December 2009, Comments

Anonymous said... I love this site! Thank you sooo much for all your posts!
December 30, 2009

Anonymous said...Moving to Tortona, a town on the main railway line: Harry must be so hopeful that maybe now, finally!, he might be moving one step closer to home. This postcard doesn't say anything like that, but I imagine he wouldn't want to suggest it either, in case he gets stuck somewhere yet again.
December 28, 2009

Linda said...Wishing you and yours a very merry christmas and a happy new year.
December 23, 2009

Janell said...Bill, It is somehow fitting that Rocco has sent a Christmas card this year. He has been your most supportive friend through this. He even invited you to Italy and went with you to Harry's old haunts this summer. As we wait for Harry's War to come to an end, I would like to thank you again, for presenting your grandfather's WWI experience to the world and producing his book. Janell
December 23, 2009
I have been  most fortunate in acquiring many good friends, world-wide, through the blog. I've been lucky enough to meet up with a few. Thanks to all. BL

Gustav's greatgranddaughter said... Merry Christmas to Harry, whom so many of us have folded into our own families; to his grandson Bill Lamin, who has shared this treasure with us; to Harry's wife and son, who lost years they should have had with him; and to those like Rocco, who have helped expand even more on the bare bones of Harry's diary.

To all of you: Peace on Earth, and Goodwill to Man!
December 23, 2009

Sgt Sam Avery said... Hello Harry: Sorry to hear that you are still in place, but as you say being in good health is something. As for me, just returned from a leave and am back in the hospital. The flu is here now and they take no chances. Stop by for a read when you can.
December 19, 2009

History said... nice article, 1 and 2 world wars are a tragic period !
December 21, 2009

Anonymous said...It was rather interesting for me to read the post. Thank you for it. I like such topics and anything that is connected to this matter. I definitely want to read more soon.
December 21, 2009

Kolobos said...the title of the post must be "...11th DECEMBER 1919".
In any case, thank you for this excellent blog. Guido
December 10, 2009
Oops! Corrected that now. Thank you. BL

Nanny (Shirley) said... Just in case you are not home soon - Happy Christmas Harry, I'll keep praying that you will see your family soon!
December 09, 2009

November 1919, Comments

Sample Letters said...Poor Harry, it shows how desperate he was to come back. The post is really heart touching.
November 26, 2009

Linda said...
Oh dear, poor Harry must be desperate to get home - he didn't like it when Jack wrote before, but now really seems he wants him to, quoting dates and circumstances, it makes for quite a sad letter.
November 25, 2009

Sgt Sam Avery said...Hello Harry:
Sorry to hear you are still waiting for word of leave. At least you are changing scenery, what? I've been hiking since the end of things and we are told we will soon stop at our next assembly area. As it happens, we will be here waiting yet and others who came after will be going home first. Stop by for a read when you can. Regards Sam
November 22, 2009

puma_librarian said...I am finding it fascinating to read these letters. Really helps give one a feel for what was on the minds of the soldiers. I did wonder though...didn't Harry mean a tin of Pomade (rather than Pomard)...for his hair?
November 23, 2009G.
Pomade is correct - "posh" scented hair oil, suggesting that Harry is well enough to start thinking about the finer things in life, BL 

Tingey said...I THINK the last conscripts etc came home about April 1920 ....
November 19, 2009

Harry hopes that you're right. BL

Anonymous said...Any idea how many men were, like Harry, still at their posts this late after the war? On the one hand, he so obviously and rightfully longs to be home; on the other, well, at least he has a job.
November 17, 2009

Serge said...It almost feel as if Harry just got forgotten... poor guy. I have not read the book, so I'm still anxiously waiting to read the "end" of this story. Thanks.
November 17, 2009

Anonymous said...I have a copy of one letter my grandfather wrote his brother while he was serving in World War One. After reading these letters, I so wished to have been able read more letters of my grandfather's.
November 12, 2009

Sgt Sam Avery said...Hello Harry: Well as you know it's Over. We were driving until the last minute, then Peace. Something odd to try and shoot a chap and then shake his hand, what? Sorry to hear you are still where you are. As for me, a long hike awaits. Stop by for a read when you can. Regards, Sam
November 12, 2009
Sam Avery is a "doughboy" who is working a year behind Harry. For him, the war has just ended.

Gustav's great-granddaughter said...I don't know if you've heard of this or not, but: apparently the Green Howards Regimental Museum, Richmond UK, has acquired and put online 43 photos taken by a Lt. John Stanley Purvis of the trench warfare he and his men faced in 1916-1918. The website appears to be
It's one year today since the Armistice, and Harry is still not home.
November 11, 2009
It's actually a year and a week since the Armistice in Italy and, yes, Harry's not home. The pictures referred to are great but the presentation and filing of the site is a little "difficult". To find the pictures click here, scroll down and select "people" and find J. S. Purvis in the list. BL

Anonymous said...This was great for my h/w
November 07, 2009

October 1919, comments

Nigel from Nottingham said...Dear Bill, My uncle served in North Africa in WW2 and was taken to Italy as a POW. He was killed in an allied air strike against a German munitions train at L'Aquila in December 1943. I intend to visit his grave in Ancona next year. I didn't realise that UK troops were also on the Italian front in WWI. Thanks for highlighting this in "real time" blog mode straight to modern day. Regards
October 27, 2009

Sgt. Sam Avery said...Hello Harry: Rumors in the Army are as natural as breathing. I'm still breathing also, right now in Verdun on some military business while the Regiment is holding the right flank of the Allied line during this push. Still dodging the big shells that come over behind the lines. Stop by for a read when you can. Regards, Sam
October 26, 2009

Kittybriton said...Good to hear you're keeping alright Harry. I should think if you stay overseas much longer you'll have to become an Italian citizen! And the way the officers treated you when you were cooking for them just serves to confirm another long-held belief that fellows like yourself who make life possible for the rest of us are never really appreciated. Well let me say this, Harry, you are appreciated. And I hope the country recognizes your contribution when you get home once more.
October 25, 2009

Dieter Finzen said...Bill, Thank you for the well done post about the blog. Inspired by your remarks about "All quiet on the Western Front" I have posted a small extract of the film showing what it´s like to be in a recruitment camp.
October 22, 2009

Anonymous said...thanks for this English link to Dieter's diary. As you noted, I had gone to look at it when it was posted earlier and as I can not read German, was disappointed I could not 'see' the other side of the line.
I'm sure it will be very informative. My step-father was in the 101st Airborne in WWII and found that the 'word' about what 'The other side' would do if you or women and children were captured were generally false or very exaggerated on BOTH sides.
October 20, 2009

Sam Avery said... Hello Harry: It's been more than 12 months since I've been home too. Now I'm back in the lines with the boys after getting done with the hospital. Dugouts, cooties [Lice] and the exchange of iron makes it seem homelike here as long as I'm back with the Company. Stop by for a read when you can Regards, Sam
October 18, 2009

Iwan said...eeemm and still no leave???
October 17, 2009

Kittybriton said...All I can say is, your patience, Harry, must be legendary! All this time since the armistice, and still no leave!
October 10, 2009

Sgt Sam Avery said... Hello Harry: Sorry to hear you're still stuck in the same spot, but hopefully you'll be home by Xmas. At least you're not being shot at as I soon will be again. Finally got out of the hospital and am enroute back to the Company. Big doings ahead I think. Stop by for a read since you must have so much free time. Best Regards, Sam
October 03, 2009

Alan Kirby said... Great blog! I just started reading it...going to skip back to the 1st entry and catch up with everyone else as soon as I can
October 04, 2009
Thank you Alan. Welcome to this wonderful community. BL

Kittybriton said...
Here's to you getting back in time for Christmas Harry. Goodness knows, you've done your bit and then some! I had no idea you would be kept hanging around overseas for so long, and as you say, I can understand that an indoor job will take a bit of getting used to after being outside so much but I know your family will be happy to have you home safely.
October 02, 2009

September 1919, Comments

Therese said...Thank you for the great photos of your stay with Rocco and his family. The country is truly beautiful, but you can imagine what it must have been like for Harry back then, the country side would have been much changed due to the war.
I have truly have enjoyed Harry's blog, you have done a wonderful job, and I look forward to the next installment. Therese from Australia
September 29, 2009

Rocco said...
We do believe you are sincere...except about the "excellent English". Too generous!
Tripadvisor comments: (1)
We recommend Bill as a guest to everybody. Try to believe!
September 28, 2009

