Letters from the Front: Letters and Diaries from the BEF in Flanders and France, 1914-1918

Letters from the Front: Letters and Diaries from the BEF in Flanders and France, 1914-1918

by Kevin Smith


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By taking a fresh look at the letters and diaries of the BEF soldiers who fought this war, Kevin Smith has uncovered first person accounts long undisturbed in the archives of the Imperial War Museum. There is humor: tales of city dwellers learning to ride horses. There is pathos: men returning from leave, freshly married, to be killed by a random shell. Above all, there is the human reaction to the stench, to the mud, to the lousy food and oh yes the lice, too. The little details carry the narrative forward, such as the incessant presence of ‘bully’ or using jam to flavor just about anything. Bread covered with mud, baths in whisky barrels, little pet dogs: they are all here. This book touches on all the great controversies—the bad leadership, the soldiers sent to be slaughtered, the first use of the tank, and so forth, but just enough ensure the reader understands the problem. The contemporary photographs strongly demonstrate daily life in the trench. This is a welcome addition to the human side of this monstrously inhuman event.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781781553381
Publisher: Fonthill Media
Publication date: 03/19/2015
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Kevin Smith has earned degrees from LaSalle, Lehigh, and Ohio State Universities. He has taught in the Columbus Ohio Public Schools and Columbus State Community College and knows how to make history interesting. His years of study and teaching about the First World War are reflected in this lively product of extensive research in Belgium and Britain.

Table of Contents

Introduction 5

Prelude 8

1914: Plans and Counterplans 13

1915: Build and Train 52

1916: The Big Push 92

1917: Bite and Hold 134

1918: Tenacity Rewarded 168

Aftermath 191

Endnotes 214

Primary Sources, Imperial War Museum Collection 236

Selected Bibliography 238

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