Charles Edward Dilkes, Remembering World War One: An Engineer’s Diary of the War

Charles Edward Dilkes, Remembering World War One: An Engineer’s Diary of the WarRemembering World War I: An Engineer's Diary of the War by Dilkes E Charles
ISBN: 0692028617
Published by Juliet Publishing on September 15, 2014
Genres: Biographies and Memoirs, Unit Histories
Pages: 192

This memoir of a volunteer engineer covers Dilkes’s enlistment, journey to France, and the battles in which he was involved while serving in the 1st Division from May 1917 to September 1919. It is an invaluable source of information on what life was like for an American soldier on the Western Front. It is well written, informative, and, on occasions, even entertaining.

Dilkes’s memoir bears the hallmark of a literary man and is characterized by a refreshing honesty. Dilkes’s joy at the end of the hostilities prompts him to mention AEF commander General Pershing’s admiration for the division: “At this time there is great reason for our jubilee because we knew the feeling our esteemed General John J. Pershing held towards the First Division when on July 17, 1919, at London he delivered a speech from which an extract is here quoted:

‘You will recall that when our First Division entered the battle line and fought the small though brilliant battle—the first as an independent command—at Cantigny, that the success which attended the attack not only set an example for future American divisions to follow, but really had an electrifying effect through the Allied lines and gave new hope to the armies.’”

Dilkes’s memoir is enhanced by the meticulous editing work carried out by his three daughters. The numerous historical context features, under the heading “Living History,” provide valuable background information. Remembering World War One is beautifully illustrated, with maps, pictures of artifacts and photographs. There is an extensive register of notes, a comprehensive glossary of abbreviations, and a useful bibliography of primary and secondary sources, poetry cited, and assorted references. Remembering World War One is unusually detailed, unusually well edited, and, perhaps most importantly of all, very human.

Jane M. Ekstam, professor at Hogskolen i Ostfold, Halden, Norway

Rags: Hero Dog of WWI, A True Story

Rags: Hero Dog of WWI, A True StoryRags Hero Dog of WWI: A True Story by Margot Theis Raven, Petra Brown
ISBN: 1585362581
Published by Sleeping Bear Press on August 2, 2014
Genres: Biographies and Memoirs, Unit Histories
Pages: 32

Mascots were some of the most beloved members of military units during World War 1. A statue of the German shepherd who served with the Marines in France is on proud display at the Marine Corps University in Quantico, Virginia.

This book for children is the story of Rags, a mangy stray rescued from the streets in Paris by an American Army enlisted man named James Donovan serving in the 1st Division. Rags served with distinction, delivering messages and endearing himself to the unit. He won citations and was wounded.

Near the end of the war, both Rags and his owner were wounded in a gas attack. Rags was treated at an aid station and then smuggled on board the ship returning his owner to the U.S. for treatment. Private Donovan did not recover. Rags continued to serve in the division until his death in 1936. His long life and contributions are included at the end of story enabling the reader to answer the “What happened after that?“ question. The story is an endearing one and the illustrations well done.

Reviewed by Anne Merritt

The Life and Times of a World War I Soldier: The Julius Holthaus Story

The Life and Times of a World War I Soldier: The Julius Holthaus StoryThe Life and Times of a World War I Soldier The Julius Holthaus Story by Clyde Cremer
ISBN: 9781491729786
Published by iUniverse on April 3, 2014
Genres: Biographies and Memoirs, Unit Histories
Pages: 436

An affectionate work about an ancestor by a U.S. Army veteran who found the spot in the Argonne forest where Julius Holthaus’ body was recovered and then wrote a story about him using Holthaus’ diary and extensive research.

The amount of detail is impressive, including notes about the German 76th Reserve Division that fought against the American 77th Division in 1918. Images display some of the German officers as well as scenes of American doughboys during the war, Julius’ mother and aunt at his grave during the Gold Star Mothers pilgrimages in the early 1930s, modern photographs of relatives and friends visiting in France, and the remnants of fortifications and trenches Cremer discovered.

This book really needed an editor. Too many ALL CAPITAL words and exclamation points (!) detract from the narrative. Tables on monthly production rates of artillery pieces are mixed with a table of brass used in military equipment, food prices in 1776 (yes, it says 1776), market reports for 1916, etc., etc. An end-of-book data dump that does nothing to further the story of Holthaus.

Reviewed by Dana Lombardy, publisher of WWOI

A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Football Team That Fought the Great War

A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Football Team That Fought the Great WarA Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Football Team That Fought the Great War by Andrew Beaujon
ISBN: 0897337360
Published by Chicago Review Press on May 1, 2018
Genres: Biographies and Memoirs, Unit Histories
Pages: 288

Tells the story of eleven Scottish football players and their fans who volunteered for the 16th Royal Scots Battalion in November 1914. Seven months later the battalion lost 80 percent of its 800-plus men during the nearly-five-month-long Battle of the Somme. In May 1918 the battalion was disbanded to provide its 400 soldiers as replacements for other units.

