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The Other Side of the Wire Volume 1 With the German XIV Reserve Corps


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#51 Paul21455

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Posted 23 March 2010 - 05:02 PM

Mine arrived at lunchtime today. Number 509. Can't wait to get stuck into it.

#52 Jack Sheldon

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Posted 23 March 2010 - 05:59 PM

My copy, number something or other, arrived at the end of last week and I have been spending every spare moment since reading it. It is quite simply what our transatlantic friends would describe as an awesome achievement. There can never, in any language, have been a more detailed, comprehensive account of two years of positional warfare on the Western Front. Furthermore, the book homes right in on what has become the most significant sector of the Western Front for the British audience. If you want to know just how and why it was that the British army took such a terrible beating on 1 July 1916, then this book is an absolute must. It takes the reader through every twist and turn of both the battles and the small scale actions on this front and how the lessons learned were applied to produce the near impregnable positions, against which the best efforts of VIII and X Corps foundered.

Richly illustrated with contemporary photos and maps, many of which have never been published before, the book is both educational and easy to read. Its utility does not end there, however. In amongst the annexes is the distillation of years of work by Ralph on German casualties. Having painstakingly pored over the microfilmed Verlustlisten, Ralph has succeeded in producing the most definitive statement on the subject which is ever likely to be available. At a time when the topic is still a matter of hot dispute, it is most useful to see that the figures published in the German regimental Rolls of Honour are extremely accurate. His work on the casualties caused during the pre-Somme bombardment is also highly revealing, showing that the thousands of shells expended and hundreds of cylinders of gas released were almost completely ineffective over long sections of the attack frontage. It also demonstrates conclusively that the estimate by the British Official History that German casualties during this week were, 'say 10,000,' can be dismissed as complete fantasy - not even an informed guess.

This book is a major contribution to the historiography of the Somme and the Western Front more generally. It deserves to be widely read by all with an interest in the subject. Ralph is to be congratulated on having written it and his publishers for having made his scholarship available to the reading public.

Buy it and read it, whilst copies are still available!

Jack

#53 Charles Fair

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Posted 23 March 2010 - 10:18 PM

Mine arrived, panic over! Jack's comments say it all. Wow. Very much looking forward to volume 2.

#54 somme visitor

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Posted 24 March 2010 - 12:30 PM

I am well into mine and I agree that it is a very well researched and written book and is a great read. I expect that as word spreads it will become very rare unless reprinted.
Richard

#55 Armistice

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Posted 27 March 2010 - 01:06 PM

I have been informed that my copy has arrived. Informed, because my new book and I are separated by 6,000 miles! Fortunately I have the patience of a Zen master, and on the plus side - maybe Volume 2 will also be waiting for me by the time I finally get home in early to mid-2011 wink.gif

Although sight unseen, I feel confident however in adding my own congratulations to Ralph on this fine addition to WWI literature.

#56 Ralph J. Whitehead

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Posted 27 March 2010 - 01:06 PM

I was contacted by my publisher who had received an inquiry from a retired gentleman in Ireland who had purchased the book. It seems that he and his sister recognized their father among the British POW's on pages 412 and 413. I have written to them in the hope of finding out more and in the very least sending them larger versions of the two postcards.

I have a number of questions I hope they can answer, the first being which one was their father? The postcard on page 412 is the one that started this entire project and it is the 5th strange coincidence relating directly to this postcard.

Ralph

#57 BottsGreys

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Posted 28 March 2010 - 02:14 AM

Ralph:

Interesting development and, I am sure, a very satisfying turn of events for you. Please keep us posted.

Chris

#58 joerookery

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Posted 28 March 2010 - 01:28 PM

You all keep distracting me! This book is so good and so interesting I'm tempted to skip church today... good job Ralph!

#59 MartH

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Posted 29 March 2010 - 11:27 AM

I've got mine, number 587, utterly superb, the new benchmark.

#60 Ralph J. Whitehead

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Posted 30 March 2010 - 01:12 AM

A little more news on the newly identified soldier on pages 412 and 413. He was in the machine Gun Corps, last name Davin, and he was captured as he was going back to the main trench to see what had been happening as a result of the raid.

More details to follow shortly as to which soldier he is in the photos, etc.

Ralph

#61 Simon J

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Posted 30 March 2010 - 02:35 AM

Ordered this morning. I guarantee I will get to do no more than mine it until I have finished my research, so all reviews read with thanks in the meantime!

