Author: Chris Moore

The Great War Bookshop Great War Diary, July 2015 – 1915

Monday, June 29th

Another Turkish attack against the ANZACs at Gallipoli fails to dislodge them from their cliff-top trenches.

Tuesday, June 30th

French soldiers are killed on the Western Front trying try to break through German barbed wire which has been electrified. The Italians launch their biggest Isonzo assault.

Wednesday, July 1st

The first steel helmets reach the French army. British commanders at Gallipoli consider a third landing on the peninsula now the initiative has been lost at ANZAC and Cape Helles.

Thursday, July 2nd

The Italians push ahead on the Isonzo Front (Carso Plateau) despite heavy casualties among some of their best brigades.

Friday, July 3rd

The government estimates that the war is now costing British tax-payers £3,000,000 per day. In Turkey, banks issue paper money for the first time.

Saturday, July 4th

The last Germans holding on in South West Africa seek an armistice. A German officer, Sub-Lt. Plutschow, escapes from his prison camp in Derbyshire.

Sunday, July 5th

General Gorringe resumes his advance on the Euphrates to attack the Turks at Nasiriya. A National Registration Bill fans fears at home of conscription.

Monday, July 6th

Lord Kitchener visits the Western Front on his way to a conference with French war leaders at Chantilly.

Tuesday, July 7th

Joffre tells the Chantilly conference that attack is the best form of defence on all fronts. In South West Africa, the Germans receive their surrender terms.

 Wednesday, July 8th

Canada increases the size of its army to 150,000 men and appeals for recruits.

Thursday, July 9th

The Germans formally surrender to the British in South West Africa. Some of the South African rebels who fought with the Germans are paroled and allowed home.

Friday, July 10th

The general appointed to command the next landing at Gallipoli, the 60-year old Sir Frederick Stopford, reaches campaign HQ.

Saturday, July 11th

Joffre decides that the main Western Front offensive this summer will be a mass attack by the French in Champagne, with a subsidiary one from the British further north.

Sunday, July 12th

Sir John French visits the battlefield at Loos assigned for his subsidiary attack. Lt. Pluschow sails to Holland and freedom. He becomes the only German POW held in Britain to make it all the way home.

Monday, July 13th

The British reorganise on the Western Front. The new Third Army takes over an extra 15 miles of trenches from the French leading down to the River Somme.

Tuesday, July 14th

King George is now talking in private about the possible replacement of Sir John French as C-in-C on the Western Front.

Wednesday, July 15th

Another German spy, Robert Rosenthal, is executed by hanging at Wormwood Scrubs prison. Welsh coalminers strike for more pay.

Thursday, July 16th

The Italians choose a poet and pioneer aviator, Gabriele D’Annunzio, to be their historian of the war.

Friday, July 17th

One of the British generals at Gallipoli, Sir Aylmer Hunter-Weston (‘Hunter-Bunter’), is invalided offshore with sun-stroke never to return.

Saturday, July 18th

A fortnight after the first Italian onslaught on the Isonzo they try again but strong Austrian defences cause the same heavy casualties.

Sunday, July 19th

The French air ace, Georges Guynemer, scores his first combat victory above the Western Front. He will bring down 54 German planes before he falls.

Monday, July 20th

The Canadian Prime Minister, Robert Borden, visits the Western Front. The English Football Association cancels next season’s FA Cup competition.

Tuesday, July 21st

More than 840,000 British families are now receiving separation allowances to compensate for their menfolk serving in uniform. Welsh miners go back to work.

Wednesday, July 22nd

The Austrians hold on to Gorizia on the Isonzo front. In four weeks of fighting the Italian army Chief, Luigi Cadorna, has sacked nearly 30 generals.

Thursday, July 23rd

Giant Italian biplanes bomb the Austrian town of Innsbruck. Figures from the British Medical Association show that 25,000 of the nation’s doctors are now in uniform.

Friday, July 24th

In Mesopotamia, General Gorringe’s advance up the Euphrates reaches Nasiriya.

Saturday, July 25th

Captain Lanoe Hawker brings down three German planes over Ypres and wins a VC. Nasiriya is captured by General Gorringe.

 Sunday, July 26th

The American novelist Henry James, long resident in Britain, decides to take British citizenship.

Monday, July 27th

British casualties in the war to date: Army, 330,000; Royal Navy, 9,000.

Tuesday, July 28th

The first French gas mask goes into mass production. Lloyd George announces plans for building 26 munition factories.