Roger 'Keeffe said...Just wait for the second edition ;-)
Bill has sent me a draft chapter of the school text that he is working on. It's a worthy companion to the blog and to "the book of the blog": in plain language, I think it's bloody brilliant!. But so far no publisher is biting, which I think is a crying shame.
I'm more than willing to write a personal reaction to the draft textbook, but I'm not all that sure that my endorsement from a neutral European perspective is worth much in the UK (cf. the less-than-entirely detailed reference to "The French" on the Sherwood Foresters' map!).
Is there nobody out there with lines of communication to the UK school textbook industry that can convince a publisher about the phenomenally inspiring nature of all that Bill has brought forth from a box of letters that could just as easily have been thrown in a skip and lost forever?
This textbook is crying out for a good publisher.
Has anyone got contacts in Euroclio, the European association of history teachers? Anybody been involved in a Comenius project on history? An endoresment from someone from that sort of background would surely carry much more weight than anything that I could write as a "faceless unelected Eurocrat".
September 23, 2009
Many thanks. I'm sure an endorsement - even from a "faceless unelected Eurocrat" would help. As a footnote, I did a nominal 1 hour presentation to a year group in a local school this morning which was extremely enjoyable. The kids soon engaged with Harry and asked loads and loads of really well considered questions about the Great War. It had to wound up after 90 minutes as the Hall was wanted for another group. BL

Anonymous said...It is quite amazing that you were able to see the original trenches. It's too bad you weren't able to make this trip before publishing your book, and include some of your great pictures in it. Thanks!
September 22, 2009
Something to consider for the second edition. BL

Janell said... Sorry to hear that your trip to the Piave Front was anticlimactic. I suppose the armies weren't there long enough to leave many artifacts and scars on the ground and whatever might have been there was probably cleared by the farming population over the next near-century; but how disappointing for you to find no evidence of their November 1918 presence at the river crossing, Cimetta or Sacile. Will you be going to Rivalta Scrivia or any of the other places where Harry spent time, after November 1918?
September 20, 2009
I don't really have time to take in every where Harry visited. The bits where there was fighting were, of course, the most important. I can't see that there would be too much of interest at Rivalta. I think I may try to organise a trek - walking the route from Mantua (Mantova) to the Piave front at Montebelluna. About 100miles in easy stages. Anyone else fancy joining me? BL said... I knew you'd feel Harry's presence, as you traveled the ground he trod 90 years ago. I'm sure his angel is on your shoulder, as you travel his path back through time. Thanks for taking us on your journey.
September 18, 2009

Anonymous said... Amazing, just amazing. It's hard to say what gets to me more: the shell holes that are still so obvious, even after ninety years and another major war, or how peaceful the scene looks now. I imagine that in June 1918, the trees were either shot up or chopped down; instead of that verdant grass the fields were nothing but mud, rocks and barbed wire; and the misty haze was thick choking smoke from the guns. Instead of a serene quiet green, everything was sharp, harsh and filled with constant noise. It's no wonder many of Harry's comrades were invalided with 'shell shock'!
September 19, 2009
I'm sure that it would, at times, have been a harrowing experience but Harry is quite clear that, compared to Flanders, the Italian front was a "picnic". There wasn't the industrial intensity of warfare that was evident on the Western Front. In several letters, Harry makes it clear that it's a much quieter theatre of war. Harry, in the reserve trenches, went the front line to "have a look" on 15th June. That just wouldn't have happened in Flanders. BL

Janell said... Thank you for all the wonderful pictures from your trip to the trenches on the Asiago Plain. They are the next best thing to being there. Though the beauty of the area is breathtaking and many of the scars have healed, for those who look, evidence of the War is everywhere.
September 19, 2009

T.F. Maher, St. Louis, MO said... Thank you for the photos; what a brutal place to have a war. I cannot imagine that the stone-lined trenches would not have been more deadly than earthen equivalents; many more chances for ricochets of bullets and shell fragments, as well as pieces of stone.
Brave men!
September 20, 2009

Emanuele Ziglioli said... As an Italia, I'm ashamed and sorry to hear your were overcharged in Venice. In Italy they just take advantage of foreigners. Recently a Japanese man was charged something like 500e and it went to the police.
Well done!
September 17, 2009
Emanuele, we weren't overcharged. I just emailed to ask the prices. That wasn't a problem. Just a bit too expensive for me. BL said... I am so excited for you and for us. Just to think that you are in Italy to retrace Harry's path makes me happy. We are going to enjoy your trip almost as much as you will. Harry has shown you the way; you'll probably meet him somewhere, as you travel back in time and place.
September 17, 2009

Dr Satori said... Brilliant post. I'm next door in Padua. Wish I'd organized to meet up with you. Enjoy your visit. Thanks for this project.
September 18, 2009 said... Did you and Rocco have lunch at Harry's Bar? If so, I hope they served you on a silver plate, something to make the price a little more palatable.
September 18, 2009

Pte Harry Lamin said...
Harry's Bar is very expensive and so we didn't eat there. I can't complain as they were very clear about the prices. We could make our own decision. If I didn't make it clear in the text, we weren't ripped off. Harry's Bar's fine for tourists with a large budget. Unfortunately I'm not one of them.
September 19, 2009

colagirl said...I followed this blog fairly regularly for a while but stopped shortly after Armistice Day--I figured there couldn't be that much more left. Looks like I was wrong. I can't believe Harry's still not home yet!
Here's hoping you can get home soon, Harry.
September 17, 2009

Roger O'Keeffe said...I just noticed that although it was a different explosion, it did involve what would subsequently become Harry's battalion. I followed through the wikipedia link to the general article about the Munsters. The garrison battalions formed towards the end of the war were not intended for active service, and by 1919 they were either a source of men for guard duty, or holding formations for processing people due for demobilisation.
1 Garrison Company was initially mainly made up of old soldiers - many of them probably regulars from the pre-war era - who had seen active service and returned to duty after being wounded, but by late 1919 it was probably rather a ragbag unit.
The regiment, like others whose recruiting areas were the southern part of Ireland, was disbanded in 1922 after the creation of the Irish Free State, and some members of these regiments became the nucleus of the Irish regular army - which is how part-time soldiers like me a half-century later learnt to use words like "jildi" or "chit" in the hope of sounding like real soldiers!
September 17, 2009

Kimberly said...I found mention of the explosion on Wikipedia.
September 11, 2009
Thank you for that- but if you read the account carefully it's an explosion at a different time and place. BL

Gustav's great-granddaughter said...
For what it's worth (not much, if they can't be bothered to PROPERLY contact you!), Frontline is a television show here in the US: not sure how THEY would describe themselves, but I'd say they cover a lot of news and current events.
September 10, 2009

Kittybriton said...Good grief! Leave stopped for September? it's nearly a year since the armistice!
September 10, 2009
Of course, it's over a year since Harry has had leave and has seen Ethel and Willie. BL

Anonymous said...I found this reference:
Army of Occupation of Germany
September 10, 2009

Anonymous said...I'm 13 and I have history project on what soldiers had to endure in the great war, I was wandering if you could post some updates about the letters and life in the trenches
September 09, 2009
I would help, but I don't have an email address. You should be able to find the information you need, if you read the blog. BL

(Best Show)Watch said..Hi: Two things
1) I’d like your permission to (re)print your article on Frontline for our website
2) I was hoping we could use your ‘scribing’ talent for our website.

Frontline is one of our featured shows. We’re hoping to round up a few people who can occasionally contribute perspective (via an article/blog) on the shows – maybe a recent episode, future direction, plot shortcomings etc. What’s in it for you? Primarily a larger audience back channeled to your blog. We don’t pay but the site has a lot of promise and we're pretty excited about getting it off the ground. Let me know what you think. Thanks
September 09, 2009
Love to help, Three things; Who do I reply to? What Article? And what is "Frontline"? This MAY be a genuine request but, if it is, they're not going to get much going with that little thought! I suspect it's just a sneaky link. So I'll delete the link until you get in touch properly. BL

Anonymous said...Have a great trip --- I'm not about to tell you what photographs to take: after all, you've already done a fantastic job of leading us through Harry's war, and I doubt you'll disapoint us now!
September 02, 2009

Milanesio said...My Grandfather and his brother fought in the WWI, in the Piave river area. In that period Hemingway drove ambulances for the American Red Cross and my grandfather Bartolomeo, a Fiat 15 Ter full of ammunitions. Maybe they met :). Also John Dos Passos was around. I have some pictures of my grandpa and brother of that period (without american writers). I'll look for them and I'll send them to you.
September 01, 2009

Cecilia in Michigan said...Wow! How exciting! This will be a fantastic experience for you, and I hope you enjoy it to the fullest! I can't wait to hear all about it.
September 01, 2009

August 1919 / 2009 Comments

Janell said...Climb every mountain, search high and low, follow every byway, every path you know. Harry will show you the way. Tell us of your experience. We would love to take the journey with you.
August 30, 2009

Tom in STL said...Interesting - I guess a lot of us use the SN for passwords - and I also use my M14 number as well. I did have to laugh when Bill followed the recitation of his number with "Sir!" Funny that my 1963 USA number had the same number of digits as his BA number - and was actually close to his numerically...
August 26, 2009

Anonymous said...Ah yes the good old service number, it's true you never forget it! 22 years on and mine has a new lease of a handy password for today's electronic age.
August 24, 2009
What a good idea. AAARGH, I've just published mine on the internet! BL

