PEEL Talent specialises in arranging Guest Speaker and Enrichment Programmes for many of the world’s leading Cruise Lines, drawing from our database of over a thousand speakers, art tutors, crafts instructors, bridge directors and choirmasters.
Philip was born and educated in Plymouth, Devon. After training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, he served more than 30 years in the British Army retiring in 1993 in the rank of brigadier. He commanded the 4th Royal Tank Regiment, the British Army of the Rhine’s reconnaissance forces, the tri-national (British, French and American) Berlin Relief Force and was one of two directors of operations at the British Joint Force Headquarters during the 1991 Gulf War.
He attended the Army Staff College as both a student and instructor, and is a graduate of the Royal College of Defence Studies. He was awarded the CBE in 1986. Also, in 1986 he was a defence fellow at Kings College, London researching under Professor Lawrence Freedman.
On retiring from the Army, he joined the National Health Service and was Chief Executive of a health trust for seven years. This was followed by three years as managing director of an American-owned occupational health company. He then worked for two years in the commercial directorate of the Department of Health supporting private sector health companies recruiting and training overseas doctors and nurses to improve clinical productivity, before setting up his own health consultancy company. He has now retired but returns to the front-line occasionally in non-executive roles.
Since 2012, he now enjoys his retirement by guest-lecturing on cruise ships.
The North Atlantic
Greenland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands in World War 2
Discover the critical geo-political role played by three Allied-occupied North Atlantic islands in World War 2. Stepping stones from North America to Europe, and vital bases from which to fight the Battle of the Atlantic.
“Hell below Zero”: The Arctic Convoys of World War 2
Consider the stoicism, bravery and sacrifice of Allied navy and merchant navy crews shipping vital war materials to Russia in the face of powerful German opposition from sea and air.
The Battle of the Atlantic in World War 2
Between 1939 and 1945, from the ports of Nova Scotia and New England, convoys of essential war materials, food and troops made the perilous journey across the Atlantic to Great Britain. Each mile was contested by German submarines and aircraft. This was the critical Battle of the Atlantic.
Scandinavia and the Baltic Sea
The Invasion of Norway 1940
What was it like to be a resident of peaceful Norway’s Kristiansand when invaded in 1940? Why did the German attack and what was their plan? How did Norway, Great Britain and France respond by land sea and air? Discover the political cost of failure in London, and how the Norwegian people coped with five cruel years of occupation.
The Invasion of Denmark and Norway 1940
Why did the German attack Denmark and Norway in April 1940, and what was their plan? What was Sweden’s role in the invasion? How did Great Britain and France respond by land, sea and air? Discover the political cost of failure in London. Review the role of Norway’s resistance movement and how the Norwegian people coped with five cruel years of occupation.
The German and Finnish Siege of Leningrad 1941-1944
Capture the unique horrors of the 872 day German and Finnish siege of Leningrad, now St Petersburg. How did the population cope with minimal food, no fuel for cooking or heating and the deaths of 1.5 million of their families and friends? Consider the “Road of Life” across a frozen Lake Ladoga and Stalin’s Red Army attempts to break the siege.
The Race for Berlin 1945
The prize was Hitler. Which army, Soviet, American or British, would win the Race for Berlin in 1945? Powerful armies, led by colourful generals, drove from east and west on German’s capital across the Rivers Oder and Rhine, before meeting on the banks of the River Elbe. What orders had been given them by the political warlords of World War 2: Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill, and why?
“I see no signal”. Admiral Lord Nelson’s Baltic Odyssey
Consider the life and times of Great Britain’s most successful admiral at a time when Britannia ruled the waves. Trace his voyages and battles off Denmark, Italy, France, Egypt and Spain. Follow his relationships and the fateful affair with Lady Hamilton, wife of the British Ambassador to Sicily. Understand why he is considered a true national hero.
“The Vikings are Coming”. Scandinavian sagas from long ago
What was the Viking Age? Who were the Vikings? How did Scandinavian warriors in long-boats terrorize, then colonize and then change much of Europe’s DNA, culture and language? When did they establish settlements across Iceland, Greenland and North America? What was their impact on Western European and particularly England and Scotland? Consider the impact of Christianity on pagan societies as a force for cohesion and good.
