I have to first point out I have a possible conflict of interest- I work for Firing line, one of the regimental museums of the Royal Welsh ( The Royal Welsh Fusileers are now amalgamated into the Royal Welsh)
I had the pleasure to meet the Author come editor of this book when he visited the Museum earlier this year and were having a conversation when he mentioned his Grandfather who was killed in 1914 the Ypres area. It turmed out that I had ( or my wife) had taken a photo of the grave at Hooge a few months earlier when out there following a few Memebers of the Welsh Regiments 2nd Battalion who were there at the same time. Also Following My Wifes Great Grandfather who was a sapper with 55th Field Company RE with the 7th Division
Anyway The Author mentioned he had written the book concerning his grandfather, wondered aloud who would be interested in reading such a thing modestly, and I answered in teh positive that I would be. Well a few montsh later I was visiting the RWF`s museum in North Wales and happened upon it in thier shop there. the book was written to support the museum, so I picked up a copy there and then and delved into it.
The book well what you have is a picture of "Hal" formed by the auther through his letters, and some very good historical analysis concerning the periods involved. You also get to follow the 1st Battalion through the period aswell with some fantastic apendicies useful to anyone interested in the regiment or the men who served in it.
one thing that surprised me in a good way is that it seems the author who is the subject Grandson doesnt try to gloss over or remove any of "politicaly incorrect" - of its time- opinions that Hal had concerning the people he came into contact with. The author let the letters speak for themselves as a piece of history and kept himself at the appropriate distance from the subject as it should be and he should be commended for doing so.
Also when Hal`s letters stop the author takes up story himeslf with what seems like exhaustive research concerning teh movements of the Battalion in those first months in Belgium, the conditions, and if anything paints an impressive picture of what happens from the personal level through strategic. The author understands his medium and is great at conveying it.
In the end though you cant help but feel the sadness behind the search for What happened to Hal, and the efforts his wife went to unravel the story and teh soldiers who tried to paint the picture for her. weirdly on a personal note it was odd to see a description of the battalions efforts under Hal written by an officer of.....55th Field Company RE in the last couple of pages. It took me back to my original conversations with author
Anyway I highly recomend it to anyone with an interest in the war, the RWF or what it was like to be an officer in the old regular army of the Victorians. I hope to one day again meet the author and congratulate him in person on such an excellent piece of work, and I hope he choses to write more as he has a talent for it