Great War (1914-1918): The Society and Culture of the First World War discussion

Literature > World war one trench diaries 1916 & 1917

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message 1: by Steelwhisper (new)

Steelwhisper | 76 comments Very interesting!

message 2: by KOMET (new)

KOMET | 73 comments You may also wish to check out the following book ~

Comrades-In-Arms: The World War I Memoir of Captain Henri de Lecluse, the Count of Trevoedal by Roy E. Sandstrom

Capt. Henri de Lecluse, a French aristocrat, was recalled to the army in 1914 at the age of 46. He commanded an elite cavalry unit in the campaigns of 1914, 1915, and 1916 in northern France; nearly annihilated, his cavalry squadron was reformed as infantry. After two years of horror in the trenches, de Lecluse, then 49, was deemed too old for combat and transferred to the rear. His recently discovered memoirs are unlike anything written by veterans of World War I. Not a diary but a collection of 37 individual chapters devoted to descriptions of artillery bombing raids, night patrols, atrocities, deaths of friends, battlefields strewn with bodies, and mud, mud, mud.

This powerful and passionate account of the Western front is brilliantly written by a man who, in later life, emigrated to the United States and became a professor of French literature at Grinell University.

Comrades-In-Arms The World War I Memoir of Captain Henri de Lecluse, the Count of Trevoedal by Roy E. Sandstrom

message 3: by Steelwhisper (new)

Steelwhisper | 76 comments Oh goody! Thanks, that's the sort of book I have been looking for! :)

message 4: by M.K. (new)

M.K. For a day by day account of WWI, try Letters of Agar Adamson, edited by Norm Christie of CEF Books. It's an astonishing account of the war through the almost daily letters Agar (a Captain and later Major) writes to his wife Mabel. From the minutia of please send me socks to the horrors of men dying in the trenches, it's a fascinating read.

message 5: by Steelwhisper (new)

Steelwhisper | 76 comments It is a bit dear at nearly £30


message 6: by M.K. (new)

M.K. That's too bad ... I bought it at the Vimy Memorial site and it wasn't that much.

message 7: by Steelwhisper (new)

Steelwhisper | 76 comments Amazon has it at £29.97.

message 8: by KOMET (new)

KOMET | 73 comments I highly recommend the book "Riding Into War: The Memoir of a Horse Transport Driver, 1916-1919" by James Robert Johnston.

The author, a First World War veteran from New Brunswick, Canada, made a trip during the summer of 1964 to the part of the Western Front where he had seen extensive service as a horse driver in a transport unit of the Canadian Machine Gun Corps in 1917 and 1918. It was his first trip back to Europe in almost 50 years. Johnston was so deeply affected by the experience that he resolved to put down on paper his memories of his wartime service.

This book is full of photos and maps which allow the reader to follow the narrative without any difficulty. The writing style is clear and concise. Any reader will quickly find him/herself a part of Johnston's story from the time he left the family farm to join the army in April 1916 (aged 18) to the time he returned to Canada in June 1919. In his words, "... the one thing that surprised me was in the difference of the younger folks. They seemed to have aged so much more than the older people. I believe I came home as well physically as when I went away, but my nerves were not too good and I remember a lot of nights I would get up and when no one else was around have to go for a long walk. After some time this seemed to wear off and soon I was back to a new life again."

Riding Into War The Memoir of a Horse Transport Driver, 1916-1919 by James Robert Johnston

message 9: by Jan C (new)

message 10: by Brannon (new)

Brannon | 2 comments These are great Recs. I'm looking forward to checking them all out as this subject is very dear to me. I republished my great-grandfather's authentic WWI diary That's War, from January, 1918 to the end of the war. I love to compare his journey with others to see if they might have crossed paths. It's quite incredible to dive into the muck with these warriors of WWI!

message 11: by Steelwhisper (new)

Steelwhisper | 76 comments I recently read World War I Trench Diary Reginald Dickon Hall 1916 (after a rec here), which also was a moving and insightful read. Hall was a sapper, freshly married and a very religious fellow compared to today and his observations on the war or how he missed his wife or contemplated life in general were an interesting perspective.

