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Annual Booklist 2016-2017 : Andrew Robertshaw, FSA

Author of Digging the Trenches: The Archaeology of the Western Front (Pen and Sword, 2008); Ghosts on the Somme: Filming the Battle June-July 1916 (Pen and Sword, 2009).


On my shelves are many books which I refer to on a regular basis or simply enjoy reading. One is a signed copy of Brigadier Peter Young, Edgehill 1642 (Roundwood, 1967; reprinted Weidenfeld & Nicolson 1997). Published when I was a sixth-former, this book influenced my choice of career and decision to be a military author. It can also be argued that although modern research means that Edgehill is outdated but the mixture of narrative and original sources make it a 'must read' title for the English Civil War.

As a member of the Sealed Knot and then English Civil War Society I became fascinated by the King's Oxford Army. In consequence I treasure my copies of Ian Roy, The Royalist Ordnance Papers: 1642-46 (Two Vols: Oxfordshire Record Society, 1964 & 1975). Dr Roy's research into the supply of the King's Army is breath-taking and the two volumes remain essential reading for anyone with an interest into the Great Rebellion.

I had the great good fortune to work with Brigadier Young in the early 1980s and was often sent to research sources of information concerning Royalist Officers. As such my copy of Peter Newman, Royalist Officers in England and Wales, 1642-60: A Biographical Dictionary (Garland Reference Library of Social Science, 1981) which once belonged to Peter Young and contains his notes and corrections is a gem.

At the time I was immersed in the English Civil War I had the great good fortune to have a mother who ran a charity shop in Sudbury, Suffolk. It was her habit to charge me 50p for books on the Great War as they were handed into the shop. In consequence my copy of Frederick Coleman, From Mons to Ypres with French (Sampson Low, 1916; reprinted Naval & Military Press 2015) acquired by me in 1971 is complete with a dedication to a recipient of September 1916. This account of the early months of the war fired my imagination and I have followed in Mr Coleman's tracks on more than one occasion.

To bookend, as it were, my knowledge of the Great War, my acquisition, somewhat later in life, of Colonel David Rorie DSO, RAMC, A Medico's Luck in the War (Milne & Hutchison 1929; reprinted Naval & Military Press 2009) had a profound effect on me. I can trace my fascination in the work of the RAMC to this volume. The fact that I have been seen running a recreated RAMC Dressing Station as an adjunct to a battle re-enactment of living history event can be seen as bring me full circle from the wars of the mid Seventeenth century to that of the early twentieth now known as the First World War.

Thank you authors and historians. I doubt that my works will have the influence of these five men on future lives and careers.

The book that should exist is A History of Sanitation and Hygiene in Military History. Until the 20th century more soldiers died from disease than combat and although countless books have been written on battles there is virtually nothing written on wee, poo and washing! The British Army's obsession with hygiene, a result of the Second Anglo Boer War, saved countless lives and yet the ‘shit wallah’ has a low status.

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