WW1; 1914 – 1918

#Review | The Lengthening War: The Great War Diary of Mabel Goode by Michael Goode #TheLengtheningWar #GreatWarDiary #MabelGoode @penswordbooks

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Hello, thank you for stopping by! Today, I have the great pleasure to be sharing my review of this gorgeous and insightful book; The Lengthening War; The Great war Diary of Mabel Goode by Michael Goode.

Edited by Michael Goode
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 196
ISBN: 9781473851511

This is a strong narrative of the war, easy to read, mixing news with personal feelings and events (often revealing gap between official news and reality). The diary captures the authors’ growing disillusionment with the war, as it gradually encroaches on her life. The diary starts with great excitement, realizing its importance but expecting a short struggle, blaming treachery and incompetence initially but gets increasingly disheartened and eventually stops in 1916. Entries show growth of total war (seeing ominous Zeppelin’s directly overhead, shelling etc.), experiences of her two brothers in service (their privations and her ‘white-feather’ feelings), personal sacrifice and patriotism, reactions to casualty lists, women entering work (she does various war work), steady collapse of domestic service (Downton angle), reflections on recognizable events such as Lusitania and on the competence of the government.

Also included several poems written by Mabel and a love story in the appendix, giving a complete insight into the diarists life. NB. Mabel and her brothers lived in Germany for some time, meaning they could all speak German and knew ‘the enemy nation’ as many Britons did not.

As soon as I saw this book, I knew I had to read it, it shouted out to me to be read and I am so pleased that I did. I am a bit obsessed with this era, so you can imagine how excited I was when I saw this book, it is not only absolutely gorgeous to look at – it looks so pretty on my bookshelf, not that is not the only reason I chose to review this book, even though that is a bonus.

This is the private diary of a young woman; Mabel Goode, who thought to write down all her thoughts and feelings during the first few years of the great war. With a mixture of Mabel’s own personal views on key events, she gives the reader a vivid and passionate account of what she was experiencing during those harrowing years. The diary starts full of excitement and optimism In 1914, from this part you get a genuine and honest insight into the minds of the ordinary people, what they thought of what was going on, at first it is full of so much optimism that the war would be over by Christmas 1914, a view that was shared by many around the country. She tells of what she is hearing and what is going on at the front, her entry about the soldiers being gassed is harrowing.

For whatever reason her diary stops in 1916, whether this is because she is finding the whole war a strain or whether it was do to with something more personal, we may never know. But what we can take from this is a real sense of the time, for a brief moment we are transported into Mabel’s world of uncertainty, of growing frustration, of her family and of love.

This gives a real insight into her life, of the struggles and chaos which was going on around her, to the simple hope of love. I was completely lost in her words, she was a passionate diarist, there is a lot of emotion on the pages and the reader picks up on those feeling too as you read; from love, confusion, anger, sadness, she lays herself bare and for that we should be eternally thankful as without the likes of Mabel who felt compelled to write about what was going on, we wouldn’t see just how the war effected the ordinary folk.

This book is definitely one that everyone who has any kind of interest in WW1 should read it, it is emotional and real, there is a clarity and vividness that you don’t get from other works. I love how this is laid out too, it’s start with the fact of what Mabel mentioned, followed by her diary. The entire book is thoroughly engrossing, it is an easy book to read, it’s not taxing or overly complicated there is a very warm and loving feeling to it, while reading the diary part of the book it is so clear it is like Mabel is actually standing here telling you her story.

A fabulous addition to the bookshelf and one that I will be pulling off again to read.

This was a complimentary copy via the publisher in exchange for an honest review, Thank you Rosie. X

The Lengthening War can be purchased from Amazon and Pen and Sword.

#Review Daughters of War by Lizzie Page (@LizziePagewrite) #WW1 #DaughtersOfWar #Historical #Romance @bookouture

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An emotional tale of wartime love and sacrifice, inspired by an incredible true story…

As a teenager in Chicago, May always dreamed of travelling the world. So when she meets handsome George Turner, she jumps at the chance to return to London as his wife. Ten years later, May is wondering if she’s made a terrible mistake.

It’s 1914 and war has been declared in Europe. All around, brave young men are being called up to serve. George, banned from conscription himself, has taken to the bottle, and May suspects he’s seeing other women too. She longs for a way to escape.

