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Nicholas Hawkins 540

Nick Hawkins

PhD Candidate

Research interests

  • Conflict
  • Security
  • History


Nick Hawkins is a part-time PhD Candidate in the Defence Studies Department. In 2023, he retired from the NHS after thirty-one years’ service, having spent the majority of his career working on frontline ambulances and response cars in the London Ambulance Service and South Western Ambulance Service NHS Trusts.

In 2013 he received his MA in British Second World War Studies from the University of Birmingham.

He is a member of the Society for Army Historical Research, The Royal Historical Society (ECR), and The Occupation Studies Research Network.

Research Interests

  • The Second World War
  • The British Army
  • Military effectiveness
  • The British Empire and colonial policing
  • Operational refugee management
  • Change-management, morale and unit-cohesion
  • Mechanization of the mounted arm
  • Land warfare

Current research interests revolve around concepts of military effectiveness, in the context of the British Army’s operational refugee management during the Second World War.

Previous work has also incorporated change-management, morale and unit-cohesion, when looking at endeavours to maximise military assets in-theatre, with the conversion and modernisation of the mounted Yeomanry regiments of 1st Cavalry Division in the Middle East during 1940-42.

Contemporary projects also include comparing historical examples of land warfare that chime with modern conflicts as a learning exercise. In particular, battles and engagements that resonate from the First and Second World Wars.

Thesis title and abstract

British imperial land forces and the operational management of the refugee problem during the Second World War.

Management of the refugee problem represented a vital operational priority for the British Army throughout the Second World. A situation that was fully exposed at the outset where in 1940, an enormous refugee crisis in France threatened systems of command, control, communication and intelligence, that were already destabilized by Blitzkrieg. Here, strategic military decision-making was impeded as logistics were stymied where refugees blocked lines of communication and absorbed resources.

The aim is to provide an investigative approach that considers the significance of the refugee problem for the British Army across all its main theatres of operations. Essential themes include: the impact of the refugee problem on operational art; the legacy of experience gained from colonial policing and previous conflicts and its impact on refugee management during the 1940s; British Army doctrine concerning refugees; containment and employment of refugees in-theatre for the purpose of augmenting military effectiveness; the British Army’s contribution to the Allies’ overall refugee plan for the invasion of Northwest Europe; the army’s involvement with Displaced Persons across liberated states.


  • Professor Ashley Jackson
  • Professor Jonathan Fennell


  • Hawkins, N. ‘Mechanization or Conversion: The Yeomanry of 1st Cavalry Division in the Middle East, 1940-42’, Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research, Volume 97, Number 391 (Winter 2019), pp. 355-371.