- Researching the war service of Ioan Gruffud’s Great Great Uncle, Rhys Griffiths, for BBC Wales ‘Coming Home’
- New BBC Two series: The Somme 1916 – From Both Sides of the Wire
- Attending the unveiling of a new memorial to commemorate the losses of the 1st Battalion Essex Regiment and the Essex Yeomanry at Monchy-le-Preux
- New battlefield tour announced! ‘Bristol on the Western Front’ 7-10 October 2016
- Local War Memorial now granted ‘listed’ status: success for Fishponds Church of England Academy
"Your gift is in putting your research in such a moving way that it comes alive, never to be forgotten"- Grace Acott
My career path to military history has been long and varied. Previous jobs include commercial diver, civil engineer and, more recently, five years in investment banking. In 1998 I was presented with a chance to accompany a party of First World War veterans aged between 98 and 103 on a pilgrimage back to Ypres. This trip changed my life, firmly igniting a deep-rooted interest in military history.
In 2000, whilst still working full-time in the city, I graduated from Birkbeck College, University of London with an MA in Modern History. Two years later I became a full-time researcher and historian, specialising in the First World War.
I work closely with my friend Peter Barton. Together, we have collaborated on a series of books produced in association with the Imperial War Museum:
- The Somme – A New Panoramic Perspective ( Constable, 2006)
- Passchendaele – Unseen Panoramas of the Third Battle of Ypres (Constable, 2007)
- The Battlefields of the First World War (revised ed. of 2005 original) (Constable, 2008)
- Arras – The Spring 1917 Offensive in Panoramas including Vimy Ridge and Bullecourt (Constable, June 2010)
I have also conducted detailed research with bestselling author Richard van Emden for on four of his books.
TV & Media
I have acted as researcher for a number of First World War radio and television programmes including:
- ‘The Dugout’ – Vampir Dugout in Belgium and the Channel 4 Time Team Special ‘The Lost WW1 Bunker’ on the same subject (2008)
- ‘The Last Tommy’ and a BBC Inside Out West special ‘Private Harry Patch’
- ‘The Somme’s Secret Weapon’ – A Channel 4 Time Team Special detailing our successful search for parts of a Livens Large Gallery Flame Projector on the Somme in May 2010. More details HERE.
- ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ – BBC flagship genealogical/historical series in which I showed TV comedian Hugh Dennis around the battlefields of Arras, Ypres and Wytschaete. More details HERE.
- ‘Coming Home’ – BBC Wales genealogical series in which I explained the wartime service of a relative of Spooks and Hustle actor Robert Glenister. More details HERE.
Recent filming has included work on ‘The Somme: Secret Tunnel Wars’ to be broadcast in May 2013 on BBC Four and interviews for Impossible Pictures’ ‘The First’ series to be broadcast on the History Channel in America next year.
Extract from the BBC’s ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ TV programme in which I show comedian Hugh Dennis around the Hindenburg Line near Arras where his grandfather fought in April 1917.
I am a frequent visitor to the former battlefields of Belgian Flanders and Northern France and had the great pleasure of meeting and looking after the last few Great War veterans on their battlefield trips. I was lucky enough to be good friends with Harry Patch, the last Great War Tommy who went ‘over the top’ and always looked after Harry on his annual trips to Ypres.
Along with Peter Barton I arranged for a stone memorial to the 7th Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, Harry Patch’s battalion, to be placed on the banks of the Steenbeek outside Langemark. This was unveiled by Harry himself in September 2008 on his final pilgrimage back to Flanders and has now become one of the ‘must see’ sites on an Ypres Salient battlefield tour.
Jeremy Banning speaking to the BBC at a service of commemoration to Harry Patch organised by the Ypres Branch of the Royal British Legion. The service, held on 22 September 2009, was at the very spot where Harry Patch went into action on 16 August 1917 in his attack on Langemark.
As well as researching individual soldiers for clients I also undertake large research projects including conducting historical studies into sites awaiting development to determine any potential impact of the war history on modern building work. Past clients of note include the Machine Gun Corps History Project, the Australian Army (for the Pheasant Wood, Fromelles mass grave) and industrial contractors including Belgian construction company, Braet nv.
I was part of team behind the Tunnellers Memorial Fund www.tunnellersmemorial.com and, using BBC and local media, tracked down descendants of Private Thomas Collins, 14th Battalion Welsh Regiment who still lies 40 feet under the fields of Givenchy with Sapper William Hackett VC. These descendants attended the unveiling ceremony in June 2010. More recently, I have been working on a large archaeological project on the Somme in the village of La Boisselle. The project is ambitious and includes surface archaeology along with the exploration and cataloguing of up to five miles of underground tunnels dug by French, German and British miners. See http://www.laboisselleproject.com/.