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Remembered Today:

What WW1 books are you reading?


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On 30/10/2020 at 17:11, David Ridgus said:

There is another recently published 'A Battle too far: Arras 1917' by Don Farr. 

I haven't read it but it will need to go some to better Cheerful Sacrifice which is an absolute belter.

 

David

 

On 30/10/2020 at 17:55, Fattyowls said:

 

I agree. There is only one dodgy sentence in the whole book; the rest of it reads really well.

 

Pete.

 

Re: Cheerful Sacrifice by Jonathan Nicholls -  I've nearly finished and I'd just like to confirm that David and Pete were right. It's a great book. Very well written, ENJOYABLE to read, and describes actions and bravery that should make us all feel rather grateful we have not been asked to do the same thing for our country.

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I've just finished reading 'A Lancashire Fusilier's First World War' the war diary of Captain Norman Hall edited by his granddaughter Patricia Rothwell . 

He was an officer in the 2/5 and later 1/5 Lancs Fus and served with them on the Western Front from 1915 -18 ( less a few months when wounded ) .

It really is a splendid book , Norman's diary is very detailed ( compiled shortly after the war ) and Patricia's detailed footnotes are extremely useful .

His account of the Somme battles in which his company was decimated really bring home what a devastating campaign that was for the battalions

which were thrown into the maelstrom . One interesting point i noticed which was not included in the footnotes was the mention of Captain J.G Dill

on p157 who later became a field marshal and C.I.G.S in WW2 .

 

 

 

 

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A Lancashire Fusilier by Proxy
On 05/12/2020 at 18:29, Black Maria said:

I've just finished reading 'A Lancashire Fusilier's First World War' the war diary of Captain Norman Hall edited by his granddaughter Patricia Rothwell . 

Thank you, Black Maria. I am glad that you enjoyed the book. Thank you also for the information about Captain J.G. Dill, of which I was unaware. I’m afraid that this will be only one of many examples of information that I could have included in the footnotes, if I had but known it.  I am very glad, however, that you found the information which I did include to be useful.

 

My main objective in bringing out the book was to make my grandfather’s record accessible to as many people as possible. I did read around the subject to some extent, for example using the CWGC website, and information contained in school memorials/rolls of honour; inevitably - and also fittingly - it is always easier to find information about those who did not survive than about those who did. I also referred to relevant War Diaries downloaded from the National Archives (being very grateful that these have been free to download since lockdown commenced), and was lucky enough to acquire a signed copy of Major General J.C. Latter’s The History of the Lancashire Fusiliers 1914-1918. Whenever I found anything that interested me in any of these sources, I added it in a footnote.

 

I was also able to glean useful information from the LLT website, and I had some invaluable help as a result of queries raised on this Forum.

 

In the end, however, I had to strike a balance between making my grandfather’s diary accessible to a wider readership within a reasonable timescale, and ensuring that the footnotes included as much information as I could possibly discover, so I did not thoroughly research every individual whom my grandfather mentions (there are about 400 individuals named in the published version alone), So Captain J.G. Dill’s later career slipped through the net, I’m afraid.

 

One piece of information which I am particularly sad did not come to my attention in time to be included in the book is the last letter written to his father by Lieutenant E.H. McVicker, https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/284795-lieutenant-edgar-harold-mcvicker-ramc/?tab=comments#comment-2931344

 

The letter inlcuded the following:

 

It is awfully hard to write this letter, but I think it best for some way or other I have the feeling that I will not come out alive. It is a funny feeling, but in no way does it deter me from wanting to go into action with my regiment. If I am killed you will know that I died doing my duty to the best of my ability, and never shirking what I saw was my duty.

 

 

I already had great respect for Lieutenant MckVicker, and sadness for his loss, before I knew of the letter, but both have increased tenfold since I learned of it.

 

In the unlikely event of there ever being a re-print of my grandfather’s book, this letter will certainly be included in the footnotes. 

So will your information, Black Maria, concerning Captain J.G. Dill. At least it is now included here on this Forum.

