I am a third-year DPhil student at Pembroke College specialising in the Macedonian Front of the First World War. My doctoral research seeks to understand the endurance and morale of British soldiers in Macedonia, with a focus on the psychological challenges presented by boredom. The adage that war is 90% boredom and 10% terror is perhaps more applicable to the Salonika campaign than any other theatre of operations during the conflict. British soldiers found almost everything boring, from the lack of fighting and tedious manual labour, to the desolate scenery at the front. On a deeper level, British soldiers felt 'existentially' bored by serving on a front with little prospect of offensive operations and no clear connection to the broader war. The war of endurance for those at Salonika was coping with day-to-day boredom and the inescapable sense of purposeless rather than the horror of industrial warfare, as on the Western Front. But boredom was more than an unpleasant mental state, presenting a serious threat to the military effectiveness of the British Salonika Force. Men became stale, disinterested in their duties, and prone to suicide. British officers recognised the threat and accordingly devoted considerable effort to keeping their men mentally stimulated through various forms of entertainment. By exploring how British soldiers and their commanders experienced and coped with boredom, my thesis seeks to shed light on this underexplored campaign and an emotion that has been, surprisingly, equally neglected. This is an interdisciplinary study, utilising the extensive literature on boredom in psychology, sociology, and philosophy to understand an emotion that must be understood as both historically sited and universally experienced.
I previously studied for my BA in History at King's College London and my MSt in the History of War at Oxford. My master's research focussed on the multinational composition of the Salonika campaign, examining how British soldiers viewed the armies of the Allies and the Central Powers.
I am also interested in the Macedonian Front from beyond a British perspective, and am currently researching the experience of the Italian expeditionary force as a side project.
I have supervised undergraduate projects on the interrelationship between football and national identity for British soldiers serving in the 'sideshow' theatres of the First World War and on homosexuality in the British Army during the First World War.
I have also taught the first-year undergraduate Optional Subject '1919: Remaking the World' and the second-year undergraduate Further Subject 'A Global War, 1914-1919'.
Fighting with 'Johnny Greek': British and Greek soldiers on the Salonika Front in 1918.
Lecture given to the Lincoln and Chesterfield Branches of the Western Front Association, 22 September 2021.
'But we had been bored - bored stiff': The 60th (2/2nd London) Division and the Psychological Demands of Soldiering on the Macedonian Front, December 1916-June 1917. London Pride: The London Territorial Force in Peace and War, forthcoming 15 June 2024.
The 'deadening atmosphere of nothing doing'': Existential Boredom in the Experience and Memory of British soldiers on the Macedonian Front, 1915-1918. British Commission for Military History New Researchers' Conference, forthcoming 21 October 2023.