November 11th, The Guns are Silent


Anonymous said...I have been following the blog too for some time. When I have nothing to do I make a point of checking in and seeing if anything new has happened.
November 19, 20

battlecry said...Very interesting article.Cheers.good luck.
November 19, 2008

Roger O'Keeffe said..."Recreational training" is army speak for sports or any other activity which gives the lads a bit of time to take things easier, while making it clear that they are still in the army! The term was still in use in the Irish Army right up to the 1980s, and it may well still be in use for those not "deployed" on operations, to use the 21st-century term. Every day had a full training programme for those not engaged in guard duty, patrols or "employed" - i.e. people like cooks, company clerks etc. In normal garrison conditions in the Irish Army (which on its establishment after independence in 1922 was largely made up of former members of the British Army - first-world-war veterans and even old regulars who had served in India), Wednesday afternoon was always programmed for recreational training, i.e. sports, just like in school. Now that Harry's Battalion has effectively reverted to peacetime conditions, you can be sure that "blanco and bullshit" will become a more prominent part of daily life for himself and his chums. This might seem unduly harsh for men who have been through what they have been through, but if you read Paul Fussell's "Band of Brothers", you will get an idea of how quickly an army can fall apart on the cessation of hostilities. In answer to Janell, you have to bear in mind that the armistice of 4/11 was just an armistice, a temporary if substantial cease-fire pending negotiation of a final settlement: the allied armies had to be kept in an operational state until it became clear that especially Germany, but also Austria had collapsed. The French and British armies would go on to take up garrison duty in Germany, and elements of the British Army would go to Russia to get involved in the war against the Bolsheviks.
20 November 2008 09:50

Roger O'Keeffe said... On reflection, as the diarist makes a distinction between recreational training in the mornings and football in the afternoons, he may be using the term to gloss over the fact that the lads were simply allowed the morning off, especially if they had an opportunity to work up a hangover the night before.
20 November 2008

Anonymous said...Yo may find this of interest http://www.john-dillon.co.uk/yorklancs/sgt__davenport.html
18 November 2008
An account of another member of the 9th Battalion. Some pictures. Unfortunately, none with Harry. BL

Janell said...Why is Harry's Battalion still in Italy, practicing on the rifle range, route marching and playing football? Very strange. And why are there no letters from Harry? Is he sick or have they been lost? I would be frantic, if I didn't know that he does return home. Janell

18 November 2008
This is the way that every army works. They are trained and organised for war. They have no mechanism to sort out what to do next. The Battalion has a thousand young men who need to be occupied and "contained". Discipline must be maintained or there could be major problems. BL

Anonymous said...This has been a most fascinating blog, and I have kept up with it very regularly here in Kansas, USA. I am struck by Harry's unwaivering civility and graciousness through it all. He must have been quite a fellow.
November 17, 2008

Daniel said...I know I am a week late, I've been away from the Blog for some time, but it was not far from my thoughts. I guess like many of your readers, When November 11th rolled around, Harry was in my thoughts. Of course it was Veterans Day in the US. I served in the National Guard as have many in my family in various branches. I want to thank you for such a wonderful resource to military history. It is invaluable to get the front line soldiers perspective in order to give us a much better feel for the events of the time. I am happy to see that Harry made it to the end of the war. Thank you for taking the time and doing the work neccessary to share with us Harry's world. I look forward to reading the remainder of his letters between armistice and his return home. Dan Fort Worth, Texas
November 18, 2008

Anonymous said...My Grandfather served with "D"COY, 9th Battalion, Yorks & Lancs from September 1914 to the end of hostilities so it is very interesting to read Harry's Blog and the War Diaries.
November 18, 2008

Doctor Pion said...My grandfather was in France for quite a long time after the war ended. Part of it he spent touring parts of the country, but many of his later letters show the frustration of being given random duties once the war was over rather than returning home so he could go back to college.
November 16, 2008

Marco said...I want to thank you for your work on your family history.
Every one of us had a grand father or great grand father fighting in WWI and in many of our houses have letters or diaries of that times, but not one of us had an outstanding idea like yours. Thank you for having honoured your grand father, and our grand fathers too, by publishing this letters and making us feel the pain of waiting for the next letter. This was a non rhetorical way of talking of the WWI while all the celebration cannot avoid rhetoric, even 90 years after the end of that cruel war, that was called "The great War" until we was obliged to count them out.
November 16, 2008

