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Somme Mud [Paperback]

E P F Lynch
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
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Book Description

9 Oct 2008

'It's the end of the 1916 winter and the conditions are almost unbelievable. We live in a world of Somme mud. We sleep in it, work in it, fight in it, wade in it and many of us die in it. We see it, feel it, eat it and curse it, but we can't escape it, not even by dying...'

Edward Lynch enlisted when he was just 18 - one of thousands of fresh-faced men who were proudly waved off by the crowds as they embarked for France. It was 1916 and the majority had no idea of the reality of the Somme trenches, of the traumatised soldiers they would encounter there, of the innumerable, awful contradictions of war. Private Lynch was one of those who survived, and on his return home in 1919, wrote Somme Mud in pencil in over 20 school exercise books, perhaps in the hope of coming to terms with all that he had witnessed there?

Written from the perspective of an ordinary 'Tommy' and told with dignity, candour and surprising wit, Somme Mud is a testament to the human spirit, for out of the mud that threatened to suck out a man's soul rises a compelling story of humanity and friendship. It is a rare and precious find.

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Somme Mud + Passchendaele: The Story of the Third Battle of Ypres 1917 + Somme
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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; paperback / softback edition (9 Oct 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553819135
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553819137
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 116,910 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"As haunting and graphic a description of trench warfare as any I have read... this is a warrior's tale... a great read and a moving eye-witness account of a living hell from which few emerged unscathed" (Daily Express)

"Compares to All Quiet on the Western Front... Both are front-line memoirs of men steadily becoming more professional and more disillusioned... Both are magnificently written" (Prof William Gammage)

"Here is the stink and stench of war... horrifying, scarifying and very humbling as well" (Herald Sun)

"Brilliantly evokes the terror, horror, elation, friendship, gore and depression that made a combat infantryman's life so dangerous, so traumatic and, if he survived, so memorable" (Courier Mail)

"His observations on life in the line and of his emotions in a battle strike a chord. Difficult to put down - it has the feel of being written by a soldier for soldiers" (Soldier Magazine)

Book Description

A dramatic, immediate, personal account of life and death in the trenches on the Western Front.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding WW1 Memoir 22 July 2008
By Withnail67 TOP 1000 REVIEWER
This is a great memoir, instantly ranking with book such as frank Richard's Old Soldiers Never Die as among the most evocative voices of the Great War as seen by the PBI. Lynch was an Australian, fighting with the 45th Battalion AIF from late 1916 to the end of the war. The centrepieces of this book are the descriptions of hand to hand trench fighting, which are raw and immediate. The most chilling description (apart from numerous descriptions of shellfire) are the images of the Somme battlefield in the freezing winter of 1916-1917, with casualties still frozen into the postures of brutal trench combat.

This is the Great War memoir of our time, if such as statement isn't something of a paradox. Lynch's Australian sensibility, his cheerful challenges to authority and the democratic flavour of Anzac `mateship' are more attuned to a 20th century sensibility than some of the more literary laments to the `futility' of the war in the 1920s and 1930s. (The attitudes to other races in the opening chapter are shocking but not surprising for a memoir of the time; their omission would have been a pointless and historically dishonest piece of editing).

A singular and powerfully important memoir of 1914-1918.
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63 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Somme Mud 3 May 2008
By Greyman
I bought this book as it sounded an interesting read. At first the way it is written takes a bit of getting used to, it isn't written after all by a professional story teller - the original text was penned by a soldier, Private Lynch, on returning from the Great War where, as an Australian infantryman, he fought in the front line and acted as a 'runner' for his CO. On his return in 1919, amazingly still alive, he wrote it all down in a number of exercise books as a method of making sense and coming to terms of the whole experience. The book is written as a diary and describes the every day life of a soldier on the front line. He gets wounded a couple of times and describes the deaths of others around him but, amazingly, he comes through scrape after scrape. The horror of his situation is all too real right down to the hand to hand trench bayonette fighting and the tragic losses on both sides. There are plenty of WW1 books written to clinically analyse the battles but Private Edward Lynch had the foresight to write down what he and others actually experienced. Some of the things he describes are vivid and horific but we all have a duty to read books like this, in my opinion, so we don't forget that we owe them our respect.
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
There are books about the Great War, and then there is Somme Mud.

The days of glorified war stories are over, and this book takes the reader on a gritty, totally from-the-heart account of every horrific day in the Western Front.