 

Tricia Rothwell, aka A Lancashire Fusilier by Proxy

Edited by A Lancashire Fusilier by Proxy
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25 minutes ago, A Lancashire Fusilier by Proxy said:

Thank you, Black Maria. I am glad that you enjoyed the book. Thank you also for the information about Captain J.G. Dill, of which I was unaware. I’m afraid that this will be only one of many examples of information that I could have included in the footnotes, if I had but known it.  I am very glad, however, that you found the information which I did include to be useful.

 

My main objective in bringing out the book was to make my grandfather’s record accessible to as many people as possible. I did read around the subject to some extent, for example using the CWGC website, and information contained in school memorials/rolls of honour; inevitably - and also fittingly - it is always easier to find information about those who did not survive than about those who did. I also referred to relevant War Diaries downloaded from the National Archives (being very grateful that these have been free to download since lockdown commenced), and was lucky enough to acquire a signed copy of Major General J.C. Latter’s The History of the Lancashire Fusiliers 1914-1918. Whenever I found anything that interested me in any of these sources, I added it in a footnote.

What i really liked about your footnotes was that when a name was mentioned you reiterated where that person had previously appeared in the diary . Often

when reading a diary or memoir i have to go back and see again where that person appeared , having forgotten how they tied in with the narrative , especially

when lots of names are mentioned . The death of Lieutenant McVicker must certainly have been another blow for your grandfather , i really can't begin to understand

how he found the strength to endure what he went through , especially when many of his fellow officers and men were cracking under the strain . McVicker like Lieut

S.L Moffatt (and his brother) seems to have had a premonition about his death , this is a theme that seems often to be repeated in men's memoirs , even your grandfather 

had a feeling something would happen to him ( not death ) in the action where he was wounded .

 

One other thing that i happened to pick up on was when your grandfather had his wallet taken when he was wounded and wrote " the R.A.M.C kept up their reputation".

I assume he meant that they were sticking by their reputation among soldiers that their acronym stood for ' Rob All My Comrades ' :)

 

Thank you for allowing us to read your grandfather's diary and for all the effort you put into the book , he certainly was a very brave and resilient man . 

 

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Just went for some "lighter" lecture this week, just as bedside book during the "joint" week...

Colonels Robinson will probably laugh their head off now, but we're doing a SoSa and CoG analysis IN DISTANT LEARNING, via SKYPE with one guy having had a one hour crash course in Topfas... heeeeeeeeeeelp.... 

 

so to keep a level head, I'm re-reading General Jack's Diary and next up will be John Lucy's "There's a Devil in the Drum". Read that last one really really long time ago... 

 

M.

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1 hour ago, Marilyne said:

I'm re-reading General Jack's Diary

 

I lent my copy to a chum but when you reach James Jack's brilliant description of the 1st July 1916 in front of Ovillers and his passage on sending 2nd Lt. Fraser out with a patrol during the afternoon and think of me and my footballers.......

 

Pete.

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2 hours ago, Fattyowls said:

 

I lent my copy to a chum but when you reach James Jack's brilliant description of the 1st July 1916 in front of Ovillers and his passage on sending 2nd Lt. Fraser out with a patrol during the afternoon and think of me and my footballers.......

 

Pete.

I will... I just arrived at the start of 1916... 

 

 

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A Lancashire Fusilier by Proxy
On 06/12/2020 at 20:33, Black Maria said:

Thank you for allowing us to read your grandfather's diary and for all the effort you put into the book , he certainly was a very brave and resilient man . 

 

Thank you, Black Maria, though it's really my grandad we need to thank for the opportunity to make the book available, and also my cousins, who jointly own the copyright.

I think you are right in your assessment that my grandfather was brave and resilient.