Marco said...I read this wonderful blog from Italy. I want to tell you all readers that still nowadays in any city,town, or village in my country there is a stone or a monument with the names of the soldiers who died in WWI and they are still honoured on Nov 4th, the day of Italian armistice (la Vittoria as we call it). When you'll came in Italy as tourists look out for them and have a poppy in memory of all the young boys that did not come back home as Pte Harry did. Love from Italy.
p.s. I didn't know that English army helped us to win the war. thank you Harry.
November 16, 2008

ccesnik said...I have loved the blog. I haven't commented much, but I have loved tracking Harry and I love hearing about the wonderful things that have happened to you. Who knew when we all started reading this that letters you posted would become a media sensation, generating new interest in history and tours based on Harry's experiences. Thank you for this blog. You deserve all the accolades you receive.
November 16, 2008

Marta Weller said...I have been reading Harry's letters home and the very interesting contextual comments for over a year. This has been a great, great experience. I posted a link to this Blog on my library's website and got it written up in our Berks County, PA library newsletter. I was very excited to hear/read about the forthcoming book and plan on adding it to our library's collection. Thank you again for inviting the world to share in this experience.
November 16, 2008

Anonymous said...I have been following since the blog was first announced on TV. Thanks for sharing.
November 12, 2008

David said...I´ve been following this blog for a year and a half with great interest. Thank you for Your work! November 12, 2008

Lightning Rose said...Thank you for sharing these letters. I hope Harry went home and had a long and fulfilling life. Lori Boulder, Colorado
November 14, 2008

Logic Boy said...I have been following this blog. It's been quite moving. Thank you so much.
November 15, 2008

Anonymous said...I have loved reading this blog, with real messages produced with real-life timing. Thank you for imagining, creating and sustaining such a simple yet deep way of looking at the past.--karma
November 15, 2008

mr christian said... "...he served through the whole war, 1914-1918, and made it home in one piece, only to lose his wife to the Spanish influenza in 1919."I was just thinking that to myself - I hope he survives the flu !
November 13, 2008

Jain said... :-(Can we have a spoiler alert if links to outside reports (e.g. "The World") give away more detail than what is already published? I'll continue to be a devoted reader, but only of your, sorry, Harry's, own material from now on ... just in case!
November 13, 2008
Apologies if it's spoiled anything. The event to keep concealed is the time and method of Harry's journey home. To discover that story, "follow the blog!" BL

Paul B said... So pleased he made it through. Such a touching story. Well done for such an effort. Thank You
November 13, 2008

George said... Each year at Armistice Day, memories flood back to a visit I made to the Western Front some 20 years ago. The most vivid are an entry in the visitors book at Tynecot, written by two English ladies, giving the name of a soldier who was buried there and the comment, "To a father and a grandfather never known, but never forgotten." Relatives of the fallen could place an inscription on the stone of the soldier. I remember one which said, "He said 'twas his duty" and one below the Victoria Cross on a soldier's stone which simply said, "My son, my son, no reward can be too great"
Such sorrow for so many people. GLL-Norman, Oklahoma
November 13, 2008

Janell said...I am concerned that Harry has not sent a letter since November 4th. I hope he hasn't gotten sick with the flu, the 1918 epidemic that in some histories of WWI, the attrition from which, is described as a major contributor to the end of the conflict. We know from Bill's recent radio broadcast that Harry did not get home for Christmas which must have been very disappointing for him and his family. Illness might explain that, or perhaps, his battalion was just engaged in post-war activities that prolonged his stay in Italy, though that would not necessarily explain the worrisome lack of correspondence, during this otherwise peaceful time.Janell
November 13, 2008

John and Joan said...Both of us lost close relatives in WW1; one, a member of the Royal Irish Rifles, is remembered in Tyne Cot Cemetery and the other, a member of the 20th Battalion, Canadian Infantry (Central Ontario Division) at the Vimy Memorial. Curiously they died on the same day, August 15, 1917. Thank you for this remarkable web site and blog. It has helped us bridge the decades and better understand WW1.
November 12, 2008

Anonymous said...I'm so glad he made it. Seeing the three WW1 survivors lay their wreaths yesterday moved me to tears. When Harry was writing home, they were young men, also no doubt writing home. God bless them all.
November 12, 2008

