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A SUBALTERN’S SHARE IN THE WAR

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    Posted: 12 Jun 2010 at 12:23

A SUBALTERN’S SHARE IN THE WAR: Home letters of the late George Weston Devenish, Lt RA, attached RFC

Introduction and notes by Mrs Horace Porter


Click on the cover to buy from CCI

P.S. Chapman, Auckland 0610, New Zealand.

100pp, 155×235mm, illus, softback.


This is a second venture by Peter Chapman into the re-publication of long-unobtainable titles. It was originally produced by Devenish’s family in 1917 and published by Constable. As an appendix, Peter has added a two-page factual summary of Devenish’s career, with details which were of course unknown to the original compilers.

The story begins with his 21st birthday celebrations, ten days before the outbreak of war, and follows his service (interrupted by a wound received in 1914) with the Royal Artillery until March 1916, when he responded to a call for volunteers to train as observers with the RFC. He spent four months in this role in France, then was sent for pilot training, after which he served with 35 Squadron, flying AW FK8s until his death in June 1917.

It is a real period piece, conveying the attitudes and observations of a professional soldier and his family as they experienced the war. The tone of his letters remains resolute and optimistic throughout, retaining, as the family commentary remarks, sufficient compassion to remark even on the death of a mouse killed in the trenches by a lyddite shell.

In the letter of 18 March 1917, his comments on the separate worlds of air and land warfare (very little human connection and sympathy) and the preceeding description of the roads to the Front at night are particularly striking. Some of his word-pictures cry out to be transformed into paint.

Available for £9.50 plus p&p through our website, and an excellent book to read alongside the next item.

BH Volume 41 Number 1


Edited by AndyK - 12 Jun 2010 at 12:48
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