The chance comes when May meets veteran nurse Elsie, who persuades May to join the war effort. May knows nothing of nursing – it will be difficult, dangerous work, but her heart is telling her it’s the right thing to do.

But then George does the unthinkable and May’s future is put at risk. Will she have to make the impossible choice between duty to her family and her promise to the soldiers on the front line? And can she live with the consequences if her husband goes through with what he’s threatening to do?

My View

This is the second book in the planned trilogy which focus’s on the unbelievably courageous women of the Great War, and I have to say that this is a very worthy follow up to the hugely emotional and incredible The War Nurses and I really cannot wait for the third and final book, which I know will be another emotional ride just as this and the previous book have been.

This is an inspiring, emotional, heartbreaking, mesmerising, charming, haunting book that is inspired by the remarkable life of May Borden who was a nurse, novelist and poet during the Great War. The story opens with May in a bit of a depression, the man she thought she was to lead a whole new life with has is now a drunk and worse than that she knows that her husband is cheating on her. She is tired of her life surrounded by a man who doesn’t love or respect her, she wants to escape. Which is when she meets vivacious Elsie, who talks May into joining the nursing core. May knows nothing about nursing, but she feels that this is the very thing that could turn around her life.

Even though May is a hugely inspiring woman and what she did was amazing, while reading this I was at times in two frames of mind about May. There is no denying what she did was incredible and I am in awe and applaud everyone of those brave women who went to the front, but at times I felt at times she did act like a child herself, she needed stand up for herself more than she did. I felt she was as conflicted as the very war she was working in, I don’t think she was a strong women but she was a real one, she was plunged into a horrific war while her children were still at home. But what really made me soften towards May was her unrelenting compassion, loyalty and her unrelenting need to help those men who were experiencing the very worst that humans can do to on e and other.

I have to say that Lizzie Page is an unbelievably gifted writer, her absolute passion for these incredible women, the history and her thirst to share these wonderful stories with the world is evident in each page she has lovingly written, her love and passion comes through the story.

This is another powerful story that makes you stop and really take in what these women sacrificed for us, as with the war Nurses this isn’t just about bombarding the reading with sights and sounds from the front, this is about women coming together forming unbreakable friendships and doing their best to help. It’s a beautiful book and one that really needs to be read, no matter your views on the war we all need to hear these stories.

Emotional and expertly written!

This was an Arc copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Daughter of War can be purchased from Amazon.

#Review – Heroic Measures by Jo-Ann Powers (@CeriseDeLand) #WW1 #Romance #Historic #HeroicMeasures @WildRosePress

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Honoring those who have served their country in war, most focus on those who have fought on the battlefields. But one group’s heroics under fire have slipped through the pages of history, a group whose blood and sweat were left in operating rooms and hospital tents, a group whose heroism has seldom been measured.

For nurse Gwen Spencer, fighting battles is nothing new. An orphan sent to live with a vengeful aunt, Gwen picked coal and scrubbed floors to earn a living. But when she decides to become a nurse, she steps outside the boundaries of her aunt’s demands…and into a world of her own making.

Leaving her hometown for France, she helps doctors mend thousands of brutally injured Doughboys under primitive conditions. Amid the chaos, she volunteers to go ever forward to the front lines. Braving bombings and the madness of men crazed by the hell of war, she is stunned to discover one man she can love. A man she can share her life with.

But in the insanity and bloodshed she learns the measures of her own desires. Dare she attempt to become a woman of accomplishment? Or has looking into the face of war and death given her the courage to live her life to the fullest?

My View

I knew when I came to read this book that it would be an emotional ride as I walked in the footsteps of such heroic and supremely inspiring women, but I was over-awed and whilst reading this book. I felt in so much awe of Gwen and her fellow nurses who did the most incredible job, these women were vital for the war effort. Jo-Ann Power has gone above and beyond with telling these extraordinary women’s stories, the depth of research is incredible at times it was like actually being standing right beside them. It painted an emotionally raw and brutally real picture of what these women went through.