Mike said...Just heard of your blog on NPR here in the States today and it is fascinating. My great uncle fought in WWI, somewhere in the vicinity of Verdun, as he was awarded that campaign medal from the French. The stamp logo "Lest We Forget" is so appropriate, especially today (still November 11 here in the States).Thanks so much.....
November 11, 2008

Janell said...I thought of Harry on this Veterans Day, as I do every day, but with heightened Joy and Sorrow. Joy for Harry's survival and Sorrow for the soldiers who did not survive; and for the soldiers in wars to follow. I thought of my Dad's WWII service and the profound residual affects on him. Though he returned from combat without physical injury he was brooding and silent about his experience, until the day he died 35 years later. Janell Boise, Idaho
November 11, 2008

Anonymous said...It is wonderful to have the ability to have the insight to a soldiers thoughts during war. I often wonder about my uncle who was killed in Africa in 1943 during WW11. We should never forget what these brave men did for freedom
November 12, 2008

Tom Belardes said...While on the side lines with my wife, daughter and grandson, I watched my son march in the Veteran's Day Parade. I wonder if he really understands what today is all about? I have spoke to him about war and history, but I really don't think he understands the scope of humanity lost in just WW1 and WW2. I picture myself on a cold winter night with my grandson on my lap by a fire, reading your book to the family. Good show Harry! Three cheers!
November 11, 2008

Anonymous said...So glad that Harry's made it, all the marching in the Battalion's War Diary over the last few days was starting to make me nervous.....Ninety years ago in my own family: my great-grandfather was an infantry sgt. in the Kaiser's Army; he served through the whole war, 1914-1918, and made it home in one piece, only to lose his wife to the Spanish influenza in 1919. And then there was his son, my grandfather: eight years old when his father left for the war, he remembered some terrible times later in the war as a kid in Lorch, Germany, a lot of near-starvation. But my favorite story: on his thirteenth birthday, he first thought that they were ringing all the church bells in town for him --- his birthday? November 11!
November 12, 2008

Viola said...I have been reading your blog for over a year now and was so happy this morning to find Harry had made it. I look forward to hear more news on him. As we all cheer for Harry's return, we must never forget the ones who weren't as fortunate.
November 12, 2008

Anonymous said...I have been following your blog for a year now and was so happy this morning to find Harry had made it. I look forward to read future news on him. As we all cheer for Harry's good fortune to have survived the war, we must never forget those who died for our freedom !!
November 12, 2008

Sgt Sam Avery said...Hello Harry:So glad to hear that you have made it through. As for me, I have a year to go and will be fighting until the very last moment... Best Regards,Sam
November 12, 2008

Shoalanda Speaks said... Today in my blog I honored the last living U.S. doughboy Frank Buckles. This era has almost completely passed, and I sincerely thank you for bringing us Harry's letters over the past months. I look forward to reading your book as soon as it's published. S.S. - Florence, Alabama, USA
November 12, 2008

Janell said...Oh, Happy Day! Harry will return to his family, as we have hoped since he left for the war. Now the question is: "HOW IS HARRY?" Have his mind and spirit survived, too? I will continue to think of him every day, until I know the outcome of his life. Then, I will remember him, until the end of mine. Janell
November 12, 2008

lom said...I am so pleased that Harry will soon be home with his family and friends, There have been times I have shed tears and worried about Harry as I have read this blog. My thoughts go out to his family and the families of those that didn’t return
November 12, 2008

Steve said... Last night I saw a BBC program and it said over 9,000,000 letters were sent a week from the front. The startling thing was they were a lot like Harrys, no one mentioned the actual war. No one discussed death or the gloom this all to prevent the people at home worrying. How magnificent for these young men to think of others when their plight was so grave.
November 12, 2008

Vicki said...I am so glad to log on and see that Harry has made it. I really feel quite weepy. It is an end of an era. Thank you so much for sharing harry;s story with us, it really has brought home the effect of war on ordinary people in a real way. It also has been a valuable lesson with all the extra information on just how many men sacrificed their lives in this conflict and how hard they suffered whilst there, even those that survived. I would imagine that the Harry that returns home is a very different man to the one that left in 1914.....
November 12, 2008

