Other works

How to talk of WW1 with your children ?

Sophie Lamoureux, « Le Baron perché » Editions, 2013.
What triggered the war ? Why aren’t the trenches right ? Fifteen illustrated cards answer the questions asked by children between 5 and 13.

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The First World War broke out hundred years ago. Its violence, its deaths and its casualties, its duration and its immoderation earned it the nickname “Great War”. Even though this tragedy remains engraved on war memorials, it is bound to be erased from our memories. The conflict however delivers today’s children essential teachings for present and future.
 
A clear report of the events explains the outbreak of this war and wonders about the parts played by leaders, but also by school, the press and propaganda. Fifteen illustrated cards, based on questions by 5 to 13-years-old, answer their interrogations by approaching the situation in Europe at the dawn of the conflict as well as soldiers’ everyday life in trenches, mutinies, women’s contribution at the back of the front or veterans’s fate.
With new light cast on their great-grandparents’ past, young generations can thus understand the consequences of this conflict, from Second World War to the construction of the European Union.


Available in French

 

In Search of the Better'Ole

Tonie and Valmai Holt, Leo Cooper, Pen & Sword Books Ltd, updated version from 2001.

Bruce Bairnsfather creates one of the most famous cartoons of First World War, “Old Bill”, which cheers up British troops and those who stayed at home. This biography, republished following its immense success, is the first to be published on the life and works of Bruce Bairnsfather.
 
Captain Bruce Bairnsfather of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment created what is probably the most famous and most copied cartoon of all time « The Better 'Ole » - which is featured on the cover of this book.

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Bairnsfather drew cartoons to amuse his soldiers and to keep up their and his spirits in the mud and cold of Flanders. His drawings were published in the Bystander magazine and became an instant success, selling in hundreds of thousands and making nations laugh. His effect on the morale of the Tommy was such that other countries such as France, Italy, America, Australia and Canada asked that he should visit their lines and draw their men too, while the British Secret Service considered using him for propaganda purposes.

The Bystander organization marketed Bairnsfather's work much as popular TV programmes and films are promoted today. There were special editions, collected editions, prints and postcards. Grimwades, the pottery people, produced plates and cups, teapots and cheese dishes, and busts of Bairnsfather's most popular character, Old Bill, were made in pottery and in metal as car mascots. All of these are sought today by enthusiastic collectors around the world.

Bairnsfather wrote many books and plays and worked with Charles Cochran, Seymour Hicks, Sydney Chaplain and John Mills and his films were seen in Britain and America.

When the Second World War began he was virtually ignored by the British Establishment. The Americans, however, had taken him to their hearts and he lectured all over the USA including at the famous Carnegie Hall. Thus he was appointed as the official cartoonist to the USAAF and wore their uniform.

This is the roller-coaster story of Bruce Bairnsfather and his character Old Bill - the ones `who won the war' according to General Sir Ian Hamilton - how they began, how they became one, how Old Bill both sustained and destroyed his creator in his search for the Better 'Ole.

Bairnsfather had always said that Old Bill had just evolved but in this new edition the authors identify the real Old Bill and find his name on the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres, Belgium, barely twelve kilometres from where Bairnsfather drew his first cartoons.


Available in English

 

The Trench

Trevor Yorke, Countryside Books, 2014.

Guide of the Great War. This book recounts the events and describes the real-life experience of those who took part in it through a key element as a backdrop : the trench.
 
Both battlefield and death field, the trenches and their systems characterized all the Western Front during 4 years of fighting.

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The First World War scarred an entire generation at the beginning of the twentieth century. One hundred years later, we reflect upon it and remember what a disastrous episode of history it was. The sacrifice of so many is important to remember, but we can be overwhelmed by the sheer mass of facts and figures now available to those reading about the subject in any detail.

This book offers a simple guide to the war, looking at the events and the people who took part, through what was the setting for so much of the carnage; the trench.

The trenches and the trench system along the Western Front in particular, were the killing fields. They formed a vast line of fortifications that locked the opposing armies together in a static, 400 mile zigzag of conflict from the channel coast down to the French border with Switzerland.

Using his own diagrams and illustrations, author Trevor Yorke explains the architecture of the trenches, with their command posts, tunnels, machine gun nests, duck boards and sleeping billets. There are chapters to explain tactics, weaponry and daily life. There are special features on the introduction of new weapons of war, such as tanks, early aeroplanes and the first use of poison gas.

The political events are described in basic outline, but there is a chapter on the legacy of the war's aftermath. There are summaries of the major battles and there is information about special places to visit in France and Belgium, including key museums, battle sites and memorials.

