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Diary of a Dead Officer (Hardback)

Being the Posthumous Papers of Arthur Graeme West

Military > Greenhill Books

By Arthur Graeme West, Introduction by Nigel Jones
Greenhill Books
Pages: 208
ISBN: 9781805000600
Published: 2nd May 2024


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Born in September 1891, Arthur Graeme West was a quiet and self-effacing youth with a passion for literature, who went on to become a keen Oxford scholar. When war broke out in 1914, for some time it left him untouched. However, in January 1915, in a rush of enthusiasm, he enlisted as a private in the Public Schools Battalion. From that time, until his death in April 1917, his life was a succession of training in England and fighting in France, with short intervals of leave.

West joined due to a feeling of duty and patriotism, but the war was to have a profound effect on him. He developed an intense abhorrence of army life and began to question the very core of his beliefs — in religion, patriotism and the reason for war. This growing disillusionment found expression in two particularly powerful war poems, God! How I Hate You, You Young Cheerful Men and Night Patrol, which stand deservedly alongside those of Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen.

In August 1916, he became a second lieutenant in the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. Shortly after, he wrote to his CO renouncing the war and any further part in it — but he could not bring himself to post the letter. Less than a year later, on April 3rd, 1917, he was shot dead by a sniper's bullet near Bapaume.

Written with complete frankness and sincerity, Diary of a Dead Officer gives voice to West's struggle to come to terms with the realities of war and is a poignant tribute to a lost generation of soldiers.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Interesting perspective on a WW I officer who did not make it home. I was deeply interested the whole time. It would be definitely worth looking into finding more like this .

NetGalley, Dylan Simon

This is a fascinating book which is also timeless. I suspect the thoughts and actions of the diarist remain common to the modern experience of warfare in many ways. His struggles to come to terms with his role as a soldier are all the more tragic when it is revealed that he died before his position could be put forward fully. Such a sad book, but also inspiring to read of the strength of character under what must have been incredible societal pressure at the time.

NetGalley, Louise Gray
 Nigel Jones

About Nigel Jones

Nigel Jones is a historian, journalist and biographer. A former deputy editor of History Today magazine and reviews editor of BBC History Magazine he has initiated and presented several BBC TV and radio documentaries. He writes and reviews regularly for The Times, Telegraph, Daily Mail and Literary Review.

His latest book, Countdown to Valkyrie, has already proved a great success and has received commendations from public and the media alike.

Nigel lives with his partner and three children in Sussex.

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