Dearest Mother

First World War letters home from a young Sapper officer in France and Salonika

Publication date:
May 2015
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Editor :
Andrew Baines, Joanna Palmer
Illustration :
100 b/w photos & illustrations; maps maps
Format Available     Quantity Price
ISBN : 9781910294574

Dimensions : 234 X 156 mm
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John Stanhope Baines, a Winchester classical scholar and young Royal Engineers officer, was on active service in France and Salonika during the First World War. Throughout this time he wrote to his ‘Dearest Mother’, who had studied classics at Cambridge before being widowed when John was three, and to Honor, his younger sister. The letters give regular updates of his activities in an affectionate, amusing and relaxed way, while disguising the true horror, dangers and realities of war.

The work of the Sappers was challengingly different from that of other arms, but equally important. Constructing trenches and defences, putting out wire and demolitions at night, assault operations into no-man’s land, and much more, were all in a day’s work in France. In the Salonika Campaign the construction of roads, in the most inhospitable conditions as the letters testify, was vital to the strategic success of the Allies. John obviously enjoyed all the challenges he faced in his four years of active service, and writes about them with a delightfully light touch.

Through these well-written letters we are able to share in John’s military career, his personal and political views, his interest in things classical, his passion for the Lake District, his sense of humour, and above all in the love, care and responsibility he felt towards his mother and sister while serving his King and Country.

These letters have been brought to life by the editors, who are grandchildren of John Baines, in a refreshing and unusual way. Through careful research, many additional details of topics John writes about are included – individuals, articles, places, military aspects, family and also of his mother’s life back on the Home Front. This book will therefore be of general interest to a wide readership.


" … The letters are written in an easy to read style … The editors are to be praised for their background research, which adds much context to the letters.”
The New Mosquito

" ... the epitome of a professional work in deploying an approach both successful and new to me ... a rounded and most worthwhile work ... This is a book which offers a template for anyone tempted to produce and publish a truly worthwhile ‘memorial' volume.”
MHS: The Bulletin