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Remembered Today:

A NOVEL DIARY


David Filsell
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Pompey was kind enough to send me a review copy of his book after he posted about it. Herewith copy of my review for Stand To!

A NOVEL DIARY

T J Budd

A Sunny August to a Wet Easter: Royal Marine Light Infantry 1914-1916, Publish Nation, London, 389pp. 13 ills. ISBN 978-1-291-71762-4

Wartime diaries, personal accounts and diaries? Like me you probably have quite a number. Some good, some worthwhile and others you just have not got round to getting rid of. A Sunny August Bank Holiday to a West Easter: Royal Marine Light Infantry 1914 -16 meets none of the above criteria. Indeed I dont think that I have quite read its like before.

This is a fact-based recreation of an unwritten diary. It has been written and published as a memorial to the authors grandfather, Raymond Loveridge, and to all who served in the Portsmouth Battalion of the RMLI. After my initial concerns about the author/diarist concept,it proved a worthwhile piece of work; a fascinating fact based, imagined and deeply researched, overview of the experiences of the author and his comrades in actions in Antwerp the Dardanelles and in the Dublin rebellion of 1916.

That said, within a chapter or so it occurred to me that not only was the work of a literate author; many in the ranks were. But it was also the writing of a man with a far greater knowledge of local and international events than the average Great War private soldier diarist, or even a junior officer, constrained by the reality of his own s war on the front line. As most diaries firmly underline the average soldier barely knew what was happening 100 yards along the line, let alone in the real world beyond the trenches. It is this reality which makes many of the more recently published diaries so often relatively valueless,

But of course there is another imagined reality. If our soundly educated hero kept the typical slim diary like many soldiers throughout the war, and his family had retained his letters, he may well have re-written his abbreviated account and added material that he learned after his return. And this is not a great leap of fait. Many of the diaries in own collection of were published after the Armistice,. Revision, amendment and addition were commonplace amongst diarists.

I found the device of the diary fascinating and bold. Whilst I am no expert on the Dardanelles, the account of Rays service there rang true; that of Antwerp equally and Dublin equally so. Yes, I would raise some queries of the author, but old diarists forget, they too get things wrong. Above all the device of the diary is and effective. Means of recreating Rays war. Strongly recommended.

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Hi David,

Thanks for the review it has been good to get an impartial response as friends and family can be too positive and not critical enough.

I started to write my grandfather's wartime experiences and that of Portsmouth Bn down in chronological order and after 40 pages or so decided it had the makings of a book. I was not sure how it was going to pan out and it started off as a history of the RMLI, but ended up as a personal diary. I decided to wander of at a tangent to give a more overall view of life at that time after following some of the men who were transferred out of the battalion ie those on HMS Kent.

I have also started the follow up book 'A tragic summer to a Hopeful Spring (RMLI 1916-1918)' with a third planned to cover the final months of the war and the actions in Russia. Ray will still be the author of the diary in the trenches, although in reality at this time he was on HMS Renown.

Thanks again for the review and I hope you will be interested in the second book, when I get time to finish it!

Best regards

Pompey

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Haven't read the book but like the idea of using the diary format. I have written several family histories and it is always a problem to decide on a format that will be interesting. I mainly write for family as a way of recording the genealogy research I have spent years (and much money) on and I don't want all that to be wasted. I always urge members of family history groups that I belong to to do the same, but many are put off because they think that it is too hard. I will recommend the "novel diary" approach to them in future, so thanks for that. I am close to finishing the story of my wife's grandfather who died 3 Ypres, so it is too late for that. If I live long enough, once I get the rest of the stories out of the way, I may come back to that and try the diary approach.

Cheers. Ed

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I though it worked well as a method ,not least a post event decision to edit offers the opportunity to explore all kind of other news and events and put a life in context.

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Ed / David

The diary format worked well for me and made keeping track of the battalion and the men very easy. But I did find that as I did a day by day diary there were occasions where there was little or no information on that day's events in the brigade war diary and I had to go to other battalion diaries to create a believable storyline. This is also why there is a broader view of other major events happing at that time, as well as to give the reader a great feel for life in general in the early years of the war.

Regards

Pompey

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Pompey, I know what you mean about the virtual gaps in some of the war diaries. I have read 3/4 all different but there are the days when nothing happened as far as the Adj. Was concerned. "Companies at disposal of Coy Cmdrs". Doing what we ask ?

Having said that, did you think it imperative to have an entry for every day ? Most diaries have gaps in them, don't they, for all kinds of reasons and it would be quite natural. Nonetheless, you have completed your book and no doubt you are glad of that without thinking too much of what you may have written differently.

Regards. Ed

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Ed,

I would say it is not imperative to have an entry for every day, but I decided that I would as my grandfather was quite meticulous in almost everything he did and he would have not missed a day. It is reasonable to group days together as found in many unit diaries or even weeks if you are covering a long time period.

One of the big benefits of the diary format it is easy to add or remove information without necessary effecting the overall flow of the narrative.

Regards

Pompey

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi All,

If you fancy spending a pound and starting off the new year with an addition to your kindle collection the kindle version of 'A Sunny August Bank Holiday To A Wet Easter' will be on offer from 0800 1st Jan for a week at just 99p on Amazon.

Best regards

Pompey

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  • 3 years later...

Hi All, 

the kindle version of 'A Sunny August Bank Holiday To A Wet Easter' on Amazon will be Free from 0800 24th Dec to 0800 Friday 28th December

God Jul och Gott Nytt År från Sverige (Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Sweden)

 

Best regards

Pompey

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