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Twelve Days on the Somme (Kindle)

A Memoir of the Trenches, 1916

WWI Greenhill eBooks Greenhill: WWI Somme Memoirs 1916 Military

By Sidney Rogerson
Greenhill Books
File Size: 4.9 MB (.mobi)
Pages: 208
Illustrations: 2 black and white
ISBN: 9781784385965
eBook Released: 22nd April 2021


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A joint operation between Britain and France in 1916, the Battle of the Somme was an attempt to gain territory and dent Germany's military strength. By the end of the action, very little ground had been won: the Allied Forces had made just 12 km. For this slight gain, more than a million lives were lost.

There were more than 400,000 British, 200,000 French, and 500,000 German casualties during the fighting. Twelve Days on the Somme is a memoir of the last spell of frontline duty performed by the 2nd Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment.

Written by Sidney Rogerson, a young officer in B Company, it gives an extraordinarily frank and often moving account of what it was really like to fight through one of the most notorious battles of the First World War.

Its special message, however, is that, contrary to received assumptions and the popular works of writers like Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, men could face up to the terrible ordeal such a battle presented with resilience, good humour and without loss of morale.

This is a classic work whose reprinting is long overdue. This edition includes a new introduction by Malcolm Brown and a Foreword by Rogerson's son Commander Jeremy Rogerson.

The story of this campaign has always floored me and as a young person, I feel it's so important to learn about the things that had dramatic impacts on prior generations (and it really wasn't that long ago). Though difficult, this felt like an important read and highlights how important it is to remember.

NetGalley, Katelyn Paul

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This was a great memoir, it was able to weave a beautifully done story of war. The writing kept me invested and I couldn't put the book down.

NetGalley, Kay McLeer

This a fresh and engaging impression of war as though the soldier had just returned on leave and been asked what things were like in the trenches. A memoir is always a personal matter and this one presents terrible conditions as they were commonly seen by a soldier – Most Highly Recommended

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This remains a classic memoir that should be on everyone’s reading list.

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WW1 Geek

Rogerson continually, throughout the book, integrates the experience of the moment, the landscape, and also the raw day to day experience. All of this is wonderfully broken down in a manner which brings you as close, as you possibly can be, to the experience of the British Tommy on the Western Front.

Jon Sandison

This book is a good, quick read and highly recommended for anyone who wants to learn about what it was like to be a company commander in a British infantry battalion, even if for just a few days near the end of one of the bloodiest campaigns of the Great War.

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Roads to the Great War

Reading this account of World War I puts you right there. It is written by someone with first hand knowledge of what it was like to be in the frontline trenches of war. You experience with Rogers the cold and the hunger these men endured. You feel the terror they carried with them day after day and night after night with no end in sight.

Though Rogers does not dwell on these horrors, his skillful and articulate storytelling brings you front and center with him and his regiment. Through him we experience endless days of monotony as they dig the trenches in which they are expected to live in on the frontlines, with the threat of death always hanging over you.

Rogers does not glorify the war, nor does he condone the belief that war is a waste and accomplishes very little for a very high price. He seems to take the middle ground, seeing that at times war is necessary and we must endure it. He tells how these men under the worst possible conditions, bond and come together, lifting each others spirits and solidify friendships that in other times and other places would never occur.

If you are a war buff and enjoy frontline narratives you will enjoy this book. It is well written, extremely informative and reads smoothly. I recommend this to all fans of memoirs and histories of war.

NetGalley, Lori Harris

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Pen and Sword always publish well research and accessible books. Here is yet another. A difficult subject but comprehensively covered. I learned so much about fighting on the Somme. This was so relevant to me as my great grandfather died here in those twelve days. He was 47 years and two days old and left a wife and five children. I felt so connected to these events as I read that I shall be buying my own a hard copy.

NetGalley, Cath P

As featured onBeating Tsundoku

Beating Tsundoku

This book was very well written, it was clear and balance about life on The Somme for those days. It is gritty and realistic, this book really does give a true account of what the soldiers had to go through both light hearted and painful. I really did enjoy this book but this could be because it’s my favourite style of writing. I actually look forward to reading this book again and would recommend it to others.

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UK Historian

Greenhill Books offers readers the chance to re-read them and to appreciate Sidney Rogerson's writing and his stories about a simple battalion in a short period during that huge tragedy that was the Battle of the Somme.

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On The Old Barbed Wire

I've immersed myself in the First World War for four decades but until recently, unaccountably, I had never read Sidney Rogerson's 'Twelve Days on the Somme'. Well, "Better late than never", as they say, and reading the book - has made me want to find out more about the men he mentions, and find photos of them.

Sidney Rogerson served as a lieutenant with the 2nd Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment and the twelve days he writes compellingly about, concern 12 days in November 1916 towards the end of the Somme campaign which ended in mud and filth. It is writing of the highest order.

Rogerson describes life in the line, and the all too brief lives of some of his fellow officers. The last anyone saw of 2nd Lt Victor Lionel Pimm ('Pym' in 'Twelve Days...) was when he was sent out on a covering party and, "he had barely got his party out in front when a German machine gun opened fire. Every man threw himself flat but it was only a random burst. Although from some shell-hole close to them in the darkness Pym ordered his men back to the trench, he himself did not return with them. Neither did he follow them in." In due course, the hours mounting and still no sign of Pimm, 2nd Lt Arthur Skett, who had sent Pimm out initially, determined to find him. "Hardly had he put a foot in No-Man's Land than he fell back dead, his head split open by a random bullet."

Victor Pimm was killed in action on the 10th November 1916 and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. Arthur Skett was killed the following day on the 11th November 1916. "Him we buried before daylight," writes Rogerson, "as reverently as we could in the circumstances, digging a grave between bursts of machine gun fire in the parados of Fall Trench." Today, 2nd Lt Skett is buried in the AIF Burial Ground at Flers.

A great read, and one to sit happily alongside Blunden, Graves, Sassoon and the rest.

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Paul Nixon

A good book which is well written, in formative and very evocative of life in the trenches towards the end of the Battle of the Somme.

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Army Rumour Service (ARRSE)
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