Whilst full of frightening moments, it also conveys the real sense of comradeship and frequent dark humour of those serving under conditions none of us can know today.

What struck me most about this book was the reminder that the prospect of being sniped, shelled (sometimes by your own side), gassed, or just drowned in flooded shell holes, was present every moment of just about every day. It's also a stark reminder of the appalling conditions men endured for several years.

A brilliant book that ranks amongst the best ever written in terms of actually comprehending - as far as we can today - what men went through, far from home.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
I have read many books on the first world war and the western front in particular. Many of these have been excellent, such as the Lyn McDonald books, which give great insight into the horrors that the ordinary soldier had to endure. What sets this work apart from them is that it is a full acount of the war, written by an ordinary man in exceptional circumstances. It soon becomes clear that staying alive was just as difficult during spells of 'holding the line' as it was during a major battle. An incredible tale, honestly told with bravery and dignity. A must-read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Somme Mud - we remember them 30 Nov 2008
I was interested when I saw this book as my grandfather was at the Somme but would never speak of it. I had heard about it in history and seen a few television programs but I was interested to learn about it from the mind and voice of one who was there.

Once started the book is very hard to put down. My respect for my grandfather and those who went off to fight this war has grown tremendously.

A must read for those wishing to know about those unsung heroes who gave their all.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mr Alan Robert 29 Jan 2009
What a fantastic read this book turned out to be, you certainly shouldn't judge a book by its cover. Thinking it was going to be a dour & morbid account of life in the trenches, was probably the reason why i left this as the last of my xmas books to read. Infact, i have to say its one of the best i have read for many a year. The style of writing & general pace of the book wiil keep you rivetted to the very end.
I highly recommend this book, you won't be disappointed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Horrifying and warm in equal measure 8 Mar 2009
By Jassta
This book may be a journey through the mud and blood of the battlefields of the Western Front, but it is done so in the company of a warm, kind hearted man.

`Nulla' (Lynch we presume) sees nobility in the bleakest of landscapes. He heaps praise on the `Fritz' machine gunners who manned their post to their last, he sees the officer who walks along the top of a trench during a bombardment not as an eccentric `toff' but as the embodiment of courage. It is his unwavering belief in his fellow man- even though he questions the insanity of war - that makes this book a surprisingly enjoyable read

The best I can say about it is this: I've read All Quiet on the Western Front and I've visited sad white headstone laden graveyards of the Somme and Ypres; but only after reading Somme Mud, do I think I'm beginning to understand what happened.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Surviving the WWI trenches
EPF Lynch's account of two years in the trenches as an Australian is quite different to the German and British accounts I have read (by Erich Maria Remarque and Richard Aldington)... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Neasa MacErlean
5.0 out of 5 stars Somme Mud
One of the most evocative books I have read. It takes you to the heart of the battle. I feel I now begin to understand the intricacies of organising the feeding of thousands of... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Mr A Docherty
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written and gives a really good insight into the life of a solder...
Well written and gives a really good insight into the life of a solder in the First World War
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars The Aussie view of their bit in the Somme battle ...
The Aussie view of their bit in the Somme battle. Lynch saw and experienced the whole 'shooting match' and survived. His contribution must therefore have been enormous.
Published 2 months ago by twyfordwasp
5.0 out of 5 stars My Grandfather served in France 1916 to 1918 with the ...
My Grandfather served in France 1916 to 1918 with the 1st Battalion AIF, so I was interested in reading a true account of Australian soldiers in WW1. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Mr John W Burwood
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Read this and weep.
Published 2 months ago by Lars Jönlid
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Present, for the same person who has walked the battlefields
Published 2 months ago by k lawrence
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic book
This book is brilliant from start to finish, if anyone could reply to my comment if you know of similar books but about stretcher bearers, the stretcher bearers in this are... Read more
Published 4 months ago by oscar
5.0 out of 5 stars wow!
Powerfully captures the reality of tank, gun, bombs and trench warfare. At times, I could have been in those trenches myself. Anyone who wants to be humbled should read this book.
Published 5 months ago by Karen Beaton
5.0 out of 5 stars Astounding
The most harrowing, brutally honest and mesmerizing book I have ever read in my life. I read a great deal of history and past favorites like Stalingrad or Berlin by Antony Beevor... Read more
Published 7 months ago by sandy
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