Kittybriton said...Fingers crossed for September leave!
August 22, 2009

Kittybriton said...Poor Harry! It just doesn't seem right after all you've been through and all you've done for us that the authorities keep you hanging around with no indication of when you might be demobbed.
August 21, 2009

Sgt Sam Avery said...Hello Harry: Glad to hear you are still well. I have been moved to an evacuation hospital at a chateau where I am getting along nicely after a dose of gas. A lot of chaps have the same problem and many are in worse shape. The nurses are quite nice here. Some class what? Stop by for a read when you can. Regards, Sam
August 17, 2009

Dieter Finzen said...Thank you very much for the great support you are giving my own project. It is greatly appreciated. With the help of friends I will be able to present my diary in English and in French.
Let´s start 12th september !
August 13, 2009

Ellen said...
He sounds like he is missing his family so much and it's dragging on for too long. My heart goes out to Harry, even more since the war is over and he is just stuck there. Hoping it doesn't do on too much longer for him. That he gets his leave or just gets to go home!
August 13, 2009

Kittybriton said...At last! Some prospect of leave. I hope it all goes smoothly and you actually get some time back in England, or would that be too much to hope for?
August 10, 2009

staring-into-space said... my dad told me about this site ages ago and I was amazed to see the letters were still being published! This is really special thanks so much for sharing them!! New Zealand
August 08, 2009

Florence said....I watched the funeral for Britain's last World War 1 Soldier on TV today. It was so wonderful that your countrymen honored Harry Patch with such a celebration of his life. In a way it was a celebration of thanks to all the soldiers from that generation. Did you ever think when you began your blog to honor your grandfather how timely it would be? You brought the Great War to the forefront in the minds of millions throughout the world. Harry Patch and Harry Lamin, two soldiers among the many who fought for their country. One will be remembered because he outlived them all; the other will be remembered because of his grandson. You are an inspiration. My best, Florence
August 07, 2009

Kittybriton said...After being abroad for so long, and the war finished, I'm sure you will be glad to get back to Blighty. I wonder you haven't started making plans to settle in Italy permanently!
August 07, 2009

Greg. Tingey. said...Some soldiers were, indeed, not "demobbed" until May or June 1920.Whether Harry was one of these, as you say, we'll have to wait and see.
August 06, 2009

Sgt Sam Avery said...Hello Harry: Just a note to tell you Im alright even tho in the hospital. Closest thing Ive had to a real rest since hitting France. Seems the Hun gave us the gas right up until the end and there are many chaps worse off than I am. Glad to hear you're well. Keep your chin up and stop by for a read when you can.
Regards, Sam
August 06, 2009

Jason said....The blogs are brilliant. What a wonderful idea and a great way to educate all people about so many aspects of life in our difficult world. I first heard about the first of Harry’s blogs some time ago because of a story and interview done on NPR in America. The various spin-offs are first rate and a real treat as well. I just wanted to thank you and the rest of your family for allowing us into Harry’s life. The blogs are tremendous, and together they really become perfect tools for learning about a period of history in which living witnesses are now unfortunately all too few. Thanks so much for creating such a valuable resource.

June/July 1919 Book & Blog Comments

Sgt Sam Avery said...Hello Harry: Thanks so much for your Honorable Mention. It is greatly appreciated. Soldier's Mail is also coming together as a book, but as with the rest of this war, you Tommies are ahead of us Yanks in the job and there's still more to do. We've just sent the Hun packing but I've ended up in the hospital into the bargain. Italian food would be good right now. Stop by and read when you can.
August 03, 2009

G. Tingey said...So everyone else is posting, but Harry hasn't sent any messages for some time.I realise that his present existence in Italy is fairly comfortable, but we KNOW that he wants to come home to Derbyshire. Any hints on that front, at all?
August 02, 2009
I think that you, and many others, would be quite disappointed if I did give any hints. "To discover Harry's fate, follow the blog." (Or buy the book!) BL

Roger O'Keeffe said...I received my copy this week - many thanks to Bill - and have devoured it in short order, inevitably continuing to the end in spite of good intentions! I'm still logging on whenever I can for updates on the blog, though: the book - which I hardly need to say is excellent and wonderfully complements the blog by filling in the gaps with narratives that relate Harry's experiences to the "bigger picture' - in no way diminishes the hankering for news from him.

Someone has posted a comment on the Dieter Finzen blog asking if Sven plans to make it available in English. That struck me as an excellent idea, so that the view from the other side could be accessible to more people - including Harry's fans who will at some point in the future find themselves without their regular history fix! But it could involve a lot of work, and while I'd love to contribute I couldn't promise a dependable service. So I've followed this up with a suggestion to Sven that it might be possible for him to set up a "Wiki translation": anyone who speaks both German and English could offer at least summaries or rough translations, which would spread the workload, and other members of the community could provide revisions, explanations of German military terminology etc.
August 01, 2009

Thomas A. said...Thank you for this information! I only know WW1 from the stories that my grandmother has told; she was 7 years old in 1914. I remember that she told a lot about the food situation back then, 900.000 civilians perished from starvation during the war. Her father served in Verdun and he was wounded. He never could speak about the war after he had returned. So this account will be very valuable to compare what the average soldiers worries were on both sides.
July 28, 2009
Does the comment refer to France and French soldiers? BL

Linda said...
And it was interesting to see that they had a picture of our Harry in The Mail on Sunday, saying it was Harry Patch in his teens!
July 28, 2009
And the Telegraph, The Sun, The News of the World and the Daily Express! I just hope they'll review the book to compensate. (The Express already has.) BL

Gretchen H. said...Thanks for inspiring others! This is invaluable material that people have in their private collections. I'm glad it is being brought to light after all these years!
U.S.A. July 26, 2009

Gustav's great-granddaughter said...I've got to say the Dieter Finzen blog sounds pretty interesting: I never got to know my great-grandfather or had a chance to ask him what it was like to serve, 1914-1918, as an infantry sgt. in the Kaiser's army --- perhaps I can get just a tiny glimpse of what he experienced through Dieter's eyes. (I do have a pretty good idea what it was like for German civilians at home: thank goodness my grandfather was, occasionally, quite talkative about his childhood and the family's homefront wartime tribulations.)
But mostly, I'm STILL waiting for our Harry to make it home!
July 26, 2009

Parcival said..."I also had some problems with the spatial configuration of the Western Front. Fixed in my head is a front line that runs from top to bottom with the offensive taking place from left to right. I couldn't adjust, mentally, to the German viewpoint, attacking from right to left. Very strange." I am a Swiss reader and just realized that I have the same problem. I guess this is a perfect example how history is made and viewed by the victors. Cheers,
July 25, 2009

Gustav's great-granddaughter said... I've looked in a couple bookstores, hoping to get a photo of the book on shelves to send you: no luck, darn it! (They do all have it available 'from our online stores only', for what that's worth.) Oh well, they just don't know what they're missing. I'll try another store or two in the next few days.
July 22, 2009

Endeavourer said... When the book came out I did not guess how long it would take for Harry to be demobbed. Although compulsory service was normal, I am thinking the enforced and unwanted stay in the army may have been as unpleasant as the fighting period, at least with the passage of time and indefinite waiting, away from family.
I am going to stay with the blog and await the news, at the same time counting my blessings, and thanking all the brave, ordinary guys (including my granddad (survived wounded till 1964)) who suffered for us.
July 21, 2009

Janell said...Curiosity finally got the best of me. Today, I read the book, having avoided it for weeks, waiting in vain for the blog to come to an end. It was very satisfying to turn the pages to the end. I was interested to see that Harry and Willie look very much alike in one of the pictures. I wonder what kind kind of relationship they had over the years. The book is excellently written and beautifully designed. It is not only a historical document but a work of art. Congratulations.
July 18, 2009

Joanne said...My son has ordered your just published book for me for my 76th birthday. What a treasure! Jo Thompson in Placitas, New Mexico, USA
July 02, 2009

Anonymous said...As much as Harry would've wanted leave, Jack's letters seem to have been having almost the OPPOSITE effect: it sounds as though the officers are getting irritated by Jack's repeated requests, and Harry is trying to tell Jack to stop, before he, Harry, gets in real trouble. Maybe Harry was too good a cook for the officer's mess to willingly let him go home!
July 01, 2009

Kittybriton said...It's so sad that even in Harry's day, Soldiers were heroes as long as we needed men to fight. But as soon as the war has been won, priorities change. Perhaps it is just as well that Harry is still abroad, and well away from the troubles at home.
July 01, 2009

Rocco said...Found on National Archives:
Unrest and riots. Demobilisation, nonetheless, remained a difficult undertaking. Many ex-servicemen, promised a 'land fit for heroes' by the Lloyd George government, suffered when unemployment rose rapidly and the ambitious wartime programme of 'reconstruction' was shelved during the 1921 economic slump.

