Spartacus Review

Volume 38: 24th October, 2009

First World War

Title: Carmarthen Pals

Author: Steven John


Publisher: Pen & Sword

Price: £25.00

Bookshop: Amazon

Spartacus Website: Pals Battalions


The Carmarthenshire Battalion was one of the early units raised in 1914 as a result of Lord Kitchener's expansion of the regular army by 500,000 men for the duration of the Great War. Lloyd George, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, had a vision of a Welsh Army Group and massive efforts were made to recruit and form Welsh fighting units. The first 200 recruits for the Carmarthen Pals came from Bolton, strangely enough, but later they were mainly drawn from the County and wider Wales. Initial training was at Rhyl. In April 1915 the Battalion became part of 114 Brigade, 38 (Welsh) Division and after completing training and equipping it crossed to France in December 1915. From early 1916 until the Armistice the Carmathen Pals fought with distinction. Initially at Givency, it moved to the Somme in May 1916 and attacked Mametz Wood in the early days of that most terrible July offensive. Thereafter the Battalion moved to the Ypres Salient and in July 1917 attacked Pilckem Ridge. Moves south to Armentieres district, then the Albert Sector followed.

Title: Almost Like a Dream

Author: Michael Austin


Publisher: Merton Priory Press

Price: £14.95

Bookshop: Amazon

Spartacus Website: Letters from the Trenches


Throughout the First World War the vicar of St Michael's in Derby, a largely working-class parish, encouraged men who had joined up to write of their experiences for the parish magazine. The resulting letters form a remarkable record of the hopes and fears, as well as the day-to-day lives, of these men. All volunteers, most served in the ranks of their local county regiment, seeing action on the Western Front, in Greece, Palestine and South Africa. The letters, edited here with an introduction, biographical notes and photographs, bring to life the horrors of the Great War with a stark authenticity that only comes from first-hand accounts. These are not polished literary compositions written for publication by the well-known authors and war poets of the period, most of whom served as officers, but the hasty scribbles, full of fear and emotion, the feelings of ordinary men who fought in the trenches of France and Flanders, suffered the heat and dust of India, or the struggled to survive the disease-ridden campaigns of Salonika and East Africa.