These can give us a real understanding of the unique inhumanity of the war, and why the dates 1914-1918 require all generations of today to remember and learn from them.


Available in English
 

Digging Up Plugstreet

Martin Brown and Richard Osgood, Haynes Publishing, 2009.

Report of the “Plugstreet” team’s archaeological research on the Western Front, and more particularly the traces of the Australian 3rd division in Ploegsteert, starting point for the Battle of Messines in June 1917.

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Rusting barbed wire and clips of mud-caked bullets; bent brass cap badges an a broken harmonica; the hunched skeletal remains of a soldier – these are the poignant relics of a titanic struggle that took place more than a lifetime ago. Unearthed from the battlefields of the Western Front, these artefacts tell stories of the men who marched away to fight the so-called “war to end wars”. They also provide us with a unique window into their world.

Using archaeology as the vehicle for their story, Martin Brown and Richard Osgood tell how Australian soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Division travelled to England in 1914 to fight on the Western Front during the Great War – and sometimes to die. The authors follow in their footsteps, from training on windswept Salisbury Plain to the cheerless trenches of Belgium, where the Aussies “dug-in” north-east of Ploegsteert – known as “Plugstreet” to the troops – to face the Germans.

The co-authors have investigated a section of the Allied front line held by the 3rd Division, which served as their starting point for the epic Battle of Messines in June 1917. An area of no-man's-land over which they attacked was also excavated, as well as a section of trenches occupied by their German adversaries.

The archaeological finds have helped build a comprehensive picture of who these Aussie soldiers really were, how they lived – and often how they died. In serveral instances some of the accepted facts have been challenged.

The book is fully illustrated with numerous colour photographs of the excavations and the artefacts discovered, supported by archive images from the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, and the Imperial War Museum, London.

Digging up Plugstreet offers exciting new insights into soldiering on the Western Front during the Great War.


Available in English

 

The Ploegsteert Sector

Paul Foster, Minutecircle Services Limited.

A detailed record of the soldiers fallen in the area and lying in one of the cemeteries of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (Ploegsteert sector) or whose name appears on the British Memorial (Ploegsteert Memorial, Berks Extension Cemetery, Hyde Park Corner Cemetery, Lancashire Cottage Cemetery, London rifle Brigade Cemetery, Mud Corner Cemetery, Ploegsteert Churchyard, Ploegsteert Wood Military Cemetery, Prowse Point Cemetery, Rifle House Cemetery, Strand Military Cemetery, Toronto Avenue Cemetery, Underhill Farm Cemetery).

This work also presents the origins, the pathway and/or the history of many soldiers.

Available in English

 

We Good...We No Shoot

Andrew Hamilton and Alan Reed, Dene House Publishing, 2014.

La Trêve de Noël de 1914 dans le secteur de Warneton – Ploegsteert retracée avec précision…

The Christmas Truce of 1914 in the sector of Warneton – Ploegsteert accurately recounted…

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The Christmas Truce at Plugstreet Wood in 1914
The Christmas Truce of 1914 was an iconic event. After months of gruelling warfare and appalling conditions, British and German soldiers left their trenches and celebrated Christmas together.

The authors have created, from a wealth of contemporary evidence, a fascinating, detailed and vivid account of what happened during the fraternizations at Plugstreet Wood in Belgium.

Soldiers of all ranks, in their own words, recall the few days when the War stopped and when friend and foe met in No Man's Land.

The authors investigate why soldiers were so keen to lay down their arms “without permission” and how the authorities reacted to such unwarlike behaviour.

“We Good... We No Shoot” is an invaluable guide for those wishing to visit the most famous of all the Christmas Truce sites on the Western Front.


Available in English

 

Grande Guerre. L'image du souvenir

Guy Focant and Pascal Kuta, Institut du Patrimoine Wallon, 2014.

Monuments, memorials, cemeteries, services in pictures.

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The Great War, of which we commemorate the Centenary, is going well. It buried its actors and witnesses, but the scars it left in our landscapes still whisper the lesson of its four years “of noise and fury”. In a Europe where the sleepy dragon of nationalism is waking up, the message is directed to today’s generation.

Guy Focant, a photographer for the Department of Heritage at the Public service of Wallonia, illustrated it thanks to numerous photographs, like a vertiginous descent into the heart of the scars from First World War in Wallonia. Twenty-three places of interest with explanation and comments, chosen between Gaume forests and Flanders fields, to understand the disaster of the century. So that those who faced death “on criss-crossed slopes of a devasted hill” did not fall in vain.


Available in French