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Customer Review

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book everyone interested in WW1 needs to read, 8 July 2011
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This review is from: Six Weeks: The Short and Gallant Life of the British Officer in the First World War (Hardcover)
There has been considerable debate on the internet about the title of this book which comes from a quote by Robert Graves of 2/Royal Welch Fusiliers who wrote: "A soldier who had the honour to serve with one of the better divisions....could count on no more than three months' trench service before being wounded or killed; a junior officer a mere six weeks". So he wasn't saying that six weeks was LIFE EXPECTANCY since only approx. a third of casualties were fatalities: but that this was how long an officer lasted before being a casualty of some kind. This has exercised quite a number of people, and alas has led them not to take the book as seriously as they should.

That quibble apart, this is a well-researched, well-written book, and it is amazing that The Great War, the most written-about war of all time surely, should have a huge gap that this book is able to fill: namely the role, life and (sadly mostly) death of the junior officer on the Western Front.

I came to this book whilst researching my grandfather's Great War. The son of a Glasgow shop-keeper, he volunteered to join the 5th Scottish Rifles in Oct 1914 as a Private, and was commissioned into the 1st Royal Scots Fusiliers in Jan 1916 as a 2nd Lieutenant, ending the war as a Captain. Wounded three times (a bullet through the arm at St Eloi, buried-alive by a howitzer-shell but dug up badly bruised and shell-shocked on the Somme, badly gassed and temporarily blinded 10 days before the end of the war) he later became a doctor, and died aged 92.

The junior British infantry officer suffered higher casualties than virtually any other class of soldier in any army during WW1, and this book has given me a unique insight into the day-to-day duties and life of unimportant junior officers such as my grandfather, who has consequently greatly risen in my estimation: I highly recommend it.
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Initial post: 22 Aug 2013 09:51:00 BDT
Abu Hamza says:
Excellent review.
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