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William Carr - A Time To Leave the Ploughshares: A Gunner Remembers 1917-18 (1985)


Derek Black

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Published in 1985, shortly before his death aged 100, William Carr recorded his time as a junior officer in the Royal Field Artillery.

 

Carr, or Carlos as he was later nicknamed, was from an agricultural family near Stonehaven, on the north east coast of Scotland. Having gone to university in his late 20's to improve his prospects, he was older than most of his fellow officers when he went to war in June, 1917.

On arrival in France he was posted to 377 Battery of the 169th Brigade R.F.A. The majority of its officersswere Scots too.
At the time of his joining the Brigade it was in a quiet sector. This was to prove of great benefit to Carr, as he could gain valuable experience in honing his gunnery skills. Using ruined buildings, he was able to practice his gun registration and firing off of map references.

 

Carr's account provides a good insight into how a battery and its officers operated. Recollections come across as frank and honest, when he doesn't recall a period of time, or remembers a person but not their name, he says as much.

An amusing anecdote of the early arrival of Sir Douglas Haig on a planned visit to his unit, resulted in the unplanned greeting of him by Lt Carr instead of his Colonel and battery commanders. As was how the officers were all given input into who an allocated medal should be awarded to. Most fascinating of all was the result of his sending a scathing report to Corps after being denied permission to assist an attack with his battery when on forward observation duty.

A readable and informative memoir, well worth adding to any great war bookcase. Easily available from online book shops.

Edited by Derek Black

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