Roy Denning was a First World War Soldier who went to Gallipoli as a sapper with No. 1 Field Company, Engineers. He was an articulate man and he has left us with a very introspective view of World War One.
Unlike many writers, he gets inside his own head, and tells us how it felt to be in action amongst the death, maiming and terrible like in the trenches.
After a stay in hospital on Malta, he arrived on the Western Front where the horrors were even worse and the living conditions were extremely primitive. Again he tells how it really felt to be in the front line at Pozieres, Ypres, Longueval, The Somme, Villers Brettonneux and other battle areas. He describes the ghastliness of digging trenches and having to decided between chopping through buried bodies or diverting the trench to go around them.
In one incident, his men who had been the subject of shelling without the chance to retaliate, were suddenly in action and the 'blood-lust' of revenge gripped them.
When he went on leave to England, he began questioning his own resolve to return to the war. Self-discipline and loyalty to his mates stopped him going AWL and he returned to face more misery.
Denning survived the war, and for years wrote and re-wrote his diary until we now a have a most readable book. This is an honest look from just one person's perspective of the war, but is truly readable.
1. The hour before dawn
2. Birth of ANZAC
4. Gallipoli again
5. The Canal and France
7. Pozieres again
8. Blighty and the Somme
9. Leaving for England
10. France again
11. Retreat and counter-attack
12. Going home