Charlie Chaplin's Army - Labour Battalion journal 1915-1919
William Henry Thompson Shaun Tyas 2017
156 pages softback, maps, photos
There has only been one other diary of a member of a Labour Battalion in the First World War published, so this new discovery, here published for the first time is of great importance. These men were considered not-quite medically fit for military service, but fit enough for the hard manual work of building railways, clearing roads etc. The title is from the diary, and uses one of the derogatory names given the Labour Battalions by combat troops, yet their work was essential for the war effort. William Henry Thompson came from Cottingham in East Yorkshire and gives an intelligent, honest, revelatory, critical and often heart-breaking account of his experiences in France and Belgium, working very close to the front and witnessing first hand many of the shocking events of the war, from 1915 to 1919 (he was not demobilised till January). The text has been carefully edited in full, introduced and indexed by Katrin McClure of the Cottingham Local History Society and it is illustrated with 32 pages of mostly colour pictures.