Regarding bravery, he never won any awards, and perhaps does not seem to have been involved at the "sharp end" as often as some of his comrades, possibly because his physique did not best suit him for it (at 5 foot 7¼  inches he weighed only 7st 11lb when he enlisted, and had to take a deep breath to reach the appropriate chest measurement, while a teacher at his old school - who, incidentally, is a member of this Forum - reports that school records show that his greatest sporting achievement in his school career was to come 2nd in the slow bicycle race!). Also, he admits to feeling fear from time to time, normally to say that he was trying to conceal it, but surely anyone who did not feel fear in the circumstances would have been less than human. The significant thing for me as regards his courage is that he does not appear to have shirked anything that came his way, and he actually felt guilty when selected to be "battle surplus" in 1917. Having said that, in 1918 when suffering from trench fever, he does seem to have been grateful that he was selected to supervise some construction works at the hospital, thus possibly justifying his staying away from the front a little longer than might otherwise have been the case, but who can blame him? 

As for resilience, one thing I like about him is that, though he proved to be reasonably resilient himself, he is generally sympathetic to other men who were overcome by nerves in one way or another; there are just two instances where he expresses some impatience with men claiming nervous illness, and in both instances that is because the men in question had not actually seen or experienced any of the real horror of war.

I think that there is an indication that towards the end of the war he wasn't quite as robust mentally as he had been earlier on, as, in an uncharacteristic statement, a propos of nothing in particular that was happening at the time, he says that one day in July 1918 he had "a very bad attack of nerves and seemed to have no confidence - a rotten feeling". I am no psychiatrist, but I do wonder whether we might now regard that as an indication of incipient PTSD? Luckily, soon afterwards his war effectively ended owing to a physical injury, and he was in due course able to re-adjust to a normal civilian life and return to a successful career in his pre-war occupation.

 

 

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27 minutes ago, A Lancashire Fusilier by Proxy said:

 

Thank you, Black Maria, though it's really my grandad we need to thank for the opportunity to make the book available, and also my cousins, who jointly own the copyright.

I think you are right in your assessment that my grandfather was brave and resilient.

Regarding bravery, he never won any awards, and perhaps does not seem to have been involved at the "sharp end" as often as some of his comrades, possibly because his physique 

I think that there is an indication that towards the end of the war he wasn't quite as robust mentally as he had been earlier on, as, in an uncharacteristic statement, a propos of nothing in particular that was happening at the time, he says that one day in July 1918 he had "a very bad attack of nerves and seemed to have no confidence - a rotten feeling". I am no psychiatrist, but I do wonder whether we might now regard that as an indication of incipient PTSD? Luckily, soon afterwards his war effectively ended owing to a physical injury, and he was in due course able to re-adjust to a normal civilian life and return to a successful career in his pre-war occupation.

 

 

Yes , i was surprised he never received an award , especially for his sterling efforts in command of the trench out in no-man's-land and then volunteering to go back

when the officer who replaced him couldn't stand the conditions out there and returned . I wondered if one of the reasons was due to huge number of casualties the 

division suffered during that period on the Somme , maybe those officers who could have recommended awards were themselves killed or wounded . Or maybe the 

action at Guillemont where of his company of 159 men only 27 remained was viewed as a failure by the brass hats so he didn't get the official recognition he deserved .

 

With regards to battle fatigue , i wonder if one of the reasons he was kept out of some of the later actions was that it may have been felt that he had done his bit .

Even when his course was cancelled during the 1918 March offensive the battalion weren't in a hurry to recall him straight away . If he was showing some signs of 

battle fatigue it would hardly to be wondered at given the terrible events he had endured and witnessed on the Somme . The period he spent on the Nieuport sector

in October 1917 under constant shell fire and nightly aerial bombing couldn't have helped much either .

 

One of the things i took from his splendid diary was how men who were before the war doing ordinary jobs were suddenly expected to become military men in 

command of others and all the responsibilities that went with it . Some couldn't rise to the challenge and had to be quietly removed  home 'sick', whilst others 

like your grandfather could rise to it and proved themselves to be courageous and steadfast soldiers when facing the soldier's ultimate test in battle. 

