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I Survived Didn't I? (Paperback)

The Great War Reminiscences of Private 'Giinger' Bryne

WWI Military

Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 143
ISBN: 9781473821248
Published: 2nd July 2014

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4124 Private Byrne, C., 2nd Battalion The Hampshire Regiment, latterly the Machine-Gun Corps, provides an account of an infantryman's life in the trenches of the Western Front during the Great War. Charlie ("Ginger") Byrne was a typical young "tommy" who had no liking or aptitude for writing, but at the age of 82, sound in body and having a mind blessed with total recall, he was persuaded to tell his story to an interested and observant listener. Joy Cave has achieved the transition into print of Charlie's war, set down in the form in which he related it, with an added commentary on the larger events in which, like so many of his generation, this humble soldier found himself caught up. It is not a narrative of grand strategy, nor a recital of epic heroism (although courage enough is evident), but the reminiscence of the ordinary infantryman - the individual viewpoint of one tiny cog in a colossal war machine. Through the account of chaos shines the tolerant good humour and forbearance of the soldier who fought and survived.

This is a fascinating account of life during some of the fiercest battles of WW1. It is compiled from the oral histories of Charlie ‘Ginger’ Byrne given in the 1970s, but his memories and accounts of his service are still very detailed despite the time passed since the war. He had a lively way of writing, and although parts deal with the death through gassing of his fellow soldiers in the trenches etc, his general good humour and acceptance of his lot shine through. I have read a lot of WW1 material, but this book still had everyday details that I had not seen mentioned before, and also aspects I had just never considered. I would recommend this to anyone interested in everyday life of a soldier in WW1, as Charlie fought at the Somme and 3rd Ypres, as well as the battles in 1918 when the Germans retreated. The editor has taken time to provide background information to help the reader, as well as useful appendices. Many memoirs are rather self -conceited, but this is not at all.

The Royal Hampshire Comrades Association

A marvelous account that we are lucky to have had recorded before it was too late.

Military Modeling

This is an account that no enthusiast of military history should miss.

Firetrench

Charlie 'Ginger' Byrne records his memoirs, warts 'n all, and has no fear of telling the mundane and the humorous along with the brave and horrific. From lice to nasty corporals, from bacon and dripping to the Chinese Labour Corps, Byrne crams it all in and leaves you educated and fascinated with details I have never had the privilege to read before. ... This is a true soldiers tale, quick-paced, funny, sad and probably one of the best books I've picked up and read this year.

War History Online
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