Of Those We Loved, I L 'Dick' Read

Of Those We Loved, I L 'Dick' Read

A Great War Narrative Remembered and Illustrated

I L Read served with the Leicestershire Regiment and then the Royal Sussex Regiment during the First World War, entering the army as a volunteer and leaving it as a commissioned officer. The author had a very varied wartime career. He reached the Western Front late in 1915 as part of a Lewis gun section, fought on the Somme, attacked the Hindenburg Line after the Germans pulled back to that line, and fought in the final advance in Flanders in 1918. Less conventionally he was commissioned from the ranks, so we are given an insight into wartime officer training. As a new officer he was sent to Egypt, although was recalled to the Western Front before actually entering combat. On his return to France his division was sent to serve under the French, as part of General Mangin's Xth Army.

The range of Read's wartime activities means that we get to see how the fighting developed over time. The contrast between the costly stalemate of 1915-1917 and the victorious advance of 1918 is very clear here. On the Somme in 1916 Read's unit was lucky to advance several hundred yards, but by the autumn of 1918 he is able to report an advance of a few miles as disappointing. His progress from private to sergeant to lieutenant is fascinating, with his outlook on each battle changing with the increase in responsibility. The text is supported by Read's own atmospheric drawings, showing his fellow soldiers and the battlefields they fought over.

This is one of the best military memoirs on any topic I have read, let alone on the Great War. Read gives us a detailed and atmospheric account of his life during the Great War, taking us the Western Front to Egypt, from leave in England to the periods of relief behind the line, and through a whole range of battles. If you want to try and understand the life of the British solder during the First World War this is an excellent place to start.

1 - For What Purpose?
2 - Wulverghem
3 - French Trenches
4 - Autumn Manoeuvres, 1915
5 - Down the Line
6 - Winter, 1915
7 - Overture
8 - The Somme
9 - Bazentin
10 - Arras
11 - Gueudcourt
12 - Vermelles
13 - Cold Interlude
14 - The Hindenburg Line
15 - Unexpected News
16 - England, 1917
17 - Lichfield - Newhaven - Cherbourg
18 - The Overland Route
19 - Egypt
20 - The Xth Army (Mangin)
21 - Flanders Again
22 - The Final Advance
23 - Armistice

Author: I L 'Dick' Read
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 528
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2013 edition, first published 1994

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