Terraine, John (Alfred) 1921-2003

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TERRAINE, John (Alfred) 1921-2003


See index for CA sketch: Born January 15, 1921, in London, England; died December 28, 2003, in London, England. Historian and author. Terraine was a noted expert on military history, especially regarding the World Wars in Europe. A graduate of Keble College, Oxford, where he earned a degree in modern history, health problems prevented him from enlisting in the British military. Instead, he found employment with the British Broadcasting Corp. in 1944 and from 1952 to 1963 was its Pacific service program organizer. From 1963 to 1964, he was with the Television Talks department, thereafter becoming a freelance historian. As such, Terraine continued to work on television series for the BBC, which included The Great War (1963-64), The Life and Times of Lord Mountbatten (1966-68) and European History in the Twentieth Century (1974-75). As a historian, Terraine was most often considered an authority on World War I—though he also wrote authoritatively on World War II—and he became somewhat controversial for asserting, contrary to popular opinion, that England's generals did a much better job than they had been given credit for in the Great War. He also explained how "Kitchener's Army" evolved from an poorly trained army into an effective fighting machine by 1918; and his writings illustrate how World War II could be viewed as a continuation of the World War I fight against Germany. From a focus in the 1950s and 1960s on television work, Terraine gradually evolved into primarily an author of military history books by the 1970s, and his output was prodigious through the end of the 1980s. Among his publications are The Great War, 1914-1918: A Pictorial History (1965), Impacts of War, 1914 and 1918 (1970), White Heat: The New Warfare, 1914-18 (1982), A Time for Courage: The Royal Air Force in the European War, 1939-1945 (1985), and The U-Boat Wars, 1916-1945 (1989). A member of the Royal United Services Institute Council from 1976 to 1984, Terraine received that organization's prestigious Chesney Gold Medal in 1982 and was named a patron in 1997. Other honors include receiving the Yorkshire Post Book of the Year Award in 1985 for his book The Right of the Line: The Royal Air Force in the European War, 1939-1945, being named honorary fellow of Keble College in 1986, and being made a fellow of the Royal Historical Society in 1987.



Daily Telegraph (London, England), December 31, 2003.

Independent (London, England), January 23, 2004, p. 22.

Times (London, England), December 31, 2003, p. 32.

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Terraine, John (Alfred) 1921-2003

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