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Deserters of the First World War (Hardback)

The Home Front

WWI Military

By Andrea Hetherington
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 240
Illustrations: 20 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781526747990
Published: 2nd June 2021


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The story of First World War deserters who were shot at dawn, then pardoned nearly a century later has often been told, but these 306 soldiers represent a tiny proportion of deserters. More than 80,000 cases of desertion and absence were tried at courts martial on the home front but these soldiers have been ignored. Andrea Hetherington, in this thought-provoking and meticulously researched account, sets the record straight by describing the deserters who disappeared from camps and barracks within Great Britain at an alarming rate.

She reveals how they employed a range of survival strategies, some ridding themselves of all connection with the military while others hid in plain sight. Their reasons for desertion varied. Some were already living a life of crime whilst others were conscientious objectors who refused to respond to their call-up papers. Boredom, protest, troubles at home or physical and mental disabilities all played their part in men deciding to go on the run.

Andrea Hetherington’s timely book gives us a vivid insight into a hitherto overlooked aspect of the First World War.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book. Having already read a lot of books about the First World War, this book was refreshing and a very enjoyable read, I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the war and social history.

NetGalley, Gemma Allen

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This book was such an emotive read. I really enjoyed the read and would so recommend it but be prepared to have tumbling emotions.

NetGalley, Sue Sykes

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book as it gave me insight not only into the war, but the challenges the everyday men faced in fighting it, or not. Good historical account and seems as well researched as it could be considering the shelling Britain took during either world war. I am aware of records be lost due to bombings in Europe, so London's losses don;t surprise me. I am glad the author has worked to gather the info into the this book. It needs to to told. Kudos to Andrea Hetherington. I was also glad to learn those who were executed were exonerated.

NetGalley, Catherine Hankins
WFA talk: Deserters on the Home Front by Andrea Hetherington

An online talk by Andrea Hetherington based on her forthcoming book 'Deserters of the First World War- the Home Front'. Available to view via the WFA YouTube channel.

About Andrea Hetherington

Andrea Hetherington is an independent researcher and writer with a particular interest in the social history of the First World War. She has provided research for BBC programming during the Centenary period and has acted as a consultant on several community projects on the conflict. Her publications include British Widows of the First World War: The Forgotten Legion.

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