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An amazing true life in WW1 trenches
on 20 July 2010
For anybody wanting to have an insight into what it was like to serve in the trenches in WW1 - this is it. This book has particular resonance with me as my grandfather was a machine gunner, as was Edward Rowbotham whose memoirs are featured. The story is straightforward and uncomplicated ; it chronicles the life of an ordinary Tommy at war and surviving in the trenches. Indeed he was just one of six who survived from his original company from when he volunteered. It is not a direct day by day account, nor does it get bogged down in the `big politics' of the conflict nor the debates on how the war should have been managed, nor does it make political points about Lions led by Donkeys, although clearly the Lions are in the trenches. This book tells you how it was at the sharp end of the conflict in a very readable way.
Nevertheless it gives amazing insights into a bygone age. An age where heroism was understated, where there was a clear sense of right and wrong, a concept of honour and doing one's duty. Whatever has been said, Edward Rowbotham, a coal miner from the Midlands, is far from ordinary despite serving throughout the war in the ranks. His bravery, his steadfastness under fire and pressure, his taking the blows of life and carrying on, are exceptional. My grandfather `did his bit' ; but my forbear was called up, and was a reluctant fighter, who unashamedly was far less brave than the author of this book, sensitively edited by his granddaughter who also pens a well phrased introduction.