The Reluctant Tommy and over 2 million other books are available for Amazon Kindle . Learn more
Buy Used
£2.11
FREE Delivery on orders over £10.
Used: Very Good | Details
Sold by the book house
Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: This item will be picked, packed and shipped by Amazon and is eligible for free delivery within the UK
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

The Reluctant Tommy - Ronald Skirth's Extraordinary Memoir of the First World War Hardcover – Unabridged, 16 Apr 2010


See all 6 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition
"Please retry"
Hardcover, Unabridged
"Please retry"
£0.01 £0.01


Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan; First Edition edition (16 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 023074673X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230746732
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 3.1 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 404,391 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Authors

Discover books, learn about writers, and more.

Product Description

Review

'An important contribution to the literature of the war. I would certainly buy this book even if I had not been sent a review copy, and whenever I get too misty-eyed about officer-man relationships I shall reread it to remind me of how badly things could go wrong. And of just how vital it is, for any democratic society seeking to use war as an instrument of policy, to ensure that the connection between war's means and its political ends is crystal clear.' -- Richard Holmes, The Evening Standard

From the Publisher

Contrary to comments made in some reader reviews, Ronald Skirth's memoirs have NOT been withdrawn from public access by the Imperial War Museum. The papers can still be found in the Museum's documents collection - a rich resource of diaries, letters and memoirs, reflecting the many and varied personal thoughts, opinions, beliefs and wartime experiences of thousands of people who have been involved in conflict.


Inside This Book (Learn More)
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
Search inside this book:

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By M. Bromley on 19 Dec 2010
Format: Hardcover
At what point does a memoir stray so far from fact that it can be described more accurately as a work of fiction?

Even editor Duncan Barrett questions the truthfulness of Skirth's story in his introduction. He acknowledges inconsistencies and at one point suggests that `the memoir seems less an autobiography than a novel'. Given that he had such misgivings, it's surprising that Barrett and publisher Pan Macmillan have chosen to market this book as an 'extraordinary memoir'. What is particularly shameful is that Skirth makes serious allegations about the conduct of fellow soldiers, damning their characters without any regard for their reputations or the feelings of their descendants, and without offering any corroborative evidence.

Duncan Barrett should have taken more time to check the credibility of the memoir, or perhaps more notice of the `facts' he did check and found to be wrong. I bought this book as fact not fiction but it is an unreliable memoir and I feel cheated of the purchase price and the time taken to read it, though I haven't bothered reading it to the end.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Format: Kindle Edition
Readers should be aware that it has been proven beyond any doubt that this book is a work of fiction not as presented is not as presented a true record of service in the Great War the facts can be checked on the Great War Forum.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By SLK on 23 July 2012
Format: Paperback
Unfortunately I have to agree with the negative reviews I have read on this account (I confess to not having read all of them). I am not an historian but I am very well read on the subject of the First World War; my family history instilled in me from a very early age, a deep fascination with the war that has endured to this day.

Even an amateur historian such as me can find too many elements of the story that quite simply 'don't add up'. I had come across this book by chance without having heard of it previously and my suspicions as to its accuracy had been aroused fairly early in the reading of it and long before I had read the opinions of any of my fellow military history buffs. To be fair, it is stated early on that names of individuals and units have been changed (although the change of the name of a unit or specifically a battery in this instance is somewhat redundant since it is a very straightforward exercise to identify the correct unit based on official war diaries). The author can also be forgiven for memory failures following the lapse of such a long period of time between the events described and the writing of the memoirs. What I do find particularly unpalatable about this account is the distinct possibility that individuals referred to by pseudonyms (but persons who can be quite easily identified by living relatives, again based on other historical sources) have been posthumously defamed, including in respect of gallantry awards. It appears this may have been done purely as a means of settling old scores with men he personally disliked. In my opinion, such claims, particularly if they are to be made in print should only be done so when the accused are still alive to defend them and it is deeply dishonourable to do otherwise.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Chris Baker VINE VOICE on 4 Feb 2011
Format: Hardcover
I have spent a considerable time checking the statements made in this book, comparing them with battery and brigade war diaries and soldier's records. Barely a line stacks up. I am afraid that "The reluctant Tommy" can only be considered at best a well-meant work of fiction or at worst some kind of personal attempt to embarrass individuals with which the author served. It's an interesting and even absorbing read, but a fairy tale.

UPDATE: on the basis of this and other research, the Imperial War Museum has now removed Skirth's papers from its catalogue on the basis of their unreliability as a record of the Great War. These papers were used as the basis for this book.
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
42 of 51 people found the following review helpful By P. M. Tomaselli on 5 Jun 2010
Format: Hardcover
This book should never have been allowed to see the light of day. With even the most basic checking it should have been obvious that the story is an elaborate fantasy. Skirth certainly existed - his Medal Card proves it - but basic checking of some of the alleged facts prove that the author was, at the most charitable interpretation, suffering from an appalling memory.

Skirth repeatedly claims to have served in 239 Battery RGA though it's clear he was actually in 293. He movingly describes two friends and an officer being killed on Messines Ridge on 8th June 1917 - though the unit war diary notes no casualties and the named officer isn't on the Commonwealth War Graves Register. In November 1917 he says his battery was so far forward they were ordered to withdraw and his insane CO refused to leave - Skirth claims to have disobeyed his direct order and fled with his pal Jock Shiels - yet according to the CWG Register John Shiels of 293 Battery RGA was killed on 18th July 1917. When the battery is later sent to Italy Skirth is quite clear that it was without guns as late as April 1918 yet the war diary records them firing numerous bombardments weeks before.

By the period he was writing about in Italy British artillery had reached heights of professionalism that it was not to scale again until El Alamein. It is inconceivable that a gun could have been so positioned as to be impossible to fire without killing the crew - they'd have known it just as much as Skirth and would have refused any order and would have had it moved. The senior officer he repeatedly slates as totally mad had a very respectable career and retired a full Colonel - lunatics do not do this - not even in the British Army.

Too many people have fallen for the "Lions led by Donkeys" line (itself a false quote invented by Alan Clarke) and happily gone along with this monstrous farago.

Read it as fiction - but don't accept any of it as fact.
12 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews



Feedback