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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Thirteen Years After


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Surprised I couldn't find a thread on this so I'll post a review.

This is a great read; not so much from a military history perspective (much better books for that) but for a narrative of post-war tourism.

The author was a CEF soldier (42d Battalion) and returns to France/Belgium in 1931. His route takes him from Ypres through Armentieres, Arras, Lens, La Bassee and to the Somme. Along the way he traces the remains of the front and ties his memories to the remaining evidence "thirteen years after".

Again; if you want a history of battles/actions, look elsewhere. The value of the book to me is that I'm particularly interested in tourism/pilgrimages between the wars and this is the finest memoir I've read for that topic. I've been using Rose Coomb's book to cross-reference modern locations/sites against those Mr. Bird references and plan on using both together to follow in his footsteps sometime this summer and see what's still left of what he saw (in particular signs, estaminets, buildings used as billets, etc.) especially in those areas behind the lines. As a note if you collect CEF medals you may want to cross reference any names against all the names he notes (throughout the book) as being carved in tunnels, churches, building, etc. Yes, a long shot but it'd be a neat find.

Of note are the pictures; a great collection of what it looked like in the early thirties. I plan on using them to cross reference against modern locations to get a feel for what's changed.

Its ISBN number is 1-896979-11-4; i paid 24 Euro and it's well worth it.

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The book was a great read, but somewhat melancholy. It's almost as if Will Bird was making the journey to find something (himself? his friends? the past?) and never seems to be able to reach out and grab it. Days after I finished the book the puzzle of what Bird was searching for kept nagging me.

Any thoughts about his post war quest?


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This is an outstanding book. My favourite passage is his magnificent decription of the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate on the first couple of pages.

I note the melancholy - perhaps not suprising that this would show in some form from one who was 'there'. I agree, there do at times appear to be sentiments that are left unsaid. Is he looking for his comrades who did not make it home? Or more generally trying to make sense of his whole experience?

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