I think what really struck me most when reading this book was just how little I knew about front line nurses from America. I think that being from the UK, we take all our meticulous record keeping via the archives and the War Graves Commission for granted and we tend to be a little ignorant to the fact that the Great War affected not just us on Europe and the common wealth but those from America also feature heavily, we just don’t really know about them. Which is why this book is so damn important, It is exactly what we need in this world and it is one of those rare books that will stand the test of time,

The story really follows one young nurse; Gwen – who is a hugely likeable character, a woman after my own heart she has spirit, determination, she has seen her fair share of troubles before she even goes into nursing, but those issues have made her the strong, reliable and passionate woman I found her to be. We first see her in nursing college where her and her close knit group of friends have fun between studies, once graduated they now face the real world. Unfortunately this world is now at war and Gwen soon finds herself facing all the horrors of the front, as she is sent to battled destroyed France.

This is definitely the most heart breaking part of the book what Gwen and her friends face day in day out is harrowing. The picture of that dark and soul destroying place is vivid and real, Ms Power has done an absolutely incredible job at portraying the scene with the utmost realism and respect and this is where the authors research and brilliant writing comes in to it’s own, she captures your attention through out the book and I can guarantee that there is times you will get a lump in your throat ad tears in your eyes.

Heroic Measures is an emotionally powerful read that will leave the reader in absolute stunned silence, it’s true, poignant and highlights an aspect of women’s history that I think a lot of us may have forgotten.

Very highly recommended one of the best books I have read and one that everyone should read.

This was a complimentary copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Heroic Measures can be purchased at Amazon.

Love Letter from WW1

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I came across this a while ago and I was just waiting for the right time to post it, it is so lovely that I just wanted to share it with you all.


This is a love letter from a French woman to a British soldier during the First World War it was unearthed in 2014. The letter, sent on Valentine’s Day in 1916, was sent as preparations were under way for the Battle of the Somme. In a mixture of English and French, Eleornore Anneelle, a cafe owner’s daughter from the Somme village of Berteaucourt-les-Dames, declared her love for Private James Ivan “Jimmy” Menzies, a member of the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment who had either been billeted at the cafe or was a regular visitor there.


The letter was bequeathed to the University of Leeds’ Liddle Collection of private papers of those who lived through the First World War, by Mr Menzies’ daughter.Jimmy Menzies, who had signed up at the age of 18 not long after war broke out, was badly wounded in the Battle of the Somme in August 1916.He performed in concert parties during the remainder of the war and was discharged before the armistice was signed, the university said, then went on to become a singer and actor, famous for his comic baritone roles with the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company in the 1920s. In 1923 he married fellow D’Oyly Carte singer Elsie Griffin, who had entertained British troops in France during the war, popularizing songs such as Danny Boy and Roses of Picardy in the trenches.


Here is the full letter, translated:


Dear friend
I’m answering your letter that I received this morning, it gave me great pleasure to hear that you’re well; I am also well, as are all the family. I think of you always, and send you my very best wishes. If you are in Candas as you said I hope you will come and see us, as it’s not very far from us. Next time you can send me more details. My parents send their best wishes and say hello.
With best wishes from a girlfriend who thinks of you always.
My love you
When shall I see you again
Kisse xxxxxxxxxxx
Hoping to get some good news from you soon.
Eleonore Aneelle, Cafe de la Poste, Berteaucourt-les-dames, Somme.

A Little History; Part 3 ~ WW1 Trench Life

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The Trenches

During the first world war; which last between 1914 -1918 and resulted in the loss of hundred’s of thousand’s of men, during that devastating and horrific war the Soldier’s who fought on the Western Front, fought in trenches. Trenches were long, narrow ditches dug into the ground where soldiers lived, fought and more than often died. There were many lines of German Trenches on one side and many lines of Allied Trenches on the other, In the middle, was no man’s land, so-called because it did not belong to either army. It is known that the German Trenches were far more habitable than the Allied Trenches were, many of the German Trenches had underground bunker’s that contained basic furniture and basic comfort’s that made Trench life more comfortable and habitable.

The Trenches were dirty and smelly and there was lot’s of disease circulating, the latrines regularly over flowed into the Trench itself and the dead had to be hastily buried nearby, which also would have bred disease. it wasn’t just the Trenches themselves that caused problem’s for the Soldier’s they had to deal with Million’s of Rat’s infested the Trenches and on some account’s they grew as big as cat’s and then there was the Lice that tormented the Soldier’s on a daily basis, the lice infested hair, clothing and bedding which would have made live pure hell.

A Typical Day In The Trenches

Like today’s soldier’s the soldier’s from WW1 had their day to day life strictly regulated, and every hour was always thoroughly planned out.

