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City of London in the Great War (Paperback)

Local History WWI London Social History Towns & Cities in the Great War

By Stephen Wynn
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Series: Towns & Cities in the Great War
Pages: 206
ISBN: 9781473828599
Published: 4th May 2016

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Throughout the First World War, London played a major part in Great Britain's war effort, both at home and abroad. A far as Germany was concerned, the city was their ultimate goal – the ultimate target that would bring them the sought-after victory they so desired.

With the British Royal Family at Buckingham Palace, the heart of British Government at the Houses of Parliament and one of Europe's major financial centres, situated at the Bank of England, London was a major prize that would either be protected or lost to the enemy. With a real belief amongst the British public that there would be an invasion at some time during the war, the security of the countries capital was paramount not only for survival of the nation, but also to ensure that public morale remained high.

The capital was a central hub for recruitment with centres popping up all over the city, at places such as Scotland Yard and the Tower of London. There was a regiment for everybody, catering for all elements of society from the labourer, to the landed gentry, for the more affluent, as well as those less well off, and from the professional sportsman, to the city banker; everybody wanted to do their bit for King and Country.

The book looks at many different aspects of wartime London: the Members of Parliament who left their comfortable lifestyles, who fought and died for their country, the Silvertown munitions factory explosion, the twelve German spies who were shot at the Tower of London, and the hundreds of military hospitals that were spread across London. Part of St Thomas's Hospital, for example, treated the wounds of 11,396 military personnel between 1915-19.

City of London in the Great War records yet another chapter in the history of the nation's capital, during the four-year period of time, which will live in the memory of the city forever more.

Stephen Wynn’s book ‘City of London in the Great War’ interesting book on Londoner’s response to the Call to Arms at the outbreak on the First World War. A response I doubt we shall never see again.


The book describes how thousands of men young and not so young flocked to recruitment centres throughout London. Territorials were called to the Colours, many of whom had served in far flung British outpost scattered through-out the Empire and now had families to support. New battalions where raised including the Post Office Rifles and the ‘Pals Battalions who marched through mud on the Somme. There was a Regiment for everybody whether a labourer, businessmen, bankers or landed gentry even gentrified ladies. The First Aid Nursing Yeomanry Corp was open to ladies who could ride, preferable with their own horse, to be trained in First Aid and Nursing and would ride into the battlefield to attend to the wounded. They received no wages but paid 10 shillings enrolment fee and paid 6/- shillings a month there-after. Only for the affluent I would suggest.


‘City of London in the Great War’ is well supported with photographs and descriptions of acts of heroism. The work could be useful, as a starter, to readers researching their late London relative’s road to war.

Richard Gough - Military Author and historian

Well-illustrated, this is a good introduction to the impact of the war on the City.

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - Summer 2016

About Stephen Wynn

Stephen Wynn is a retired Police officer who served with Essex Police for thirty years. His first book, Two Sons in a War Zone: Afghanistan: The True Story of a Fathers Conflict, was published in 2010. It is his personal account of his sons’ first tours in Afghanistan. Both of his grandparents served in and survived the First World War.

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