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Remembered Today:

An ominous echo from the past


Dust Jacket Collector

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Dust Jacket Collector

Well, we’ve passed the first one, doing the best we can with the second & let’s hope we don’t make it to the third.5E9ECC2C-C934-41FD-9072-67935FDDFF35.jpeg.3c96b619214d4cf1af732d591c4299a1.jpeg

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ilkley remembers

The description of the side effects of vaccination might, however, make uncomfortable reading.

 

Read the First Hundred Thousand online a couple of weekends ago and thought it quite accomplished; giving a cheerful reality to the life of the Kitchener battalions in the early part of the war. Something of a contrast to 'Sapper' and his description of life in the regulars in  'Sgt Michael Cassidy RE'. I suppose that both authors are part of the 'instant history' genre that was popular throughout the war. Hays book probably brought some comfort to families of  men who had volunteered giving as it does a good humoured picture of army life. He certainly seems to have had the knack of being able to see and describe soldiering in the best possible light. 

 

By way of comparison to these accomplished authors I read a couple of Captain F S Brereton offerings written at about the same time, 'under French's Command' and 'With French at the Front' whose style really hasn't stood the test of time.

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Dust Jacket Collector

It’s often said that many of these authors, Sapper, Hay, Buchan etc., were popular with the soldiers at the front and that’s taken as evidence of their authenticity. Frankly I suspect they were read purely as escapism. Anything to get away from the trenches for a few moments.

I must get round to reading these now.

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David Filsell

DJC

Aninteresting point. Whilst read at the front, I think the homeland was the real market. All were sound authors. All sold well. I once tried researching Sapper, who I think was the best of the three, trying to find information on his wartime service. I was unsuccessful. If anyone has details of his service on the Western Front I would be delighted to know about them

Regards

Davud

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1 hour ago, David Filsell said:

DJC

 I once tried researching Sapper, who I think was the best of the three, trying to find information on his wartime service. I was unsuccessful. If anyone has details of his service on the Western Front I would be delighted to know about them

 

From the following article  ‘Sapper’ : From Realism to Melodrama by George Simmers

https://greatwarfiction.wordpress.com/sapper-from-realism-to-melodrama/

Who was ‘Sapper’?

He was born Herman Cyril McNeile, in 1888. He began his military career at the Royal Military Arsenal in Woolwich in 1905, and became an officer in the Royal Engineers in 1907. He had therefore been a regular officer for seven years before going to France as a subaltern in 1914. He earned a Military Cross during the Second Battle of Ypres in 1915, in which he was gassed. Later he would fight in the battle of Loos, and on the Somme in 1916. 

 

 

Cheers

Maureen

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9 hours ago, Dust Jacket Collector said:

I must get round to reading these now.

 

You could have one of them read to you: A 2009 reading by Julian Rhind-Tutt of Sapper's Bulldog Drummond is available on BBC Sounds in six 30 minute episodes https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/series/b00nnrh6 but, be quick, the first disappears in just 8 days time, with the following episodes doing the same on successive days.  

 

NigelS

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  • 3 weeks later...
David Filsell

Maureen 

Thats about  as far as I got. It was the who's, what's, when's, and where's of his service during WW1 I got totally stuck

Apologies for the delay in replying.

regards

David

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A Lancashire Fusilier by Proxy
On 01/02/2021 at 15:55, Dust Jacket Collector said:

t’s often said that many of these authors, Sapper, Hay, Buchan etc., were popular with the soldiers at the front and that’s taken as evidence of their authenticity. Frankly I suspect they were read purely as escapism. Anything to get away from the trenches for a few moments.

I must get round to reading these now.

A word from someone 'who was there', as they say ....

Writing in 1919 onwards of his wartime experiences, and describing life in the trenches near Aveluy in October/November 1915 (about 5 months after the 2/5th LF arrived in France, so the routine of the trenches was thoroughly familiar) my grandfather writes:

… things had settled down to an “unexhilarating but salutary routine”, as Ian Hay describes it in his book The First Hundred Thousand; he sums up the life exactly under the heading The Trivial Round. Each dawn and evening we 'stood to arms' and peered morosely over the parapet watching the distant trench line grow more plainly visible and gradually fade away into the night. In between was the monotony of cleaning rifles, of ration parties, of working parties etc. [N.B. This last sentence is, like the 4 words in double quotation marks, also essentially a quote from Ian Hay, but paraphrased].

I can’t know whether my grandfather read Ian Hay’s First Hundred Thousand (published in 1916) during the war or after it. No doubt he would have found it amusing whichever it was, and also a welcome distraction if the former. But from what he says above it obviously also rang true for him. Perhaps not surprising, as it’s not unusual for things to be both funny and true – perhaps funny because they are true – as witness Bruce Bairnsfather’s cartoons.

Incidentally, while on the subject of Bruce Bairnsfather,  I would have quite liked it if, as well as citing the above passage from Ian Hay, my grandfather had also pasted this cartoon of Bairnsfather’s –making a similar point –   into his diary - it captures so well the essence of the section of his diary where they are manning the trenches with just an occasional adrenalin-filled raid into No Man's Land!

 

image.png.5b60bced03a0562b526f5eef7316e867.png

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ilkley remembers

Ian Hay was the pen name of John Hay Beith who had begun his writing career before the war whilst still a teacher. According to Wiki he enlisted into the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders and wrote the First 100.000 etc whilst serving with his battalion. I think that the success of his novels must have come to the attention if the Ministry of Information and he was plucked from the ranks and sent off to Washington work for the information Bureau of the British war Mission ending up with the rank of Major and a CBE. I presume that his orbit must have been influenced by both Charles Masterman and John Buchan. In WW2 he was recalled from the retired list and ended up as a Major General. His literary output was quite substantial, although, judging from examples on Guttenberg and Archive, rather variable in quality

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A Lancashire Fusilier by Proxy

In the context of editing my grandad's diary I searched Ian Hay on the forum, and came up with quite a few references. I found this thread particularly interesting:

 Ian Hay (Major General John Hay Beith) - Soldiers and their units - Great War Forum

It even gives a link to how to download the books from the internet, but as they are still in copyright on this side of the Atlantic (for another year or two) I refrained. 

I have just acquired a paper copy of The First Hundred Thousand from Oxfam online - not one of those sought-after first editions I'm afraid!

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Ron Clifton
On 02/02/2021 at 01:47, NigelS said:

 

You could have one of them read to you: A 2009 reading by Julian Rhind-Tutt of Sapper's Bulldog Drummond is available on BBC Sounds in six 30 minute episodes https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/series/b00nnrh6 but, be quick, the first disappears in just 8 days time, with the following episodes doing the same on successive days.  

 

NigelS

I listened to those broadcasts, too. There are four books in the Drummond series and I hope to see them available on Radio 4 Extra soon. Failing that, I have an omnibus edition somewhere, as I do of the Richard Hannay stories.

 

I am currently re-reading the Christopher Fowler "Bryant and May" novels, but they are off-topic, I think.

 

Ron

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Dust Jacket Collector
13 hours ago, Ron Clifton said:

I listened to those broadcasts, too. There are four books in the Drummond series and I hope to see them available on Radio 4 Extra soon. Failing that, I have an omnibus edition somewhere, as I do of the Richard Hannay stories.

 

I am currently re-reading the Christopher Fowler "Bryant and May" novels, but they are off-topic, I think.

 

Ron

Actually,Sapper went on to write 10 Drummond books, a series which was continued after his death by Gerald Fairlie.

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