Manx branch of the Western Front planned

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A Manx branch of the Western Front Association is being formed and all those interested in learning more are invited to a meeting at the Manx Aviation and Military Museum, Ronaldsway, on May 29.

Alan Dawson is behind the initiative and said he is ‘surprised’ there is no branch already in the island, giving the high level of general public interest in the war.

The association – formed in 1980 – is committed to furthering interest in the First World War, ‘to perpetuate the memory, courage and comradeship of all those on all sides who served their countries in France and Flanders and their own countries during The Great War’ and it has grown so there are now 6,000 members worldwide.

There are several reasons a branch should be established here, said Alan, particularly in this year, a centenary since the conflict began.

He said: ‘For me personally there are learning opportunities we have from the information about the war, although it’s an historic event it’s not too distant in the past, we have a considerable amount of information we can draw on.’

Innovations developed during the war have had a direct impact on many areas of life, he said. ‘On the medical side there are many developments that came from World War One, medicine had to be driven forward. The British became so good at looking after injured troops. From a business perspective project management came into being, it [the conflict] was such a huge undertaking it developed into the world of project management. There is the social aspect, it brought in so many changes. There is a school of thought that rather than it being a stand alone conflict, World War Two is a continuation of World War One. It rolled on. It’s a major study to learn from. It’s a learning experience … The fundamental purpose of the association is to study events and learn from them.’

Being part of the wider association will also give access to speakers who give talks to branches of the association in the UK.

The island also has its own unique story to tell of its role in the conflict said Alan.

‘The island is quite an interesting microcosm in itself, looking at it as its affect on an island in a confined geographical location.’

He said he hoped the association will ‘share resources’ with Manx National Heritage and ‘tap into things’ that are already planned to mark the centenary.

The museum, which is south of Ronaldsway airport terminal, opens at 6.30pm on Thursday, May 29, a discussion on forming a branch of the association from 7pm to 7.30pm is followed by a talk, by Alan, on motorcycles and the First World War.

For information contact Alan, phone 801026 or email:

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