Men of Letters Paperback – 1 Aug 2014
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'If it doesn't become a TV series to rival Call the Midwife, I'll take my tea with ten sugars.' Daily Mail on The Sugar Girls 'Apart from the strength of the individual stories, one of the richest things about this book is the detail...' Bel Mooney, Daily Mail on GI Brides --Daily Mail
About the Author
Duncan Barrett studied English at Cambridge and is a writer and editor, specialising in biography and memoir. He is the author of The Sugar Girls, which was a Sunday Times top ten bestseller for three weeks, ranked #2 in the history bestsellers of 2012. It is currently under option for TV/film adaptation. This was followed in 2013 by GI Brides, which deals with women who married American GIs during WW2 and began a new life with them in post-war America. This is also under option for TV adaptation.
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Top Customer Reviews
In this evocative retelling of the history of the men of the Post Office Rifles, I was forcibly reminded of just how the Great War impacted on the lives of men and women, and of how the ordinary man in the street rose to the challenge of the call to arms. With over 10,000 registered letters per month reaching the Western front, I had never visualised the effort that it took to get the morale boosting mail packets to the men, and yet, whilst the Post Office Rifles were made of up from the ranks of postal workers, they were very much part of the fighting force and acted honourably and with great courage under enemy bombardment.
The book is easy to read and well divided into understandable chapters, which cover the involvement of the Post Office Rifles, from the Battle of Festubert during the spring offensive in May 1915, through to their involvement in the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917.Read more ›
But I prefer those writers that can bring me the story of the section and the platoon: the fighting man’s war; in other words, the story from the ground up rather than the top down view. In ‘Men of Letters’, Duncan Barrett does just that; this is the story of a battalion, from the day war was declared until after the Armistice.
When I realised Duncan Barrett’s book was the story of the Post Office Rifles, the 1/8th Battalion of the London Regiment (47th Division), I was delighted; this is something I know a lot about, having written three novels that focus on the exploits of the 1/18th Battalion, the London Irish Rifles. Although part of a different brigade, the men of the Post Office Rifles fought alongside the men of the London Irish, and it’s obvious to me that Duncan has done his homework.
I cannot claim to know much about the Post Office Rifles, but I can attest to the historical accuracy of the actions Duncan describes: Loos, High Wood, Bourlon Wood, the 100 days. All are described from the individual’s point of view. And because we follow the same men throughout the narrative, I began to care about their outcomes: I wondered whether Duncan was introducing a man because he had a happy ending, or that he was offering up another red shirt (to use a Star Trek euphemism for someone who has moments to live).Read more ›
Buy this for your postman ! But two for your postwoman.
But that is just what Barrett has done in this moving and well-written account. Through their letters to families and loved ones at home, he traces the fortunes of men who joined the Post Office Rifles, leaving their jobs as post workers in the London suburbs and travelling to makeshift training camps where the atmosphere was one of rigorous discipline and boisterous camaraderie. For these soldiers, many of whom were just boys who had lied about their age, `going to the front' probably sounded like a promotion. Little did they know what awaited them.
'Men of Letters' is a fascinating and absorbing read, and an interesting record of a little-known aspect of the Great War.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Absolutely fascinating finding out how the post office and staff coped during WW1.Published 7 months ago by Joan Langford
Very interesting book about this little heard of service for anyone interested in war time lives of ordinary, sorry, extraordinary folk, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading it .Published 15 months ago by T C.