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Grant Cullen

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Grant`s interest in history can be traced back to outings with his maiden aunt (she lost her fiancé in WW2 – he won the DCM posthumously at Arnhem) by train to the likes of Stirling (for the castle, Wallace Monument etc.) Edinburgh (castle, Holyrood palace etc.) and other interesting places accessible by train or bus. At the age of 8 Grant was taken by his aunt to Helensburgh by train from where they WALKED (out and back about 12 miles round trip!) to Faslane to see the battleship HMS Vanguard which had just arrived at the breaker`s yard for scrapping. Books – history and encyclopaedias – were a constant feature of Grant`s childhood years. On leaving school in 1970 Grant got a technical scholarship at a local iron & steel rollmaker in Coatbridge near Glasgow later becoming that company`s Iron & Steelmaking Manager at the age of 28. After the company experienced several changes of ownership, Grant left in 1989 to join a major refractories company a move that saw him embark on global business travel over the next 26 years. History was never far from Grant`s thoughts on his travels and he recalls in 1993 visiting the battlefields and cemeteries of El Alamein while working on a project at the steelworks in Egypt at Alexandria.
In 2003 another job move saw Grant making frequent business visits to Belgium – the Hull to Zeebrugge ferry being an ideal way of getting to Europe as Hull is only about 90 minutes’ drive from Worksop were he had relocated with his family in 1992. In Belgium you are never far away from experiencing sites from the Great War and on many a summer`s evening after work Grant would set off exploring, the book `Before Endeavours Fade` by Rose Coombs never being far from his side.
In 2004 on the 90th anniversary of the BEF`s first clashes with the German army Grant – accompanied by his wife Jean went on an organised trip to Mons and Ypres. Jean caught the bug! Subsequently Grant and Jean have made many independent trips to the Western Front and in 2017 went on an tour to Gallipoli, Grant`s interest having gravitated to that theatre of the war (blame Peter Hart for that!)
Grant has other interests – model making being one and he has an extensive collection of ships, planes..and a little armour from the Great War. Being brought up close to a train station and using the railways often as a child, Grant has always had an interest in railways and is a member of the Scottish Railway Preservation Society, the Caledonian Railway Association and the North British Railway Study Group. With the latter Grant has combined his Great War interests with that of railways by researching and he wrote a six part series on `The North British Railway and The Great War` for the North British Railway Study Group`s Journal. He has now embarked upon writing a similar series of articles on the Caledonian Railway in WW1. Parts 1, 2 & 3 have been published in the Caledonian Railway Association magazine `The True Line` with further parts in the pipeline
A final job move in 2010 saw Grant take over as General Manager of a Scunthorpe based specialist chemicals business. The primary source of that company`s raw materials was based in Newcastle, KwaZulu Natal in South Africa and that gave Grant the opportunity to visit on several occasions. On his second visit one of the plant managers took Grant to Islandwana and Rorke`s Drift, scenes of battles during the Zulu Wars and of course immortalised in the epic film `Zulu`.
Grant joined the Chesterfield Branch of the Western Front Association shortly after it was formed in 2010, becoming Branch Secretary several years later.
Retiring at the end of 2015, Grant joined the local Branch of the Royal British Legion in 2017, becoming Branch Secretary in 2020. In addition he is Poppy appeal Organiser for Worksop and District.

Talk Description

Commemoration and Remembrance of The Great War 1914-1918

This is my most popular presentation and is a personal journey through France and Flanders, a brief stop in St. Petersburg (I visited there in 1980 when it was called Leningrad) then to Turkey to look at the Gallipoli campaign of 1915. The talk will be interspersed with prose and poetry and concludes with the story of The Unknown Warrior through which I will read from Ralph McTell`s song of the same name . The presentation closes with the very moving poem` The Day My Family Came`. All presentations are supported by Powerpoint and this talk in particular has 68 slides.

Other Talks

Talk 1 The Great War of 1914-1918 – Overview.
Talk 2 The Opening Exchanges – Mons and Ypres 1914
Talk 3 How Women Won the War
Talk 4 The Empire Strikes Back – India in The Great War
Talk 5 Steaming to the Front. Britain`s Railways in WW1
Talk 6 First Air War 1914-1918
Talk 7 The Munitions Crisis of 1915
Talk 8 Gallipoli !
Talk 9 Verdun and Somme 1916
Talk 10 Casualty !
Talk 11 Naval Warfare in WW1
Talk 12 1918 Defeat into Victory
Talk 13 Armistice and Aftermath
Talk 14 Clearing the Dead
Talk 15 Commemoration & Remembrance of The Great War 1914-1918
Talk 16 Worksop`s WW1 VC….William Henry Johnson -this is shorter at 30 minutes – all others 50-60 minutes, although can adjust to suit.
Equipment needed for meetings: All talks make extensive use of PowerPoint for visual presentation. I can bring laptop, projector, screen etc., if required or presentation on USB Flash Drive. Laptop equipped with HDMI lead for direct screen connection.

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