Congratulations on publication,
Simon

#62 LenT

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Posted 30 March 2010 - 09:01 PM

Had promised my wife I would not buy another WW1 related book this month but after reading all the rave reviews have cracked and ordered one up. really looking forward to it arriving. It should be an excellent read over the Easter holidays.


Len

#63 Ice tiger

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Posted 30 March 2010 - 09:24 PM

Number 623 arrived safely yesterday & has taken it's place at the head of my que of books to read. If the number I recieved is anything to go by I would suggest ordering sooner rather than later.

Andy

#64 Ralph J. Whitehead

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Posted 31 March 2010 - 11:29 PM

A strange coincidence? Or a cosmic convergence?

As I mentioned in an earlier posting there appears to be strange occurrences surrounding a particular postcard that appears on page 412 of my book. It is the one where a group of prisoners, mostly 1st Dorsets, are being interrogated by German officers.

This is the photo I mentioned purchasing years ago at a local antique fair that started the entire book project. The card was sent by Major Sauer on the very day he was severely injured when two heavy shells collapsed his dugout in Flers in mid July. Most of the occupants were killed and he was gas poisoned from the fumes of the shells.

When I purchased the regimental history it contained a letter to the former owner of the book regarding the post-war veteran organization. The letter was also written by Major Sauer.

I submitted an article to Stand To! On the trench raid and as a result a WFA member mentioned he had the 1914/15 medal of one of the prisoners, the only one I had identified, Sergeant Spencely. He offered the medal for sale and it now sits in the case holding my collection of Great War artifacts.

When the book was ready for sale a short time ago a copy was purchased by a gentleman in Ireland whose father had been captured in May 1916. When he obtained his copy of the book he was surprised to see an account of the events that resulted in his capture as well as his photograph on pages 412 and 413. He is third from left, the young looking dark haired man whose has his hands crossed. He can also be seen in the same pose in the second photo.

I have been corresponding with the family of this man who recognized his father in the photo. As a result of our discussions I can now identify two men in the photo. His name was 15451 Private Arthur Davin, 109th Brigade C.E., M.G. Coy. It has been very exciting to learn of the various details of his life, his military experience, his time as a POW, etc.

The coincidences (?) do not stop here. It seems that part of the family of Arthur Davin and his offspring came to the U.S. Some attended Syracuse University, about 15 minutes from my home and where my daughter and son both attended. Other members of the family moved near Utica, New York.

I happen to work for Utica Mutual Insurance Co. and my office is just at the city limits. I have written to the family to advise them that during a trip to Belfast and Ballymeana a few years back to visit a good friend Desmond Blackadder we happened to visit the nearby Somme museum. It was during the visit that I discovered that the director was married to a young woman who had also graduated from my old high school and had lived in the town where I grew up (Wheatley High School and nearby Mineola, New York).

I have heard the expression that it is a small world but I never realized how intertwined it has become until looking at the odd series of coincidences surrounding this one photograph. I wonder what will turn up next with this seemingly innocuous photograph.

Ralph

P.S. Just think what might have happened, or not, if Major Sauer had not written and sent that postcard when he did. It was the only copy of the postcard I have seen so far that had specific regimental details on the reverse side. Without these it would just have been another generic Great War photo of events and people who would remain unknown.

Also, I received an add from Amazon UK recommending some good books, the first was written by Ralph J. Whitehead, The Other Side of the Wire and the other by another forum member entitled Underground Warfare 1914-1918 by Simon Jones. It was odd seeing the book being recommended in that manner.

#65 Simon Jones

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Posted 01 April 2010 - 08:56 AM

QUOTE (Ralph J. Whitehead @ Apr 1 2010, 12:29 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Also, I received an add from Amazon UK recommending some good books, the first was written by Ralph J. Whitehead, The Other Side of the Wire and the other by another forum member entitled Underground Warfare 1914-1918 by Simon Jones. It was odd seeing the book being recommended in that manner.

On the Amazon UK page for my book yours is the one which most frequently shows up in the 'Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought' heading.

#66 KIRKY

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Posted 01 April 2010 - 03:02 PM

Just got my copy, some superb photos etc, well done on a great book, next one please? Did not know so much went on pre 1916.
Tony

#67 Desmond7

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Posted 01 April 2010 - 03:20 PM

From irish Census 1911 - 109 Bde. was essentially the 'Inniskilling' Brigade of the Ulster Div and lots of Londonderry boys would have gravitated towards that regt and thus to the bde and then to the MG coy. This may be your man?


