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Dr Martin Purdy

Former Research Student

Martin Purdy


My current research is focussed on the challenges - social, cultural and practical – encountered in the past century by disabled ex-servicemen, their families and charitable flag-bearers.

Research overview

I am in the first year of an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award based at Westfield War Memorial Village in Lancaster. The working title for the project is Vision and Practice: The Westfield War Memorial Village, Lancaster, from 1918 to the present.

The Westfield settlement was created by philanthropists after the Great War to provide a safe, nurturing and ultimately healing environment for disabled ex-servicemen and their families; a remit it strives to maintain in the 21st century. Currently working through the archives at the village, I am indexing and cataloguing material for both my own research and that of future researchers. I am also working with the charity that oversees the village to create promotional material, including a bespoke website.

I gained a BA Hons First Class (Modern History) degree at UCLAN in 2010 and, the following year, successfully completed an MA by Research (History) at the same university. The title of my research MA was Roman Catholic Army Chaplains During The First World War – Roles, Experiences and Dilemmas.

Supervised By

Dr. Corinna Peniston-Bird

Career Details

After completing A-Levels I worked as a freelance writer for national music publications and as an editor on a popular North-West music magazine. I went on to gain an apprenticeship as a news journalist for a large media corporation and spent many years working on both local and regional newspapers, before taking up a post as a sub-editor for a national newspaper. In 2009 I took voluntary redundancy from my then role as the editor of a newspaper in Greater Manchester in order to pursue my interest in modern history – I had been working for a number of years as a freelance First World War advisor for the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine and had two books, along with numerous magazine and newspaper articles, published on the subject. While completing my BA and MA I did part-time work as a Special Educational Needs assistant and music teacher in a primary school – and still have the bruises, but fond memories, to show for it!

Additional Information


Purdy M, & Dawson I, Doing Our Bit: The Story of the Great War told through the experiences of one small northern town, (Moonraker Books, Lancashire, 2006)

Purdy M, Trace Your First World War Ancestors  (Who do You Think Your Are?, BBC Books, 2008)

Purdy M, Tourism and Tyranny in Franco’s Spain in Diffusion: The UCLAN Journal of Undergraduate Research, (Diffusion, Volume 3, University of Central Lancashire, 2010)

Purdy M, & Dawson I, The Gallipoli Oak: Territorial soldiers at the Dardanelles and one family’s lasting legacy to a Lancashire Fusilier, (Moonraker Books, Lancashire, 2013)

Conference Papers

Class and Catholic Army Chaplains in the First World War. A paper deliveredin 2011 to the National Conference of The Catholic Record Society at Hope University, Liverpool.

Catholic Chaplains and claims of a Working-Class 'Advantage' in the Great War. A paper delivered in 2012 to ‘The Great War Localities and Regional Identities’ conference organised by Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Central Lancashire.

French 'Soldier Priests' and the Continental Influence on British Catholic Chaplaincy in the First World War. A paper delivered in 2012 at the three-day international ‘Clergy In Wartime’ conference at Amport House, Hampshire, organised by Dr Michael Snape (Birmingham University) and sponsored by the Ministry of Defence and British Army Chaplaincy Service.

Other Interests and Hobbies

A keen walker, I am particularly fond of ‘yomping’ the West Pennine Moors near my home, and always look forward to my annual rambles around the former battlefields of the Western Front. Though old enough to know better, I continue to play in an “electro-folk-storytelling” outfit called Harp and a Monkey. Unlike his mother, my son is (as yet) too young to be embarrassed by this latter fact.

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