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The Duke of Wellington Medal for Military History: 2020 Winner Announced

News, 2 July 2020
The board members for the Duke of Wellington Medal for Military History have decided to award this year’s medal to Dr Jonathan Fennell for his book ‘Fighting the People’s War’.

Dr Fennell emerged as the winner out of a shortlist of seven books: The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company by William Dalrymple, Elizabeth’s French Wars 1562-1598 by William Heap, Sand and Steel: A New History of D-Day by Dr Peter Caddick-Adams, The Interrogation Rooms of the Korean War: The Untold History by Dr Monica Kim, First to Fight: The Polish War 1939 by Roger Moorhouse and Enduring Alliance: A History of NATO and the Postwar Global Order by Professor Timothy Andrews Sayle.

Jonathan Fennell’s Fighting the People’s War: The British and Commonwealth Armies and the Second World War (Cambridge University Press) details the experiences of soldiers from across the Commonwealth during the Second World War. The book, which combines the political, social and economic dynamics of the war, is the first that presents the Commonwealth armies’ efforts in their entirety and so this comparative study is able to show fascinating research from a new angle, contributing an important addition to the field of study of the war. 

The board members were unanimous in their praise for the book: Sir Hew Strachan called it “possibly the most important book on the history of the British army for at least 25 years.” Lord Sumption, another board member, stated that this comparative analysis of history “explains better than any other book that I have read British military failures and successes.”

Details on the awards ceremony at which Dr Fennell will deliver a speech about his work will be announced in due course.

Endowed by the Duke of Wellington, the medal aims to reward on an annual basis the best English language writing on military history, interpreted widely to include the role of the armed forces, the conduct of wars, and the impact of conflict on nations and societies, over any period up to the present day.

Members of the board are His Grace the Duke of Wellington, Professor Michael Clarke, The Right Honourable Lord Sumption, Sir Hew Strachan and Professor Beatrice Heuser.

Nominations for the 2021 Medal competition are now encouraged and can be submitted via email to

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