This is a gem of a book if you are interested in the 12th & 13th DLI. I was particularly interested as my grandfather was with C Coy of the 12th DLI. Whilst a lot of the information is taken from the Official War Diaries, the build up and background information is so thorough and interesting and I learned a lot. The photographs are great and I was even able to identify a couple of my family photos and identify locations that matched similar photos in the book. As the author readily acknowledges, there is a wealth of anecdotal tales of the men in the 13th DLI, but sadly this kind of information was not a big feature of the 12th DLI diary. The other great piece of information was the lists of names of the men and officers from each of the Regiments, along with their service numbers and brief description of each persons career. Thank you John for taking the time to write this fabulous book and keeping the memory of these men alive.
Too many histories of British Army battalions that fought in WW1 are little more than re-writes of the official War Diaries. Not so those by John Sheen. Beginning with his classic history of the Tyneside Irish, John Sheen's meticulous research has enabled him to combine official sources with the letters, diaries and memories of the actual soldiers to produce a series of battalion histories. The latest in the series, 'With Bayonets Fixed', features the 12th and 13th Battalions DLI and is a must for anyone interested in British infantry battalions during WW1. These two battalions of County Durham's own famous regiment fought with distinction on the Western Front and in Italy; gained two VCs; and amongst the 1,200 fallen was the English composer, George Kaye Butterworth, killed on the Somme in August 1916. As with all of John Sheen's battalion histories, this book is not only superbly illustrated with group and individual soldier's portraits, but also has detailed nominal rolls of use both to family historians and medal collectors. Tyneside Irish The Steel of the DLI (2nd Bn 1914/18) Durham Pals: 18th, 19th, 20th and 22nd Battalions of the Durham Light Infantry in the Great War Wearside Battalion: The 20th (Service) Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry in The Great War
I was brought up in County Durham, in the same village as the late Thomas Kenny incidentally, who received the Victoria Cross for his heroic efforts during WW1. He was known to my Grandparents and for this and many other obvious reasons I feel really attached to the history of the Durham Light Infantry.
My mother loves her history, especially local history, and so I've bought her all of the books John Sheen has wrote involving the DLI, and she absolutely loves them! She's always telling me the things she's read about, piecing bits together from each book and painting a picture which fills me with pride, as I hear of individuals as well as groups of local men who contributed an amazing and selfless effort in securing the freedom that each and every one of us knows and enjoys today.
At the time of writing this, Durham County Council are planning to close the DLI museum based in Aykley Heads, Durham, in a cost cutting measure, much to my and thousands of others utter despair! It's essential that museum remains, not only as a monument of respect to the regiment and its fabulous achievements, but as a means of teaching everyone, from local children to tourists from thousands of miles away of the bravery and sacrifice of those who gave everything so that we could enjoy life as it is today!
Unfortunately there are only a few weeks to go until the 01/04/16 deadline, let's hope the museum's safety is secured before then, however unfortunately that doesn't seem likely. :'(
My grandfather, a miner, was in the Durham Light Infantry and won the DCM in 1917. I was moved to find the account of this in the book - even more struck to learn that he had previously been sentenced to hard labour for falling asleep while on sentry duty, a sentence which was expunged because of his valour. He died of meningitis in Marseilles in September 1918. This book not only gives the big scale accounts of the battles, the strategy, the outcomes, but details the human stories - sometimes very sad, sometimes very funny. I have bought copies for various members of my family, and they all love it. My son on Madrid said that he has a morning and an evening book when travelling to and from work, but he couldn't put this one down John Sheen is to be congratulated on the thoroughness of his research.
This is a very clearly written and concise observation of the 12th and 13th battl DLI in WW1. Harrowing detail of the conditions the brave men of those battalons fought in. Contains info about my Grandfathers MC award, and details of his experience in Italy