My name is Rod MacArthur and you can read more about me here. I have been giving Military History talks since about 2006. I normally create at least one new talk per year, so I now have a portfolio of 19 talks, details of which can be seen by clicking on these links of 18th Century Talks, Napoleonic Talks and Modern Talks, or by the Top Menu dropdowns of the same names. If you then click on each talk a brief description comes up.
Some talks have only been given a few times, one (on Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal) has been given 25 times. Most of these talks have been to Probus (Professional & Business) Clubs, Historical Associations and Military Associations (such as the Royal British Legion) in South East England. Some have been given in Spain and Portugal, since we have a second home in Spain and I have given talks to groups during visits to Peninsular War battlefields.
Between 2006 and 2019, I gave nearly 60 talks. I was due to give five more in 2020, but the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has temporarily postponed these. The talks are all PowerPoint presentations and I have my own laptop, projector and screen, although some venues have built in projectors and screens, which is obviously more convenient.
I give all my talks to raise funds for appropriate charities. If I need to travel any distance I would request modest travelling expenses.
If you are interested in any of my talks please contact me here.
The posts below are in reverse chronological order (ie newest first) and show recent talks given, new talks produced and other items of interest.
On 18th August I gave another talk to the Probus Club of Royal Tunbridge Wells. I am a member, and former President, of that club and this was my fourth talk to them. The subject this time was “The Story of a Medal” covering my Dad’s service as a Second Officer and Chief Officer in the Merchant Navy in World War II on Gibraltar Convoys, Atlantic Convoys, Russian Convoys and D-Day Landings.
The talk went down very well and I raised some funds for The Mission to Seafarers, which both my parents fundraised for.
On 4th July I gave another talk to the Ashdown Probus Club. This was my third talk to them and this time the subject was “Getting my Knees Brown” about my time in Aden in 1964/65 as a 21 year old Second Lieutenant in the Royal Engineers.
The talk went down well and I raised some funds for the Disaster Emergencies Committee Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal.
On Tuesday 19th April I gave my talk on the Combat of the Coâ for the first time. This was to the Bexhill Hanoverian Study Group who specialise in the history of the King’s German Legion, who had their depot in Bexhill during the Napoleonic Wars.
When I first practiced the talk it was a bit short, but I included more details and brought it up to 40 minutes. The talk went down well and I again raised funds for the Disaster Emergency Committee Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal.
On Monday 21st March I gave my talk on the Jacobite Rebellion for the first time. This was to the outstanding local Charity Rotherfield St Martin. I managed to get the talk down to 45 minutes, which was exactly what they wanted.
I normally give my talks to raise funds for military charities, but in the current circumstances, I gave the talk to raise funds for the Disaster Emergency Committee Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal. The talk went down well and I raised some money for that appeal.
On 29th November 2021, I gave another talk to the outstanding village charity Rotherfield St Martin. This time the talk was “Getting my Knees Brown” about my time in Aden and up-country from that in 1964/65 as a 21 year old 2nd Lieutenant.
Rotherfield St Martin have now heard all of my “modern” talks, but have said they might be interested in some of my historical ones.
I have now been booked for three talks in 2022:
Bexhill Hanoverian Study Group on 19th April (The Combat of the Coâ – 1810)
Probus Eastbourne on 3rd May (The Story of a Medal)
Probus Ashdown on 4th July (Getting my Knees Brown)
I have two more talks which were postponed from 2020 but dates have not yet been confirmed for 2022.
I have created a new talk on the Battle of Barrosa which took place on 5th March 1811. Details of this can be seen here.
While Wellington’s Army was driving the French out of Portugal, an Anglo-Spanish Army fought a battle against the French at Barrosa.
Although the majority of allied force was Spanish, these played no part in the battle which was entirely between General Graham’s British Division and two French Divisions. Despite being outnumbered 2:1 the British won and even managed to capture a French Eagle, the first of the Peninsular War.
This talk covers the events leading up to the battle and the detail of the battle itself. It neatly fills in the period between Rod’s other talks on “The Lines of Torres Vedras” and “The Battles of Fuentes de Oñoro and Albuera”.
Rod has produced a new talk on the Battle of Fuengirola. More details can be seen here.
Many people will be aware of Fuengirola as a pretty holiday destination on the Costa del Sol. What they may be less aware of is that it was the scene of a ferocious battle in 1810, involving British and Spanish forces on one side, against Polish troops on the other.
In 1810 an Anglo-Spanish force attempted to capture Fuengirola Castle, which was initially held by 150 Polish troops. They were reinforced with small numbers of Polish troops from Mijas and Alhaurin, managing to hold out against an army more than 10 times their strength, and even succeeded in capturing the British General.
This talk covers the background to the battle and the events of the battle itself. It neatly follows on from Rod’s talk on “The Lines of Torres Vedras”.
On 14th January 2020 I gave my Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal talk to the Rochester and District Probus (Professional & Business) Club.
It went down very well and raised money for the Felix Fund, which is a military charity supporting Bomb Disposal personnel (Army, Navy, Air Force and Metropolitan Police Bomb Squad) and their families. The Felix Fund is named after the Felix cartoon cat, with 9 lives, which was adopted as the badge of the Bomb Disposal teams in Northern Ireland.
On 14th October 2019 I gave my talk “The Story of of a Medal” to the outstanding village charity Rotherfield St Martin. The talk covers my father’s Merchant Navy service, including Gibraltar Convoys, Atlantic Convoys, Russian Convoys and D-Day landings during World War II.
In 2013 the Government belatedly issued the Arctic Star Medal for those who had served on the Russian Convoys, 68 years after the last convoy took place. My father had died in 1985, but the Government allowed families to claim medals, and since I had his other medals, I decided to claim this. The latter part of my talk therefore covers how I went about researching his Merchant Navy service at the National Archives and other sources, leading to my successfully claiming his medal.
This talk was given to raise funds for The Mission to Seamen, which both my parents supported.
I have managed to reduce my talk on “The ’45”, the story of the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion, down to 50 minutes, which I think is the best I can achieve. I am pleased that I have managed to keep not only the main battles, but also many of the interesting and lesser known events.