Paul Lintier was a promising French writer, the author of three books published before the start of the First World War. In 1913 he joined the French army and was thus involved in the fighting on the Western Front from the very start of the war. This diary covers the first two months of the war, a period in which Lintier took part in the advance to the French frontiers, entered combat just inside southern Belgium, then took part in the long French retreat, the move to the Marne, the battle of the Marne itself and the stalemate on the Aisne. The diary ended after he suffered an injury that took him away from the front.
The book was written as a daily diary and then prepared for publication by the author. Sadly he was killed in action on 15 March 1916, the month before the book was published. His diaries for 1915 and 1916 were also published posthumously.
These diaries cover a topic that isn't well documented in English - there are plenty of published diaries and memoirs reflecting the British experience at the start of the war (the battle of Mons, the retreat to the Marne, the race to the sea and the first battle of Ypres), but very few that cover the French experience of the same period. This would thus be a valuable contribution to the literature of the First World War even if it wasn't so well written.
It is doubly valuable because of Lintier's experience as a writer and his excellent observational skills. We thus get a masterly account of the chaos of war as the French advanced and retreated across a series of battlefields. Lintier and his comrades had very little solid information about the progress of the fighting, and so rumours spread like wildfire. The horror of the first casualties and the fatalism that soon developed come across well, as does the confusion of the period.
Diary of the Main Events
1 - Mobilisation
2 - The March to the Frontier
3 - The Clash - The Retreat
4 - From the Marne to the Aisne
Author: Paul Lintier
Year: 2012 edition