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What WW1 books are you reading?

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Waddell

Not strictly a First World War book, but one with some relevance. I recently read “An Austin Anthology” by James Stringer which is a collection of stories about Herbert Austin and his motorcars during the period of 1906 till the Second World War. The book’s Foreword was written by Bob Wyatt, whose passing was mentioned on the forum recently and who had some influence upon the author.

 

There is an interesting story on the Austin Whippet biplane which they built just after the war from experienced gained whilst producing RE8’s and SE5a’s. Not a commercial success but interesting. They had also built a small biplane with the input of Albert Ball during the war. Ball’s father had been on the Board of Directors of the Austin Motor Company, hence the connection.

 

Another story concerns a 1907 Austin touring car that raced at Brooklands before being re-bodied as an ambulance. It served in the Vosges before returning to England. Herbert Austin’s son Vernon is featured in another story. He had competed in an Austin 20 at the 1914 Alpine Trial during June of that year quite successfully. By August of 1914 he was training as an officer with the Royal Artillery at Bulford and late in January 1915 he was killed by a snipers bullet on the Western Front. Herbert brought Vernon’s body home where he was buried at Canterbury Cathedral. The author doesn't really go any further but it would have been interesting to know how great an effect their only son's loss had on the family.

 

Light reading but an interesting collection of short stories.

 

Scott

 

 

Austin Anthology.JPG

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Snakebit12

In my early 60's and catching up on my WW 1 education (which was barely covered in my traditional US education).

 

I prefer audiobooks (that entertain me while mowing grass 6 hours per week) to reading (which puts me to sleep).

 

Just finished:

  • A German Deserter's War Experience - It was OK but I'm not sure about its authenticity...which is natural when the author remains anonymous.
  • Now It Can Be Told - Excellent story by a war corespondent embedded in the British Army that offers a different perspective as an "outsider".  It is a classic and rightfully so.
  • Over the Top - I posted this message (my 1st one) because I really, really enjoyed this one.  A fascinating story that morphed from humor in the beginning to horror at the end.  The reader is very good.  I was sad when he was seriously wounded because (1) I liked him and (2) it meant that he was sent home, effectively ending the story.  Selfishly, I wanted it to go on longer.

Not a book but I also enjoyed Dan Carlin's 6-part podcast series on WW 1 - Blueprint For Armageddon..  At 25+ hours, it eats up alot of mowing time.

Edited by Snakebit12

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Dust Jacket Collector
2 hours ago, Snakebit12 said:

 

  • Over the Top - I posted this message (my 1st one) because I really, really enjoyed this one.  A fascinating story that morphed from humor in the beginning to horror at the end.  The reader is very good.  I was sad when he was seriously wounded because (1) I liked him and (2) it meant that he was sent home, effectively ending the story.  Selfishly, I wanted it to go on longer.

If the ‘Over The Top’ book you mention is that by Arthur Guy Empey then he wrote a follow-up book called ‘First Call’. Over the Top was published in the UK as ‘From the Fire-Step’.

 

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The Scorer

"Herbert Austin’s son Vernon is featured in another story. He had competed in an Austin 20 at the 1914 Alpine Trial during June of that year quite successfully. By August of 1914 he was training as an officer with the Royal Artillery at Bulford and late in January 1915 he was killed by a snipers bullet on the Western Front. Herbert brought Vernon’s body home where he was buried at Canterbury Cathedral."

 

Is there any proof that Vernon Austin's body was brought back to the UK and buried here?

 

The CWGC records confirm that he's buried in the cathedral churchyard, but there's no mention of where he died. I would have thought that the practice of bring bodies home had been stopped by then, so would be have been brought home seriously wounded and died in a hospital in the Canterbury area instead?

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David Filsell

With reference to A German Deserter's War Experience, in my opinion was almost certainly part of the early British propaganda campaign

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kenf48
3 hours ago, The Scorer said:

"Herbert Austin’s son Vernon is featured in another story. He had competed in an Austin 20 at the 1914 Alpine Trial during June of that year quite successfully. By August of 1914 he was training as an officer with the Royal Artillery at Bulford and late in January 1915 he was killed by a snipers bullet on the Western Front. Herbert brought Vernon’s body home where he was buried at Canterbury Cathedral."

 

Is there any proof that Vernon Austin's body was brought back to the UK and buried here?

 

The CWGC records confirm that he's buried in the cathedral churchyard, but there's no mention of where he died. I would have thought that the practice of bring bodies home had been stopped by then, so would be have been brought home seriously wounded and died in a hospital in the Canterbury area instead?