A Bigger Field is not a narrow examination of a famous battle viewed through the lens of one infantry battalion. It reads like a work of fiction but is an excellent short history of the Somme offensive with well-placed photos throughout the text.

Beaujon covers political maneuverings, sneaky journalists, early motion pictures, 1,700 footballs sent to British soldiers held in German prisoner-of-war camps, the war beyond 1916 including the Battle of Arras in April 1917 where the battalion’s operational strength was under 300 officers and men, and postwar myth making and cover ups such as the British Ministry of Information that was disbanded in November 1918 and all its records destroyed.

A wonderful, unexpected book.

Reviewed by Dana Lombardy, publisher of WWOI

Intimate Voices from the First World War

Intimate Voices from the First World WarIntimate Voices from the First World War by Sarah Wallis, Svetlana Palmer
ISBN: 0060582596
Published by William Morrow on January 6th 2004
Genres: Biographies and Memoirs, Diaries & Journals
Pages: 400

Len's Summary: First published in 2004, this book contains first-person accounts, often in translation, from the diaries of men on both sides of the front. Available from Amazon.co.uk.

Eddie Rickenbacker: An American Hero in the Twentieth Century

Eddie Rickenbacker: An American Hero in the Twentieth CenturyEddie Rickenbacker: An American Hero in the Twentieth Century by W. David Lewis
ISBN: 0801889723
Published by Johns Hopkins University Press on May 22nd 2008
Genres: Biographies and Memoirs, United States
Pages: 720

Len's Summary: American racing car driver, aviation pioneer and top American WWI air ace with 26 WWI victories, Rickenbacker went overseas in 1917 as Pershing's driver, rose to command a the 94th pursuit squadron, founded a motor car company and Eastern Airlines. Rickenbacker's career is also the subject of a not always flattering biographical novel, Fast Eddie: a Novel in Many Voices by Robert L. O'Connell, Wm. Morrow, 1999.

If Love Were All: The Story of Frances Stevenson and David Lloyd George

If Love Were All: The Story of Frances Stevenson and David Lloyd GeorgeIf Love Were All: The Story of Frances Stevenson and David Lloyd George by John Campbell
ISBN: 0224074644
Published by Jonathan Cape on July 25th 2006
Genres: Biographies and Memoirs, Great Britain
Pages: 356

Len's Summary: The relationship between the British WWI-era Prime Minister and his long-time mistress; a story of a politician misbehaving in which Lloyd George comes out badly. Favorably reviewed by History Today.

Billy Bishop VC Lone Wolf Hunter: The RAF Ace Re-Examined

Billy Bishop VC Lone Wolf Hunter: The RAF Ace Re-ExaminedBilly Bishop VC Lone Wolf Hunter: The RAF Ace Re-Examined by Peter Kilduff
ISBN: 9781909808133
Published by Grub Street Publishing on October 19th 2014
Genres: Aviation, Biographies and Memoirs, Military
Pages: 192

Len's Summary: Does not settle the argument about the disputed number of Bishop’s aerial victories, but rather trolls the relevant sources letting the reader reach his or her own conclusions.

Liaison 1914: A Narrative of the Great Retreat

Liaison 1914: A Narrative of the Great RetreatLiaison 1914: A Narrative of the Great Retreat by Edward Spears
ISBN: 9781473827462
Published by Pen & Sword Books on February 19th 2015
Genres: Biographies and Memoirs, France, Military
Pages: 588

Len's Summary: Sir Edward Spears was a key player in Anglo-French coordination throughout WWI. At the outset of WWII, he was Churchill’s personal representative to French Premier Paul Reynaud and is credited with arranging DeGaulle’s escape to England in June 1940.

In Battle and Captivity 1916-1918: A British Officer’s Memoirs of the Trenches and a German Prison Camp

In Battle and Captivity 1916-1918: A British Officer’s Memoirs of the Trenches and a German Prison CampIn Battle and Captivity 1916-1918: A British Officer's Memoirs of the Trenches and a German Prison Camp by Henry Gilbert Nobbs
ISBN: 1783463120
Published by Pen & Sword Books on September 1st 2014
Genres: Biographies and Memoirs, Military, Personal Memoirs, World War I
Pages: 160

Len's Summary: Captain Nobbs was grievously wounded leading his company on the Somme, captured and later exchanged after three months in a German POW camp.

The Great War Diaries of Brigadier Alexander Johnston

The Great War Diaries of Brigadier Alexander JohnstonThe Great War Diaries of Brigadier Alexander Johnston by Edwin Astill
ISBN: 1844155811
Published by Pen & Sword Books on November 1st 2007
Genres: Biographies and Memoirs, Great Britain, Military, World War I
Pages: 244

Len's Summary: Story of an officer who rose from subaltern to brigade commander in the Third Division, BEF.