Some problems were caused by demobilised soldiers from the Dominions, who were often left waiting in Britain for long periods until transport could be found to ship them home. A mutiny at a camp for Canadian soldiers in Rhyl in March 1919, for example, was only suppressed after a number of men were killed. A few months later, rampaging Canadian soldiers broke into a police station in Epsom, killing one policeman and causing a serious riot.

Demobilisation also exacerbated social tensions in various British ports. A series of ugly race riots took place in Liverpool and Cardiff during June 1919, as the local white population clashed with black workers and seamen, many of whom were left unemployed at the end of the war. In Cardiff, in particular, white ex-servicemen, including Australians stationed in the area, headed lynch mobs that terrorised the city's black community during a week of violence that left three men dead and dozens more injured. In the aftermath the government repatriated hundreds of black people (600 by mid-September 1919).
June 30, 2009

Paul said..Further to the previous comment, the book is now available in libraries in Wellington, New Zealand. I have a copy and, unlike most it seems, went straight to the final chapters - no further comment! The commentary surrounding the letters was excellent and obviously the result of a lot of hard work and research. A masterpiece Bill - What's next?!
New Zealand June 30, 2009

Rocco said...It would be nice to see photographs of the book in the shelfs
June 29, 2009
There's a display in my local Waterstones bookshop in Truro. "Local Author - signed copies." I'll try to get there and take a photograph. (Before they sell out) BL

Anonymous said...Your book has arrived on the public library shelf in Hamilton, New Zealand.
June 28, 2009
That is wonderful - and exciting! Perhaps we could start a "book spotting" activity. Readers could report sightings of the book in shops and libraries so we can map progress. Any more to report? BL

Kittybriton said...Well after all this hanging around, at least it sounds as if you're getting some decent nosh. Any idea how things are on the home front in that respect?
June 28, 2009

Sgt Sam Avery said...Hello Harry: No drilling but eggs and bacon every day, some class, what? I'd be happy to not have leave from that camp. Trade places with you anytime. We had an affair with the Boshe the other day and they had the worst of the argument, believe me. Very soon to leave this sector and move up where the big things are doing. Stop by for a read when you have the chance. Cheers, Sam
June 23, 2009

John Meier said...Bill, Please accept another round of congratulations on your marvelous telling of Harry's story.
Regarding the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, whether signed in November 1919 or (as another source had it) September, The Treaty did not come into force until 16 July, 1920. I hope Harry doesn't have to wait until then to be demobbed! At any rate, could you please explain the mission of Harry's battalion in 1919? Was it just guarding stores and ammunition? Best regards, Vienna, VA, USA
June 22, 2009
The 1st (Garrison) Battalion, Royal Munster Fusiliers were sent to Italy in January 1918 specifically to man the stores depot at
Arquata Scrivia. The battalion members were not considered fit enough for front-line service and so they were kept at that base, about 200 miles from the front line, where they were when Harry was attached to them.

G. Tingey said...Peace treaties (plural, note) were signed at/after the Versailles conference. That covering Germany was signed 28/06/1919, and Austria (which would have included Harry in Italy, as the treaty of Saint-Germain on 10/11/1919. So, do Harry and his new battalion start going home at the end of June, or does it all have to wait until September? I know SOME people were not demobbed until 1920 had arrived ...
June 22, 2009

Harry, of course, knows nothing of this as all the dates are in the future! "If you want to know Harry's fate, follow the blog!" (Or buy the book.) BL

The co-ordinator said...Grand Parade won the 1919 Derby. The horse was making its seasonal debut which may have been the cause of Harry's surprise.
June 21, 2009
Grand Parade was a 33-1 outsider, so quite a few were surprised. The bookies would have been delighted! BL

Anonymous said...No, he's not missing the drilling, but he sure seems to appreciate the decent food he's getting!
June 21, 2009

HAROLD HECUBA said...I have just discovered this blog in the last hour, or so, and what you have compiled and provided here is incredible! I don't maintain a blog myself, but a friend of mine has made some excellent posts about the military conflicts of the last century+ at Looking forward to more!
June 19, 2009

Anonymous said...Poor Harry. Still getting shunted around and no idea when he'll get home. And Ethel and Willie too. I wonder how they're managing without Harry for all this time. Hard on everyone.
June 17, 2009

Marcy said...I finished it today. You did a fabulous job and your grandad would be proud. This is definitely a book that can be used by scholars, not just interested persons. Kudos to you, Bill, you have a winner here.
June 16, 2009

Chris said...Is Harry back in England? Is Jack in Strelly. Does it mean he is back in England?
June 15, 2009
Jack is in Hull in England. Harry's stuck in Rivalta Scrivia, Italy. He's compared the Italian villages with Cossall and Strelly, places near Ilkeston that both Jack and Harry would have known as children. BL

TyauvinOn said...Bill, Just got the book here in the US on Friday evening. It is excellent - thank you. I have posted reviews on Facebook and Amazon US
Great job. All the Best Jim
June 15, 2009

Joan said...Bill,just have to say I loved the book.It was great to see photos of everyone waiting at home for harry.I will treasure the book for ever and you should be very proud.Thanks for sharing Harry's story with us. Joan

June 15, 2009

A new post just to split up the comments. I'll start with a couple of great reviews of the book. BL

Jackie said...I felt the same way as Linda. I didn't want to read ahead of the blog but I couldn't stop myself. It's a wonderful book, even better than the blog! I shed a few tears more than once. I would definitely recommend it to people.
June 14, 2009

Linda said...Yes... I know I said I would not read to the end, but The Book has been sitting and whispering to me for too long. So I finished it, it is absolutely brilliant, perfect to the very end and I finished the way I started, stroking it and thinking about when I should start to read it, again. You should be very very proud it's definitely a keeper (you wont see this in the charity shops, I'm sure). Once again well done you.
June 13, 2009

What a pair of lovely comments! I'm really relieved that, somehow, the book has worked as a separate item. Thank you for those kind and encouraging words, Linda and Jackie. BL

Book Feedback.

lyndyloo said...HI Bill! I'm really enjoying the book...thanks :) It is very moving and and as I read, I also remember my Grandad. He never spoke about the trenches but he did write down some bits and pieces ...and as I told you, his hair went white overnight at the tender age of 17. Yes, he lied about his age to enlist, as did many, many others. Lynn
June 12, 2009

Sgt Sam Avery said...Hello Harry:
Glad to hear you're still kicking but sorry to hear about the transfer. Had a bit of bad news myself recently when I lost my stripes due to reorganization. A common occurrence but still sour apples. Just do what I do: Pack up your troubles in the old kit bag and Smile, Smile, Smile. We're about to get into it proper where we are, so stop by for a read when you have the chance. Cheers, Sam
June 04, 2009

Gustav's great-granddaughter said...Today (June 7) I received a notice that Amazon-US "will have the book available beginning June 1", and that they will send a further notification as soon as it is available..... all of which is so confusing that I'm glad I got mine straight from the author! Thanks, Bill, for saving me from having to figure out what the heck Amazon is up to! (PS- I couldn't help it, I've read ahead.)
June 06, 2009
I've edited, very slightly, this comment. Just removed a reference to a timescale. I know you'll understand and won't mind. BL

Anne said...Makes me feel like somebody at home needs to remind the 'powers that be' that there are still men out there who seem to be being ignored. I never realised that they were left languishing for so long.
June 04, 2009

Kristin said...Who is Annie and why will Ethel and Willie be losing a house now? I wonder how much longer they can keep moving Harry around and preventing him from going home.
June 01, 2009

Annie is Sarah Anne, Harry's sister. As far as I can tell, Ethel and Willie had moved in with Annie for the duration of Harry's absence. Whitworth road is a mile or so (1.6 KM) from Mill Street and is in a much smarter part of town. (As a young child I used to get my hair cut in a barber's shop on the residential street, Whitworth Road. My first school was just across the fields.) I suppose that if Annie gets married, Ethel and Willie will have to move back to the Mill Street address. BL

Anonymous said...Darn it, sounds like Harry's gotten stuck in a poor situation. And being such a poorly-regarded sort of unit, they won't be on any short-lists even for things like clothing and supplies. Hang in there, Harry!
May 31, 2009

Theknitbox said...I've been following Harry for over a year and even the happy letters still make me cry. To give a little bow to the greatness of this blog, I'd like to humbly pass on the Lemonade Award - an informal acknowledgment of appreciation between bloggers - for being an inspirational blog. Click back to my blog to find out how to pass it along.
May 30, 2009

Kittybriton said...Bad luck about the move old man! I'm ashamed the brass didn't see fit to get you back to Blighty after all you've done too.
Not to worry, we'll keep the home fires burning, and a pint waiting for you when you get your boots off.
May 31, 2009

John said...I too have been through the review. It is really good. Thanks for the great work. Hope this good work would continue.
May 27, 2009

Paula said...My copy of the book arrived yesterday morning: thanks, Bill! So far I've only skimmed through, but it looks great: lots of expanded explanation of what was happening, lots of photos. It's a beautiful testament to Harry and all the others who served in the Great War.I'm diving in in-depth today, and I'm going to TRY to stop with May 1919.... not sure if I have the willpower, but I don't want to 'skip ahead' of Harry's letters in this blog! With much appreciation; Gustav's great-granddaughter (AKA Paula, the computer Luddite)
May 19, 2009

Yantram BPO said...This is great. I am favouriting you and will read from the beginning soon.
May 15, 2009

Kittybriton said...I wonder whether Harry is asking for something he can wear during off-duty hours? Guarding a dump! How much longer can the Army drag it out?
May 15, 2009
Different times Kitty. Soldiers would have to wear uniform if they went out in off duty times. No, they just didn't get new kit when the old stuff was worn out.

