John Sadler - Military Historian

About Me
www.johnsadler.net 20th September 2014
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A little about my background

Although I worked for nearly thirty years in the law and related fields my main passion has always been for military history, with a bias toward the high Middle Ages and Tudors. Living in the heart of the historic Anglo Scottish Borderland stimulated my interest in 'The Steel Bonnets' - the sixteenth century border reivers. As a boy I read Scott and classic accounts such as 'Border Raids and Reivers' by Borland and latterly George MacDonald Fraser's 'The Steel Bonnets'.

I left legal practice in 2004 to concentrate primarily upon authorship.

My publications to date are:


  • 1. 'Battle for Northumbria' – Bridge Studios 1988
    2. 'They Made Tyneside Great' – Bloodaxe 1994
    3. 'Scottish Battles' – Canongate 1996
    4. 'War in the North 1461 – 1464' – Partizan 2000
    5. 'Border Fury – The Three Hundred Years War' – Longmans 2004
    6. 'A History of Morpeth Golf Club' – Bridge Studios 2005
    7. 'Battle of Harlaw 1411' – Tempus 2005
    8. 'Battle of Flodden 1513' – Osprey 2005
    9. 'Pub Walks in Northumberland' – Countryside Books 2006
    10.'Battle of Culloden 1746' – Tempus 2006
    11.'Raiders & Reivers' – Ergo Press 2006
    12.'Battle for Crete 1941' – Pen & Sword 2006
    13.'Battle of Bannockburn 1314' – Pen & Sword 2007
    14.'Battle of Hexham 1464' – Ergo Press 2007
    15.'The Second Barons’ War 1264 – 1267' – Pen & Sword 2008
    16.'Massacre of Glencoe 1692' – Amberley 2008
    17.'Lancaster and York 1453 – 1487' – Longmans 2009
    18.'Blood on the Wave' (Scottish Battles at Sea) – Birlinn 2010
    19.'Battle of El Alamein 1942' – Amberley Press 2010
    20.'Battle of Towton 1461' – Pen & Sword 2010
    21.'Lost Voices of the Desert War' – Amberley Press 2010
    22.'Dunkirk to Belsen' - JR Books 2010
    23.'The Great Siege of Newcastle 1644' (with Rosie)- History Press 2011
    24.'The Little Book of Newcastle' (with Rosie) - History Press 2011
    25.'Battle of Flodden 1513' (with Rosie) - History Press 2013
    26.'Tommy at War 1914 - 1918' (with Rosie) - Robson Press 2013
    27.'Tommy Rot' (with Rosie) - History Press 2013
    28.'Ode to Bully Beef' (with Rosie) - History Press 2014
    29.'As Good As Any Man' with Rosie, Morag Miller & Roy Laycock)- History Press [2014]
    30.'Blood Divide' (fiction) - Lion Hudson [2014]

    Rosie and I have just finished editing our Great War Tommy diary 'As Good as Any man' the memoirs of a Black Tommy, discovered in a Glasgow atic. This comes out in August. My first novel, 'Blood Divide' - a fictionalised account of Flodden is also in the editing stage and will be published in September.

    I have done, and continue to do a great deal of historical re-enactment and interpretation for schools, community and local history groups, covering a range of period interpretations from Late Roman to WWII Home Guard. Rates are around 150.00 - 200.00 for whole or half day.

    This interpretation role has involved working with a number of challenging and challenged groups, special needs education, recovering addicts, asylum seekers and the work has introduced and stimulated debate on citizenship, individual aspirations, cultural and social influences, diversity issues and religion.

    Tony Foxton has been kind enough to comment on his blog:

    My personal dealings with academics has had a number of rewarding outcomes, outcomes that have developed me as an Historian and as a teacher . I think I am able to call John Sadler a friend, he is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and has been a lecturer at Durham, Newcastle and Sunderland Universities. He has over forty publications to his name - an impressive academic pedigree I think you will agree. He is always willing to collaborate and share his work, which has enabled me to enrich my teaching. Two examples stand out. Firstly, his enthusiasm for the Border Reivers has encouraged me to squeeze this topic into my Year 8 scheme of work, despite the very limited time allowance. His prose and anecdotes add life to this interesting aspect of Northern Heritage. I was also lucky in that John spoke to me, and gave me sections from his book ‘The Great Siege of Newcastle’, which has allowed me to build my teaching of the Civil Wars around a local aspect, focusing on the events and consequences in our region, which has enabled students to relate more closely with the era, and as a result have, I feel, more enthusiasm for the topic.


    Married, with two teenage daughters my interests, besides an obsession with military history, include fellwalking, reading, cinema and theatre. I do also have an interest in historic swordplay, particularly rapier and dagger.

    About Me #01


My approach to history is to make the experience of telling or teaching as meaningful and intereactive for the audience as possible, with displays of clothing, arms, armour and firearms, demonstrations of swordplay, musket drill and the odd dash of drama! I see delivery as much a performance as a lecture!

Listed below are examples of the various interpretations on offer:
  • A Roman auxliary soldier stationed ar Borcovicium (Housesteads) describes life as part of the Wall garrison, a celtic woman living in the vicus, provides the civilian view.

  • One of King Harald's Housecarls recalls the bitter fighting, firstly against the Norse at Stamford Bridge and also against the Normans at Hastings.

  • Bannockburn - an English Knight returning from the battle seeks to explain the reasons for the defeat.

  • Crispin's Day - one of Henry V archers describes the campaign and battle of Agincourt.

  • Flodden! John Heron the 'Bastard' of Ford recalls his part in the destruction of the Scots army.

  • The Steel Bonnets: Sir Robert Carey tells of his 'stirring' days on the frontier and the capture of the notorious reiver Geordie Bourne.

  • Marston Moor - one of the few survivors of Newcastle's Whitecoats describes the fight.

  • Culloden - Drummossie Moor; a member of Clan Cameron, fleeing the field, pauses to tell how the Jacobites were defeated.

  • Riot; a miner from Bywell describes how he and his wife became victims of the bloodshed in Hexham Market Place in 1761.

  • An affair of honour - a gentleman, about to meet an opponent explains the importance of the 'Code Duello'; a duel is then fought!

  • A Close Run Thing - Waterloo; Captain Cavalie Mercer of the Royal Horse Artillery gives an account of his role in the defeat of Napoleon.

  • The Valley of Death, a survivor of the 17th Lancers tells how the Charge of the Light Brigade came to occur.

  • Tommy Atkins - 1st July 1916; A private of the Tyneside Scottish describes the events of the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

  • The Longest Day - D _Day June 1944; a corporal of the Green Howards relates his experiences during the assault on Hitler's 'Fortress Europe'.


I am a member of Equity.

I am a Fellow of The Royal Historical Society

I also offer a range of historical murder mysteries to suit most clients situations, Recently, as part of 'Time Bandits', I successfully performed at Segedunum Roman Fort on 29th May. Clients include English Heritage, Tyne and Wear Museums, Durham County Council, North Pennines Heritage Trust, Trustees of Dilston Castle, North Tyne Heritage Centre, Truenorth Productions Limited and Channel 5.

Corporate training services comprise interactive seminars and workshops built around the use of military history in strategic management and decision making.

Public lectures this year will be delivered at Segedunum, Sunderland Museum and Art Gallery, The National Army Museum, DLI Museum, Heriot Watt University, Durham University, Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne, Literary and Philosophical Society, South Shields Museum, Bellingham Heritage Centre, Bedesworld, Houseteads Roman Fort, Dilston, Scarborough and Beeston Castles.


Newcastle, Tyne & Wear email:john.sadler@islmail.co.uk 01661 881654(evenings)

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