“Kill the Beast”: The destruction of German battleship Tirpitz in Norway 1941-44
Winston Churchill was determined to destroy the Tirpitz, the most powerful ship afloat in 1941. Marvel at the ingenuity, skill and sacrifice of the brave men who attempted and finally succeeded in sinking Tirpitz in a Norwegian fjord.
Hitler’s North West Flank: Scandinavia in World War 2
Discover why, when and how Germany invaded Scandinavia in WW2, and the role of Norway and Norwegians during the occupation of the country
The Legacy of the Yalta Conference 1945
The Yalta Conference condemned the people of Eastern Europe to decades of virtual slavery under communism. Decisions taken by the “Big Three” would shape the world we live in today, and they were taken by a dying Roosevelt, triumphant Stalin and weakened Churchill. How was Germany and Berlin carved up, and why did the Western leaders sell out Poland and her brave people?
The Crimean War 1853-56
A watershed in military history, the Crimean War was fought in Bulgaria, the Ukraine and Crimean Peninsula. Why did France and Great Britain get involved a mainly religious war between Russia and Turkey fought astride the River Danube? Follow the progress of a bungling allied expeditionary force through the battles of the River Alma, Balaclava and Inkerman and the siege of Sevastopol. Why and how was the Charge of the Light Brigade a disaster? Was Florence Nightingale a saint?
The Rise of Ataturk: Father of Modern Turkey
No visit to Turkey is complete without an understanding of the rise and role of Ataturk. Review his childhood, education and military career including his pivotal role at Gallipoli in 1915. Consider the importance of the post-war achievements of Ataturk in uniting the defeated Turkish people, winning a bloody War of Independence, removing the victorious Allied occupation forces, eliminating the Muslim Caliphate and creating a secular modern state, which gave early rights to women. How is Turkey’s managing his legacy?
The Black Sea
A short talk aimed at first time visitors to Europe. Gain an understanding of how the Black Sea and Sea of Azov was formed; how it has changed over the years; the impact of those changes on the people who lived on the shores. Examine the physical characteristics of the geology of the waters and sea bed and their impact on military operations, historical research, trading, oil exploration, fishing and modern tourism.
Georgia on My Mind
Less than 10 years ago there was a hot war being fought on the south-eastern border of Europe, between Russia and Georgia. Why did it start? How was it fought? What was the outcome? Will Georgia, apparently committed to the west through applications to join the European Union and NATO, be allowed to become truly independent? Will Mr Putin allow it?
A Potted History of Europe Post World War 2
To the victors the spoils! Culminating with the Yalta Conference, post-war Europe was carved up by the Big Three: the USSR, USA and Great Britain. How did the collapse of communism, and break-up of the USSR, in the 1990s enable the states of Eastern Europe secure their independence? But how independent are they? What roles are the European Union, NATO and the Russian Federation playing today in shaping the future of Europe.
Ataturk and the Turkish War of Independence
Consider the life and times of the most important Turkish leader in modern times. How did he steer a Moslem country trapped in the Middle Ages into a secular, modern state in less than a generation? How did his rag-tag armies defeat Great Britain, France, Italy and Greece to secure national independence?
Central Europe (for river cruises)
General Patton’s Campaigns in France and Germany 1944-45
General George Patton is considered by many historians American greatest general in World War 2. He had his faults and was punished for them, but his campaigns in 1945 to relieve Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, crossing the Rivers Saar and Rhine and his army’s advance to the River Elbe, mark him out as a commander of the highest order. Travel in his command car and understand the driving force leading the US 3rd Army.
Crossing the River Rhine in 1945
The Western allies needed to cross Germany’s River Rhine to continue their broad advance from Normandy towards Berlin in 1945. Delay would allow Stalin’s Red Army to drive deeper into Western Europe, occupying most of Germany and possibly even Norway, Denmark and Greece. Why did the unsuccessful Operation Market Garden in 1944 fail, and how did the Western Allies mount their successful crossings via the bridge at Remagen and airborne and amphibious attacks across the upper Rhine in March 1945?
