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George Butterworth (Hardback)

Soldier and Composer

Military > Biographies WWI

Imprint: Fighting High Publishing
Pages: 208
Illustrations: 24
ISBN: 9781999812805
Published: 11th February 2018



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George Sainton Kaye Butterworth was one of the most brilliant, enigmatic and promising young composers of the early twentieth century.  Intensely fond of his country, he composed hauntingly beautiful English choral and orchestral music while struggling to make a living as a reviewer, teacher and demonstrator of Morris dances.  He was a direct and diffident man who was fiercely loyal to his few close friends.  Under his slightly forbidding exterior was a man with a great sense of humour and a strong sense of duty to his family, friends and country.


When Kaiser Bill cast his mad shadow over Belgium and France, Butterworth joined the army as a private in the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry. He recorded his early military career with a sense of farce and frustration.  Within a short time Butterworth and his friends were commissioned in the Durham Light Infantry and eventually sent to France to fight in the unspeakable horror of the Battle of the Somme.


This book outlines Butterworth’s brief life and achievements and concentrates on his months in the army culminating with his rendezvous with death at the disputed barricade of Munster Trench just outside of the ruined village of Pozieres near the highest point of the Somme battlefield. Among the illustrations are a number of previously unpublished documents and pre-war photographs from Butterworth’s own album. The author has made use of war diaries and letters as well as conversations with Butterworth’s close relatives.  He has walked over the ground that Butterworth and his men fought so hard to hold.


George Butterworth turned out to be an outstanding army officer. Conscientious and quick thinking he invariably put his men and his friends before himself. He was awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry and had a trench named after him by his men. In his own words: ‘The war gave me something to do.’  



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