Wednesday, July 29th

British, Indian and ANZAC casualties at Gallipoli to date: 50,000.

 Thursday, July 30th

British troops face German flame throwers for the first time, at Ypres. In Mesopotamia, General Townsend’s force probes further up the Tigris towards Baghdad.

Friday, July 31st

As the first belligerent states mark the anniversary of the war, the Pope makes a new appeal for peace talks.

Saturday, August 1st

The German pilot, Max Immelmann, scores his first kill flying a Fokker plane equipped with a machine gun that can fire through its propeller.

Sunday, August 2nd

Final preparations are made at Gallipoli for the Suvla Bay landing to relieve pressure on the Cape Helles and ANZAC positions by outflanking the Turks.


War Letters To A Wife

War Letters To A Wife; France And Flanders, 1915 – 1919 remains one of the top ten British Great War memoirs by virtue of its  manly style and its unwavering sharp focus on the actuality of battle on the Western Front. The author left for France in April 1915 as a Captain in the Coldstream Guards and returned home in May 1919 in command of a battalion of the London Regiment. On re-reading this classic recently the following review came to light in the form of a yellowed newspaper clipping.

‘Very few war books have had a success comparable to this. Three impressions within three months of its publication last autumn (1929), and now this popular edition, prove that there is still a great demand for accounts of the war, written on the spot by one who was in the thick of it, and who had no temperamental reaction against his job. It looks as if Colonel Feilding’s book would survive as a standard presentment of what was experienced, felt and believed by the normal type of Englishman who became an officer in the war and for the war. The presentment is none the less representative because it shows the type at its most intelligent and most courageous.’

If the above appreciation of ‘the type’ was not written by Cyril Falls it certainly echoes his assessment of Colonel Feilding’s  book when he came to include it in his bibliography, War Books, in 1930. He considered phlegmatic restraint to be the essential guarantee of authenticity in any combat memoir.  In awarding Feilding two stars Falls praises his plain style and the ‘remarkable power’ of his narrative.

‘Very few men can have such a story to tell, for very few had the fortune like him to survive battle after battle and come out not only unwounded but unscathed in nerve and spirit.’

At the time of writing there are numerous editions of War Letters To A Wife available on ABE, including several in the original cloth binding of the book’s first publisher, the Medici Society of London. More than 40 copies are for sale under the author’s real name, Feilding; a further 8 sellers have mis-catalogued him as Fielding.


The Great War Bookshop Great War Diary, June 2015 – 1915

Monday, June 1st

Turkish forces in Mesopotamia retreat up the Tigris pursued by General Townshend’s ‘regatta’ of naval gunboats and local river craft.

Tuesday, June 2nd

An Italian attack in the Alps, at Mount Krn, is repulsed. The Austrians abandon an assault across the Isonzo river after heavy losses.

Wednesday, June 3rd

General Townshend occupies Amara on the Tigris. Another force, under General Gorringe, is advancing up the Euphrates. The tiney statelet of San Marino declares war on Austria.

Thursday, June 4th

On the Gallipoli peninsula, French and British troops hemmed in at Cape Helles make a third unsuccessful attempt to gain higher ground. They make minimal progress at the cost of heavy casualties.

Friday, June 5th

An Italian attack on the Isonzo front pushes into Austrian territory in strength. Night-time zeppelin raids hit Hull and Gravesend: 8 civilians wounded.

Saturday, June 6th

Italian attacks repulsed by Austrians at Gorizia. A French warship, the Casabianca, is blown up by one of her own mines. Zeppelins raid England again: 24 killed; 40 injured.

Sunday, June 7th

A Royal Navy pilot, Sub-Lieut. Reginald Warneford, wins the VC for the first successful air-to-air attack on a zeppelin; he dropped a bomb on it.

Monday, June 8th

The strictly neutral American Secretary of State, William Bryan, resigns when President Wilson insists on strong protest note to Germany about the sinking of the Lusitania.

Tuesday, June 9th

Italian troops on the Isonzo capture Monfalcone; elsewhere they take heavy casualties. The British decide to send more troops to Gallipoli.

Wednesday, June 10th

Parliament approves the establishment of a Ministry of Munitions. A heat wave hits London – F.86 degrees in the shade.

Thursday, June 11th

Lloyd George, as minister of munitions, tells trades unions that Germany will only be beaten if they work harder for the war effort.

