Category Archives: WWI

The Photographer of the Lost by Caroline Scott

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The Photographer of the Lost by Caroline Scott

Summary:

1921. The Great War is over and families are desperately trying to piece together the fragments of their broken lives. While many survivors have been reunited with their loved ones, Edie’s husband Francis has not come home. He was declared ‘missing, believed killed’ during the war, but when Edie receives a mysterious photograph in the post, taken by Francis, hope flares. And so she begins to search.

Francis’s brother, Harry, is also searching. Hired by grieving families to photograph gravesites, he has returned to the Western Front. As Harry travels through battle-scarred France, gathering news for British wives and mothers, he longs for Francis to be alive, so they can forgive each other for the last conversation they ever had. 

And as Harry and Edie’s paths converge, they begin to get closer to a startling truth.

An incredibly moving account of an often-forgotten moment in history, The Photographer of the Lost tells the story of the thousands of soldiers who were lost amid the chaos and ruins, and the even greater number of men and women desperate to find them again.

My Review:

We all know of the horrific stories of the battlefields of World War One but what of the those who were lost. The Photographer of the lost by Caroline Scott (Simon & Schuster) tells this part of the story. The war is over and now the search for the missing begins.

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It is impossible for me to sit here and try and imagine what life must have been like to be told that your loved one has been killed or missing and then to find out that his body has not been found. Caroline Scott has written a powerful and hugely emotive novel based on one families search for answers. This is an incredible debut novel that Caroline Scott has researched and poured her heart into.

Three years after the war ended so many families have been left broken by the loss of their loved ones but in this story it focuses on one of the missing. It is May 1921 and Edie is distraught still after losing Francis her husband who is missing presumed dead. Edie receives a letter in the post and a photo of her beloved husband. This completely throws Edie. But there is no news. Has he been found alive or has his body been located?

What Edie does next is to head to the battlefields of France to seek answers but when she arrives she realises that there are many who are searching for answers as to what happened to their loved ones. We also meet Harry who is the brother of Francis. Harry survived the war but the scars remain and now he wants answers to what happened to his brother and won’t rest until he does. But the scars of the war have been taking their toll on Harry.

Harry is not only searching for answers about his brother but has been tasked by so many families to seek answers to their own lost. Harry is the photographer of the lost by taking photographs of the last resting place for those who have been killed so that the families have some closure and can grieve and start the long of moving on with life even with the pain in their hearts.

The tone is sombre all throughout as you would come to expect from such a storyline. There is so much pain that pours from each page as you travel with Edie through France and to the grave sights and also with Harry tasked with finding those who were lost and to try and find his brother. The silence of France as it too grieves for those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Caroline Scott has written a beautiful story of the lost and asks so many questions that the reader will ask of themselves. It is hard to imagine the pain and hardship of the families left without their loved ones as they begin the journey of looking for answers. I have been thinking a lot about this book since I have finished reading and the story of Edie, Harry and Francis has touched a part of me.

So many books have been written about WWI but this is the first novel focusing on the aftermath of the war and the search for answers. If you enjoy reading historical fiction, then I would look no further than The Photographer of the Lost by Caroline Scott. Highly Recommended.

512 Pages.

Thank you Simon & Schuster for the review copy of The Photographer of the Lost by Caroline Scott

The Photographer of the Lost by Caroline Scott was published by Simon & Schuster and was published on 31st October 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

 

 

Britain’s Jews in the First World War by Paula Kitching

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On the 4th August 1914 Britain led by Prime Minister Herbert Asquith declared war on Germany after the call by the British government for Germany to get out of Belgium by midnight on 3rd August. So it was Britain went to war with the might of Germany.

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Now the call went out for young men across the country to sign up and fight for King and Country. Britain’s Jews in the First World War by historian Paula Kitching tells the story of the Jewish community and how they contributed to the First World War.

At this time Britain had a global empire and navy with many ships but what it lacked was men on the ground to fight. To take on Germany on a European battlefield would take a huge army. Britain had only a small professional army during the run up to WWI. The Jewish community despite being seen as outsiders responded with more than 40,000 men to fight after the call went out.

