Jump to content
Great War Forum

Remembered Today:

'War is War'


Recommended Posts

Doing some research on the Artists' Rifles (1/28th London Reg), I read 'War is War' by Ex Private X. It was written, I believe, in the 1920s.

I would be keen to know who the author was. Any ideas? He revealed that he was a journalist by trade.

As far as the book was concerned, it described his experiences with the Artists' Rifles through Passchendaele and the 1918 German Spring Offensive.

I found it refreshingly honest and candid; there's no forced cameraderie or heroics , and he's certainly not deferential to senior and staff personel. I was particularly looking for his account of the attack towards Passchendaele Ridge on 30th October 1917 which had to cross the flooded Paddebeke stream. The 'slaughter' was terrible. He describes men sticking their rifles into the mud to signal their wherabouts to stretcher bearers; most got wiped out by shells. Stories like this make me think that the traditional 'Bunglers and Butchers' view of the generals has still got some credibility!

I'd be interested to read anybody else's thoughts on the book.


Link to post
Share on other sites


The author, "Ex-Private X", was Alfred McLelland Burridge and it was published in 1930. He was a journalist, writer of short ghost stories, and poet. He died in 1956.

Not everbody will agree with me, but I found his book, by varying degrees, hilarious, slightly cynical, sobering, and to use a modern day phrase, strictly non-pc. It operates on so many different levels. Doesn't like the French peasantry in general, but on the other hand can be quite generous about those who help him with food and drink. Can't stand some aspects of the working class, but his best mate is from that strata of society. Doesn't like officers, but aspires to be one.

Apart from his description of the conditions at Third Ypres, it his account of life behind the lines that often stand out. His description of the brothel at Hesdin or his (alleged) meeting with Sir Douglas Haig at Baverincourt. It is one of my favourite WW1 books.

Out of interest, his service papers are available at the National Archive. He never did get a commission by the way. He was turned down, which doesn't suprise me in the least.

Terry Reeves

Link to post
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...