Book explores social lives of Great War soldiers

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First published in News by , Reporter

A BOOK exploring the social life of soldiers on the front line in the Great War has been compiled through letters written by a former Barnoldswick man.

Former Barlicker William Whittaker, who served on the front line in North Eastern France during most of First World War, wrote 270 letters to his parents in Burnley.

And now his son, Geoffrey Whittaker, who lives in the Isle of Man, became so inspired after reading them he decided to write a book about his father's experiences.

The book, titled Somewhere in France, A Tommy's Guide to Life on the Western Front, was published in June.

"It's rather different than some of the blood and guts stuff you can read about the war," said Geoffrey. "This book focuses on the social side - how they were entertained, how they ate, how they coped with the language and the landscape.

"Basically it's about how they lived," said Geoffrey, adding: "It's an underlying historical narrative.

"All the letters were headed 'Somewhere in France', which I thought was an appropriate name for the book.

"These letters were all handwritten, written in beautiful English, which is amazing for a lad who left school at 14. All were still in their official green military envelopes."

Geoffrey said his dad was a leading citizen of Barnoldswick for about 25 years and was the branch manager at Martins Bank in the town.

William was a private in the First World War, but during World War Two he was commissioned in the rank of major to command the Barnoldswick and Earby Home Guard.

"He was truly a Captain Mainwaring of Dad's Army fame," said Geoffrey.

Geoffrey, 77, also lived in Barnoldswick for about 20 years from the age of three and is a former pupil of Ermysted's Grammar School in Skipton.

The paperback book, which costs £9.99, can be ordered through any bookseller and is available online through Amazon, WHS Smith and Kindle.

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