Talking yesterday to a U3A group about the various ways of finding out what happened on the battlefields in World War 1, I mentioned my passion for out-of-print regimental histories, which I often find on the Internet Archive. As we had a SMART Board at hand, I offered to look for a history for a particular regiment, and the ‘Loyal North Lancashire’ was suggested.
The Internet Archive did not disappoint. The War History of the 1st/4th Battalion the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment (1914–1918), published Preston, 1921, was there for the taking, with 1350 people besides myself having coveted and downloaded.
We had a quick peep at the ‘Read Online’ version and we were immediately touched by the wording of the book’s dedication.
I love the metaphor of the survivors being simply ‘The Rear Party’ and the way it conveys a the feeling of fellowship with those who hadn’t survived.
Immediately opposite the dedication is a photograph of Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Hindle, D.S.O, who commanded the battalion for just over two years until he was killed in action in November 1917. The photo is accompanied by a remark he made in 1917: “What do these fellows mean by saying, ‘I’ve done my bit’? What is their ‘bit’? I don’t consider I’ve done mine yet.”
The first pages consist of a reduced facsimile of the Roll of Volunteers for Service Abroad, as signed in the Public Hall on 8 August 1914. It’s for all eight companies of the battalion, and if you read the book online, it’s easy to enlarge the image until the signatures of the men are legible.
The book is enhanced by extracts from the war diaries, photos, including aerial photos which show opposing trenches, and fascinating, detailed battlefield maps. There’s even a copy of the Battalion’s Christmas Card for 1916. The Appendices include a list of honours awarded to members of the regiment, and a detailed list of all casualties.
This book is going to keep me up tonight.
More Information about Digital Editions
I’ve previously written about downloading digital editions of books and choosing between the available formats here.