Harry's War Hardcover – 31 Oct 2013
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"A lost diary of the Great War so brutally vivid you'll feel you are there in the trenches" (Daily Mail)
"One of the best diaries of the First World War" (Rodderick Suddaby, former keeper of the Department of Documents at the Imperial War Museum)
"Unique ... an unvarnished view of the war’s horrors – and its occasional joys" (Telegraph)
"A remarkable insight into the mind of a man who went through WW1 as an infantryman in the trenches, private and officer ... No-one who wants to understand the truth about the trenches can ignore this book" (Colonel John Hughes-Wilson)
The remarkable First World War diary of Private Harry Drinkwater, published for the first timeSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Ebury Press, hardback, £20.00, 395pp., ills, index.
This book is a real pleasure to read. It has been skilfully edited by Jon Cooksey - with the wholehearted support of David Griffiths, the current owner of the diary - with just the right amount of additional background text. Too often one finds editors seeming to want to crowbar in the whole history of the war. Refreshingly, Cooksey evades such an elephant trap by restraining himself to the bare minimum of commentary, allowing Harry Drinkwater to tell his own story. I particularly like that the editor has looked up and confirmed the fate of the men we encounter in turning the pages.
The diary entries are a veritable torrent of fascinating information. I have conducted many oral history interviews for the Imperial War Museum and this diary shares the immediacy of those oral accounts, bringing to life the very zeitgeist of the experience for millions of men in the trenches: the awful smells and dreadful sights; being lathered in sweat from the back-breaking working parties, or drenched by the pouring rain; men up to their knees in mud, blood and water. All the clichés perhaps, but given depth and meaning here by the very restraint with which Drinkwater expresses his trials and tribulations.
Life was certainly not mundane for Harry Drinkwater at the front with the 15th Royal Warwickshire Regiment - the 2nd Birmingham Pals. Rapped on the helmet by a sniper's bullet, mining and visceral crater fighting near Arras, in the thick of it and going 'over the top' on the Somme, once covered in maggots from a bloated corpse, blasted by shells here, there and everywhere, he led a charmed life.Read more ›
It is a moving account of an infantry man's experience on the Somme, at Arras, at Ypres, and in Italy. He was wounded twice. After the war as a Major he narrowly escaped being murdered in Egypt. He records life and death in the trenches plus vivid descriptions of the vagaries of war. It is a refreshing and candid account of the mixed fortunes that befell him.
Harry was born on 19 February 1889 in Stratford upon Avon. His Dad was a boot dealer whose shop was close to the house where Shakespeare was born. Harry was one of 5 children, two of whom died at an early age. The family were staunch Methodists.
His diary reflects life in the Royal Warwickshires telling how becoming an officer changed his world. Now he gives the orders knowing that life as a platoon officer was short on the Western Front.
His diary covers his many experiences in training, action, and as an officer cadet.
He had never intended it to be published. It is a remarkable and absorbing read.
I have only one small caveat given the existence of those who deride the war as futile. This account is one by someone who had the education to put pen to paper. Thousands were not able to do this. Also, Harry was in the infantry.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
What a wonderful insight into the 1st World War from a soldier in the trenches point of view (not always pleasant but interesting). Read morePublished 1 month ago by Graham
Thought I'd only be dipping in and it'd be a bit dry; but no, I hated having to put it down and I followed all his movements on a map and we stayed near Arras and visited all the... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Anthea Dodsworth
How and why such survivors got through is a mystery and in itself a miracle.
Life goes on but the effects and memories of such horror on human beings can not be... Read more
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