Friday, June 12th

Frontal attacks by Italian infantry at Gorizia are repulsed with heavy casualties. General Townsend leaves Amara to take sick leave in India.

Saturday, June 13th

Canadian troops in Flanders swap their Ross rifles for more sturdy and reliable British Lee Enfields. Voters in Greece return the pro-Allies Venizelos to power.

Sunday, June 14th

General Botha advances in South West Africa to mop up the last German resistance. On the Eastern Front, the Russians retreat from Lemberg.

Monday, June 15th

A zeppelin raid on Tyneside: 18 killed; 72 injured. The Derby is run at Newmarket because the Epsom track is now an Army camp.

Tuesday, June 16th

On the Western Front, the French attack near Arras in an unsuccessful attempt to push the Germans from Vimy Ridge. Lloyd George is sworn in as Minister of Munitions.

Wednesday, June 17th

The Italians capture high ground in the Isonzo fighting but their meafre gains come at the price of further heavy casualties.

Thursday, June 18th

Austrian warships raid the port of Fano on Italy’s Adriatic coast but cause little damage.

Friday, June 19th

Lloyd George crosses to Boulogne to consult with his French counterpart on how to improve munitions production. Warneford VC dies in a flying accident.

Saturday, June 20th

On the Western Front, the German Crown Prince (‘Little Willie’) attacks the French in the Argonne region along the Meuse river.

Sunday, June 21st

A French attack at Cape Helles gains ground and inflicts heavy casualties on the Turks. In South Africa, Christiaan de Wet is found guilty of treason and imprisoned.

Monday, June 22nd

The Pope provokes outrage among the Allies when he appears, in a newspaper interview, to equate the sinking of the Lusitania with the shipping blockade of Germany.

Tuesday, June 23rd

Another convicted German spy, Karl Muller, is executed at the Tower of London. The Prince of Wales celebrates his 18th birthday in uniform.

Wednesday, June 24th

The French and British on the Western Front reject passive defence and agree the outline of a major offensive in August with a breakthrough in mind.

Thursday, June 25th

The battleship HMS Lord Nelson uses a sausage to direct its fire at the Dardanelles and sets fire to the Turkish port of Chanak.

Friday, June 26th

The Prime Minister, Herbert Asquith, privately discusses the possibility of replacing Sir John French as C-in-C on the Western Front.

Saturday, June 27th

General Gorringe calls a temporary halt to his advance up the Euphrates because of conflicting orders from Delhi and London.

Sunday, June 28th

Lloyd George and Churchill inspect prototype weapons for the trenches including the Stokes trench mortar and a version of the landship to deal with barbed wire.

Monday, June 29th

Another Turkish attack against the ANZACs at Gallipoli fails to dislodge them from their cliff-top trenches.

Tuesday, June 30th

French soldiers are killed on the Western Front trying try to break through German barbed wire which has been electrified. The Italians launch their biggest Isonzo assault.

Wednesday, July 1st

The first steel helmets reach the French army. British commanders at Gallipoli consider a third landing after conceding that the initiative has been lost at ANZAC and Cape Helles.

Thursday, July 2nd

The Italians push ahead with frontal attacks on the Isonzo Front (Carso Plateau) despite heavy casualties among some of their best brigades.

Friday, July 3rd

The government estimates that the war is now costing British tax-payers £3,000,000 per day. In Turkey, banks issue paper money for the first time.

Saturday, July 4th

The last Germans holding on in South West Africa seek an armistice. A German officer, Sub-Lt. Plutschow, escapes from his prison camp in Derbyshire.

Sunday, July 5th

General Gorringe resumes his advance on the Euphrates to attack the Turks at Nasiriya. A National Registration Bill fans fears at home of conscription.


The Great War Bookshop Diary, April 2015 – 1915

Monday, March 30th

King George decides to takes a pledge to abstain from alcohol for the duration of the war. In South West Africa General Botha’s men advance.

Tuesday, March 31st

The German armies on the Western Front now comprise over 5,000,000 men. In New York, crowds flock to see the first epic of the film era – ‘The Birth of a Nation’.

Wednesday, April 1st

British planes bomb German submarine bases in Belgium. Over 30,000 British women have signed an official register to apply for war work.

 Thursday, April 2nd

Behind the German lines on the Western Front, scientists test how to release poison gas. ANZAC troops camped near Cairo riot through the city’s brothels.

Friday, April 3rd

French troops for Gallipoli arrive at their staging camp in Egypt.

