The Incredible Story of Kitchener's Army Through Soldiers' and Civilians' Own Words and Photographs
What greater pride might a young man feel than to serve shoulder to shoulder with his friends in time of war? To enlist into the army with his pals, chums, mates, filling the ranks of battalions that drew their strength from the local community, from amongst factory workers, miners, shop-workers and tradesmen. In August 1914, what more fitting role was there to play than to answer the country’s call to arms?
The past is another country, of course: the world in which these men grew up and the mores that took them to the Western Front might appear innocent and naive today. The Somme battle eviscerated many of these free-spirited battalions. But the raising of this New Army – a purely volunteer army – lives on in the public consciousness, their collective story part of our heritage.
Who were these volunteers who poured into recruiting offices, overwhelming the staff? What motivated these men – too often just boys - to join up? How did they feel about one another and the new military regime into which so many ran with enthusiasm, without much thought as to the future?
After the success of his previous books, The Somme, The Road to Passchendaele, and 1918, best-selling Great War historian Richard van Emden returns to the beginning of the War with this, his latest volume, including an unparalleled collection of soldiers’ own photographs taken on their privately-held cameras. Drawing on long-forgotten memoirs, diaries and letters written by the men who enlisted, Richard tells the riveting story of Kitchener’s volunteers, before they went to fight.