The Battle of Blenheim 1704
The Battle of Blenheim is one of the most important battles ever fought. In 1704, the English Duke of Marlborough led a daring march across Europe to defeat a superior Franco-Bavarian army at Blenheim on the River Danube. The victory secured not only the safety of the Habsburg Empire’s capital of Vienna, but also Marlborough’s reputation as one of the greatest commanders in history. But how did his army live and fight so far from home?
The Siege and Battle of Vienna 1683
The Siege and Battle of Vienna in 1683 marked the high tide of 300 years of Islamic expansion into Central Europe. How did the Pope raise a Christian army in Germany, Poland, Hungary and Lithuania to defeat a 150,000 strong Muslim army? How did the largest cavalry charge in history break the back of the Ottoman position and hasten the future demise of the Empire in Europe?
Ottoman Wars on the River Danube
The River Danube is one of the great trading waterways of Europe. It has been fought over for centuries. Why was it so fiercely contested by the Ottoman Empire and Tsarist Russia in nine separate campaigns? Why are there so many fortresses on the river? Who built them? How did warfare astride the river change between the siege of Vienna in 1529 and the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78?
The Air War over Germany and the River Rhine in World War 2
Gain an understanding of the British and American bombing tactics and strategies used to destroy and defeat Germany in World War 2. Consider the reasons for night area bombing and the relative ineffectiveness of daylight precision bombing. Reflect on the morality of targeting civilians and their homes.
India and Sri Lanka
The Duke of Wellington in India 1796-1805
How did the Duke of Wellington, the dull and gawky poorly educated third son of an aristocratic Anglo-Irish family, become Great Britain’s finest and most successful general. Did this “sepoy general” succeed simply through nepotism or were there greater influences in play? How did he win his spurs in India fighting Tippoo Sultan and the Holkar of Indore? A review of Arthur Wesley’s formative years.
The Defence of India in World War 2
No visit to India is complete without some understanding of the huge role played by Indian armed forces in World War 2. With 2.5 million troops in the field, what was India’s land, sea and air contribution to the global campaigns fought by the British and Commonwealth armies? How did General Slim’s 14th (Forgotten) Army, with a high proportion of Indian troops, defeat the previously invincible Japanese invaders at Imphal and Kohima on the eastern border of India.
The Japanese Attack on Ceylon (Sri Lanka) on Easter Day 1942
Described by Prime Minister Churchill as his worst moment of the war - in that if the Japanese had invaded and used Ceylon as a base, they could strangle the reinforcement and supply lines passing through the Indian Ocean, and perhaps even join up with German forces fighting in Egypt and the Caucasus. The war could have been lost before American strength was available. How was it launched and how did British India respond?
Mediterranean, Adriatic and Aegean Seas
Empires of the Mediterranean
Discover the empires that emerged over 5000 years from lands around the Mediterranean Sea. From the Egyptians, through the Hittite, Greek, Carthaginian, Roman, Byzantine, Islamic, Venetian, Ottoman, to the British, Italian, French and Spanish Empires.
The Struggle for Greece 1940-49
Discover how Greece fought Italian colonial expansion and German aggression. What was the impact of the occupation and subsequent civil war? Why was Great Britain involved? How do the events of 1940-49 relate to EU imposed austerity and the plight of refugees fleeing from Syria and beyond?
The Rise and Fall of Yugoslavia
Consider the many attempts to form a single state from several different nations: first at the end of World War 1, then under the Serbian monarchy of King Alexander, then under President Tito and again when he died. The last failure was marked by the worst fighting in Europe since World War 2: civil war, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and a legacy of hatred. How did it come to this in Europe in the 20th and 21st Centuries? Why the United Nations, European Union and NATO failed to halt the slide to violence and mayhem.
Churchill’s Folly: Britain’s East Mediterranean Strategy in World War 2
Why was Churchill fixated on the Eastern Mediterranean as a theatre of war? Despite the experience of Gallipoli, Churchill retained his enthusiasm for the indirect approach into Europe from the Balkans. We follow the failures of his World War 2 strategy in Greece, on Crete, in Yugoslavia and the Dodecanese Islands. Could the US forces in Europe done more to help Churchill - and should they?
The Battle of Crete 1941
Why were British and Commonwealth troops fighting on Crete in 1941? Despite a wealth of intelligence, including from Bletchley Park, how were they so badly deployed and defeated so easily? Just how good were the German paratroops and what was Hitler’s reaction to the virtual destruction of his airborne force? How great was the sacrifice of the Royal Navy in evacuating the surviving troops to North Africa?