Anonymous said...'Send an old shirt'? Any idea why? I mean, I would've assumed that the Army kept the soldiers well clothed, but this sounds otherwise.
Also, Harry sounds pretty depressed; understandable, since the war's been over for months and he's STILL not home.
May 14, 2009
The soldiers were poorly equipped and, in an out of the way place, just wouldn't have supplies of fresh clothing and kit. Throughout the war, the soldiers would wear anything, within reason, to keep themselves comfortable. In an earlier letter, Harry's pleased to receive woollen goods but lets them know that he has to carry EVERYTHING, so he has to be selective about what he keeps. (Chocolate and cake, no problem!)

The Clever Pup said...I love the idea of a site like this. Well done. I've been tracking some French Soldiers from the 54th artillery that I found on postcards from a french auction. I also have clipping and letters from a Canadian soldier of WW1.
This is great. I'm favouriting you and will read from the beginning soon.
May 13, 2009

Janell said...Congratulations once again, Bill. Anyone who hasn't heard of Harry's Blog and the book, Letters from the Trenches, must live in a cave. I hope the book is a best seller.
May 10, 2009

Anonymous said..Whoopee, I've got my order in! But.... what can I say? I'm a bit a a Luddite: I didn't see anything about your signing it; I don't need it personalized, but I WOULD like your autograph in there. On the other hand, I don't want to mess up and accidently make a second, completely different order. Will you be signing all the ordered books --- in which case my screwup is taken care of!
May 09, 2009
All books I dispatch will be signed. There is a request for an email to me syaing exactly what dedication is wanted. I'll try and alter the Paypal button to request the dedication details. BL

Nanny (Shirley) said...Bill - I ordered from Amazon US and no delivery date as yet. I would LOVE to have one directly from you with your personal autograph (would go with my stamps) - thanks, Shirley
May 09, 2009

Anonymous said...Are you sure you want to do this? I'd bet you've got a lot of US readers, we might sprain your signing hand! (But yep: I'd love an autographed copy, if you're really willing!)
May 09, 2009

bill said...Hello Bill, I'm in the US, but I ordered the book from, and received it last week.
May 09, 2009

Janell said...Thank you, Bill. I will be happy to pay what ever the cost to receive the book from your loving hands. You continue to be a tribute to your grandfather and if he is able, your father no doubt takes great pride in his son's efforts to enlighten the world about one soldier's fight in The war To End All Wars.
May 09, 2009
I should have the ordering details by Monday. The postage to the States is about £7 ($12) but The book will be quite a bit cheaper than so, overall, it won't be too much more expensive than buying in the States. (And it'll be a signed copy) BL

Anonymous said...I've had a pre-order in with Amazon(US) since January; they've been saying 'we'll tell you as soon as its available' since mid-April. So when I was at a bricks-and-morter bookstore yesterday, I asked about it; the book is not listed on their upcoming titles. Sigh. I'll hang on a little longer, but the Amazon (UK) option is going to look better and better each day!
May 08, 2009

Rocco said...As a foreigner follower I'm not able to write in English a learned comment (found this expression on my English-Italian dictionary) on my GREAT appreciation of Bill's book. I expected a book taken from the blog, letters and some comments, I found instead a real history-chronicle book in which I'm accompanied and I learn the little and great reasons of Harry's adventure. I'm loving (arrived at page 100, 1st period in Italy), Bill's contributions between the letters, they are really involving and extremely clear. A lost teacher but a gained writer. Criticism?: too short!!
May 08, 2009

Janell said...We in the United States wait impatiently for the book to arrive. Perhaps the blog will end, at the time the book arrives. But I imagine I will start at the end, no matter when that is.
May 07, 2009
There seems to be a small problem in the States. There are negotiations to find a U.S. publisher for the book. Until that is resolved, it is going to be difficult for Amazon to satisfy their orders. (So my publisher tells me) It may be sensible to cancel the order with and re-order through which is delivering. BL

Anonymous said...If the cow is grass fed, as I'm sure these were, the drippings were actually healthy!
May 08, 2009
A comment about the training camp food "bread and dripping" from 1917! BL

Louise Lewis said...The problem is that we book buyers have been following the blog in 'real tima' for some years, and we don't wnat to learn the ending in 'advance'. My book is waiting on the shelf ready to be read and appreciated in the future when the blog finishes. Nevertheless, I can say how much I appreciate the work and effort you have put into the project and a glance at the book shows it to be handsome indeed. Thank you for all you have done
May 07, 2009

Jo Allen said...Such an achievement Bill, saw a copy and feel I must go and buy one now, looks and feels really good. Never had my name mentioned in a book before! hope it does well for you, you deserve it.Jo
May 06, 200

Linda said...Sorry Bill should have posted before, I have been reading my copy for the last week, I am not rushing to finish, just enjoying it slowly, it just seems the right thing to do (still haven't decided whether to go to the end), it's absolutely brilliant, I had forgotten lots of things and the war diaries really come into their own, I have only just realised how important they are, I was always in such a panic for the letters.
You should be very proud of this book, I get the feeling that it will be a stayer for many years to come.
I have read the review, really good, it sums it up perfectly. Linda
May 04, 2009

David said...My book arrived in good time, I started to read it and am doing so slowly, so as not to get near the end before the blog does. I imagine other readers are doing the same. Few are in a position to give a full resume!
I am very impressed with the technical quality as well as the amount of material you have amassed, and its presentation. You have made a brilliant job of writing a book on its own account, not just a rehash of the blog.
You have really done Harry justice - and I also think the BBC probably pinched the idea of following up letters home in their series of programmes last November with celebrities (memorably, Dan Snow and Rolf Harris) meeting historians at the battlefields.
May 03, 2009

Anonymous said...Great article for technology educators. I shared it with my colleagues here in the states. Thanks for all the great work.
May 01, 2009

Sgt Sam Avery said...Hello Harry: Too bad about being involved in occupation instead of going home, but at least it's better than being occupied with keeping your head down as I am. Just got some ready made smokes tho, and believe me they are grand. Stop by for a read when you have the chance. Sam's blog
May 01, 2009

I've added scans of contemporary newspaper reorts on the Fiume issue, found by Rocco, as there seems to be quite some interest. Click here. BL

Steve from Croatia said... Fiume(Rijeka) is town in Croatia. Name means river (there is a river in town). In Austro-Hungarian monarchy it was separate territory goverend by hungarians but mostly Croatians and Italians lived there. After WWI Italy claimed Rijeka but Yugoslavia and people from Rijeka had different ideas. For brief time (until 1919) english, french and american troops where stationed in Rijeka. I don't think Harry would like that: it was probably not peaceful job.
April 29, 2009

Anonymous said...I dont get the connection with the Wiki-link and the comments on the "Fuime job". Is the link correct?
April 28, 2009
The link seems fine to me, explaining a little of the history of Fiume, or
Rijeka as it is now known. Is the confusion with the name?
Rocco said...The following link (from Wikipedia) could be interesting for non Italian people: the FIUME job, as Harry calls it, was a terrible problem, whose consequences continue today for those Italians who were forced to leave Fiume or for those who decided to remain there. A hard destiny anyway for thousands people.
April 28, 2009
Harry's still spelling it FUIME. He can't be reading Rocco's comments. Thanks for the link Rocco. BL

Kittybriton said...10/6 a week bonus doesn't sound bad! At this rate of going, they'll have you in the regulars yet!
April 28, 2009

Gordon in Chicago said...What is the "Fuime job" reference?
April 28, 2009
A whole load of Harry's battalion were sent to Fiume (Harry spelt it wrong) on policing duty - a sort of United Nations job. The ownership of Fiume was disputed - the Italians laid claim to it and there was the potential for civil disturbances. It would appear that the rest of Harry's battalion (apart from poor Harry) was sent home for demob. BL

Rocco said...I got a mail from Amazon.UK: the book has been sent to Italy! Looking forward to it. My English-Italian dictionary is going to effort a hard job. 2nd good news:getting the book from IBS (an Italian kind of Amazon, very good for Italian books) I discovered it would cost 24,59€!!!!!Quite TWICE!! Thank you Bill for ALL you did
April 26, 2009

Inverness said...I will get myself a copy, but after the end is known. I know I would be reading the book from back to front.
April 26, 2009

Linda said...It's arrived! got it yesterday. I have stroked it and smelt it (like you do with all new books) and flicked it. I am going to find a quiet corner today and try my hardest not to look at the end.
April 25, 2009

Anonymous said... Darn it, no word from Amazon(US) on when they'll be shipping: "we'll notify you" is all she wrote.....
Oh well, don't know if I'll have the fortitude anyway to set the book aside and not read it until AFTER we finally get word that Harry's home: maybe it's just as well I've got to wait to get hold of it!
April 23, 2009

Heather B. said...I think that the heart and soul you have put into the project will show. Even not having seen a copy, I am sure I am going to love it.
April 23, 2009

Linda said...Yes Amazon have just let me know that my copy is in the post.. marvelous. I am glad that you haven't gone right to the end, I was a bit concerned that I would have had to read it all, even though I promised myself I wouldnt. How can you possibly be worried about how the book has turned out, it has been such a marvelous journey for us all, we could never be disappointed. Well done you!