 
5am : ‘Stand-to’ (short for ‘Stand-to-Arms’, meaning to be on high-alert for enemy attack) half an hour before daylight
5.30am : Rum ration
6am : Stand-to half an hour after daylight
7am : Breakfast (usually bacon and tea)
After 8am : Clean themselves, clean weapons, tidy trench and Hear from veteran’s (that would give a moral boost for new Tommies)
Noon – Dinner
After dinner – Sleep and downtime (one man per ten on duty)
5pm – Tea
6pm – Stand-to half an hour before dusk
6.30pm – Stand-down half an hour after dusk
6.30pm on wards – Work all night with some time for rest (patrols, digging trenches, putting up barbed wire, getting stores, replacement of unit of soldiers every five days)

Joining The Army

A man had to pass a physical test to enlist in the army. At the outbreak of war, he had to be aged between 19 and 38 and taller than 5 feet 3 inches. However, there were many younger and older soldiers who lied about their age. Once conscription came was introduced all men within the age group had join up other wise they could be arrested, the only exception’s for this was men that worked in grueling and hard work places like the Colliery and Steelworks.
Once he was in the army, a soldier was given a rank, most soldiers were privates to begin with, some also moved up the ranks to become corporals, sergeants and officers. The higher the rank, the more a soldier was seen as a leader and Ranks defined a soldier’s or officer’s role and how much responsibility he had, they could be distinguished by the stripes and badges worn on the cuff of a soldier’s or officer’s coat.

Equipment

Each soldier had to carry a lot of equipment whilst out on the front line, These included various protective equipment, weapon’s and spare ammunition and some few personal item’s that they would have been allowed to take with them.

 

  • Gas mask. This protected him against gas attacks from the enemy.
  • Weapons and ammunition : Rifle, Bullets, Bayonet and Grenades.
  • Protective clothes, Items which were suitable for the trenches (However, this was not always enough for the very damp conditions the soldiers lived in)
  • Boots,
  • Ground Sheet
  • Cape
  • Puttees (long strips of cloth worn from the ankle to the knee)
  • Helmet.
  • Webbing equipment (kit made from strong, cotton webbing material).
  • Knife and Fork
  • Shaving kit, Soap and a Towel
  • Water Bottle
  • Shovel. (This helped him keep the trench the way it needed to be, He could use it to remove excessive mud)

Health

Daily Feet Inspection

Soldiers suffered from many illnesses and injuries on the the front line, Soldiers had to live with the constant fear of getting injured in battle and falling ill from the dirty and unhygienic conditions. Body lice were pests that made soldiers so itchy that they had to shave off their hair completely. Soldier’s had to have daily foot inspection’s and they had “Foot Buddy’s” which were fellow soldier’s who’s purpose was to look after each other’s feet. The theory was that if they had the sole responsibility of another’s feet on their shoulder’s, then they would take proper care of them unlike if they only had to look after their own.

 

Food

Even though food was very short in Britain during World War One, families often sent parcels to their fathers and brothers fighting at the front. The parcels contained Presents of : Chocolate, Cake, Tobacco and Tinned Food.

Soldiers Mess Kit

At the beginning of the war, soldiers got a daily ration of Just over one pound of Meat, The same amount in Bread and Eight ounces of Vegetables each day. Some soldiers worked in field kitchens which were set up just behind the trenches to cook meals for the soldiers who were fighting. By 1917 the official ration for the average British ‘Tommy’ was much smaller. Fresh meat was getting harder to come by and the ration was reduced to Just 6 ounces of ‘bully beef’ (which we call corned beef today) and Soldiers on the actual front line got even less meat and vegetables than this.

 

Maconchie’s meat stew’ and hard biscuits was a meal that many soldiers ate, Sadly the meat was mostly fat. This, along with a shortage of fresh fruit and vegetables, was responsible for many soldiers to suffer from upset stomachs!

Censorship

Most letters sent from the front line were read by an officer who checked it was acceptable to send, He checked for anything that might give away British army secrets. He also made sure that letters were not too sad, so they did not spoil the morale (the way people felt) back home. This was called censorship. Some could be sent without being read. Soldiers were trusted not to give information away. As well as letters and postcards, newspapers were also sometimes delivered to the trenches. This meant the soldiers could keep up to date with what was happening in the war, at home and in other parts of the world.