Saturday, April 4th

Further progress reported in South West Africa. The strategic German settlement at Warmbad is occupied.

Sunday, April 5th

Two German officers escape from a prisoner of war camp at Denbigh in North Wales. They will stay on the run for a week before being re-captured.

Monday, April 6th

The Austrians want to take troops from the Eastern Front to defend themselves in the event of attack from Italy but the Germans object.

Tuesday, April 7th

British forces in Egypt start to leave for bases on the Greek islands to make their final preparations for the Gallipoli landings.

Wednesday, April 8th

The Germans near Ypres prepare chlorine gas for an attack but the wind is against them. Italy demands territory from Austria in return for neutrality.

Thursday, April 9th

German attempts to attack on rafts over the flooded ground north of Ypres are driven off. Germany accuses the United States of shipping contraband to the Allies.

Friday, April 10th

A ship carrying American war relief for Belgian refugees in Britain is sunk when a German submarine attacks a convoy near the Hebrides.

Saturday, April 11th

A giant German biplane with three powerful motors, the Staaken bomber, makes its maiden flight.

Sunday, April 12th

In the first pitched battle of the Mesopotamia campaign, a British force of 6,000 troops defeats a Turkish force of 12,000 at Shaiba.

Monday, April 13th

Lloyd George takes charge of the government’s Munitions Committee. A zeppelin is brought down by anti-aircraft fire near Ypres.

Tuesday, April 14th

A zeppelin reaches Wallsend, on Tyneside, and drops incendiary bombs: four civilian casualties. The work of the Red Cross is banned in German-occupied areas of Belgium.

Wednesday, April 15th

Italy builds up its forces in five areas facing the Austrian border. Night-time zeppelin raids against East Anglia: zero casualties.

Thursday, April 16th

The Canadian parliament approve a sum of $100,000,000 to be spent on the war. More than 100,000 Canadians are now in uniform.

Friday, April 17th

The British blow up German trenches on Hill 60 near Ypres with mines and, on occupying the craters, beat off counter attacks.

Saturday, April 18th

Fierce fighting for the craters at Hill 60. British aircraft locate and attack a German airstrip at the Dardanelles.

Sunday, April 19th

A French plane is shot down behind German lines, enabling the Germans to copy its device for allowing a machine gun to fire through its propeller.

Monday, April 20th

German artillery bombards Ypres ahead of a new attempt to seize the city using gas. The burning town’s civilian population departs in a hurry.

Tuesday, April 21st

The Austrians begin readying defences on their Italian borders in anticipation of attack.

Wednesday, April 22nd

The Germans use chlorine gas on a wide front to launch their mass assault against Ypres. French troops flee in panic. The Canadians move into the gap and steady the line.

Thursday, April 23rd

Lance Corporal Frederick Fisher becomes the first Canadian VC winner of the war after sticking by his machine gun when his comrades were killed.

Friday, April 24th

The death of the British poet, Rupert Brooke, is mourned on a French hospital ship. He died of blood poisoning caused by a mosquito bite on his lip.

 Saturday, April 25th

The British land at two places on the Gallipoli peninsula, ANZAC Cove and Cape Helles. Determined Turkish defenders pin the invaders to the beaches.

Sunday, April 26th

The British sustain heavy casualties at Gallipoli trying to establish their beachheads. On the Western Front, Lt. William Rhodes-Moorhouse wins the first VC in the air.

Monday, April 27th

Sir John French sacks one of his generals, Horace Smith-Dorrien, for urging a strategic retreat at Ypres. The cabinet authorises gas to be used as a weapon.

Tuesday, April 28th

British troops at Cape Helles advance two miles while the Royal Navy bombards Turkish positions. The Germans halt their attacks at Ypres.

Wednesday, April 29th

A zeppelin drops bombs on Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds: zero casualties.

Thursday, April 30th

The British at Cape Helles repulse a Turkish counter-attack after the government in Constantinople orders General Liman to ‘drive the invaders into the sea’.

Friday, May 1st

The first Mills hand grenades reach troops on the Western Front. A German submarine sinks an American tanker without warning in the Mediterranean.

 Saturday, May 2nd

The German government buys adverts in New York newspapers warning that ships flying the flags of the Allies will be attacked.

Sunday, May 3rd

Italy renounces its treaty obligations towards Austria, signalling the gradual mobilisation of its army.


Where Did All the Great War Books Go?

