As the anniversary period for the Third Battle of Ypres begins, Bookbub have featured eBook editions of Some Desperate Glory – The Diary of a Young Officer, 1917 by Edwin Campion Vaughan in their daily special offer email. We’ve compiled a few details and reviews of the book, currently only 99p for eBook download, to let you know why this book is a Great War ‘must read’.
Edwin Stephen Campion Vaughan MC (1897-1931) served in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment on the Western Front during the Great War. He fought at Passchendaele during the Third Battle of Ypres and kept a vivid record of his experiences. Later in the war he served in Italy, then again on the Western Front. He was awarded the Military Cross in 1918. Some Desperate Glory charts the progress of an enthusiastic and patriotic young officer who marched into battle with Palgrave’s Golden Treasury in his pack. Intensely honest and revealing, his diary evokes the day-to-day minutiae of trench warfare: its constant dangers and mind-numbing routine interspersed with lyrical and sometimes comic interludes. Vividly capturing the spirit of the officers and men at the front, the diary grows in horror and disillusionment as Vaughan’s company is drawn into the carnage of Passchendaele from which, of his original ‘happy little band’ of 90 men, only 15 survived.
– “This diary of a few months in the life of a young officer on the Western Front in 1917 deserves to rank close behind Graves, Owen, Sassoon, among the most brilliant and harrowing documents of that devastating period.” – Max Hastings
– “Edwin Vaughan served with The Royal Warwickshire Regiment during the Great War and this intensely personal account of his experiences illustrates that, despite the technological advances made to the intervening 82 years, at the human level at least, very little has changed.
“The author describes the horror in graphic detail and admits his fear with a disarming candour. Yet between all ranks within his platoon there is a sense of purpose and a level of camaraderie that endures to this day. This is not a book for the strategist but an offering which deals with the reality of trench warfare at such an intimate level that one can almost smell the sandbags.” – Soldier Magazine
-“Among my favorite memoirs of the war, this version also includes an introduction by the late military historian John Terraine. Well, not really a memoir as it was posthumously published from the author’s diary.
“The author served with the 1/8th Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and this work covers eight months of their war in 1917, beginning with the cautious pursuit of the enemy withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line and going on to the searing experience of the Battle of Langemarck in August. Beautifully written and memorable, it deservedly became a classic when it was originally published in 1981, fifty years after the authors death. One of the “must reads” but particularly if you are interested in the Warwicks, the South Midland Division or Langemarck.” – Chris Baker, 1914-1918.net
– “This diary covers the period from January to August 1917, from its author’s arrival in France for the first time to his participation in the Third Battle of Ypres in August of the same year. Edward Campion Vaughan was a very young and inexperienced officer at the start of this period, and was quite willing to admit that in his diary.
“Perhaps the most outstanding feature of this diary is the sudden shift in mood towards the end. Until then life on the front line has been uncomfortable and often dangerously, but not deadly. As we approach the end of the period covered this begins to change, as Vaughan is swept up in the Third Battle of Ypres, and the end is achingly sad, as the author and his unit become involved in one of the most disastrous attacks in this notoriously disastrous battle.
“This change in the nature of Vaughan’s service means that we get to see two different aspects of life in the trenches, and can compare the mood in the comparatively quiet times, where the weather and living conditions seem to be the biggest threat, with that during major battles. We also get to know the men in his company, making their eventual fate all the more dreadful.
“Vaughan also pays an unusual amount of attention to the men under his command, giving us a really good idea of the relationship between the junior officers and their men, something that is often missing in Great War diaries. Overall this is one of the more interesting books of its type.” – History of War