Linda also said...see above comment, I obviously didn't read your post properly (blonde moment) - so now I am back worrying again!!!
April 23, 2009
Let's be clear, the book reveals ALL. (Actually there are a couple of minor extras I've discovered after pressing the "PRINT" button. They'll be in the second (and subsequent) editions.) BL

Anonymous said...You just keep this going. I have been watching this from almost the beginning here in Illinois USA. I will buy the book for my son AFTER this blog is finished because I don't want to know the end, yet. This is part of my morning ritual. BTW, I looked up the General Beauman, ...interesting dude.
April 23, 2009

Al - London said...Just got my email from Amazon confirming dispatch - just in time for my holiday next week , can't wait to start the adventure all over again !
April 23, 2009

Linda said.. sooo 'citing, the only thing is, do I read it to the end! or would this be spoiling the story. Anyway, can't wait for my copy
April 23, 2009

Cheryl (Pool School ;)) said...Congratulations Bill - amazing idea, with deserved success after all your hard work. I'm sure the book will be equally as treasured. Many congratulations again! x
April 21, 2009

maclaird said...Most excellent news. I have had this book pre-ordered at Amazon for ages and can't wait to read it.
April 21, 2009

Givinya De Elba said...Congratulations, Bill. What a labour of love. Kate, Qld, Aust.
April 18, 2009
Don't hurt the flies, just smash the uke. BL

The Dotterel said...Congratulations! (That means my copy won't be long now!)
April 18, 2009

Rocco said...More than the near arrival of the book, the fact that Harry is leaving Italy and he's "very nearly in France" gives me the feeling that my burrrowing efforts in Harry's adventure are going to an end. Ciao to everybody, for the moment
April 19, 2009
"Don't count your chickens...." , " Many a slip....", "It's not over until the fat lady...." etc. etc. BL

Paul (NZ) said...Congratulations Bill - Who'd have thought this when you published the first letter. I know what you mean about not wanting to read it in case you find an error - If there is one, I'm sure there'll be a lot of people who'll let you know - in the nicest possible way of course!! I wonder if we in New Zealand will be the first to get a copy? I think not..Excellent work Bill.

April 20, 2009

The Dotterel said...Just ordered my copy today. Congratulations on a tremendous achievement. Proud moment for you, and a fitting memorial to a brave soldier.
April 03, 2009

Italy, from March 1919

Anonymous said...I have been to Rivalta scrivia, beautiful place
April 15, 2009

Sgt Sam Avery said...Hello Harry: Sorry to hear you have been held back and shifted around a bit. I'm going through some big shifts myself with the loss of my rating into the bargain. Some class what? We're back into the mix somewhere north of Toul. Stop by for a read when you can, and keep your chin up. Regards, Sam
April 11, 2009

G. Tingey said...EXCEPT Harry says "It is very near France", which Rivalta Scrivia most definitely is NOT. Any other possibilities (without burrowing into the Munster Rifles records...?)
April 10, 2009
I think the distance from France is relative for Harry. It's definately Rivalta Scrivia. I have burrowed into the Royal Munster Fusiliers' records! I think it's fair that Harry knows where he is. BL

Anonymous said...Rijeka became a border town between Italy and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Rijeka, Istria, Zadar, parts of Slovenia and the islands of Cres and Losinj were a kind of 'present' for italian participation on the side of entente. They were promised much more, but disappointment with the Italian ability to fight, reduced its territory gains.
April 09, 2009

Anonymous said...Fiume is Italian name for Rijeka in Croatia.
April 09, 2009

Jack O'Sullivan said...I think that this letter must have been hard to get through, with all of the frustration that was involved.
April 07, 2009

Anonymous said...Wait, what?!? So everyone from Harry's old battalion, officers and enlisted, have all gone home: but for some reason Harry, one single man!, is left behind with another unit?!?This letter to Kate sounds pretty calm, for what must have been total frustration!
April 07, 2009

G. Tingey said...So, now you'll have to look up the Royal Munster Fusiliers records?
April 07, 2009
Royal Munster Fusiliers 1st (Garrison) Battalion. BL

Jay Stevens said....the military is sometimes in their own world. I love your blog. thanks for the post.
April 06, 2009
Thank you for the comment but, no advertising links please, Jay BL

Cecilia in Michigan said...My favorite military acronym is FUBAR. And I'm sure that's how Harry is feeling about his situation right now. Hopefully, Harry's next letters will include the date of his return home!
April 06, 2009

Linda said...Just had an email from Amazon, "Estimated arrival date: 23/04/09 - 25/04/09". I don't mind the waiting is a bit delicious, will make the reading all the better.
April 05, 2009

Anonymous said...Looking forward to getting my copy of the book, but not NEARLY as much as Harry must looked forward to finally going home! Letters from home gone astray, everybody ELSE has gotten demobbed, and he's still in there cooking for 16-17 hours a day. (I do like his comment about the how officers must have thought it was a restaurant.) Hang in there, Harry: surely this can't go on TOO much longer!
April 04, 2009

Kittybriton said...Grinning about the acronyms! The military do love their alphabet soup. I was thinking maybe Harry would be all set to open a little cafe when he came home, but after working 16hr days, I can't blame him if he was content to let somebody else do the cooking for the rest of his life.
April 04, 2009

Anonymous said...Publish and be damned.....we are all adults....military acronyms are always fun!
April 04, 2009
Sorry, but we're not "all adults" and maybe not all comfortable with military language. I may link to them on a separate page with a disclaimer.BL

Linda said...The worrying thing is, as he as is so late going will he get a job when he finally gets home. Although he sounds just as easy going as always, I think I would have liked him.
April 05, 2009

Janell said...As the old saying goes, "Last person out, turn off the lights!" I guess that will be Harry. Obviously, someone has got to be last to leave a war; but a Private would not come to mind, cook or no cook. I hope he doesn't miss the last train home.
April 05, 2009

Janell said...Maybe Harry has been sent to Paris for the signing of Treaty of Versailles on June 28th. After all, someone needs to cook for the participants!
April 04, 2009

Kittybriton said...Confused of Lyndonville writes "this appears to be a circular link. I think I may have missed something."
April 03, 2009

Marcy said... Oh no......that is not fair! surely he wasn't transferred to another, no, no....ugh!!!!
April 03, 2009

meg's mommy said...oh no!
April 03, 2009

G. Tingey said...Except, you say "SNAFU" regarding Harry. I also note that the 8th Bn has joined the 9th. I presume the remaining battalion(s) are being reduced and renumbered, as the Regiment returns to Pre-War regular Army size, but from your remark, Harry is still cooking for someone, or has been re-transferred elsewhere?
03 April 2009

Hosting said...It is about 3 weeks to 23rd october. :-(
April 03, 2009
Oh dear. Maybe Hosting means April. Perhaps it was late at night....BL

Janell said...Congratulations, Bill. Your amazing achievement and incredible tribute to your grandfather has come to an end. Your labor of love has produced a masterpiece that is a lasting, historical record. Thank you for your dedication to the cause.
April 03, 2009
Harry isn't home yet! Don't assume anything. This is organised by the
military. BL

Mark at Mark's Travel said...**Waiting for book to be delivered so can find out ending**
April 02, 2009

Marcy said...Yea Harry!!!!!!!!!! Now I want to know what happened when he got home---how long did it take him to find a job? did he have any more children? how did he adjust to being home? etc etc???
02 April 2009
Steady Marcy! No one said anything about Harry.
You might have to buy the book to find out the answers to those questions. BUT he isn't home yet. BL

Anonymous said...Do you see any rhyme or reason in WHO is getting demobbed? Longest enlistments first, longest time since leave, any particular specialties (not a lot of need now for sappers!) or assignments? (Maybe Harry getting into what we first thought was a slightly cushy berth, cooking for some officers, was a bad move after all: they'll want to keep their best cooks as long as they themselves are there!)
March 31, 2009
Unfortunately, the war diaries just refer to "other ranks" by numbers involved. As always, no details. We can only pick up clues from Harry's letters. He's not that helpful there. BL