Book Review:  ‘Merchants Of Hope; British Middlebrow Writers and the First World War, 1919 – 1939’, by Rosa Maria Bracco.

Rosa Maria Bracco’s book was published by Berg in 1993 when she was working for a publisher based in Cambridge, England, after being awarded a doctorate from the university there. ‘Merchants of Hope’ reads like a Ph.D. thesis reworked for a middlebrow readership and it works. Almost every page holds something of interest about the Great War’s writers and their books. The author provides frequent summaries of plots, themes and characters and is helpfully restrained in not presuming too much upon the reader’s wider knowledge of the period.

In so far as Bracco pursues a critical argument it seems to be this: the invigorating analysis proposed by Paul Fussell in ‘The Great War & Modern Memory’ (1975) has had the unfortunate effect of obscuring the evidence offered by literature written closer to the event , much of which challenges Fussell’s assertion that the truest writing about the Great War was ironic. There were certainly bangry, ironical and disillusioned writers at work, 1919 – 1939, but most of those who made the Great War their subject after it had been won, civilian or military, Home Front or overseas, portrayed characters who thought the Great War was beastly but necessary. Heroism, fortitude, self-sacrifice and comradeship were taken as real by a majority of mainstream, best-selling English writers; these values signified an important truth about the War that readers expected to find endorsed in their novels.

Altogether Bracco refers to nearly 200 books, quite a few of them from names that will be familiar to Great War collectors. She also mentions a surprising number who will be new, including some from writers who never wrote again after their debut. Equally surprising, especially to book hunters familiar with ABE as a source of Great War titles, is the number of Bracco’s books which appear to have become extinct. About a quarter (37) of the books in her index are unavailable as hardback first editions on ABE. Many are now only available as print-on-demand facsimiles or e-books.

I checked two of Bracco’s titles – ‘Spears Against Us’ (1932?) by Cecil Roberts and ‘Simon Called Peter’ (1921) by Robert Keable. According to info gleaned from booksellers’ catalogue entries on ABE, sales for ‘Spears Against Us’ reached at least 170,000 copies; sales of ‘Simon Called Peter’ reached at least 250,000. Of the two titles, there were 16 copies of ‘Spears Against Us’ for sale on ABE and 31 copies of ‘Simon Called Peter’. This gives a survival ratio, in ABE terms, of approximately I: 8,000 for copies of ‘Simon Called Peter’ and 1: 10,500 for ‘Spears Against Us’. What happened to the rest of them, those tens of thousands of copies of both titles that have not survived the intervening eighty or ninety years? Lost? Discarded? Pulped? Are they still out there, somewhere, but not on ABE?

If Rosa Maria Bracco is right In thinking that English middlebrows of the Twenties and Thirties wrote of the Great War with a surer grasp of authenticity than their modern successors we should perhaps be taking them more seriously. Hurry now while stocks last.

Backchat in British Trench Lingo, 1914 – 1918

To ‘backchat’ in the British Army was to answer back. When directed at a superior it was impertinence or insubordination, which was a military crime. Among comrades it was simply part of the constant banter and raillery that prevailed in the ranks. The phrase comes from the Hindustani, batchit, from bat, language. In India, which is where The King-Emperor’s regular soldiers learned their trade before 1914, to ‘sling the bat’ was to talk the language of the native population.

Nothing marked out a ‘pukka’ Tommy at the start of the First World War so much as the quantity of ‘Hindoo’ in his slang. Proficiency in ‘chewing the rag’ with such an ‘old sweat’ was an essential first step for any volunteer or conscript seeking acceptance in a ‘mob’ of regulars. He quickly learned that bread was ‘rooty’, from roti; water was ‘pawnee’, pani; tea was ‘char’, chai. A private in the Royal Welch Fusiliers, Frank Richards, evoked the type precisely in his memoir, Old Soldiers Never Die. Booze and fillies were the priorities when Frank and his mate, Billy, disembarked in the French city of Rouen in August 1914.

