Further First World War stories

Although the commemorations marking the centenary of the First World War have come to an end, the war continues to be remembered and its stories continue to be told.

The war is a huge, big subject which sometimes, to me, feels too massive to truly comprehend. Therefore it really is those individual or local stories that can connect us back to the subject.

This year two books about very specific aspects of the war have stood out for me. One is In the Shadow of Bois Hugo by Nigel Atter. I like is because it is a detailed reexamination of one battalion at one battle, something quite rare.

The 8th Battalion of the Lincolnshire Regiment were one of the volunteers units raised soon after the war broke out in 1914. Very new to the Western Front in September 1915 they were part of a group of untested battalions thrown into the Battle of Loos. Following the men of the battalion through their training and the confusion of this first battle, Atter has researched and told their story in incredible detail. This is an excellent book if you want to find out about some, perhaps, less well-known aspects of the war.

The other book that stands out for me is Percy by Peter Doyle and with illustrations by Tim Godden. This is the story of an individual, based on a small archival collection, poignant and moving.

From this archival collection Doyle has fleshed out the story of Percy Edwards, a conscript from North Wales who joined the army in 1918. We are introduced to his family of miners, the village of Cefn where they come from, and his sweetheart, Kitty. The illustrations really add to the atmosphere of the book, which reminds us that however big the big picture is, its the stories of individuals that connect us to and create that picture.

Are there any recent (or not) First World War book that have made an impression on you?

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