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With many more providing support on the home front both as nurses and doctors in hospitals and other support services the Jewish community had responded to the call.

In this well researched account it tells the story of the Jewish involvement in World War One. There is a chapter towards the back of the book that tells of the Awards and Bravery of some of the Jewish Community who served. There were 5 recipients of the Victoria Cross (VC), 144 were awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) as well as 263 recipients of the Military Cross (MC; Commissioned Officers only).

The story of Frank de Pass who on the 24th November 1914 was awarded the Victoria Cross for his conspicuous bravery in the face of a bombardment from the German line and then went about rescuing a wounded soldier. Sadly, de Pass was never to know he was going to be awarded the VC as he was killed the following day. Just one of the heroic actions by Jewish soldiers. His VC is held at the National Army Museum in London which I saw at the launch of ‘On Courage: Stories of Victoria Cross and George Cross Holders’ (Constable) in May last year.

Break of Day in the Trenches by Isaac Rosenberg

The darkness crumbles away 
It is the same old druid Time as ever, 
Only a live thing leaps my hand, 
A queer sardonic rat, 
As I pull the parapet’s poppy
To stick behind my ear. 
Droll rat, they would shoot you if they knew 
Your cosmopolitan sympathies, 
Now you have touched this English hand 
You will do the same to a German
Soon, no doubt, if it be your pleasure 
To cross the sleeping green between. 
It seems you inwardly grin as you pass 
Strong eyes, fine limbs, haughty athletes, 
Less chanced than you for life,
Bonds to the whims of murder, 
Sprawled in the bowels of the earth, 
The torn fields of France. 
What do you see in our eyes 
At the shrieking iron and flame
Hurled through still heavens? 
What quaver -what heart aghast? 
Poppies whose roots are in men’s veins 
Drop, and are ever dropping; 
But mine in my ear is safe,
Just a little white with the dust. 

I have learned so much by reading Britain’s Jews in the First World War and if military history or history in general is something that you enjoy reading then I am more than happy to recommend.

#greatjewishbooks

288 Pages.

Thank you to for the review copy of Britain’s Jews in the First World War by Paula Kitching

Britain’s Jews in the First World War by Paula Kitching was published by Amberley Publishing and was published on 15th February 2019 now available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

The Glorious Dead – Tim Atkinson

The Glorious Dead Cover

The Glorious Dead – Tim Atkinson

All wars leave an unspeakable human cost, but the deaths of The Great War are on a dreadful scale. When the war ended what happened next? Many of the casualties of the battlefields of WWI were left were they fell or in temporary graves.

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Tim Atkinson has just written a book called The Glorious Dead (Unbound) and tells the story in a novel format of some soldiers who stayed behind when the guns fell silent. Their story is about the gravediggers. An overlooked story of World War One.

It is 1918 and World War One is finally over. The battlefields are scarred and are a muddy grave to those who made the ultimate sacrifice and these battlefields hold the remains of thousands of soldiers who fell.

This story follows Lance-Corporal Jack Patterson and his men from the platoon who stayed behind to work in the appalling conditions to find bodies of soldiers and give them a final resting place. But that is not all that Jack stayed behind for. Jack has eyes for Katia who works in one of the bar. But Jack is not going to have everything his own way. What is there in Jack’s past that yet may come back to haunt him.

This is a story that never really gets told, the men who cleared the battlefields after the war ended. A deeply emotive story and one being told as we prepare to commemorate the Centenary of the Armistice which brought an end to a war that many believed would end all wars.

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Back in the mid-1980’s I visited the WWI cemetery’s and it is one of the most emotive places to visit. Yet 100 years later there are still many who lie were they fell and have no marked grave.

400 Pages.

Thank you to Anne Cater for the review copy of The Glorious Dead by Tim Atkinson and for arranging the Blog Tour through Random Things Tours.

The Glorious Dead by Tim Atkinson was published by Unbound and was published on 1st November 2018 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

 The Glorious Dead Blog Tour

The Glorious Dead Blog Tour Poster

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