In A Flanders Field: A Territorial Battalion at Ypres, October 1917

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Category: Humanities

Book Format: Hardback

Publisher: Pen and Sword

ISBN: 9781399037235

RRP: $75.00


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Written neither as a conventional biography or battalion history, this work centres on the remarkable life of Joe Waite, a boy soldier of the Great War. Though, in telling his story, the names and lives of 64 of his fallen comrades are also revealed. All were lost in just one month of fighting, during the hell that was the Third Battle of Ypres also known as Passchendaele. Born in a tough, working-class neighbourhood in Coventry, in the heart of the industrial Midlands, Joe’s childhood was blighted by the loss of his mother and tempered by his father’s decision to separate him from his siblings and re-marry. The need to earn his keep forced him into factory work from an early age, soon resulting in a humbling brush with the law. Eventually, the outbreak of war, and later, a family row over a pair of boots, lead to his enlistment in the army, at just 16 years old. Hiding the secret of his true age from his comrades in the 1/7th (TF) battalion, The Royal Warwickshire Regiment, Joe left Coventry and its troubles far behind as he fought his way across Northern France, including at the infamous Battle of the Somme. His time on the Western Front would eventually draw to a close outside the town of Ypres in Belgium, in October 1917. In that month, and still officially too young to fight, Joe was awarded a Military Medal for his bravery at the Battle of Broodseinde. Using sources such as war diaries, personal, public, and military records, the account of not only the battle, but also the story of each man of Joe’s unit who fell there, is told. With further reference to a unique eyewitness account, voice is also given to what thoughts and feelings the men may have experienced as they fought in the mud of Ypres. Then, as the culmination of an exhaustive and painstaking research project, the stories of the fallen are told, together, for the first time. From civilian life to military service, each mini-biography is a sensitive and respectful telling of the unique and varied accounts of so many men, from so many different backgrounds, allowing for a renewed appreciation of a generation now lost to history. These stories tell of men from all over Britain and even beyond. Men who eventually became soldiers in an infantry battalion originally raised in Coventry, but whose makeup changed so much, as war exerted its toll. Where records allow, it also tells of how their families and communities remembered the fallen, so many of whom have no known resting place. Standing chiefly as a fitting tribute to those lost soldiers, this work concludes with the story of Joe’s life after the Great War. With one final tragedy to come, its telling will eventually lead to a stark truth; that it isn’t only through the eyes of a soldier that the cruelty of war can be seen so harshly. AUTHOR: Born in Coventry, England, John Waite developed an enduring passion for history very early on in his life. Though his interests span a number of historical periods, his most recent focus has been on the early Imperial period of Ancient Rome and the Great War. As varied as his interests, John’s career path to date has provided him with a very eclectic set of experiences. Early jobs included service with the army and TA, followed by landscape gardening, archaeological illustration and building work. He then served as a police officer for over 14 years, before leaving to work in the private sector. A return to the police service in 2016, offered John a new challenge, as he applied his previous skills in the role of a civilian investigator a job he continues to carry out full-time today. Previously, John was a member of a Roman re-enactment society. Not only did this inspire him to write his first books on the subject, but it also opened up further opportunities. Often appearing in full Roman attire, either military or civilian, John has addressed local history groups, schools, and universities all around the country. He has also contributed to a number of TV projects. He continues to live and work in his home city of Coventry but often casts an eye in the direction of Dorset, on the South Coast where, one day, he and his wife Helen, are keen to make a new home. 80 b/w illustrations

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