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03 July 2020

Dr Jonathan Fennell awarded the 2020 Duke of Wellington Medal for Military History

The Royal United Services Institute have awarded the prize for Dr Fennell’s critically acclaimed book ‘Fighting the People’s War’


Dr Jonathan Fennell was chosen from a shortlist of seven writers to be unanimously awarded the Duke of Wellington Medal for Military History by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) for his critically acclaimed book Fighting the People’s War.

The medal is annually awarded for the best English language writing on military history, according to a board endowed by the Duke of Wellington, members of which also include Professor Michael Clarke, The Right Honourable Lord Sumption, Sir Hew Strachan and Professor Beatrice Heuser.

Since Dr Fennell’s book Fighting the People’s War was published in 2019, it has won numerous prizes, including the Society for Army Historical Research’s Templer Medal in 2020, the silver medal in the Military History Matters Book of the Year 2020 and it is currently also shortlisted in the British Army Military Book of the Year. It was named one of the books of the year for 2019 by Guardian readers and by Cambridge University Press book shop.

Fighting the People’s War: The British and Commonwealth Armies and the Second World War (Cambridge University Press) is an unprecedented, panoramic history of the 'citizen armies' of the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand and South Africa, the core of the British and Commonwealth armies in the Second World War. Drawing on new sources to reveal the true wartime experience of the ordinary rank and file, Dr Fennell fundamentally challenges our understanding of the War and of the relationship between conflict and socio-political change.

Dr Jonathan Fennell is a Reader in Modern History at King’s College London, Co-Director of the Sir Michael Howard Centre for the History of War and Co-Founder and President of the Second World War Research Group. Jonathan’s research is focused primarily on modern British and Commonwealth history. His interests span a whole range of subjects that require inter-disciplinary approaches, including: military history; war and public philosophy; war and socio-political change; combat morale and motivation theory and applied history.

Possibly the most important book on the history of the British army for at least 25 years.

Sir Hew Strachan

Explains better than any other book that I have read British military failures and successes.

The Right Honourable Lord Sumption

I’m absolutely thrilled and deeply honoured to be awarded the Wellington Medal for 2020. We’ve a super team of historians working on the history of war at King’s. Their support and encouragement over the last number of years has been invaluable in putting together the Fighting the People’s War project.

Dr Jonathan Fennell

In this story

Jonathan Fennell

Professor of the History of War and Society