‘Billy used to boast that no matter what new country he went to he could always make the natives understand what he required. He ordered a bottle of red wine, speaking in English, Hindustani and Chinese, with one French word to help him out. The landlord did not understand him and Billy cursed him in good Hindustani and told him he did not understand his own language, threatening to knock the hell out of him if he did not hurry up with the wine … I remonstrated with Billy and told him we could not treat the French who were our allies the same as we treated the Eastern races. He said: “Look here, Dick, there is only one way to treat foreigners from Hong Kong to France and that is to knock hell out of them …” ’

Some of the Army’s Hindi derivations – such as ‘Blighty’, ‘char’ and ‘pukka’ – became so widespread they have entered the mainstream of English slang. Blighty, meaning England, the homeland, derives from bilaiti, foreign land. A ‘Blighty’ or ‘cushy one’ was a fortunate wound requiring evacuation to England for treatment, similar to the German, heimatschuss, a home-shot, or the French, fine blessure, a fine wound. ‘Cushy’ or ‘cushti’, in the sense of comfortable, safe, well off, derives from khush, pleasure. ‘Pukka’, meaning correct, proper, fit for purpose, comes from pukkha, ripe, ready to eat – the opposite of ‘cutcha’, kachcha, bad, false, raw.

Given the importance of food and drink to the fighting man it is unsurprising that so many Indian words of a domestic nature entered trench lingo. Men were ‘booka’, hungry, bhukha, much of the time. ‘Burgoo’, porridge, and ‘skilly’, thin stew, reached the trenches in a ‘dixie’, an oval, bucket-sized cauldron with a lid and a handle that Hindi speakers called a degchi, cooking pot. Any offering deemed unworthy of the ‘bobbajee’, cook, bawachi, was likely to be disparaged as ‘cooter gosh’, not fit for human consumption, from kutta, dog, and ghosht, food. Like everyone else at the Front the ‘bobbajee’ often had to work under stress and got little thanks for his efforts. Any ingrate who spat out a mouthful of gristle with the exclamation, ‘Who called that bastard a cook?’ was likely to be rewarded with a prolonged spell of ‘dixie-bashing’- cleaning greasy pots with bare hands and a damp rag.

The battle on the Western Front was a siege, a war of materiel in the form of massed firepower and manpower. The scale of organisation required brought huge bureaucracies into being. Everything demanded a ‘chit’ or ‘chitty’, a hand-written authorisation, from chitthi. Anyone approaching the Quartermaster (‘blanket-stacker’ or ‘clutching hand’) for a new piece of kit was unlikely to be successful without a ‘chit’ signed by an officer or NCO. And behind ‘the Front’ was ‘the Base’, crammed with depots and warehouses run by an army of ‘ink slingers’ filling up wads of ‘coggidge’, Army forms, from kaghaz, writing paper.

Tommy’s best friend, according to his sergeant, was his rifle, his ‘bandook’ or ‘bundhook’, musket, banduq, When the ‘foot-slogger’ was ordered to march quicker he was told to put some ‘jildy’ into it, energy, effort, juldee. When he was ordered to slow down or halt it was ‘Arsty! Arsty!’ from ahisti, go slow. If he stood on the fire step to inspect No Man’s Land he took a ‘dekko’ at it, ‘Dekho! Look!’, from dekhna, to see. And every few weeks, if he was lucky, he was marched off to see the ‘dhobi-wallah , laundry bloke, at the local de-lousing station to get clean uniform in exchange his verminous ‘Khaki’ uniform, khakhi, meaning dust-coloured.

‘Dhobi’ meant laundry, and ‘wallah’ meant doer, wala, the man who does it. Everyone was a doer in trenches. The man firing the trench mortar was the ‘trench mortar wallah’. The man who fetched the mail was the ‘post wallah’. The chaplain was the ‘pulpit wallah’.

The most important doer of all, as far as Tommy was concerned, was the one who picked him up and carried him to safety after he had ‘stopped one’ on the battlefield. As long he hadn’t been hit anywhere vital, such as the ‘goolies’, testicles, from ghooli, ball, the ‘dhoolie-wallah’, was the stricken man’s saviour – the stretcher-bearer, from doli, the covered litter used in India for the conveyance of important personages. No one, in his own mind, was more important than the wounded warrior, especially if he was heading for ‘Blighty’ with a ‘cushy one’ after ‘doing his bit’ against the ‘unspeakable Hun’.

(For more derivations and explanations of Trench Lingo see Chris Moore’s miscellany, Roger, Sausage and Whippet, published by Headline To browse for books by any writer whose works have been quoted, click here.)

The Great War Bookshop 2015 – 1915 Diary

Monday, March 2nd

Blockade: the British and French warn all neutral shipping to Germany it will be stopped. After bad weather at the Dardanelles, the Royal Navy’s big guns fire again.


