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Nicholas Perry wins Best First Book Templer Medal Book Prize.

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ADRIAN WHITE

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Major-General Oliver NugentThe Irishman who led the Ulster Division in the Great War by Nicholas Perry and published by Ulster Historical Foundation has just been announced Winner of the Best First Book category of The Society for Army Historical Research Templer Medal Book Prize for 2020.

This biography explores in considerable detail the life of Ireland’s longest-serving divisional commander of the Great War, who led the Ulster Division on the Western Front from 1915 to 1918. Alongside the challenges of divisional command Nugent had to manage the Ulster Division’s political dimension. The tensions that arose between him and politicians at home reveal not only the conflict between military and political priorities but also the divisions within Irish unionism during the Great War period.

More widely, Nugent’s career provides a unique insight into the political decline of the Irish landed class as well as their enduring military tradition. This study seeks to shed light on the different aspects of Nugent’s career by drawing not only on his extensive personal papers and diaries in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, but also on papers still in the family’s possession and the correspondence of key subordinates never previously used.

About Ulster Historical Foundation

Established in 1956, the Foundation is a registered charity and self-sustaining not-for-profit organisation. It offers its extensive knowledge to help people around the world trace and share their Irish and Scots-Irish history and to broaden their understanding of and interest in the rich history of the province of Ulster. In pursuit of this goal UHF provides a range of activities, including: genealogical and historical research services and book publishing.

About the author

Nicholas Perry read history at Trinity College Dublin. He then spent 37 years as a civil servant in London and Belfast in various departments, including the MOD and the Northern Ireland Office, his final posting being as head of the Department of Justice in Northern Ireland. He retired in 2018, was awarded the CB and is now at the University of Kent, researching the Irish landed class and the British army. He has published several articles on military history and in 2007 edited Oliver Nugent’s Great War papers for the Army Records Society.

About the Templer Medal Book Prize

The Templer Medal was established by The Society for Army Historical Research in 1981 to commemorate the life and achievements of Field Marshal Sir Gerald Templer KG (1898–1979) and to mark his Presidency of the Society between 1965 and 1979.

The medal is awarded annually to the author of the book published during that year that has made the most significant contribution to the history of the British Army, as defined in the Templer competition rules. The presentation of the award takes place at the Society’s Annual General Meeting, usually in April of the year following publication.

See here for more information about SAHR and the Templer Medal book Prize.

And see here for an extended article on the writing of the biography by the author Nicholas Perry.

About Major-General Oliver Nugent: The Irishman who led the Ulster Division in the Great War

Oliver Nugent, Ireland’s longest-serving divisional commander of the Great War, led the Ulster Division on the western front from 1915 to 1918. That period saw the operational transformation of the British army and his own development as a general, from the heroic but doomed assault at Thiepval in July 1916, through the triumph of Messines, the heartbreaking failure at Ypres and the mixed success of Cambrai in 1917, to the great German spring
offensive of 1918.

Alongside the challenges of divisional command he had to manage the Ulster Division’s political dimension, with its roots in the pre-war Ulster Volunteer Force. The tensions that arose between him and politicians at home over issues like Irish recruitment, relations with the 16th (Irish) Division and, especially, Ulster’s place in a post-war political settlement, reveal not only the conflict between military and political priorities but also the divisions within Irish unionism during the Great War period.

More widely, Nugent’s career provides a unique insight into the political decline of the Irish landed class as well as their enduring military tradition – from his financial struggles as a young landlord in the 1880s, his regimental service on India’s north-west frontier and in the Boer war, and his involvement with the UVF in Cavan in 1914, to his role in quelling political unrest in post-war India, his return to an Ireland convulsed by revolution and his adaptation to life in the Irish Free State.

This study seeks to shed light on these different aspects of Nugent’s career by drawing not only on his extensive personal papers and diaries in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, but also on papers still in the family’s possession and the correspondence of key subordinates never previously used.

Order your copy online here.

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