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World War 1 books
THE OLD FRONT LINE
by John Masefield
The book is a description of the battlefield front-line from which the British Army attacked on the first day on the Somme, 1 July 1916, and as such is perhaps the first battlefield guide of the First World War.
Masefield had originally been asked to write a full account of the Battle of the Somme (in 1916 he had written a successful book on the Battle of Gallipoli) but the project fell through when he was refused access to official army documents.
All he was able to produce was his description of the battlefield as seen in 1917 following the German withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line.
Nevertheless, The Old Front Line is still
frequently referenced today as an eye-witness description of the Somme terrain
and it is written with lyrical prose that is rare in books on military history.
In this evocative classic memoir John Masefield,
the future Poet Laureate, describes the battleground over which the armies were
to fight. He had spent months at the front and was familiar with the men, the
trenches that they inhabited and the conditions that they endured. 'The Old
Front Line' was written shortly after the battle, and this elegant account will
still move the modern reader as well as providing a valuable guide for the many
21st century visitors to the battlefield.
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