 

 

 

 

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A Lancashire Fusilier by Proxy
7 minutes ago, Black Maria said:

One of the things i took from his splendid diary was how men who were before the war doing ordinary jobs were suddenly expected to become military men in 

command of others and all the responsibilities that went with it . Some couldn't rise to the challenge and had to be quietly removed  home 'sick', whilst others 

like your grandfather could rise to it and proved themselves to be courageous and steadfast soldiers when facing the soldier's ultimate test in battle. 

 

What a lovely tribute to my grandfather, thank you, on his behalf.

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15 minutes ago, A Lancashire Fusilier by Proxy said:

 

What a lovely tribute to my grandfather, thank you, on his behalf.

:poppy:

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Just started ' 1916-18 -a war diary ' by H.M. Adams , an officer in the 2/8 Worcesters . I couldn't quite stretch to the £275 for an original so went 

for the recent hardback reprint from N&MP .

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I have just finished the Battery Press reprint of "Transportation on the Western Front 1914 - 1918" by Henniker.  To say that this is a dull, dry read is like saying the Atlantic Ocean is a bit wide and wet.  If you want to know how to run a steam-locomotive railway in wartime a century ago, in excruciating detail, then this is the book for you.  This is the first book since giving up on "Moby Dick" that I have persisted in completing despite how little I enjoyed it.  If you have read the Official History Of The War in The Mediterranean, and that chapter about the 8th Army's logistical organisation post-Alamein, then this is that level of boring, at much greater length.

On the other hand I am annotating Colonel Fraser-Tytler's "Field Guns In France", which is a fantastic read.  His gung-ho appetite for mayhem, ghoulish humour and technical competence all shine through, alongside incidental details that flesh out knowledge of the battles his brigade was involved with.  

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So pleased Lyn MacDonald has put some of her books on Audible.co.uk.   Just finished The Roses of No Mans Land.  Passchendaele  and The Somme to follow.   I once had the pleasure of dining with Lyn at Zonnebeke on Passchendaele Ridge in 1989.  She brought with her about 20 veterans of the battle.  A most moving evening, never forgotten.

58A762C4-DB2C-4D9E-90E5-7294121C4874.jpeg

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On 06/11/2018 at 10:55, Black Maria said:

On the subject of delayed publishing I notice that ' Directing the Tunnellers' War : the tunnelling memoir of Captain H Dixon M.C  R.E '

has been put back again until the end of February next year . Although disappointed , I content myself with the thought that it looks

like one of those books that's worth waiting for.

I noticed that this book has now been released which is good news !

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A 'teaser' in the Times, reveals that another book on the Christmas truce is due

out in January.  'Christmas Truce by the Men Who Took Part' compiled by Mike

Hill (but not this Mike Hill).

 

Mike.

 

 

 

 

Edited by MikeyH
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The accounts of women in the war mainly focus on medical staff, munitions and other factory workers, tram drivers and other replacements for men who were at the front but Patricia Fara's 'A Lab of One's Own', subtitled 'Women and Suffrage in the First World War', tells the story of the mainly unsung hundreds of women scientists who contributed to the war effort in such fields as explosives  and gas research, meteorology, aircraft design and nutrition. Many had been campaigners for the vote before the War and government begrudgingly admitted that their work during the conflict had earned them the franchise, if only those only 30 and even then not all (partly for fear that the casualty toll during the war mean that men would be outnumbered in the polling booths).  But despite their value, few were given full professional status or equal salaries with their male colleagues in the universities, civil service and research posts, and once the War ended many found themselves jobless.

An interesting light on one of the lesser known aspects of the War, it includes pen portraits of the leading personalities, but Fara, a lecturer in the history of science at Cambridge, is obliged to admit that the names of many of the women concerned were quickly forgotten and of the others details of the lives and work of most cannot be found.

 

Cheers Martin B

 

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3 hours ago, Martin Bennitt said:

Many had been campaigners for the vote before the War and government begrudgingly admitted that their work during the conflict had earned them the franchise, if only those only 30 and even then not all (partly for fear that the casualty toll during the war mean that men would be outnumbered in the polling booths). 