One thing I really am sorry to see is that so many self-publishing authors in this area completely price themselves out of touch with reality, or authors hand over their works to specialised small war presses, which then in turn outprice their books. I can't count anymore the number of books I'd have bought if only they had had a reasonable price. While I understand that a printed on demand paperback has a fixed base price, there's no reason why ebooks should be as expensive, or not exist at all. And unfortunately those which have these overblown price-tags usually are the interesting, the personal accounts.

Komet, that horse-transporter diary looks very interesting!

message 12: by KOMET (new)

KOMET | 73 comments Hi Steelwhisper,

Riding Into War: The Memoir of a Horse Transport Driver, 1916-1919 is one of the best books of its kind that I've read in quite a while.

Here's another First World War memoir, but from an airman.

Into the Blue by Norman Macmillan

This book was originally published in 1929 and in it, the author relates his experiences as a combat pilot on the Western Front in 1917.

Into the Blue by Norman Macmillan

message 13: by Marilyn (new)

Marilyn Oser | 33 comments For a glimpse at the heartbreaking high-mindedness of the young men in that war, I recommend A Poet of the Air, which can be found at

This is a collection of letters from an American airman who died too soon.

message 14: by KOMET (new)

KOMET | 73 comments The following book offers a side of the war as seen from 2 British subalterns who saw combat in different theatres of war. One served in France, while the other subaltern saw action on the Italian front against forces of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

With the Guns: Two First Hand Accounts of British Gunners at War in Europe During World War I by C.A. Rose.

With the Guns Two First Hand Accounts of British Gunners at War in Europe During World War I by C.A. Rose

message 15: by Steelwhisper (new)

Steelwhisper | 76 comments Thanks for the tip!

message 16: by Míceál (new)

Míceál  Ó Gealbháin (miceal) | 13 comments Here are some books I have read which may be of interest: The Last Days of Innocence America at War, 1917-1918 by Meirion Harries The Great War and Modern Memory by Paul Fussell Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain The Beauty And The Sorrow by Peter Englund To End All Wars A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918 by Adam Hochschild

message 17: by KOMET (new)

KOMET | 73 comments Here'a another book on the First World War that Forum members may wish to read ~

The Unknown Soldiers by Arthur E. Barbeau

The Unknown Soldiers by Arthur E. Barbeau

message 18: by Steve (new)

Steve | 9 comments Recently purchased the following WW1 diaries:

Some Desperate Glory The World War I Diary of a British Officer, 1917 by Edwin Campion Vaughan by Edwin Campion Vaughan

Sapper Martin The Secret Great War Diary of Jack Martin by Richard Van Emden by Richard Van Emden

Harry’s War by Harry Drinkwater by Harry Drinkwater

message 19: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) Some nice books there Geeve. I think I have a coy of Sapper Martin to read somewhere along with this Australian book:

In Great Spirits by Archie Barwick by Archie Barwick

Elizabeth (Alaska) | 49 comments Just stumbled across one that may interest you.

The Journal Of Private Fraser, Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1914-18

I know nothing more than what is included in the GR description.

message 21: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) Looks like another good book Elizabeth :)

message 22: by Jeffrey (last edited Mar 31, 2017 11:47AM) (new)

Jeffrey Walker (jkwalkerauthor) | 0 comments I'm in the middle of writing a trilogy set 1914-1925, so have purchased and read quite a few diaries over the last year or so. Here's a quick dump:

A Rifleman Goes To War Illustrated Edition . This is not great literature, but lots of detail about life as a sniper by an American in a Canadian regiment.

A Blue Puttee at War: The Memoir of Captain Sydney Frost, MC. A very fine memoir by an officer from the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. It's not quite a diary, but almost the same level of memory and detail.

