The Blog

In the Trenches


 Serbian officer and soldiers from the Austro-Hungarian Empire

My blog is a day early this week, as I’m heading up to the Peak District for a bit of hill walking.

I stumbled across an interesting article that says Pat Barker (author of the Regeneration trilogy) is writing a new take on the Iliad, entitled The Silence of the Girls. It’s a tale from the viewpoint of Briseis, whom Achilles and Agamemnon squabbled over during the siege of Troy. Due for release in Autumn 2018, this should be great news for Trojan War/Homer/Greek Mythology fans everywhere. I was deeply impressed by Barker’s Regeneration – a novel about the Great War – when I read it a few years ago, so I’m very much looking forward to getting a copy.

Last Saturday, I visited Park Lodge Farm in Oswestry for a World War One trench event, where I spent three hours talking to reenactors (fortunately, there was a petting farm to keep my wife and daughters happy). I love history events, as I usually come away with lots of new facts. This one was no different. Did you know:

  1. The French designed a light machine gun (the Chauchat) that had a cutaway magazine, so they could see how many bullets were left. The problem was, the cutaway let the mud in and jammed the gun.
  2. British leather boots were made rough-side-out for improved comfort and covered in dubbing to make them waterproof. The soles had to be changed after 25 miles of marching.
  3. The Russians sent a brigade of infantry to serve on the Western Front, some of whom continued fighting even after Russia had been knocked out of the war.

Unfortunately, I forgot to recharge the batteries in my camera, which ran out before I could take the first picture. On the up side, Stephen Davis has allowed me to use his excellent pictures – far, far better than anything I could have taken. There’s also one of me looking wet and windswept (taken on my wife’s phone).


German stormtrooper



French poilus


US doughboy


Royal Flying Corps officer and downed Sopwith


Russians (and a cold, windswept author)

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