Is that your view, or the opinion of the author? If the latter it goes somewhat to credibility of the work.  Evelyn Sharp, in her autobiography describes the view that wartime work led to women's suffrage  was a 'popular error'.  She was, admittedly, a pacifist but the principle had been set out and rejected in 1911.  Her view was that the war gave politicians opposed to suffrage the opportunity to reverse their unsustainable prejudice and to introduce the constitutional change on more acceptable terms.  Especially as pre-war campaigning had virtually ceased.

 

In June 1917  the majority to support the principle women's suffrage was, when the Bill was introduced in June 1917, 385 for and 55 against.  The resulting Bill was not challenged in the House of Lords and the Representation of the People Act 1918 which extended to franchise to all men over 21 ( in some instances 19) and certain classes of women was granted Royal Assent in February 1918. 

It was predicted universal suffrage was inevitable on the principles applied to pass this Act and as foretold was achieved ten years later.

 

The war was not an instrument of social change, merely a brief interruption of the status quo. 

 

The scientific contribution of women may have been overlooked but those women scientists were a very different social class from the majority of women.  They were the main driving force of the pre-war suffrage movement. 

When considering the post war status of those, largely working class women, who took the place of men the 1919 Restoration of Pre-War Practices Act made it very clear where women, especially married women, belonged. 

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I'm not able to assess the overall impact, but several of the women involved in the Scottish Womens, Hospitals had been involved in the campaigns for suffrage. I don't have the energy at this time of night to start dipping into some of the biographical material, but I am confident that if pushed I could find some eveidence. How great was their impact on the politics that led to the 1918 act I am less confident about, but they surely contributed.

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12 hours ago, keithmroberts said:

I'm not able to assess the overall impact, but several of the women involved in the Scottish Womens, Hospitals had been involved in the campaigns for suffrage. I don't have the energy at this time of night to start dipping into some of the biographical material, but I am confident that if pushed I could find some eveidence. How great was their impact on the politics that led to the 1918 act I am less confident about, but they surely contributed.

 

From memory (and not having checked the book) many of the people involved in the Endell Street Hospital were involved in the campaigns for suffrage and continued to be involved after the war. 

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The reaction of the women's suffrage movement to the declaration of war in 1914 probably deserves its own thread and sorry to have gone off topic, but it is an annoyance like, for example, the 'forgotten soldiers of the...' 

It's not forgotten just not read or researched.  I just completed the OU four week course (free on Future Learn) World War 1:Trauma Memory and Controversy, all the usual academic tropes e.g. shellshock and poets etc.

 

To get back on topic just ordered the the final volume of Mitchinson's trilogy on the TF "The Territorial Force at War 1914 -1916" currently in Palgrave's winter sale hardcover £79.99 (print to order) until 31st December just £19.99.

There are other volumes similarly reduced which may be of interest to readers here.

 

For information, usual disclaimer I have no connection etc

 

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1 hour ago, kenf48 said:

To get back on topic just ordered the the final volume of Mitchinson's trilogy on the TF "The Territorial Force at War 1914 -1916" currently in Palgrave's winter sale hardcover £79.99 (print to order) until 31st December just £19.99.

There are other volumes similarly reduced which may be of interest to readers here

 

 

image.png.85a249c63872c7c731706020010b5725.png

 

And some curious pricing during the sale period-but Springer still make a thumping profit from these Print on Demand editions

 

image.png.1cc76ed20aca672b9700d94216c13508.png

 

It still seems bonkers to me that a series of electrical blips costs comfortably more than twice a proper hardback book.  There is also one in the sale on "Gender in the First World War"    Delivery is a bit slow-as they actually are printed after being ordered and Christmas backlogs with Royal Mail especially (which Springer tend to use) means one should allow c. 3 weeks for delivery.  Also, they are printed in different places (God knows why)-My ones from last years sale all came separately from Germany, Holland, Republic of Ireland and Croydon- as I live in London it was a puzzle why the one from Croydon was the last to arrive

    Kenf- I hope that Mitchinson has learned the word "index" over the years- I have his "Gentlemen and Officers" in the IWM edition and it's a pain in the backside to use without an index.

 

 

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