“Damn the Dardanelles. They will be our grave”. Reflections on the Gallipoli Campaign of 1915-16.
The failure of British and French sea and land forces to force the Dardanelles and Gallipoli Peninsula, attack Constantinople and take Turkey out of World War 1 is a tragic story. How did British commanders so under-estimate the fighting quality of Turkish troops? Why were there so few maps and no understanding of the terrain and climate? Why was the cream of Australian and New Zealand manhood sacrificed for so little? What crucial role did General Mustafa Kemal, the future Ataturk, have in the campaign?
“La Serenissima”. 1000 years of the Venetian Republic
The story of Venice and its Republic is essentially the story of the Eastern Mediterranean and Holy Roman Empires from AD 697 to 1797, when Napoleon conquered the richest city state in the medieval world. We cover the development of the city of Venice and, following the winged lion emblem, the growth of colonies along the Dalmation coast and Greek Islands. We explore challenges to the Republic, mainly from the Islamic expansion into the Balkans, and we consider the impact of the High Renaissance on Venice.
No visit to Turkey is complete without an understanding of the rise and role of Ataturk. Review his childhood, education, military career including his pivotal role at Gallipoli in 1915 and again in Palestine in 1918. Recognise the importance of the post-war role of Ataturk in winning the Turkish War of Independence, removing the victorious Allied forces from Turkey, eliminating the Muslim Caliphate and creating a secular modern state, which gave early rights to women. Consider Turkey’s management of his legacy today.
The Byzantine Empire: Europe’s Medieval Christian Bastion against the Spread of Militant Islam
The Mediterranean’s longest lasting empire, with its capital of Constantinople, emerged from the split of the Roman Empire into east and west, and survived the great schism in the Christian Church, to resist the spread of militant Islam into Eastern Europe for nearly 1000 years. Consider the impact of the crusades on Constantinople and the reasons why the besieged city finally fell to the Ottomans in 1453. Review Byzantine art, science, architecture and literature.
Malta, George Cross. The Story of the Siege of Malta in World War 2
Just how vital was the role of Malta in World War 2 in the defeat of the Italian and German armies in North Africa by British sea and air power? Why didn’t Italian forces, even when reinforced by German air power, invade and capture the Island? Understand the role of Bletchley Park and high grade intelligence in destroying Axis resupply convoys and follow the progress of the Convoy War in the Mediterranean that cost so many ships and men.
“England Expects”: Admiral Lord Nelson’s Mediterranean Odyssey
Consider the life and times of Great Britain’s most successful admiral at a time when Britannia ruled the waves. Trace his Mediterranean voyages and battles off Italy, France, Egypt and Spain. Follow his relationships and the fateful affair with Lady Hamilton, wife of the British Ambassador to Sicily. Understand why he is considered a true national hero.
“D-Day Dodgers”: Consider the Allied Italian Campaign in World War 2
Review the campaign led by US and British troops to defeat German and Italian forces in Italy. Why were the Allies fighting in Italy? How effective was German defence of the Peninsular? When did Italy switch sides and what became of Mussolini?
Operation Dragoon: The Allies invade the French Riviera in August 1944
Review why and how the Allies invaded southern France in August 1944 and linked up with Patton’s 3rd US Army, fighting from Normandy. What impact did the campaign have on operations in Italy and Northern France? Consider the role of General de Gaulle and Free French forces in the invasion. Discover Audie Murphy!
World War 1 in Palestine and Gaza
Defence of the Suez Canal was one of Great Britain’s key war aims. How was the threat to the Canal from Ottoman forces defeated? Review the subsequent military campaign, supported by the Arab Revolt, to remove Ottoman armies from Palestine and Gaza and knock Turkey out of the War.
Cyprus: the divided island. A British legacy?
Consider the history of Cyprus since 1878. Cyprus as a British protectorate and then colony following World War 1. Review the rise of Enosis (union with Greece) and Taksim (bi-zonal division between Greece and Turkey). Why did the Turks intervene in force in 1974 after Cyprus gained independence from Britain in 1960? What next?
