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What WW1 books are you reading?


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I recently read

Goodbye Cobber - God Bless You by John Hamilton

leads up to the Battle of Lone Pine (Gallipoli)

being an Aussie of course it is an Aussie book...but a very good perspective of Australian Life at the time and the view to the 'great adventure'

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Auchonvillers
You should also consider With the German Guns by Herbert Sulzbach. Honestly not a spectacular book, but it is an interesting read from the German artilleryman's perspective. One of the most interesting parts I found was to follow his enthusiasim for the German cause develop through the war and then (as expected) his spirit break after the death of von Richthofen and the failure of the Michael offensive. Definitely a good read.

Andy

Hi Andy, Thanks for the info i will look out for a copy. Is it still available? or will i have to spend a happy hr or so in my local second hand Military book shop. Mark

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Mark - Its published by Pen and Sword and is about L8. I've seen it a few times in book stores so it shouldn't be hard to find.

Andy

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Wipers Times....bought as a birthday pressie but am waiting for (and make no apologies for advanced advertising) 13th April as Charles Messenger's A Call To Arms is issued in paperback....ISBN 0-304-36722-2 Regards Steve

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  • 4 weeks later...

Reading at the mo......

TOMMY by Richard Holmes

Highly Recommended.

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Steven Broomfield

This one keeps on coming!

Currently, I'm having a rest from the Great War, and reading Hard Times by Dickens.

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Nearly finished 'Razor's Edge' by Hugh Bicheno which is a hard hitting reappraisal of Operation Corporate, the Falkland's conflict of 1982.

Describes the military side in revealing detail and is certain to stir up some; politicians, diplomats, and naval types apart from the RM and Army contingent.

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“A Man of His Time” by Alan Sillitoe. The main character is a blacksmith called Burton, who appeared briefly in a previous Sillitoe novel “Raw Material”. Here he is the dominant character. Set just before the Great War, every male in the book joins up for the war except Burton. He in fact despises soldiers and the military. The novel never goes to war and is set entirely in England. Its main strength in terms of GWF interest is a deeply striking passage about the recruitment of his son, also a blacksmith, into the South Notts Hussars. He becomes a cavalry trooper and regimental blacksmith and undergoes a very a short training period in Norfolk. There is a wonderful description of the entire regiment, a thousand yard column of mounted cavalry moving through the English countryside towards the ports for embarkation to war, with staging posts along the way, and detailed descriptions of the military routine required to move and maintain such a massive regiment. Knowing Sillitoe it is scruplesly researched and perfectly accurate. The fact that they never, in the novel, reach the ports and we never see them at war does not detract from the power of the image. Indeed it caused me to look up where the South Notts actually went. I think it was to Egypt, they may have been the great cavalry column marching on Damascus as featured in the Lawrence of Arabia film. However some of those crack cavalry regiments became bicycle regiments or tankies. Sillitoe’s prose is a bit sparse and you often miss critical turning points in the story because it is so sparse, but a great read.

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Image of War; Flander - 1915

"Rare Photographs from the Wartime Archives"

By John Cooksey (Pen and Sword 2005)

A superb photographic record of the 5th Y & L. Photographs were taken by Harry Colver who was killed in action December 1915 and at which point the book finishes. If you want to see what it was like for a Territorial Battalion in Flanders during the Summer/Autumn of 1915 then this is your book. Superbly edited by Jon Cooksey.

Some of the pictures of no mans land are quite remarkable!

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Just read The Somme by Gary Sheffield. It's a short book but interesting and easy enough to get through in one sitting if you have enough time. Have started the well known First Day of the Somme by Martin Middlebrook, very interesting indeed. I think i'm going to enjoy this one immensely. :) After that I'm going to read Thiepval by Michael Stedman.

Chris

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Signal Corporal by Captain May; personal account of the actions of 2nd battalion 18th County of London Regiment, London Irish Rifles; France, Salonica, Egypt and Palestine. Not a formal history but describes the battles from Beersheba to Jerusalem and beyond.

Haunting Years by William Linton Andrews TF Black Watch from volunteering in 1914 to the Armistice. Service in France & Flanders.

Just finished Happy Days by Benedict Williamson, a Chaplain with the 47th and 49th Divisions from 1917 to 1918. Service in France & Flanders. The book title is his nickname.

