Sunday, April 20, 2014

April 100 years ago

Is history repeating itself? In April 1914 forces were in motion that would ultimately lead to war. Germany's Kaiser had assembled an army to match that of its long time foe France and yet he felt surrounded by enemies. Count Alfred von Schlieffen developed a battle plan whereby Germany could fight and win a two front war. After he retired Helmuth von Moltke revised the original plan just in case war came.

By 1914 Austria / Hungary was the second largest country in Europe and the fourth most powerful manufacture of machinery. When Russia defeated Turkey, Austria assessed it as Russia's plan to expand its Slavic goals. In the 1878 Congress of Berlin allowed Austria to occupy Bosnia and Herzegovina, however, that did not sit well with the Bosnia and Herzegovina when Austria decided to fully absorb them.

Ultimately the tension between these two countries would lead to war. 

I can only assume that my grandfather was well aware of the mounting problems in Europe. He still had three more years of required service in the RFA reserve and was working as an electrician. Married in 1912, he and his wife had a baby girl so he must have been very concerned about the future.

New Book - From Notes and Well Remembered Incedences

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

World War 1 - An Unkept Promise

Starting Friday my book 'World War 1 - An Unkept Promise' will be discounted on Kindle for one week starting at .99 and the discount will decrease until it returns to its current price of $2.99.

 I'm discounting the book for two reasons, first to promote this historical document during the upcoming centennial of WWI, and secondly to increase its distribution in hopes that readers will spread the word.

The book has received excellent ratings for the most part, thus making the book well worth the investment.

Here is an excerpt from the book.

April 26th

The guns were getting it pretty warm, but we started firing in good style. [i]   
     
The wire broke three times, but by arrangements we raised the range, while out of communication.

 Twice during the afternoon I went through ST JEAN and each time thought I should never get back. I felt quite alright and thought I was bound to meet it somewhere, so [I] took it easy, but at nightfall I thought I must have been very lucky.

The enemy kept up hard shelling everywhere; it was one continual roar, shell[s] frequently bursting over us and bullets and splinters knocking lumps off my dugout. I really thought it was the finishing touch, for of all the places I had been through [in] the campaign, this was by far the worst; it seemed impossible for one to live long in it. 
   
 I had a few hours sleep, awakening now and again when a large shell burst somewhere near.  At daylight we were at it again; the first thing that met my gaze was a shell dropped just the other side of the hedge. [It fell] among what was left of a Canadian Battery Wagon Line, (most of the men had been killed when the Germans broke through the previous week). They bayoneted them whilst they slept and hung the Ferrier to a tree. [Then they] crucified a Sergeant of the Canadian Scottish to a barn door with bayonets. This wagon line had about a dozen horses left of 200 – the guns were captured by the enemy, but were afterwards regained by a magnificent charge by the Canadian infantry. (Figure 8)
    
These are fine fellows and splendid fighters and hated the cursed Germans like fury for their murderous ways of waging war.
    
A couple of days previous the Canadian Scottish were ordered to retire, but refused to do so.  [They] charged the enemy on their own. It was a mad thing to do and they lost over 500 men, but captured some trenches and captured 100 prisoners or more; not one of these prisoners were brought down. [ii]
 
  
We were fighting as they – no quarter, and the Canadians gave none. Just in [the] rear of our guns, there was a Prussian Guardsman (a fine fellow, fully 6’ 3’  in height and big with it) pinned to a tree with a bayonet. [He had] a post card stuck on his forehead with the words, ‘ Canada does not forget.’  
    
The byword of the Canadians were, ‘ we’ll give‘em crucify.’  The happenings around of this period would fill a book with horrors of this description.
  
[Word spread] of the splendid fighting of the Canadians and the Indian troops who were with us.
    
Truly enough the Canadians had served Ypres, as did the 7th, 5th, and 1st Divisions in November


[i] Coxen, Fred G

[i] Ibid

[ii] Ibid

Saturday, April 12, 2014

From Notes and Well Remembered Incidences

So far there has been over 100 free downloads of my book 'From Notes and Well Remembered Incidences'. The free downloads will continue until Sunday 4/13 so check out Kindle and get your free copy.

To those who already downloaded - enjoy and please post your review.  Thanks

This is the year we remember those that gave their lives for the freedom of others.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Touring the battlefields

I'm in contact with the Western Front Association to set a date on presenting my story to their London branch. Prior to the speech I will have the chance to tour the WWI battlefields with a few of the WFA members. I'm looking forward to walking in my grandfather's footsteps by reading his journal entries describing  the battle.

