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Divisional History


Matchless650

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Does anyone know if a Divisional history has been written on the 1st Division during the great war? I believe there has not been a published account, which may i add seems rather strange. can they be written today?

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No, and go ahead. I'll buy a copy ;)

The divisional histories are a bit random. Of the Regular (pre-war and wartime-raised) divisions, the 2nd Division did, but the 3rd and 4th didn't. The 5th did, the 7th and 8th did, as did the 29th and the Guards. (I can't remember about the 6th), but the 6th and 27th didn't. Annoying.

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Big job Matchless, there is not one for the 14th Div. either. I toyed with the idea, but hey caramaba it is quite a task.

Andy

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Nor the 57th (maybe .... one day ...) and not really a decent one for the 55th. Coop (The Story of the 55th Division) is a good effort given it was written almost immediately after the war but lacks detail and analysis

Ian

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I have not written anything of academic note since my dissertation ( General Robert E Lee's Maryland Campaign) the question for me is

(A) Can it be done well? Primary source material, are my skills adequate, support etc.

(B) Is it Needed? Does the 1st Division warrant a comprehensive study on what its units did during the war?

© Would it be taken seriously? would not want to spend around a year researching and writing if no one read it!

Regards Rick.

Ps the 1960 650cc Matchless takes me to all my battlefield visits.

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I think that, well done, it would be read and would, at a reasonable price, sell. Marketing for a regular divisional history, without a base of local interest, might be more difficult. Your possible approaches are either a popular narrative (in which case, get in as many names and photos from units as you can), popular narrative with selected anecdotes/accounts or an interpretation of the command and control and training of the division as well as the operations in the light of modern knowledge, in which case the footnotes and appendices might be as much as the main text.

Either way, I think it is likely to be a massive research job with a minimum of 12 battalion diaries plus pioneers (and presumably there were extra territorial battalions in 1915), the gunners and the engineers, the brigade diaries and divisional HQ diaries themselves, HQ, AQ etc plus regimental histories and personal accounts. You might feel that you want to look at Corps diaries also. You might do it it two stages, I suppose, a straight narrative first and then something more analytical.

I think a year of research might be hopeful, even full time, for anything but a surface job and summary of war diaries. However, if there is no other account, this would be useful. Not only would it be useful but it would be a memorial to the men of the Division and that would remain true even if the readership was limited.

Having said all this, I have no experience of writing or publishing a book other than at second-hand although I have rehearsed the idea in my mind.

Good luck if you go ahead.

Ian

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Thanks all for your comments i'll think some more then perhaps write a short proposal even if its just read by me it may answer many questions i have on whether it can achieve satisfactory results, i really would love to write it just not convinced i could.

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I think that there is a short history of the 6th Division. More recently there has been one published for the 16th (IIRC).

Nothing to stop anyone writing one these days ......... and filling in the gaps. In some respects it is easier now that all the remaining/surviving docs are in the public domain.

If you analyse the histories that were written it seems to suggest that the territorials did best, perhaps because after the war the regulars got on with peacetime soldiering and those comprising mainly service battalions were rapidly disbanded. The territorials generally had had ongoing interests and money ans so were able to commission and/or create their own histories.

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I think that there is a short history of the 6th Division.

There is...by Major Gen. T.O.Marden (reprinted by N&MP and also available on a free download from t'internet ... http://www.archive.org/details/hist6thdivision00marduoft)

Dave.

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Thanks for that link Dave, more stuff to read and ponder. I just keep thinking how and why the 1st never had a divisional history?

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Odd, isn't it, the divisions that did (and didn't) have histories.

The Guards you can understand, and as Martin says, the TF Divisions often had money behind them and an on-going interest in promoting esprit de corps and all that.

But then why did the 23rd Division produce such a huge (and interesting) history? As Andy says, the 14th didn't (but the 20th did) - given the fairly well-to-do Rifle regiments there, you'd assume both would have.

As to whether a history is required for the 1st Division, I'd say yes. A division of the original BEF has to be an interesting subject. As to whether you'd get it published - well, several WW2 divisions have had histories turned out recently, I believe, so there may well be a template there. A divisional history of the 3rd Division was produced some years ago (Iron Division?), but it covered the GW and WW2 as well in a moderatly slender volume, so not sure how much GW help it is.

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yes my general sentiment on the subject is that being a regular and"Old contemptible" unit it would in theory warrant and produce an interesting work. Do these histories have to be for monetry gain? ie officially published. if not then i think it may be a realistic project that could always be published at a later time.

My initial thoughts are writing along the same lines as the 6th division History (short and simple for now) that is available online as outlined by croonaert in post no/9. I am under no illusion that this would still be a serious piece of study which lends itself to being a possible mammoth task of research etc.

Could i get any help support advice on here. (I would like to think so)

I keep thinking of dozens of reasons why i should forget this idea, but......my heart says try.

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Oh dear just refreshing myself of the OB on the division in long long trail,there are 21 infantry BN's at one time or another! an in depth look at the rest of the divison looks scary too.

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