Nanny (Shirley) said...I am so glad Harry has made it, but sad for the many who didn't. On this day especially we always thinks of those who have served their countries in all wars, let us hope that someday there will be no more wars. For those of you interested - Harry's stamps are wonderful - I encourage all to buy them.
Bill - please let us know when the book will be available. I'll be following Harry until he arrives home safely - Shirley
November 11, 2008

Anonymous said...I am delighted to log on today and read your post and see how fortunate Harry was. I'll keep reading the story and like others have said, look forward to the book. Today honours so many people who unfortunately paid the ultimate sacrifice for all our freedom
November 11, 2008

Jennifer said...This blog is so interesting. Thank you for publishing this and bringing the WWI experience to modern readers. Best of luck with the book deal.
November 11, 2008

Ish said...Been following for about a year I guess, maybe a little more. Thanks for your effort in sharing this remarkable heritage.
November 11, 2008

Carrie said...Thank you so much for making these letters public. I have enjoyed following Harry's progress and am much relieved that he is going to make it out alive! I hope he doesn't catch the influenza!
November 11, 2008

Serge Boivin (Canada) said...Each year on Remembrance day I think about our soldiers... a little bit for a few moments...This year is different. I have been anxious about Harry's fate for a while, and I keep checking the blog in the hope of seeing good news come in. I keep telling myself "today is the day". While I wait to hear from Harry, I'll read about other soldiers who have fought bravely for us. Thanks again for reminding us so vividly that it is not faceless armies but people like us, our family, neighbours, and friends, who face danger each day to make the world safer.
November 11, 2008

Doctor Pion said...When I was a kid, the vets always sold red paper poppies at what by then was called the Veteran's Day parade in the US. It was much later before I learned about the war from my Grandfather, and came to appreciate its scope and impact on Europe, and the somber nature of the celebration of this day. Harry's letters fill in some of the gaps in the stories I heard, so I offer one of my Grandfather's stories (converted into the form of a letter) about the last day of the Great War to fill in some gaps in his story. You can read it on my blog. Although modified somewhat to work as a letter, much of it is verbatim from a tape recording of his story.
Thanks again for sharing your family's letters.
November 11, 2008

Eva said...As a result of following Harry's story, I read the book "All quiet on the western front" and just finished it yesterday on the airplane. While I was in tears to realize Harry made it through the war, I'm nervous about his adjusting to life after the war. How did these great men do it?? I wonder if our generation has the emotional reserves of strength the past ones have had. Harry's letters had not a hint of the whining and complaining we typically hear today when people are inconvenienced. I'm determined to use this experience as an example for me personally. Thank you so much!Eva
November 11, 2008

Suzanne Kansas, USA said...Thank you so much for this blog. I have been completely pulled in, and am glad to see Harry has lived to see the end of the War. I hope to hear soon about his life after the war and hope it was happy and long.
November 11, 2008

Anonymous said...I've just given a big cheer after reading that Harry has made it through.
November 11, 2008

Jackie said...What a relief! I am so happy for Harry and his family.
November 11, 2008


Pamela said... Yeh! for Harry. I'm so pleased to hear the news.
November 11, 2008

3 comments:

Mike said...

Just heard of your blog on NPR here in the States today and it is fascinating. My great uncle fought in WWI, somewhere in the vicinity of Verdun, as he was awarded that campaign medal from the French. The stamp logo "Lest We Forget" is so appropriate, especially today (still November 11 here in the States).

Thanks so much.....

Janell said...

I thought of Harry on this Veterans Day, as I do every day, but with heightened Joy and Sorrow. Joy for Harry's survival and Sorrow for the soldiers who did not survive; and for the soldiers in wars to follow. I thought of my Dad's WWII service and the profound residual affects on him. Though he returned from combat without physical injury he was brooding and silent about his experience, until the day he died 35 years later.
Janell
Boise, Idaho

Daniel said...

I know I am a week late, I've been away from the Blog for some time, but it was not far from my thoughts. I guess like many of your readers, When November 11th rolled around, Harry was in my thoughts. Of course it was Veterans Day in the US. I served in the National Guard as have many in my family in various branches. I want to thank you for such a wonderful resource to military history. It is invaluable to get the front line soldiers perspective in order to give us a much better feel for the events of the time. I am happy to see that Harry made it to the end of the war. Thank you for taking the time and doing the work neccessary to share with us Harry's world. I look forward to reading the remainder of his letters between armistice and his return home.

Dan
Fort Worth, Texas