Research Group - The World Wars


The most persistent sound which reverberates through history is the beating of war drums’ – Arthur Koestler.

The World Wars Research Group (WWRG) seeks to promote the study of warfare from a variety of perspectives: military, political, social, cultural and diplomatic, during the period from the early 20th century until the end of the Second World War and to establish links with other research groups and international scholars working in the field.

The WWRG hosts seminars at Murdoch throughout the year from faculty staff, visiting scholars and postgraduates. Please check this page regularly for the latest information.


‘Political Warfare against the Third Reich: A Re-Appraisal’

University of Western Australia War Studies Seminar Series

Speaker: James Crossland

At the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939, the remnants of the British government’s First World War propaganda agency – Crewe House – were reconstituted into a confusing, ad hoc array of propaganda and ‘political warfare’ departments, whose task was to foment resistance and subversion in the Third Reich and occupied territories. This cluster of agencies – which became known as the Political Warfare Executive in 1941 – has long been maligned for its ostensibly ineffective role in the Allied war effort. This paper will re-assess some of the criticisms made of PWE and provide an overview of its evolution and development within the context of the wider efforts of Britain and the United States to adjust to the burdens of ‘total war’.

Friday, 16 May 2014

1pm in Law Link Building, Staff Library

University of Western Australia


'70 Years on: D-Day Remembered'

With the seventieth anniversary of the D-Day landings looming in June 2014, Murdoch will be hosting a special public lecture reflecting on this great turning point of the Second World War. Further details will be provided in the coming weeks.



Dr Dean Aszkielowicz

Dean Aszkielowicz has recently completed his PhD on Australia’s program to try Japanese war criminals after the Second World War. He is also part of an ARC Discovery project, 'Repatriation and release of Japanese war criminals 1946-1958: South East Asia, Japan and the Great Powers '.

Select Publications

  • ‘Repatriation and the Limits of Resolve: Japanese War Criminals in Australian Custody’, Japanese Studies, 31:3, (2011).

Dr James Boyd

James Boyd’s research focus is modern Japanese-Mongolian relations, within the larger context of Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese relations, and the role that the military played in these relations.

Select Publications

  • ‘Undercover Acolytes: Honganji, the Japanese Army and Intelligence-Gathering Operations’, Journal of Religious History (forthcoming 2012).
  • “This stalwart fellow of five lands and two seas …”: The Life of Fukushima Yasumasa’, War & Society, vol. 30, no. 3, October 2011, pp. 214-25.

Staff Profile

+ Dr James Boyd

Dr James Crossland (Convener)

James Crossland’s research interest is in the strategic and diplomatic history of the Second World War in Europe, in particular the political aspects of humanitarian diplomacy between belligerent states and the rise and fall of the so-called Anglo-German “peace parties” of the war’s early years. He also has an interest in general intelligence history and Special Forces operations. He has recently completed a monograph on relations between Britain and the International Committee of the Red Cross during the Second World War.

Select Publications

'The mutiny that never was: The Special Operations Executive and the failure of Operation Kitchenmaid', Intelligence and National Security, (February 2013)
‘A man of peaceable intent: Burckhardt, the British and Red Cross neutrality during the Second World War’, Historical Research, vol.84, no.223 (February 2011).

Staff Profile

+ Dr James Crossland (Convener)

Professor Michael Durey

Michael Durey’s current research interests lie mainly in the study of the British army during the Great War. He has two main projects in progress: a socio-military study of the British combat officer class; and a socio-military study of ‘The Last Volunteers’ who enlisted into the 11th [Lewisham] Battalion Royal West Kent Regiment in 1915.

Select Publications

  • ‘The Great Trust: Mrs Edith Ash’s Campaign of Remembrance,
  • 1916-1954’, History: The Journal of the Historical Association Vol. 96, No. 3 (2011), pp. 260-279
  • ‘Two Minor Demonstrations”: The 1/1st Cambridgeshire’s Raid on the Ancre, 16-17 September 1916’,
  • Stand To! The Journal of the Western Front Association, No. 92 (2011), pp. 5-9.

Staff Profile

+ Professor Michael Durey

Professor Michael Sturma

Michael Sturma's main research focus is the submarine war in the Pacific. He has published three books on submarines during the Second World War and is currently researching the Allied submarine base at Fremantle, Western Australia.

Select Publications

  • Surface and Destroy: The Submarine Gun War in the Pacific (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2011).
  • 'Submarine Warfare', in Gordon Martel (ed), The Encyclopedia of War, (Blackwell Publishing, 2012).

Staff Profile

+ Professor Michael Sturma

Dr Andrew Webster

Andrew Webster's research is focus is disarmament in the interwar period and the history internationalism. He is currently completing the first comparative study of the history of the international disarmament process between the first Hague peace conference of 1899 and the opening of the atomic era in 1945.

Select Publications

  • 'From Versailles to Geneva: The many forms of interwar disarmament', Journal of Strategic Studies, 29:2, (April 2006), 225-246.
  • 'Making disarmament work: The implementation of the international disarmament provisions in the League of Nations Covenant, 1920-25',
  • Diplomacy & Statecraft, 16:3, (December 2005), 551-69.

Staff Profile

+Associate Professor Andrew Webster

Professor Sandra Wilson

Sandra Wilson is a researcher in Modern Japanese History. She has two current research projects: a history of Japanese nationalism; and a joint project with several colleagues on the repatriation of convicted Japanese war criminals from Southeast Asia to Japan after the Second World War, and their subsequent release from prison.

Select Publications

  • ‘Family or State? Nation, War, and Gender in Japan, 1937-45’, Critical Asian Studies, 38: 2, 2006, pp. 209-38.
  • 'Prisoners in Sugamo and, pp. 171-190 their Campaign for Release, 1952-1953', Japanese Studies, 31:3, 2011.
  • 'Film and Soldier: Japanese War Movies in the 1950s', forthcoming in Journal of Contemporary History, 2013.

Staff Profile

+ Professor Sandra Wilson


Adjunct Professor Neville Wylie

Neville Wylie is Professor of International Political History at the University of Nottingham and is currently seconded to the Malaysia campus as Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences and Director of Studies of the School of Politics, History and International Relations. He was appointed an adjunct at Murdoch University in 2012. His current research expands upon his previous work on Prisoner of War (POW) history by focusing on the role played by so-called 'protecting powers' – neutral states who intercede on behalf of one belligerent in the territory of another.

Select Publications:

'Muted Applause? British Prisoners-of-War as Observers and Victims of the Allied Bombing Campaign over Germany’ in Baldoci, C, Knapp, A and Overy, R.J (eds), Bombing, States and Peoples in Western Europe 1940-1945 (Continuum: 2011)
Barbed Wire Diplomacy: Britain, Germany and the Politics of Prisoners of War, 1939-1945 (Cambridge: CUP, 2010)

Researcher Profile

+ Researcher profile