As it sits now, this shall take place the first week in June so be ready for several new postings, as well as a possible book.

Last week I was going through an old set of drawers that belonged to my deceased father and found a uniform badge that appeared to be British. I photographed the badge and posted them on 'Great War Form' to help identify it. Within an hour I received an answer, it was one of the sleeve badges from a RAF officer's uniform; no doubt it was from my grandfather's RAF uniform.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

World War I - From Notes and Well Remembered Incidences

It has been several months since my last post because I've been finishing a new book. This one focuses on the early battles of WWI as well as the journal entries that describe the action.

Readers have offered me feedback and requested that I focus more on the journal entries than the story of the keeping the promise and my experiences on my trip to London. Therefore I've posted a new ebook on Kindle titled 'From Notes and Well Remembered Incidences', which reflects my grandfather's opening statement in his journal.

For the low price of $2.99 US Dollars you can download a piece of history. Or, you can wait until 4/11 and for three days you can download the book for free. My only request is that those who do download the book please post a review so I know if I found the target this time.

I'm trying to earn enough money to return to the UK this June to meet with the Western Front Association and tour the battlefields and follow my grandfather's footsteps. Royalties from this new book will go towards this goal. No doubt this experience will be emotional and could become the basis of a new story. So I would appreciate everyone's support in my quest to relive my grandfather's experience by purchasing my new book.


Friday, January 3, 2014

Journal Entries January 1915

World War 1 - An Unkept Promise  click to purchase your copy today

Jan. 1st

I was hard out, and handed over the instruments to Collins. [I] went in a stable and slept throughout the day - a little shelling took place, but I slept through it all.

Jan. 2nd to 23rd

During this period it was the usual give and take. We fired every day at any targets that presented themselves, and were occasionally shelled, very often at night.
    
The REDOUBT was retaken and lost many times, each attack meaning a fierce couple of hours work, till at length it was [undecipherable] ‘ no man’s land’  for neither side could hold it.      
Rifle bullets at night made it rather uncomfortable.
The weather was very cold and wet, a few heavy snowstorms. I sometimes had a fever in a bucket[1].
Night attacks were very frequent – we were lucky in having only a very few casualties, [or] wounded, although quite a few went away sick.
   
 One day during this period, I went to Bethune and had a much needed bath and change of underclothing. It was a relief for I, as most, was overstocked with ‘ livestock’ .

Jan 24th

During the day the enemy bombarded the lock of the canal and railway line (by our observing station) with their 8’  Howitzers. Sending over 129 shell[s], which did no material damage, one shell fell plumb on the railway line and flung a piece of the rail (about 4 foot) right over our guns fully a thousand yards, and fell a few yards from where I stood, I thought it was a shell coming over.

We afterwards read in the papers of this incident and smiled to read the lot they made of it, whereas when it happened, we took little notice. We were rather more interested watching the effect of their fire on the lock, which they failed to hit.

Jan 25th

The night passed rather quiet, rather less than the usual amount of shooting taking place.
    
About 7:15 am I received a message from 25th Brigade R.F.A. that information had been given them by a German deserter that a big attack on our front [at] GIVENCHY and CUINCHY was to take place at 7:30, preceded by a heavy bombardment. 
   
I sent the message to the observing station, and hurriedly rousted the gun detachments and the officers.  [When] it started, it was horrific, and we replied with rapid gun fire.

The enemy captured our first line trenches and our infantry fell back to our observing station.

Two out of my three lines got cut by shell[s], and while I attended to the instruments, Collins ran a line to the left Section.
    
 [He] was knocked in the knee, the same shell wounding two men and fatally wounding Mr. Watkins, a young officer that had only joined us 8 days previous. I sent two of my chaps along the observing line, and [then] the line to the 25th Btty got broken. [ii]

 I hastily got Collins, who was limping, to attend to the phones and I went along the line to the 25th.

It was warm for we were heavily shelled, [but] I found a couple of yards of the line had been cut out by shrapnel, where the wire ran along the top of a wall. I climbed on the wall and dropped very quickly, for a shell seemed to whiz inches by my head, bursting a little way behind. I got a piece of wire that had been holding up a vine of some description, and managed to fire up the line. [I] was very glad when I reached the 25th to find that communication was through.
    