 

 

Lieutenant Vernon James Austin was killed in action at La Bassee on January 26th 1915. From France the body was brought to Folkestone where it was met by Messrs Hunt and Sons who conveyed it to Canterbury by motor hearse for internment at the wish of the father of the deceased in St Martin's Churchyard.  The cortege arrived at Canterbury Cathedral at 3p.m. on Saturday 6th February and the coffin placed in Holy Innocents Chapel.  It was met by the Rev Canon Mason and the Rev Dr McDowall, the headmaster of King's School and a gugurd of honour from the King's School OTC.  A short service was held at which his father and a few personal friends were present.  The funeral took place on the following Monday afternoon, and the deceased was accorded full military honours.

 

Lieut. Austin had served in the King's College OTC.  Described as an exceedingly popular and enterprising officer he was promoted to commission in the Special Army Reserve in January 1912 and became a second lieutenant in the RFA Special Reserve. He was serving in 22nd Battery 34th Brigade RFA (attached to the 2nd Division) when killed, aged 21. He was mobilised with the Brigade and went to France with the BEF on the outbreak of war. 

 

(Source contemporary newspaper reports).

 

The controversy over bringing home the war dead was not resolved until March 1915, and the principle of equality of sacrifice was not established until the formation of the IWGC which promoted the principle at their inaugural meeting in November 1917.  

 

Ken

 

 

 

 

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Waddell
7 hours ago, The Scorer said:

The CWGC records confirm that he's buried in the cathedral churchyard, but there's no mention of where he died. I would have thought that the practice of bring bodies home had been stopped by then, so would be have been brought home seriously wounded and died in a hospital in the Canterbury area instead?

 

There is an interesting sentence in the book regarding the return of Vernon's body- 'It is widely believed that in this respect he was aided by Harvey Du Cros, who made arrangements for the body to be transported home in one of the packing cases used to carry spare vehicle parts, namely, rear axles".

 

I imagine Herbert Austin had some friends with influence and indeed Austins were working on the armoured cars at that stage.

 

Scott

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Snakebit12
On 11/07/2019 at 12:49, Dust Jacket Collector said:

If the ‘Over The Top’ book you mention is that by Arthur Guy Empey then he wrote a follow-up book called ‘First Call’. Over the Top was published in the UK as ‘From the Fire-Step’.

 

 

One in the same.  I wasn't expecting that from a LibriVox recording.  I'm sure that some of it is propaganda like the story about Lloyd from Company D.  No possible witnesses survived to tell the story.

 

I will have to find the follow-up.

 

Thanks for sharing.

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Maureene
3 hours ago, Snakebit12 said:

 

I will have to find the follow-up.

 

Available online

Tales from a Dugout by Arthur Guy Empey 1918 Archive.org.

First Call: Guide Posts to Berlin by Arthur Guy Empey 1918. A guide for new recruits into the American Army, and their families.

 

Cheers

Maureen

 
 

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MikeyH

For my recent birthday, my daughter found me a virtually pristine copy of 'Fifty Amazing Stories of the Great War', published in 1936.

This in a red binding rather than the more customary black, why the colour differential, anyone know?

 

Mike.

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Black Maria
6 hours ago, MikeyH said:

For my recent birthday, my daughter found me a virtually pristine copy of 'Fifty Amazing Stories of the Great War', published in 1936.

This in a red binding rather than the more customary black, why the colour differential, anyone know?

 

Mike.

My copy is also in the red binding , gold titles with red decorative endpapers and red top head . Although it doesn't have the motif on the front board and

spine like the black ones I think it looks more of a deluxe edition , I don't know if it was more expensive to buy at the time however .

Edited by Black Maria

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MikeyH
3 hours ago, Black Maria said:

My copy is also in the red binding , gold titles with red decorative endpapers and red top head . Although it doesn't have the motif on the front board and

spine like the black ones I think it looks more of a deluxe edition , I don't know if it was more expensive to buy at the time however .

 

Yes, mine is exactly as described, it does have the look of an upmarket version.

 

Mike.

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seaJane

About to start Kif: an unvarnished history by Gordon Daviot (aka Josephine Tey, pseudonyms of Elizabeth Mackintosh).

 

I read it once years ago, before I was really interested in the GW and can't recall, now, why I didn't keep the second-hand copy I had picked up for 10p or so.

 

 

Edited by seaJane

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The Scorer

To Kenf48 and Waddell: Thanks for clearing that up for me - and my apologies for the delay in replying.

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