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 http://whatandever.blogspot.com/ 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


Anonymous said...


Please aaccept 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,

John Meier
Vienna, VA, USA

Rocco said...

It would be nice to see photographs of the book in the shelfs