Janell said...At least there is no reference [in the war diary] to the pandemic Flu. Since the Battalion is fairly isolated, they may be protected. I guess that is one advantage for Harry and the others.
31 March 2009

Kittybriton said...It's wonderful to know that Willie is still with us - another belated Happy Birthday to the grand old man! I'm sure he has a few stories of his own to tell.
March 29, 2009

Doctor Pion said..Harry's experience mirrors that of my Grandfather, whose letters sent up the chain of command pointing out the conditions of his enlistment were not as restrained as Harry's. Happy Birthday to your father. Has he learned new things about his father from your project?
March 29, 2009
To my great sorrow, Bill senior is not really able to follow the process. He was able to help at the start but now, as the whole project is coming to a wonderful fruition, he is not well enough to appreciate it. Thanks to all who have sent birthday wishes to him. BL

Anonymous said...Ministry of Defense messing around in 2009 for no discernable reason with ninety year old public records..... Ministry of Defense messing around in 1919 by letting some guys go home, and keeping others (like our Harry!) in Italy for extra months for no discernable reason.....Tradition: it's wonderful!
March 28, 2009

Janell said...Thanks to the Ministry of Defense ("Defence", for my U.K. readers.) for finishing with the Battalion War Diary in such a timely manner. It only took them 3 months to muddle through. Meanwhile, we have been missing out on valuable information about Harry's continued detainment in Italy, cooking for the brass, of all things. Now, the Diary will keep us informed about his battalion's activity and "dispersal". I see they continue to route march. They probably route march in their sleep!
March 28, 2009
Or, sleep in their route marches. BL

Anonymous said...He must have been very good at what he was doing or he would have been sent home, surely?
March 27, 2009

Italy 1919

After an frustrating saga, I have the scans of the war diaries for the 9th Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment, from December 24th 1918. The Ministry of Defence had possesion of them and delayed returning them to Kew. I really wonder if national security would have been compromised. Perhaps I could ask, under the Freedom of Information Act, what on earth was so important. BL

Gretchen said....We're a bit behind, but my entire writing history class is following the blog from a university in Michigan.
March 26, 2009

Ken said...Happy birthday to Bill Sr.! I celebrated my 50th birthday on March 23rd as well!
March 26, 2009

Janell said...Ninety birthdays between then and now--quite amazing, when you think of it that way. I wonder if he remembers the day that Harry came home...........
March 25, 2009
I'll certainly ask him. BL

Anonymous said...Happy birthday to little Willie/Bill Senior! I hope the years between the two birthdays have brought you much joy and contentment!
March 25, 2009

Marcy said...How wonderful to hear! I hope he enjoyed his day, Bill! :)
March 24, 2009

Dave in blustery Massachusetts, USA said...Yes, Bill senior must be Willie; Age 93 in 2009 means he was born 1916, making him 3 yrs old in 1919. Happy Birthday Willie!!!
March 24, 2009

Linda said...How fantastic, I hope he is well enough to appreciate this fantastic blog. Happy Birthday Bill
March 24, 2009

Anonymous said...I'm assuming Willie = Bill senior.... or I am I missing a generation? Happy birthday anyway!
March 24, 2009
Willie, 3 in 1919, is 93 in 2009. So yes, Willie grew up to be Bill Senior.BL

Linda said...Sounds like you really like it, cant wait for my copy to arrive
March 21, 2009

Anonymous said.."pro captu lectoris habent sua fata libelli"
(according to the capabilities of the reader, books have their own fate)
Maurus Terentius - II century a.
March 20, 2009
Still don't understand - even with the transalation! BL

C. Joy said...This is really fascinating reading about how someone felt in the past.
March 17, 2009

Anonymous said...Harry wrote: “We have had the General for dinner ... I don’t cook any poultry or game”. Maybe in his next letter we’ll find out if the General tasted better than poultry or game!
March 13, 2009

Janell said...Glad to see Harry has more time to write letters to his family. Maybe it's good that he has time to re-adjust gradually to future civilian life, as he waits and cooks in Italy. It is wonderful that his family continues to provide the items he requests in letters home. Clearly, the cook book is very valuable to him, as he struggles to improve the art of cooking. I do hope that soon Harry is returned home to family and employment.
March 13, 2009

Sgt Sam Avery said...Hello Harry: Glad to hear you are still getting along in the cooking line. Poultry or game would go just fine with me right now, but all we have is what can be brought to us under fire. Have had a busy time since the 10th, and am learning to dance to the tune the Bosche plays. Stop by for read when you can. Regards, Sam
March 12, 2009

Kittybriton said...Chin up Harry! Hopefully your guess is right and you won't have to wait too much longer before you can come home again. I must say, you must have quite a talent as a cook for them to hang on to you like that!
March 12, 2009

Anonymous said...I discovered this blog yesterday 10/03/09. It is rivetting. I am also researching my family's time during WW1, a grandfather,his two cousins, a great grandfather and his two brothers all in AIF and all bar one came home, the one buried at Crucifix Corner Cemetry in France. I have loved reading Harry's letters and am interested in how he tells his brother Jack much more about the reality of life on the line than he does his sister (understandably I guess for the times and thoughfulness of brothers)Harry seems to have been an optimistic and happy soul. Someone to be very proud of.
BL your work in putting this together inspires me to keep going so that I can also document my findings.
I have planned to go to our Dawn Service on Anzac Day April 25 for the first time this year and now I will also have Harry to reflect upon too.
March 11, 2009

Mesut said...good that he's getting decent food at last. Let's hope he gets to go home soon and get a job. Koxp, Koxp indir, Koxp 1726, Koxp Haberleri
March 10, 2009

Rocco said...The soldiers' disappointment can be very dangerous in a not so established democracy like Italy was (and I think is): Italian soldiers of the the Great War were the most enthusiastic supporters of the first Fascism, after the false promises given during the war as to; land to till, job to find, pension to receive and so on.....Many soldiers, after the return, did not find even their wives, thanks to the draft dodgers fighting in the well warmed offices of the war bureaucracy.
March 06, 2009

Jackie said...Poor Harry. He's really frustrated but what would he be coming home to? Unemployment probably. I didn't realise 'all over the shop' was such an old phrase.
March 05, 2009

Anonymous said...Yep, he sure does sound frustrated, and justifiably so! Four months since the end of the war, and he's STILL in Italy, STILL doesn't know when he'll get to see his home and family, and, I'd say, he's getting really worried if there'll be a decent job for him whenever he DOES get home.
Poor Harry may be physically rested by now, but he's mentally exhausted. It's one thing to endure hardships as part of the group during a war, but it's quite another to be left behind like Harry must feel he has been, watching the lucky ones go home while he's 'forgotten' by the high command.
March 05, 2009

Anonymous said... There was an interesting TV program on where they traced someone's family. He was a soldier in WW1 and died just after the war from the Flu epidemic. I think little does Harry know it, but he is better of where he is at the moment.
March 02, 2009
He probably wouldn't agree! But, the 'flu epidemic did kill more in Europe than the war. I've seen an estimate of 25 million deaths due to the "Spanish 'flu" BL

Kittybriton said...What a caper! Three months since the armistice and still no word about getting demobbed. I'm curious about the mention of breaking up the divn. Does this mean you might get sent home? or just organized into another bit of H.M. Forces? Still, I am immensely grateful that the fighting is over and you are out of the heat (even if you are still in the kitchen!), and I doubt very much the hun will be in a fit state to make any more trouble for a good long while.
March 01, 2009

Anonymous said..."two years in the trenches without a break" - didn't he get leave sometime last year?
March 01, 2009
You are right. Harry had a leave last September, but that was the only time that he went home from May 1917 until now. It's his first real moan! BL

Sgt Sam Avery said...Hello Harry: Just to let you know I have received you letter. Can't blame you in the cooking line as I was too glad to be rid of the job when they made me Mess Sgt. for a time on the Border. Only good thing about it is being where the food is. Stop by for a read when you can. We're properly in the mix now, just as you are (HA). Keep your chin up.Sam
February 28, 2009

Matt said...Technically 5 shillings in 1919 would be 60d, but that's not terribly important.Hope Harry gets home soon!
February 27, 2009
I have to disagree Matt. Every 12d was, until 1971, worth a shilling. Prices above 12d were always written in shillings and pence. 5s - 0d would have been correct. BL

Marcy said...I wonder what kind of work he was doing that kept him on the go all day---was he having to do all the food prep, kitchen cleaning, etc as well as cooking? He says he's cooking for 8 so that wouldn't be a huge number yet it sounds like they worked him hard. You'd think they'd cut these guys some slack considering what they'd just survived.
February 27, 2009
"Cut some slack"? "Consideration"? Marcy, this is the military. BL

Janell said...Poor Harry. He must feel like a prisoner of war. But the economic situation at home must be discouraging, too, writing to the factory and getting no response. Maybe he'll learn to cook as he waits. I am so glad to hear from him. It's been so long.
February 27, 2009

