Survivors of a Kind

Memoirs of the Western Front

Brian Bond

Here are fifteen original case studies of First World War survivors, a few well known, but all equally deserving, for their remarkably varied reflections on the trauma of combat.
Publication date:
April 2018
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Illustration :
9 b/w photos, 2 b/w maps
Format Available     Quantity Price
ISBN : 9781912390397

Dimensions : 234 X 156 mm
This book is available


• There are several good studies of war literature, but none that discuss war memoirs this way
• The author has taught an MA course on these writers for several years
• He is able to relate the writer's experiences to precisely where they fought at the Somme or in the Ypres salient
• Several of these writers were famous (e.g. Robert Graves & Siegfried Sassoon) or had important post-war careers (e.g. Lord Reith at the BBC

This original book shows that many memoirs of the Western Front are not only literary masterpieces but are also of great value to historians. Brian Bon examines a range of works in this neglected genre which demonstrate the remarkable variety of combat experiences and post-war reflections, ranging from poets like Robert Graves, Siegfried Sassoon and Edmund Blunden striving to overcome traumas; to warriors or ‘Fire Eaters' like Lord Reith and Alf Pollard who enjoyed the war; and two exceptionally brave Old Etonians, Anthony Eden and Harold Macmillan whose military distinction proved to be an asset in their political careers. He goes on to explore the view from the ranks (Frederic Manning and Frank Richards); the grandeur and misery of service in the Guards; the highly irregular career of a senior office (Brigadier-General F.P. Crozier) and the sharply contrasting war in the air as recorded by two distinguishing pilots.

All these men were survivors of a kind, profoundly affected by their experience of combat; damaged physically or psychologically, and haunted by memories of destruction, suffering and lost friends. Yet the majority remained enthralled by the spirit of comradeship which could not be replicated in civil war.

Most of the writers featured were discussed in the authors MA Special Subject class in the Department of War Studies at King's College London. His hope is that this may provide a stimulus for similar courses at other universities. This accords with his belief that 1st World War memoirs are a seriously neglected source whose contents are much more varied and interesting than the stereotype of ‘anti war' literature suggests.

This book puts the war in the trenches and those who wrote about it into a fresh perspective and will stimulate readers to explore for themselves these eloquent and deeply moving classics of literature.

"In this collection of essays Brian Bond brings a lifetime's study of the Western Front to the analysis of some of the best-known memoirs of the campaign. Literary and military historians alike will find the result of great value for their own studies, while for the general reader it should help destroy many long-standing myths, It is a worthy climax to a long and distinguished career”. Professor Sir Michael Howard.