Poilu: The World War I Notebooks of Corporal Louis Barthas, Barrelmaker, 1914-1918. This is, bar none, the best diary of a WWI soldier I've found. By a socialist barrel maker. A must-read.

Women in the War Zone: Hospital Service in the First World War Another must-read if you're interested in trench diaries. This is a collection of carefully edited excerpts from diaries, memoirs and letters of women who served as nurses, VADs, ambulance drivers and doctors in the Great War. Horrible, heartening, addictive reading.

Subaltern on the Somme. Solid book, with the bonus of the Somme.

Nothing of Importance: EIGHT MONTHS AT THE FRONT WITH A WELSH BATTALION. Another solid book, this one with the twist that it's an English officer in a Welsh regiment.

message 23: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) Some great books there Jeffrey. I have a copy of "Poilu: The World War I Notebooks of Corporal Louis Barthas, Barrelmaker, 1914-1918" that I really need to try and read one day soon!

message 24: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 69 comments I have just read Letters From A Lost Generation: First World War Letters of Vera Brittain and Four Friends - letters between Vera and her brother and three of his friends, one of whom became a fiancée. I will probably next look for her Chronicle of Youth: The War Diary, 1913-1917, before tackling Testament of Youth.

I found the letters fairly powerful, written from the front, waiting to go to the front. She wrote from various hospitals where she was a V.A.D.

message 25: by M (new)

M Yeazel | 5 comments The "Letters From ..." were quite interesting and I appreciated, as I always do, the level of detail in correspondence during that century. In fact, I enjoyed them as much, if not more, than "Testament of Youth".

message 26: by Jeffrey (last edited Nov 08, 2017 12:36AM) (new)

Jeffrey Walker (jkwalkerauthor) | 0 comments Jan C wrote: "I have just read Letters From A Lost Generation: First World War Letters of Vera Brittain and Four Friends - letters between Vera and her brother and three of his friends, one of wh..."
I've been spending a lot of time in trench diaries, memoirs and letter collections from WWI as a major part of my research for my WWI trilogy the last two years. (Caution: the farther from the war a memoir is written, the more diffuse everything becomes through the inevitable rose-coloured glasses. I stuck to no longer than 10 years after the Armistice.) Utterly fascinating, so poignant and tragic. I also highly recommend the recently translated 51 months (!) of trench diaries by an amazing Bourdeaux barrelmaker and ardent socialist, Louis Barthas. I was so overwhelmed by them, I created a character in my second volume (due out on 30 Nov) based on him as a kind of homage, a poilu sergeant I christened "Lucien Barthold." I love my "Sgt Lucy" (as his American counterpart, a black sergeant named "Wille Freeman," insisted on calling him) quite dearly.
And I highly recommend (re)reading any and all of the war poets--Sassoon, Owen, Brooke, etc. There work is such pure, distilled hope, fear, anger, tragedy, disillusionment... there aren't the right words really.

message 27: by Terry (last edited Nov 09, 2017 06:34PM) (new)

Terry | 38 comments I believe this has been made into a movie, I certainly recall a film with the same circumstances. I recall it was very gut wrenching, really true feel. Does Vera volunteer to serve in France in some capacity ?

message 28: by Elizabeth (Alaska) (last edited Nov 09, 2017 07:07PM) (new)

Elizabeth (Alaska) | 49 comments Yes there was a movie. I learned this only because this is the edition I have.

Testament of Youth

message 29: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 69 comments Yes, I dvr'd it last June (or possibly the June before) and was waiting to read it. But maybe reading the letters is enough for me to watch it.

message 30: by Sep (new)

Sep | 10 comments Has anybody run across any first hand accounts of the Siege of Tsingtao?

message 31: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 69 comments This sounds like one: The Aviator of Tsingtao: My War in China and Escape from a British POW Camp by Gunther Pluschow. It is available on Kindle for $2.99.

message 32: by Sep (new)

Sep | 10 comments Thank you so very very much. I knew about this book but had no idea it was out on Kindle.

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