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John_Hartley

"Other Ranks" by W V Tilsley

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John_Hartley

Are you sitting comfortably? Then let me tell you a true story.....

This evening we've been visiting a relative in hospital. By way of compensation for my exceptional bravery in volunteering to go (it is one of herself's relatives, not one of mine), herself said "Let's go to that gastropub for dinner".

So we did. Never been before. It's a converted sleazepit that's gone upmarket. You know the sort of place -old prints on the wall, bookshelves full of old books that they've bought off a junk shop.

As we sit down, Mrs H points to the framed picture above my head. A soldier in the uniform of the RAMC. Bit of a coincidence, particularly as we are about to discuss the niece's forthcoming school trip to Ieper.

Nice food then arrives. Later I have to visit the gents (as you do - even in a South Manchester gastropub). When I come back, herself is reading one of the books and says "Look at this. Just picked it off the shelf"

And it's the book in the thread title. I've never heard of it but we realise it must be Great War related. A quick flick through confirms it seems to be some form of fictionalised account. I put the book down. Then pick it up again. It falls open at Page 86 and I read "He walked next day to the trenches he believed the Manchesters attacked from on July 1st". Tom Brough (in my signature) did just that at Montauban).

So I said to the waiter "Any chance of you asking the boss if I can buy this book". I get a very strange look and am asked "Why". In the tone that young waiters sometimes have. "I'm interested in the First World War", I replied. There's another strange look (you'll be familiar with that one from every time you mention your interest in the War) and "I'll ask". 5 minutes later, he's back.. The boss is happy for me to take it and there's no charge as they get the books free.

So here it sits - already on the "waiting to be read" shelf. It's signed by the author. But do any Pals know the book? Am I in for a good read.

John

(By the way, there's no such thing as a free book - this was dearer food than your average pub grub, but nicer)

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Kate Wills

A similar thing happened to us in the Moon on the Square, which is a W'spoons on Northampton Market. Before it was revamped, it too had one wall lined with old books, which attract us like moths around a lightbulb. I chanced on HG Wells' 'Mr Britling Sees it Through' and during lunch asked an assistant if it would be possible to buy it from them. They were happy to oblige, and said any money taken this way would be donated to charity.

Good news all round.

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healdav

We have a café - and I think there is a small chain of them in France - where you buy your drink and food and can have a read of the books lining the wall and buy what you want.

Seems a good idea to me. The books are both old and new.

Some years ago I was at Hay on Wye (only time I've been there) and was in the converted cinema looking around when something on a shelf of coffee table books caught my eye. I took a closer look and discovered that it was a set of maps of Luxembourg. When I took it down to look at I discovered that it was three books (maps, commentaries and original descriptions of the villages). Original because the maps are facsimiles of 17th century maps.

I paid my £26 quite happily, put the lot in a well sealed bag (they had been there for years and were so musty it was incredible).

I got the full set of facsimile maps aand if you ever find such a thing (very unlikely) you will have pay well over £1000!

Naturally I have had the maps photcopied so that I don't wear out the originals.

The story is that a full set of maps of the Austro-Hungarian empire was made in the time of Maria Theresa (and excellent maps they are) and in the 1960s a bank had a copy made of the Luxembourg maps for some anniversary. That is what I got.

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Guest DJTILSLEY

....Hello John, I'm familiar with the book and VERY jealous !!!

The author was my great uncle, William Vincent Tilsley. He was one of three brothers who were all published authors. The other two were Fred, my granddad, who served in the RAMC and Frank the youngest of the three (and best known) who went on to serve in the RAF in WWII.

I've been trying to get hold of a copy of 'Other Ranks' for years. Manchester libraries do have a copy, but not for lending. It is fictionalised, but based entirely on William's own war experienced. It is a rare thing and was apparently considered a significant book at the time of publication - don't know if you've noticed, but it has an introduction by Edmund Blunden.

Hope you anjoy the read.

If you ever want to sell it, I'd be happy to more than cover the cost of your meal....

David Tilsley

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John_Hartley

David

Welcome to the Forum. I think I can help you out here.

You will find a copy for sale on AbeBooks. It's a bargain price for a family member. You must tell us when you've bought it.

I'm afraid my copy won't be available for sale for a while. And when it does, it'll be more than the cost of pub meal. Even a posh gastro-pub

;)

John

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Guest DJTILSLEY

Thanks for the tip.....staggered at the price....I'll have to start saving...!

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ian turner

John,

The more you think about it, the more you might conclude that the book finds you, and not necessarily the other way around!

Ian

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John_Hartley

And the potential buyers, Ian.

John

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neglectedbooks

I'm a great admirer of "Other Ranks," which I consider one of the finest and truest accounts of the Great War. I recently added a page on it to my Neglected Books website:

http://www.neglectedbooks.com/otherranks.html

Mine is only a photocopy, but if you are interested in having a copy of it mailed to you, let me know.

