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A Hero For All Times (Hardback)

Marshall VC in The Great War

Military > Biographies WWI

By Peter Lees
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 224
ISBN: 9781399035323
Published: 20th October 2023


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In September 1914 Neville Marshall gave up a successful horse treatment practice to join first the Belgian and then the British Army. His diary, dormant in family archives for 105 years, and letters describe his tumultuous war service. An Irish Guardsman, who was seconded to three Lancashire battalions, he rose in rank from 2nd Lieutenant to Acting Lieutenant-Colonel. Wounded at least nine times and awarded five gallantry medals, he revelled as well as suffered in his encounters with the German enemy. Outspoken on the conduct of the war, he was without doubt a gifted and courageous leader who led from the front. Fiercely loyal to his men, he earned their respect and affection. Yet with soldiers who were uncaring of their own states of body and mind or lacking physical fitness and self-respect, he worked tirelessly to restore their morale and battle readiness through strict disciplinary regimes.

While undoubtedly a patriot and a hero, Marshall VC was not without character flaws, impetuously rushing to judgements. In this superbly researched book, his diaries and letters are supplemented from a wide range of archival and other sources. The result is no ordinary biography of an extraordinary officer who gave his life for his country.

5 out of 5

Read the full review Here

Army Rumour Service (ARRSE)

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

An amazing story about a larger than life war hero. An Irishman who started the First World War in the Belgian army and died just before the Armistice as a Lt. Colonel in the British army. A true leader of men, wounded it is thought nine times and promoted quickly through the ranks. A flawed character but an extraordinary soldier.

NetGalley, Stephen Dale

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A fascinating book about a larger-than-life British officer and his exploits on the Western Front during WW1.
Lt Colonel Marshall VC, was loved by his troops but was seen to be somewhat of a 'pain' to the senior Staff officers because of his contempt for the way that the war was being waged by the British. Also, he seemed somewhat obsessive about any homosexual acts that he encountered, putting the perceived culprits on charges.
Astoundingly, he was wounded no less than nine times not including the tenth time when he was killed instantly by a shot to the head. A top-class officer in every respect, who led from the front and was a strict disciplinarian.
He had several run-ins with the law before the war, over fairly trivial offences, and managed spmehow to emerge with his character intact.
To summarise, I loved the book, I admire Marshall, a true hero who sadly died a few days before the end of the war in a pointless attack on a well-defended position.

NetGalley, Peter Coxall

Article: Outstanding diaries of a VC hero are revealed.

Daily Express - Thursday, October 26, 2023

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A well-done biography on a VC winner during WW1. This man was a true hero and patriot for his country. His stand on his beliefs and compassion for the common soldiers during WW1 was inspirational. A great read!

NetGalley, Ron Baumer

About Peter Lees

Peter Lees was born in 1940 in Farnworth, Lancashire, 8 miles as the crow flies from Neville Marshall’s birthplace, Stretford, Manchester. He took a first degree in Pharmacy, a doctorate in pharmacology and, much later in partial retirement, an MA degree in World War One Studies at the University of Wolverhampton. From 1962 to 2023, he has worked at the Royal Veterinary College, University of London, first as Assistant Lecturer and finally as Deputy Principal. He has published more the 350 articles in the peer reviewed scientific literature, as well as short reviews on Marshall in the journals Veterinary History and Stand To! Public service duties have included Editorship of Journal of Veterinary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Vice-Chairman of the Veterinary Products Committee, Council member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, Universities Research Assessment Exercise panel member for Veterinary Medicine and Member of the Council of the Inns of Court Tribunals Appointments Body.

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