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The Manchester Bantams (Hardback)

The Story of a Pals Battalion and a City at War - 23rd (Service) Battalion the Manchester Regiment (8th City)

Local History WWI Family History Somme Social History 1916 1917

By Caroline Scott
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 351
ISBN: 9781783463893
Published: 6th January 2017

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In May 1916 Major Eustace Lockhart Maxwell, a former Indian cavalry officer, was given command of an infantry battalion in France. After 48 hours with his new unit, Maxwell wrote to his family: 'The outstanding characteristic of those who belong to it seems to be their extraordinary self-complacency! Esprit de corps is a fine thing, but the satisfaction with which they regard themselves, their battalion, its internal economy, its gallantry, its discipline, its everything else, is almost indecent! If at the end of a month my opinion of them is half as good as their own, I shall think myself uncommonly lucky.' This was the 23rd Manchester 'Bantam' Battalion, a unit entirely composed of men of a height between 5ft and 5ft 3”, and its esprit de corps was about to be severely tested.

The 'Bantams' left colourful, characterful, moving and often amusing records of their experiences. Using a wealth of previously un-published sources, this book follows the Manchester men through their training, their experiences of the Somme and the Third Ypres Campaign, to Houthulst Forest where, in October 1917, the Battalion was 'practically annihilated'.

Caroline Scott has researched and written an excellent volume of history covering a battalion, that outside of Manchester, has been forgotten and has given us an extensive history of the battalion...

... This is an excellent history, for those interested in the Manchester Regiment and those who have a wider interest in the battles of the Great War.

Freelancer reviewer, Paul Diggett

Caroline's second book this month takes as its subject something quite amazing - the formation of a battalion comprising only men between five feet and five feet three inches - one cannot help but think of the company of dwarves in The Hobbit - not in any derogatory sense, but in the sense that they actually thought it necessary to form such a battalion in the first place. Were there other such "bantam battalions", one wonders. Caroline's book is something of an eye-opener!

Books Monthly

A fitting, well written and researched memorial to the battalion.

First-class history. 10/10

The Great War magazine, March 2017 - Mark Marsay

Making the best of excellent sources and well-illustrated with contemporary photos this book could serve as a template for anyone considering writing a battalion history themselves.

WDYTYA? Magazine, February 2017 - reviewed by Phil Tomaselli

About Caroline Scott

CAROLINE SCOTT is originally from Lancashire. She has a PhD in History, a fascination with the First World War and a house full of khaki-coloured bric-a-brac. In addition to Those Measureless Fields, she is currently working on two non-fiction projects for Pen and Sword – a history of the Women’s Land Army during the First World War and a book about the Manchester ‘Bantam’ Battalion. Caroline lives in France and possesses more trench art than is probably tasteful.

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