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Remembered Today:

Book Author & Title Mystery


Vista52
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Thirty years ago, I was staying in a little Arizona town. A lot of the Military History books in the small local library came from Fort Huachuca, Arizona. One of the books I read was a First World War memoir by a young British Infantry Officer published in the 1920-30's. The book had no dust jacket, was red and wasn't very big. My memory is very fuzzy and I've had no luck trying to remember the Title or author.

A few of the things I think I remember are:

1...During an attack while he's in NML, his Cockney Sgt (or his Batman) is shot in the head while he is lying beside him.

2...He comes to a junction in a German trench where many British soldiers have been shot down by a machine gun as they cross a gap in the trench. The machine gun is hidden further along the trench and is still firing.

3...He comes upon a dis-used trench being used to bury British soldiers and notices how the breeze is blowing their hair.

I'm not sure how accurately I've remembered even those small details but does anything there strike a chord with anyone?

Thanks.

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Well, my copy of "Bullets and Billets" is without dust-jacket, bound in red cloth, and not large, but I think you'd remember Bruce Bairnsfather's illustrations if it were that one...

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Thank you seajane for your reply. I don't recall any illustrations. :)

Yes, reading my request again, I suppose a lot of the when, where, why, what is a little superfluous to my enquiry. Oh well, I gave everything I can remember.

When I started to think again about this Book, I thought it might of been Memoirs of an Infantry Officer. Having re-read that, I can say it definitely is not that.

Thanks again.

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I have been trying to think what this book could be but have drawn a blank.I have quite a few original memoirs from that period (20's-30's)

but when you take away the one's written by "Other Ranks",older Officers(ie "Brass Hat in No-Mans-Land")and binding colour(although many

books had alternate bindings or Library binding)and the size i thought it could be "A soldier's War by Charles edmonds(Carrington)pub 1929,

but flicking through can't locate all the scenes you mentioned.There is "Goodbye to all that" by Robert Graves (Red binding pub 1929 not that

small a book though)and A soldier's Diary of the Great War(re-written and introduced by Henry Williamson)but flicking through the latter

title also drew a blank.There is also the question of illustrations,Edmond's book has some so does Graves' memoir.So it could be that the

binding is the red herring,will let you know if i locate it though.

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Thank you blackmaria for your really interesting reply. I was really hoping someone would recognize something in what I hopefully remembered

The book had a stamp from Fort Huachuca, which is an old US Army Base near the Mexico Border, SE of Tucson. I now wonder if this was a privately published book and a copy just happened to end-up at Fort Huachuca.

Oh well, I look forward to hearing anymore you may find out.

Thank you

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That anecdote about the breeze in their hair is fairly distinctive - might be worth searching for the words near each other in Google Books.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Khaki may be correct. I have just started reading 'Fire-eater' by Captain A.O. Pollard VC, MC, DCM of the HAC's infantry battalions. It is a paper-back edition, republished by Naval & Military Press from what must have been a 1920s or 1930s original. The first publisher's details are not shown.

The author served in the ranks of his battalion, rose to sergeant was then commissioned.

ISBN 1-845742-55-9.

I will look out for the' breeze in their hair.'

D

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It was published in 1932,i have a second impression copy(same year),it has Red binding, but it also has twenty seven illustrations and is quite a large book.

Still,it may be the elusive title,i hope so.

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There are descriptions of excursions into no man's land and encounters with corpses. Another adventure finds the author and his party suspecting enemy movement nearby, which turns out to be tall grasses waving in the wind which had 'supplied the illusion of men moving to and fro'. The suspected machine gun was an uprooted post lying across the parapet.

Altogether a good account, but not exactly as you remembered, unless I have missed the right passage.

D

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The sentiment is very reminiscent of Remarque, but that would mean the basic premise of the OPs question is incorrect. My first reaction (after All Quiet) was it also sounds like a description of scenes from The Middle Parts of Fortune (1929) by Frederick Manning. It has a red cover, but is an enormous 2v novel (an electronic version is available free from Project Gutenburg). To be honest there were so many memoirs published by the end of the thirties that it will probably be very difficult to track down from fragments of possible memory. The only other tome that springs to mind as I type is "Stand To": A Diary of the Trenches 1915-1918" Also a red-cover offering, first published in 1936 and penned by Captain F.C. Hitchcock MC. Definitely the right level of detail and full of examples interesting examples of how humans can be removed from the gene pool!

Incidentally, Middle Parts provides my second favourite literary quote concerning the Great War, viz. Jakes: "There's too much f***in' artillery in this bloody war...You don't get no sleep." (my censorship).

Good luck with the quest!

Cheers,

Simon

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Thank you Daggers and Simon for your observations. We may not have it yet but I feel the seed has been planted to finally identify this book.

As seaJane mentioned earlier, the anecdote of the breeze blowing the hair of the dead is very distinctive and has stayed with me all these years for instant recall.

Keeping my fingers crossed! :-)

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