I stopped a little while to recover my breath. On my return to the Battery I had a very close shave from a splinter from a shell, which burst directly in front of me. I fell on the ground, I think just in time.
    
Reached the battery without mishap – just as I reached them, another big shell burst right in the farm, about 20 yards from where my little shed was, luckily doing no damage except to the building.
    
Just opposite, a shell came right into the shelter where the telephones for the left Section was, severely wounding one man.
   
 It was in all a horrific morning, our infantry had been forced to retire right back, and we thought it was all up.

We were the foremost Battery, and knew if our infantry lost the small ridge in front of us, it was the finish of us and our guns. Luckily the third line stood, and we kept up firing at ground range, [and] were credited with doing great execution among the masses of advancing Germans.    

The Guards Brigade, consisting of the London Scottish, Seaforths, Camerons and Guards were brought up as reinforcements, and stopped the German advance, [by] entrenching themselves behind our original line. In spite of all attacks the Germans held on to the ground they had gained by overwhelming odds.

Jan 26th

At 7am our troops made a counter- attack on the lost ground. After a fierce bombardment, of about 3 hours, the Guards regained a little, but failed to get our six fire trenches, which was the objective. We fired feverously and were shelled in return. One 6’  going right into the cellar of the farm by the left Section, quite a few near the guns, but only two men were wounded.

The fight went on more or less all day, but we failed to get any further forward, but repulsed an attack from the Germans in the afternoon.
    
The 1st Siege Battery, on our left rear, got it hot, shell going right into the farm where they were in action. It was very soon ablaze – but in spite of the heavy shelling, I watched the gunners pluckily go to and from the farm, moving the wounded. After a while [they] managed to put out the fire in spite of the persistent shelling. It was grand to watch them, [although] at times they were obscured from view by smoke from the shells and fire. But they stuck it grandly and after putting the fire out, they started shooting again, as if it were to get their own back.      
During this time some shells fell very near us, but did no damage.

Jan 27 and 28th

[In] two days of attacks and counter attacks, very fierce and severe scrapping, we regained all the lost ground, and numbers of prisoners were taken.
    
No further casualties at the guns, which was lucky considering the shell fire they put over at intervals.

The Germans did a great deal of entrenching during the night’s and we had some good targets to shoot at during the day.
    
Our guns were dandy, for considering the enormous amount of shooting they had done throughout this campaign, they were still perfectly accurate and our lyddlite accounted for many things. 
Jan 29th to Feb. 5th

          A rather quiet period, the enemy seemed to have [undecipherable] off a little, for at times they never replied to our fire, and the attacks of the previous week seemed to have quieted them considerably.



[1] Fever in a bucket refers to throwing up.



Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Years 1914

World War 1 - An Unkept Promise the centennial is upon us

Dec. 31st
The morning was rather quiet.
    
At 2:30 pm we were subjected to a fierce bombardment and a heavy attack. The enemy capturing the KEEP,[1] by the railway embankment, from the Kings Royal Rifles, who [then] recaptured it again late in the afternoon. 
    

About 10pm the Germans again attacked and gained the KEEP and REDOUBT.[2] We were firing heavily all night, it was very cold. After two attacks we succeeded in again retaking the lost ground about 3 am, but could not hold it, the KRR’s being ‘ bombed’  out soon after gaining possession.
    
Throughout the night until about 8 am we kept up hot fire – the New Year had came in, in real war like style.

Jan. 1st

I was hard out, and handed over the instruments to Collins. [I] went in a stable and slept throughout the day - a little shelling took place, but I slept through it all.

Jan. 2nd to 23rd

During this period it was the usual give and take. We fired every day at any targets that presented themselves, and were occasionally shelled, very often at night.
    
The REDOUBT was retaken and lost many times, each attack meaning a fierce couple of hours work, till at length it was [undecipherable] ‘no man’s land’ for neither side could hold it.      
Rifle bullets at night made it rather uncomfortable.
The weather was very cold and wet, a few heavy snowstorms. I sometimes had a fever in a bucket[3].
Night attacks were very frequent – we were lucky in having only a very few casualties, [or] wounded, although quite a few went away sick.
   
 One day during this period, I went to Bethune and had a much needed bath and change of underclothing. It was a relief for I, as most, was overstocked with ‘livestock’. 



[1] Keep: A stronghold or innermost fortified part of a castle.
[2] Redoubt: A temporary fortification built to defend a position.
[3] Fever in a bucket refers to throwing up.