Brad Bigelow

editor@neglectedbooks.com

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John_Hartley

Well, six years on, it's time for a bit of an update.

In the end, I did sell my copy to David Tilsley. It cost him less than the one I'd pointed out on Abebooks - but it also paid for more than one gastropub meal.

Now, as to the reason for mentioning this today. I'm a member of my local group of the University of the Third Age (the self-help group for retirees who still have most of their chairs at home). A couple of meetings back, I gave the monthly talk - "The men on the war memorial". Chatting afterwards, woman says she has a WW1 book written by her uncle. She brings it today's group - and, yep, it's Other Ranks.

So, co-incidence or what? Highly prized rare book that no-one has a copy of. And two copies have now sat in my grubby hands. Apparently Tilsley kept a diary through the war and that forms the basis of the book. And, no. I have no idea where it is now. And, yes, of course I asked her.

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BottsGreys

John:

Great story. Any idea of what the total number printed was?

Chris

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John_Hartley

No idea, Chris, although I guess it must have been a small run - although published by what I assume to be a "proper" publishing house.

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Black Maria

Reading this thread encouraged me to read my own copy of "Other Ranks" which has lain unread on my book shelves for quite a few years i'm ashamed to say.Now having read it i must agree it is a neglected classic that deserves to stand along side such books as "Old Soldiers never Die" and "The Middle parts of fortune".It tells the story of an ordinary ranker in the North Lancs from his bloody baptism of fire on the Somme in the Autumn of 1916 through to his wounding during the Third battle of Ypres in the Autumn of 1917.It makes you realise what the P.B.I had to endure and why so many of them refused to speak of their experiences on their return.It also reminds you that there were also many soldiers behind the lines out of the reach of the guns who were having quite a cushy war at the base camps(a subject that Frank Richards also comments on in his book).Those at the top don't make a great impression on the ordinary tommy either,the main character Bradshaw writes in his diary as he is being transported back home after being wounded" The older men who use,and misuse,us cannot realise we haven't lived,that our lives are precious to us,and when once lost are irretrievable.They have had theirs in fullness and plenty,and will live on after this is over".

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Kate Wills

Reading this thread encouraged me to read my own copy of "Other Ranks" ...Now having read it i must agree it is a neglected classic that deserves to stand along side such books as "Old Soldiers never Die" and "The Middle parts of fortune"....

Praise indeed!

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Dust Jacket Collector

I thought you might like to see an image of the original edition. The use of typography to simulate ranks of soldiers is rather striking.

post-35362-0-21529600-1365705475_thumb.j

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Ian Riley

Dust Jacket Collector,

Thanks; I have seen the book before but not the jacket. Very striking.

Ian

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Black Maria

It is a superb jacket,for a superb book.They produced some great art deco influenced dust jackets in the thirties,it's a shame that most were thrown away

or have been lost.I wish that the jacket design of modern books were as good and also the paper quality !

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David Filsell

A small joy. W V Tilsley's Other Ranks has just been republished by Unicorn. It enjoys virtually the same dust jacket as the 1931 edition, the superb Edmund Blundon preface and valuable comment by Gaye Magnall, who has done much research discovered the real names of many of the those Tilsley wrote about. Often called a forgotten classic, this new hardback edition at £14.99 is well worth reading. 

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bradley

Great reading this thread,Il now go and have a look at the book.
Lovely stuff.

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Michelle Young

Just ordered a copy .

 

Michelle 

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David Filsell

As bloody annoying waiting staff will say , "Enjoy". To which the obvious reply must always be, "I,l make my own min up about that thank you. If really hacked off you should add, "Afterall your tip depends on it".

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Dust Jacket Collector

Gaye Magnall sent me a copy and it really is a super production. Fresh information on Tilsley and also the two dedicatees of the original book.

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David Filsell

As a bonus Books etc are offering at £9.18. A bargain.  Must be the cheapest new hardback book in England! The Blundon introduction - from the first edition - is a terrific analysis of the book. My understanding is that it was first published in 1931. Can any one confirm this and the original publisher please?

Regards

David

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Jim Clay
21 minutes ago, David Filsell said:

As a bonus Books etc are offering at £9.18. A bargain.  Must be the cheapest new hardback book in England! The Blundon introduction - from the first edition - is a terrific analysis of the book. My understanding is that it was first published in 1931. Can any one confirm this and the original publisher please?

Regards

David

 David, this site confirms the 1931 date and names the original publisher: 

 

https://neglectedbooks.com/?p=33

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David Filsell

Apologies. Forget last question. It was published in 1931 in London by R Cobden-Sanderson who, apparently also publiished Blunden's  Undertones of War in 1928 as well as four other books by him. Thus I suppose Blunden was judged the right man for the job. I'm struggling to find an contemporary review of Other Ranks. Any pointers gratefully receives.

Regards

David

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