North America and the Pacific
Captain Cook and his North Pacific Odyssey
Review the life, times and voyages of the great English explorer and cartographer Captain James Cook and his 18th century exploration of the North Pacific and Alaska
Canada: From Colony to Nation State
Trace the constitutional development of Canada over 200 years through the key drivers for change: the exploitation of raw materials, immigration and war. Consider the importance of the St Lawrence River and Seaway in developing the country.
Canada’s Role in the Battle of the Atlantic 1939-1945
From the harbours of Nova Scotia, huge convoys of essential war material, oil and foodstuffs formed up in convoys to make the perilous journey across the Atlantic to Great Britain. Many ships were crewed by Canadians and most convoys were escorted there and back by Canadian ships and men. Each mile was contested by German submarines and aircraft and the war at sea became known as the Battle of the Atlantic. If the Allies had not won the battle, Great Britain would have had to surrender and the Second Front could not have been launched into Normandy, France. It is a story of desperate courage couple with improvisation, industrial strength, scientific advances and eventual success.
The 7-Years War in North America (1756-1763)
Consider the causes and outcomes of the first global war, and discover how the British defeated French forces, settlers and their First Nation allies in North East America. Reflect on the role of loyal American settlers and how the war led to the French Revolution and the American War of Independence.
The American war of Independence 1775-1782
Discover why and how some 40,000 local colonists, albeit supported by France, Spain and the Netherlands, defeated the best troops Great Britain could offer to achieve independence and create the United States of America. Follow the campaign on land and sea in North America and Europe.
The Anglo-American War of 1812
Review the conduct of the war between Great Britain and America on land and sea. Examine the British invasions of America, the burning of the White House, the bombardment of Fort McHenry, and the American invasions of Canada and Spanish West Florida.
Japan’s Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere in World War 2
Consider Japan’s WW2 East Asia and Pacific strategy and how a string of military successes turned to barbaric xenophobia, economic failure, military defeats and national surrender
“Island-Hopping”: America’s successful Pacific Ocean Strategy in World War 2
Consider how America rose to the challenge of war, and review Admiral Nimitz’s Pacific “Island Hopping” strategy to defeat Japanese occupation forces and secure airfields from which to bomb Japan to defeat
World War 2 in Alaska and the North Pacific
Review how America and Canada countered Japanese aggression in Alaska and the North Pacific and the impact of the Lend-Lease route to Eastern Russia in World War 2
General MacArthur’s South West Pacific Campaigns in World War 2
Review how MacArthur, a flawed genius, turned a WW2 military backwater into the springboard for liberating the Dutch East Indies and the Philippines and defeating Japan
Battle of the Coral Sea in May 1942
Discover why, where and how American aircraft carriers, with Allied support, fought the first carrier battle in history on the seas off Australia to prevent a Japanese invasion of New Guinea
Australia and New Zealand
Diggers at war: a Military History of Australia
Discover the origins of “Digger” and “Larrikin” and marvel at the exploits of some of the finest fighting troops in the history of warfare, the Australian fighting man.
Advance Australia Fair: from Colony to Nation State
Review how a small penal colony in south east Australia in 1788 developed through exploration, agriculture and war into a nation state in 1986. Why was the aboriginal population first ignored and then forced into resistance to European expansion? Consider the impact of Federation of the large and wide-spread states on the development of the continent.
Bravest of the Brave: Four ANZAC Victoria Crosses
Consider the life, times, careers and actions of four brave ANZAC warriors: Lieutenant Charles Upham VC and Bar, Trooper Mark Donaldson VC, Corporal Willie Apiata VC and Lance Corporal Albert Jacka VC. Range over campaigns as disparate as Gallipoli in 1915, Crete and North Africa in 1941/42 and Afghanistan.
New Zealand: Colony to Nation State
Discover how European economic migrants to a far-flung British colony fought for land with the war-like and recently indigenous Maori people, before coming to terms with peaceful co-existence. Consider the impact of both World Wars on constitutional development, culminating in a fully independent New Zealand only in 1986.
New Zealand: Springboard to Guadalcanal
Discover why and how US Marines based in New Zealand deployed for the first successful American offensive of WW2, the recapture of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands
Kiwis at War: the Military History of New Zealand
Described by their opponents as man for man the best soldiers in World War 2, discover why all armies want New Zealand forces by their side and on their flanks.
