' tour - marvellous!

John in costume/SwordI have been a visiting lecturer at the University of Sunderland Centre For Lifelong Learning since 1998 and have delivered a range of courses, primarily on military history.

These have included:
  • 'The Vikings'
  • 'The Crusades'
  • 'The Hundred Years War'
  • 'The Wars of the Roses'
  • 'The Border Reivers'
  • 'The Jacobites'
  • 'The American Civil War'
  • 'World War One - the Western Front'
  • 'World War One - The Eastern Front
  • 'The Road to Dunkirk'
  • 'Barbarossa'
  • 'D-Day to Berlin'
  • 'Swordplay - the Sword in History'
  • 'Terrorism post 1945'
  • 'Arab Israeli Wars 1948 - 2006'
  • 'The English Civil Wars
  • 'The War in Afghanistan'
  • 'The Second Gulf War'

    I also supervise mature students at degree level.

    My primary occupation is writing with some two dozen non fiction titles in print. I tend to undertake commissioned work only and, at the end of last year, I was engaged by the Army Benevolent Fund to write a history of the Field Gun Race for the revived Royal Tournament.

    For a considerable number of years I have given public lectures to local history groups, community associations, at the Durham Light Infantry Museum, The National Army Museum, The Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne, and to Rotary and Round Table clubs. I am available for public and after dinner speaking, the cost ranges from 100 - 500 depending on circumstances. Any talks to charitable or voluntary sector groups are delivered free of charge.

    I am an experienced battlefield tour guide and have taken a range of school, adult, services and veterans groups on tours of the main Western Front Battlefields. I have also taken student groups around most of the major UK battle sites. I have full CRB clearance. I have worked, in this capacity extensively for Tyne and Wear Museums and English Heritage.

    For some years, starting back in the 1970's, I have been engaged as a project manager/curator and fundraiser for heritage based projects, most recently the Heritage Centre, Bellingham, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Association and the Durham Light Infantry Museum.

    From time to time I have been involved in film work, True North Productions filming of 'The Tale of the Long Pack' near Wark in North Tynedale, together with the 'Clans' series for Mentorn & BBC Scotland (series two and three), 'Buildings that Shaped England' for Channel 4, local BBC & ITV and recently as historical consultant for Arpeggio Films 'Siege & Storm'.

    I hope, in the course of this year, to be able to start working toward the award of a PhD under the aegis of the University of Sunderland, my topic 'Dunkirk to Belsen - the DLI at War 1939 - 1945'.

    My approach to military history, in terms of writing, is based firstly, upon acquiring a thorough knowledge of the primary sources, supplemented by the insight gained from walking the ground. I am of the opinion that there can be no full understanding of events unless there we have knowledge of the ground. We are fortunate in Britain that, the pace of development notwithstanding, many of our battle sites, if not untouched, are still recognisable and this obtains particularly in the northern region and the borders. Equally and with only a few exceptions we do very little to commemorate many of our historic battles.

Male/female swordfight

Newcastle, Tyne & Wear 01661 881654(evenings)

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