Residents of house number 24 in Great James' Street (Londonderry Urban (1), Londonderry)
Show all information Surname Forename Age Sex Relation to head Religion Birthplace Occupation Literacy Irish Language Marital Status Specified Illnesses Years Married Children Born Children Living
Davin George 52 Male Head of Family Church of Ireland Gibraltar Fancy Box Maker Master Read and write - Married - - - -
Davin Elizabeth 50 Female Wife Church of Ireland England - Read and write - Married - 28 6 6
Davin Alice Maud 24 Female Daughter Church of Ireland Belfast - Read and write - Single - - - -
Davin Mary Massey 20 Female Daughter Church of Ireland Londonderry City - Read and write - Single - - - -
Davin William Maurice 17 Male Son Church of Ireland Londonderry City Fancy Box Maker Clerk Read and write - Single - - - -
Davin Arthur James 15 Male Son

#68 Ralph J. Whitehead

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Posted 01 April 2010 - 03:57 PM

Hi Des, I hope all is well with you and the family. I believe you have the right family judging from the names, etc. Thanks for posting it, I will pass along the details to the family.

Ralph

#69 Desmond7

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Posted 01 April 2010 - 06:14 PM

Cheers Ralph - all going well. Glad to see the book going down so well, it is quite obviosuly a credit to you!
Des

#70 Desmond7

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Posted 02 April 2010 - 08:20 AM

Cross checked with research carried out by forum member Rob Elliott and carried in 'Three Cheers for the Derrys' (history of 10th Inniskillings in WW1).

Arthur Davin (same no.) is indeed listed as having been member of this battalion prior to 109 MG coy.

From my reading, in conjunction with your research, he would have been scooped in the May 7 raid. I understand an officer of MG coy and a corp. Miller(ar?) were fatal casualties in that action.

Des

#71 rob elliott

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Posted 03 April 2010 - 02:07 AM

Des/Ralph,

Yes, this is the right family. They are the only 'Davin' to sign the Ulster Covenant in Ireland, although the web-site is a little confusing as the two ladies, Elizabeth and Alice, signed it from 40 Great James Street [they have the address wrong on one] Londonderry and George from 21 Aubrey Street [The Fountain] Londonderry.

Gt James St was a very smart middle class area before the 1st war, many from the street joined the Ulster Volunteer Force,
including Arthur's father George, No 266 3rd Btn.

I have the address of 21 Aubrey Street down on my data-base for Arthur, and also for George in the 1920's but i believe this is the address of George's box making factory.

From Arthur's number we can tell he joined in late September/ early October 1914, as those with 15... numbers all were issued during a 3 week period.

Ralph, can you give any information on what happened to Arthur after the war?

Rob



#72 Ralph J. Whitehead

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Posted 03 April 2010 - 11:01 AM

Rob, Just a bit at present. He came home to a celebration dance shortly after the war. He later married C. 1921 and had two children, both of whom are still living and I believe he died in 1982 of old age. I did receive some additional details but cannot access my e-mail at present as that server is down.

Considering what he would have faced on 1 July and beyond it almost seems like a blessing to be captured and at least to survive the war. In our recent conversations it seems possible that both his family and my wife's family share a common ancestor from the late 18th Century. I am hoping to learn more shortly. When I said the world was getting smaller, especially with the introduction of the Internet, I did not know just how small.

Ralph

#73 LenT

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Posted 04 April 2010 - 07:08 PM

Hi all,
just received my copy of the book. A simply excellent piece of work. Almost forensic in its detail.
Incidentally mine is number 304 so obviously not being sold in any kind of numerical order.

Len

#74 rob elliott

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Posted 04 April 2010 - 09:36 PM

Ralph,

Its the 6 degrees of seperation thing!

In Gardiner Mitchell's book on the history of the 10th inniskillings there is a photo of one of the POW homecoming parties.

I wonder if Arthur's family know of the book, as there are plenty of pre 1916 photos of the men.

Rob

#75 Ralph J. Whitehead

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Posted 05 April 2010 - 03:29 PM

QUOTE (rob elliott @ Apr 4 2010, 05:36 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Ralph,

Its the 6 degrees of seperation thing!

In Gardiner Mitchell's book on the history of the 10th inniskillings there is a photo of one of the POW homecoming parties.

I wonder if Arthur's family know of the book, as there are plenty of pre 1916 photos of the men.

Rob

Thnks for the info Rob, I will pass it along tothe family in the event they did not know about it.

Ralph