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auchonvillerssomme

Bells of Hell go Tingalingaling. By Eric Hiscock. Revisiting it, last read it at school but now I understand it.

although I do tend to read a few books at the same time, also just started Four days in June. Iain Gale. About Waterloo.

Mick

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Winston Churchills Great Contemporaries. If you haven't read it, do its a must......very intelligent and humbling way of writing and puts an edge on other critisms i have read on the forum and off re the main players of the war

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Steven Broomfield
Image of War; Flander - 1915

"Rare Photographs from the Wartime Archives"

By John Cooksey (Pen and Sword 2005)

A superb photographic record of the 5th Y & L. Photographs were taken by Harry Colver who was killed in action December 1915 and at which point the book finishes. If you want to see what it was like for a Territorial Battalion in Flanders during the Summer/Autumn of 1915 then this is your book. Superbly edited by Jon Cooksey.

Some of the pictures of no mans land are quite remarkable!

I was looking at this at Waterstone's at the weekend - I thought it looked pretty good, too. It's on the list!

The CO looks a real character. :)

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Terence Munson

59th Division 1915 - 1918 Published by The Naval & Military Press. First Published 1928, Now reprinted while you wait!

Not intended to be the history of the 59th Division - Something much more modest, being reminiscences and descriptions by various individuals...... Jury is out on this one!

Cheers: Terry

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SilverSoldier

The Little Book of WAR POEMS Edited by Nick de Somogyi, Paragon Books, 2004. Very poignant, contains poems of WW1I had read but also many that were new to me, excellent read.

LAST POST The Final Word From Our First World War Soldiers. Max Arthur, Weidenfeld & Nicholson, Orion Publishing Group. Very moving reading, hard to put down, a collection of personal memories.

TOMMY The British Soldier On The Western Front 1914-1918. Richard Holmes. Harper Collins Publishers. A 'Classic' WW1 book, very vivid with lots of excellent Illustrations, another book I found hard to put down!

Terry. W

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Andrew Hesketh

Just finished Ben Elton's WWI novel 'First Casualty'. Hmmm, it's alright I suppose.....

Embarking upon 'The War the Infantry Knew' by Dunn. A 'classic' that I've never read (should I hang my head in shame at that admission?). I'm on page 50 and it's a right little belter!

Next on the list, probably 'Amiens 1918' by James McWilliams and R.James Steel.

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Just finished 'Storm of Steel'. I little 'punchy' I suppose, but I enjoyed it: a little 'punchy, I suppose :D

Roxy

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Just finishing 'Private 12768 Memoir of a Tommy' by John Jackson. Like the title says, it is the story of a ranker who fought the war as a signaller with the Cameron Highlanders. It is a modest account but the man's courage and dogged determination show through - he was awarded the MM for bravery in laying wire at great personal risk. No blood and glory tale but a compelling read. This is a 2005 edition by Tempus Publishing and should be readily available in the shops.

Ian

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Steven Broomfield
Just finishing 'Private 12768 Memoir of a Tommy' by John Jackson. Like the title says, it is the story of a ranker who fought the war as a signaller with the Cameron Highlanders. It is a modest account but the man's courage and dogged determination show through - he was awarded the MM for bravery in laying wire at great personal risk. No blood and glory tale but a compelling read. This is a 2005 edition by Tempus Publishing and should be readily available in the shops.

Ian

I just read it - got it from the Library. I sort of enjoyed it, but it was a bit like reading a police report - "I was proceeding in a westerly direction" sort of stuff. It never really gripped me, to be frank, and at the end, I wasn't sure I'd actually learned an awful lot.

Is it rude of me to say I can see why it remained unpublished for all those years?

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Steven,

Interesting.....each to his own, I suppose. As I said, a modest man who won the M.M. and, reading of his exploits after that, might well have won a bar to that. I can, sort of, see your point but don't you think this reflects his shop-floor viewpoint? For me, this contrasts well with gung-ho officers' accounts such as those of Crozier or Fraser Tytler.

Ian

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John Jackson is from Carlisle and we're all very understated up here. :huh:

It definitely isn't an officers book and yes, it isn't super descriptive prose, but it is a story worth reading -a man who was not disillusioned, or traumatised, who fought and lived and went back to his old life again. Us Carlisle lads are like that- understated

See my review Memoirs of a Tommy

I think it's a bit harsh to say the book was unsurprisingly unpublished for years :o

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Good for you Spike. Wasn't going to say so but I'm just over the border myself - Kelso way.

Ian

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