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A Muddy Trench: A Sniper's Bullet (ePub)

Hamish Mann, Black Watch Officer-Poet, 1896-1917

Military > Snipers WWI > By Year > 1914 WWI > By Year > 1915 WWI > By Year > 1916 WWI > By Year > 1917

By Jacquie Buttriss
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
File Size: 7.3 MB (.epub)
Pages: 226
Illustrations: 32
ISBN: 9781526745101
Published: 13th November 2018


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The recent discovery of a wooden chest, unopened for 100 years revealed a treasure trove of eloquent trench diaries, letters and poetry. The author was Hamish Mann, a young Black Watch subaltern killed in France in 1917 just five days after his 21st birthday.

Thanks to Mann’s outstanding literary gifts and prodigious output, this book re-lives his fateful journey from the declaration of war, his voluntary work at a military hospital, his training and commission and, finally, his service with 8th Black Watch on the Somme.

The daily hardship and trauma he experienced at the Front were shared with countless thousands of his comrades. But Hamish’s extraordinary gift was his ability to record the traumatic events and the range of his emotions, writing often in his dug-out ‘by the light of a guttering candle’.

A century on, thanks to the Family’s discovery and Jacquie Buttriss’s sensitive commentary, Hamish’s tragically short life can be celebrated and his literary legacy given the recognition it so richly deserves.

As featured on Old Barbed Wire Blog

Old Barbed Wire Blog

The formidable role of telling Hamish Mann's story from the mass of documentation was undertaken by Jacqui Buttriss. This she has done most skillfully, with extensive quotations from Hamish's writings and those who served with him, whilst providing context from many different sources.

We can only guess where his considerable talents could have led if he had survived the war. Recommended.

Stand To! Journal of the Western Front Association


★ ★ ★ ★

Scottish Field (online), 2nd April 2019

Listed in the 'Cover to cover' feature

Scottish Field, April 2019

This is the biography of a hitherto unknown soldier, Hamish Mann, an officer of the Black Watch. But he was, above all, a born writer and poet.

The value of his writings is that he wrote of his experiences within hours of them happening, not weeks later in tranquil reminiscence behind the lines.

Cannon Poets

Images contained in the book give you valuable insight into his personal background. One, for example shows Hamish aged about 6, with his older brother Alan. Another again shows both brothers, whilst Alan was on leave visiting Hamish at his training camp in Bedford, 1915. His brother Alan, was award the MC and bar and was twice wounded, but survived the war. Alongside illustrations which Hamish completed of hand grenades in training work booklets, another striking image is that of 8th Black Watch officers, newly arrived on the Somme, August, 1916.  This brings out the personal so well, and an especially poignant image permanent graves stone at Aubigny, and also the large wooden chest found in the attic of the old family house, by Robert and Rosemary Stewart.; great nephew and great-niece of Hamish. What is quite remarkable is that when they finally opened it, for the first time in 100 years, they founds such priceless contents. These lost writings when rediscovered of course became the core of the book. However, this also makes on ponder just how many such note booklets, or personal images, have been discarded from attics over the years, and perhaps ended up rubbish tips. Such material is worth its weight in gold with each passing year. This book also makes you reflect once more on just how much talent was lost during 1914-1918. Some may say the term 'Lost Generation' is a myth. This book suggests the opposite.

Jon Sandison, Freelance

As featured in

The Scottish Sun 10/11/18

As featured in

The Sun 10/11/18

As featured 'On The Shelf'

Wargames Illustrated, November 2018

About Jacquie Buttriss

Jacquie Buttriss is a biographer, memoirist, educational and children’s author of 61 books, published by Macmillan, Hodder and Stoughton, Harper-Collins and others. She has had two Sunday Times Bestsellers, one of which was also Canada’s best-selling non-fiction book, 2015.

Amongst her previous books have been three war-memoirs, one of which was short-listed in the British Library’s National Life-Story Awards. She has been a speaker on both BBC television and radio, as well as writing for The Times, The Guardian and the TES.

A former headteacher, Ofsted Inspector, chair of two charities and currently a historian and museum research co-ordinator, Jacquie loves writing about past events through the lives of the people who lived them. Her home is in an ancient Sussex settlement, steeped in history.

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