Anonymous said...Harry sounds a lot happier than he has done in recent times. It's good that he's getting decent food at last. Let's hope he gets to go home soon and get a job.
February 14, 2009

Sgt Sam Avery said... Hello Harry: Just a note to tell you that we are finally IN somewhere on the Aisne Line. This company was the first to see No Man's Land. Some of the boys have already been knocked off, but we're getting wiser and give as good as we get. Trench life is all that it's been cracked up to be. Stop by for a read when you get the chance. Stay well, Regards,
February 11, 2009

Kittybriton said...It's wonderful to hear that you've had a chance to see Venice, Harry. It is one of the places I've long wanted to visit. And you got to stay in one of the posh hotels too! I should think it made a pleasant change from huddling in drafty trenches.
February 06, 2009

Sgt. Sam Avery said... Hello Harry:
Glad to hear you've had the chance to see Venice. We have packed now and are ready to move In somewhere north on the Aisne line. Should be there in a day or two. Stop by for a read when you have the chance.
Regards, Sam

February 04, 2009
Sgt Sam Avery said... Hello Harry:
Glad to hear you've had the chance to do a bit of sight-seeing. We're on our way north to the Front in railcars that may hold 40 Frenchmen, but not as many of us strapping American lads. Soon our sight-seeing will be in No Man's Land. Stop by for a read when you can. Stay well, Sam
February 05, 2009

Anonymous said...Dan Quayle would be thrilled to see how Harry spelled "potatoe". Vindication!
February 03, 2009

Anonymous said...Soldiers from Australia took up to 12 months to return to Aus. As a result many having time in England after the war ended married while they were there and later brought their wives to Aus. Of course we must spare a thought for the many who were wounded or ill and many who continued to die long after Nov 11.
February 01, 2009

Janell said...I am so pleased that Harry and some of his fellow soldiers were allowed to see the sights of Venice which seems to have done wonders for his mental health. Venice certainly made an impression on him. I wonder if he was ever able to return. It seems that the poor economy affecting many countries was playing a major role in post-war discharge and return of soldiers to civilian life. The lucky ones had job prospects at home; Harry and the others must have had real concerns about the future.
February 01, 2009

At last I'm getting somewhere with the PRO at Kew and the War Diary scans. They say that they'll get the diaries back from the Ministry of Defence for me. BL

Puckoon said...The age of industrial innocence when men believed that the 'firm' would look after them when they got back. Unfortunately those lucky enough to get back early were much more likely to get a job and those forced to wait take their chances.
January 26, 2009

G. Tingey said...Any progress on the official Battallion diaries front?
January 22, 2009
Sorry, been tidying up the book bits and have been very busy. I'll get onto it right away. BL

Spangly Princess said...Hi there, somehow I have only just found your blog but I have spent all morning reading it, what an amazing resource! I am a professional historian specialising in WWI in Italy. While my research has focused on Italian soldiers and their experiences I am really interested in this fantastic account and look forward to the book being published. I am glad that so many people around the world have found your site so interesting, and that you have uncovered so much through your own research, congratulations on some really impressive work.If you ever need any further info on the Italian side of proceedings, drop me a line and thanks very much for your efforts.
January 23, 2009 said...Why are Harry and his fellow soldiers sitting in a tiny town in north-central Italy, nearly three months after the end of conflict? If they have plans for his battalion to participate in post-war security, it seems that would have taken place by now. I have read one resource that said some economists suggested not returning all the soldiers at once, to prevent worsening of already-high unemployment occuring throughout most nations in 1919. Poor Harry, unless he is unusual, the next twenty years will mean more hardship and suffering---followed by the horrors of WWII!
January 22, 2009

Kittybriton said...The delay must be frustrating enough, but having to manage with very limited pay, and high local prices must be very trying. It isn't the first time that I've had the impression that once the fighting is over, the hierarchy all but forgets about the men who did all the donkey work. I hope you manage to find work when you get back to England once more. It seems unfair that you've had to wait three months over there already.
January 22, 2009

War Diary Commentary

G. Tingey said... Any luck yet with digging the Battalion records out from Kew?
As you say, they must have them SOMEWHERE .....
14 January 2009
I'll try again now that they've settled after the Christmas holiday. BL

Roger O'Keeffe has kindly produced explanations for some of the terms used in the War Diary. Many thanks Roger.

With a (limited) military background, I tend to assume that all readers will understand most of the terms used. Of course, that isn't always the case.

It would certainly pay dividends to go back and re-read the diaries in the light of Roger's efforts.

These are included as comments in the War Diary postings.
This refers to the War Diary of September 1917. BL

Roger O'Keeffe said...
The word "musketry" might seem odd to some readers in the context of the first world war.
In British Army training terminology, "rifle marksmanship" refers to learning how to shoot accurately, whereas "musketry" is about understanding the tactical use of the rifle in the field.

20th to 24th
Quite a lot going on. The battalion takes part in an attack, behind 10th NF (10th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers) which it then relieves in the front line. It seems as if it lost 22 killed immediately on going over the top (zero hour), but only one more fatality during its five days in the front line.
Blue line seems to be the objective of its attack, and it digs in into a new trench system along that line and then moves into the front line and holds the position for four days until relieved, relying mainly on artillery to protect it from German counter-attack.
It spends the night of 20th to 21st consolidating its position – turning bits of captured enemy trench, shell holes etc. into a continuous trench line, with a fire step and new barbed wire on the side facing the enemy.
Note that on several misty mornings it calls for a barrage in front of its position to as a precaution against a dawn attack.
The “hurricane bombardment” is a short period of intense enemy artillery fire intended to create the expectation that the Germans are about to counter-attack, and thus to keep the British, who are occupying their recently-captured position, on edge and guessing about the time and place of the real counter-attack.

English-speakers often misuse the word “barrage” to refer to an artillery bombardment, but the diary makes a distinction between the two – a distinction particularly relevant to trench warfare. A bombardment is intended to destroy the target and its occupants, whereas a barrage (French tir de barrage) is intended to prevent movement. In this case, where the diarist writes “the artillery did not barrage our front” he is complaining that the British artillery did not put down a screen of fire in front of the Battalion's lines to stop the German advance. The battalion was left to defend itself with just its own rifle and machine-gun fire because Battalion headquarters in the rear had not seen the SOS due to the morning mist and therefore failed to telephone the artillery for support: it wasn't till 7:30 that a messenger (orderly) made it back a few miles on foot to inform HQ.
The SOS was an emergency signal in the form of a succession of Very lights (flares fired from a pistol) in a fixed series of colours, fired by the infantry as an urgent request for artillery fire on a prearranged line just in front of their own trenches in the event of an enemy attack.
The barrage put down on the British lines at 10 am was, I imagine, a German barrage designed to prevent the British from counter-attacking, or it may have been to cover the reinforcement or relief of the unit which had unsuccessfully attacked and taken heavy casualties.
A “creeping barrage” was used in the attack to shield advancing troops – artillery fire would be aimed to land in a line just in front of them, and the elevation of the guns would be constantly adjusted so that this impact line would move forward at a prearranged rate so as to continue to fall just in front of the advancing troops. Once the attackers had occupied their objective – typically a line of trenches which would have been separately bombarded - the barrage might be laid down beyond that line to prevent the enemy from moving up reinforcements or launching a counter-attack.
Flammenwerfer is the German word for a flame-thrower, and it's interesting that the German word is used by the diarist without the need for any explanation.
A Minenwerfer (literally mine thrower) is a German heavy trench mortar (nicknamed a “moaning Minnie”). It fired a very large projectile over a fairly short range, and was dreaded because the projectile could be seen flying through the air and did considerable damage on impact.
“Bombs” are hand grenades. They were one of the most useful weapons in trench warfare, and were very widely used in all infantry battalions – designated soldiers would carry a canvas bucket full of them or a sleeveless jerkin covered with grenade-sized pockets (from memory, I think that this was the original meaning of the term “bomber jacket”, though I can't find a source to prove this): these soldiers were originally called grenadiers until the British Grenadiers objected to this prestigious title being used by inferior regiments (never mind the fact that by this time most of the soldiers in a Grenadier battlion would be riflemen!), so grenadiers became “bombers” and grenades became “bombs”.

The Northumberland Fusiliers (from the industrial North-East of England) included about a dozen battalions of “Tyneside Irish” and “Tyneside Scots” - these pals' battalions were so named to generate competition between the local communities of Irish and Scottish immigrants to see who could raise the most troops for Kitchener's New Armies.

DLI: Durham Light Infantry

KOYLI: King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. My father was born in Dublin in 1904, when it was still a British garrison town. No offence to any Yorkshireman reading this, but he once told me that, when he was a young man, years after Irish independence and the departure of the British army, “KOYLI” was still shouted as a term of abuse by Dublin football supporters at any player who kicked into touch to escape a tackle!
09 January 2009 13:37