Tuesday, March 3rd

The first Canadians on the Western Front take over a section of the British line. Indian and British regiments mass to attack German-held Neuve Chapelle.


Wednesday, March 4th

Belgian troops shoot down a zeppelin heading for London. Trades unions agree to allow women and unskilled labour to work in munitions factories.


Thursday, March 5th

Another German zeppelin is shot down over the Belgian coast. In South West Africa, 40,000 South African troops march against German garrisons.


Friday, March 6th

Political turmoil in Athens as the pro-German king refuses to allow the Prime Minister to send troops to fight with the French and British at Gallipoli.


Saturday, March 7th

Indian troops move up at Neuve Chapelle where the British artillery has concentrated for its biggest bombardment of the war so far.


Sunday, March 8th

Austrian political and military leaders argue about yielding territory to Italy in an effort to prevent another war front opening against them.


Monday, March 9th

Lloyd George urges parliament to back legislation giving the government wide powers over the munitions industry.


Tuesday, March 10th

Indian and British regiments attack at Neuve Chapelle and break through the German lines. Lord Kitchener appoints the general to command at Gallipoli.


Wednesday, March 11th

The Neuve Chapelle battle bogs down as the Germans steady staunch the breach and bring up reinforcements.


Thursday, March 12th

German counter attacks at Neuve Chapelle are driven off. Rupert Brooke anchors off the Greek island of Lemnos for the Gallipoli campaign.


Friday, March 13th

The battle at Neuve Chapelle ends: British casualties, 12,000; German casualties 10,000. The general leading the Gallipoli campaign, Sir Ian Hamilton, is on his way there.


Saturday, March 14th

British vessels trying to clear Turkish mines from the Dardanelles channel are driven back by artillery batteries that have escaped the naval bombardment.


Sunday, March 15th

A German warship, the Dresden, is blown up by its crew after the Royal Navy catches it at anchor off the coast of Chile. Lord Kitchener urges greater efforts on munitions.


Monday, March 16th

Sixteen British and French battleships at the Dardanelles prepare to storm up the channel with guns blazing if necessary.


Tuesday, March 17th

General Hamilton arrives on the Greek island of Tenedos to take command of troops for Gallipoli. The Royal Navy commander, Admiral Carden, goes home sick.


Wednesday, March 18th

Disaster for the Royal Navy: two battleships are sunk by mines in the Dardanelles as they try to force a way through; others are damaged; the rest turn back.


Thursday, March 19th

Trades unions agree to a system of arbitration for settling disputes rather than strikes to speed up munitions production.


Friday, March 20th

The Allies accept Italian terms for entering the war. Winston Churchill orders the first prototype tanks. German zeppelins bomb the outskirts of Paris.


Saturday, March 21st

German forces in South West Africa are in retreat after their first encounter with General Botha’s columns. The Italian military attaché leaves Vienna.


Sunday, March 22nd

The Austrians suffer a humiliating defeat on the Eastern Front when the key fortress off Przemsyl falls with the Russians taking 120,000 prisoners.


Monday, March 23rd

Sir Ian Hamilton decides it will take weeks before his troops can be organised for a landing at Gallipoli. The naval bombardment resumes.


Tuesday, March 24th

The Turks appoint a German, Otto Liman Von Sanders, to overall command at Gallipoli. British aircraft bomb submarine yards near Antwerp.


Wednesday, March 25th

General Hamilton goes to Egypt to rally Australian and New Zealand troops, ANZACs, for the Gallipoli campaign and to co-ordinate plans.


Thursday, March 26th

French aircraft bomb German zeppelin sheds at Metz. Local officials in Germany are given powers to restrict alcohol sales and weaken the beer.


Friday, March 27th

Rupert Brooke arrives at the Egyptian port of Alexandria so the Royal Naval Division can re-pack and re-organise for the Gallipoli landings.


Saturday, March 28th

Outrage in London after The Times publishes a report blaming the failures at Neuve Chapelle on a shortage of munitions.


Sunday, March 29th

Lloyd George gives a speech saying Drink is a more dangerous enemy than Germany. General Hamilton inspects a parade of 20,000 ANZACs in Egypt.


Monday, March 30th

King George decides to take the pledge and abstain from alcohol for the duration of the war. In South West Africa General Botha’s men advance.


Tuesday, March 31st

The German armies on the Western Front now comprise over 5,000,000 men. In New York, crowds flock to see the first epic of the film era – ‘The Birth of a Nation’.