Red Sea, Horn of Africa, Muscat and the Emirates
British Involvement in Small Wars in South Arabia in the 20th Century
This talk covers three important small wars: Lawrence of Arabia’s involvement in the Arab Revolt of 1916-18; four years of covert British involvement in the Yemen Civil War 1962-68 and the armed insurrection in Aden 1962-67. We consider the geo-strategic aspects of the wars, the key personalities which include David Stirling, founder of the Special Air Service and Fiona Fraser, daughter of Lord Lovat, outside influences and the outcomes. What was the impact of these wars on politics in the Arabian Peninsular today?
Military Operations in the Horn of Africa 1940-42
A voyage to Djibouti (Ship’s port of call) is an ideal opportunity to discuss the British and Commonwealth involvement in the loss (first British colony lost in World War 2) of British Somaliland to Italian forces in 1940, and the subsequent retaking the colony and the ejection of Italian forces from the Horn of Africa in 1941/2. We follow the fortunes of B Squadron 7th Royal Tank Regiment in the advance into East Africa, as well as troops from Great Britain, South Africa and India.
Imperial Policing in the Trucial States and Oman. A personal perspective
A well as tracing the history of British Imperial Policing in the Trucial States (now Emirates) and Oman, this talk reflect on my personal role as an imperial policemen in armoured cars in Sharjah, Dubai and Oman in the 1960s. The talk covers the origins of Imperial Policing by the British East India Company and Royal Navy, through Royal Air Force operations in Iraq and India to British Army punitive expeditions.
The Secret War: the Dhofar rebellion in Oman 1962-76
This undeclared and secret war was fought to contain and then defeat a Yemen based armed insurgency in Dhofar Province, Western Oman. The insurgency aimed to overthrow the Sultan of Muscat and threatened British oil and other interests in Oman and the Trucial States. Although eventually British troops on secondment were directly involved, most of the war was fought by the Special Air Service, from bases deep in Dhofor. It provides an illuminating insight into British special force operations.
The Situation in Ukraine and the Crimea Today
The dangerous situation in Ukraine and the Crimea today is the most serious in Europe since the end of the Cold War. Why did Russia seize the Crimean Peninsula and how is Russia exploiting ethnic and political divisions in Eastern Ukraine? Are the roles being played by the European Union and NATO positive or negative? What should be the world’s response to Russian sponsored military aggression and land grab?
“Lest we Forget”: The Work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
1.7 million Commonwealth servicemen and women died during World War 2 and since. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission manages their graves in some 2500 war cemeteries and numerous memorials in 153 countries. I have family, friends and colleagues in some of them. Established after the 1st World War, the Commission grew from humble beginnings with graves registration units into a major activity funded by the governments of Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa and India.
“Scotland the Brave”: A Sassenach’s view of the History of Scotland
10,000 years of Scotland’s history through five themes: antiquity, monarchy, war, culture and politics. Are they really a nation looking for a country?
From Landships to Gunships: 100 years of the Tank
Why and how was the tank developed in World War 1. Trace the development of the tank’s firepower, mobility and protection over 100 years. Consider whether the armed helicopter can replace the tank on battlefields across the world.
A Potted History of Post-War Europe
Consider the effects of World War 2 and the Yalta Conference on the structure of post-war Europe. Why did the Cold War develop and how did it end? How did previous enemies form military, economic and political organisations? What is their impact on the world today?
Operation Dynamo: The Miracle of Dunkirk 1940
In 1939 the bulk of the British Army deployed to Northern France to counter German aggression. When blitzkrieg forced the surrender of the Netherlands and Belgium and drove British and French forces westwards, the decision was taken by Churchill to evacuate the Army through Dunkirk. Consider how the Royal Navy and a flotilla of pleasure craft lifted the Army from the beaches and allowed Great Britain to continue to fight.
“Over there, over there” The Doughboys in Europe in World War 1
When, why and how did America, the “giant with a penknife” in 1916, enlist, train and deploy some 2 million men in 1917-18 to fight in Europe. Review the politics of entry and follow the development of raw battalions into battle winning armies, under General Pershing, in just eighteen months