Battalions at War

The York & Lancaster Regiment in the First World War

John Dillon

This book covers the major battles of the war, not all of them on the Western Front, through the experiences of the battalions of the York and Lancaster Regiment.
Date Published :
February 2018
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Illustration :
20 b/w photos, 20 b/w maps, 3 tables
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781912174058
Pages : 287
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : Available


The First World War is history; the last survivors of that conflict are now all dead. Three generations on, public perceptions of the war are formed from books, films and photographs. In the last two decades, revisionist historians have attempted to correct the narrative left to us by the war poets and early diarists; a chronicle of sacrifice, futility and the ‘loss of a generation’ at the hands of the ‘bunglers’ and ‘butchers’. In spite of the efforts of these writers, commentators find it hard to move beyond the losses of 1 July 1916 and the mud of Passchendaele. The history of the war is ‘bookmarked’ by a series of iconic battles, from First Ypres, through the Somme, to Passchendaele and Cambrai and the final victory of the Hundred Days.

When reading the accounts of the battles it is easy to overlook the very limited perspective of the individual soldiers. Battalions were moved in and out of the line every few days; most were involved in only a few of the battles, and then for only a short period and on a limited front. The troops who participated would have had little idea of how their unit’s contribution affected the outcome of a particular operation.

The York and Lancaster Regiment had one or more battalion in all of the major battles of the war, but each saw only a small part of those operations. This book uses the war diaries of those battalions to trace the history of the conflict through the limited perspective of those whose horizon was little more than their 500 yards of trench line.

Private Patrick Dillon (the author’s grandfather) served in three battalions of the regiment. The battalion war diaries show us how limited was the overview of the ordinary soldier and his regimental officers, there is little context to the actions in which they were involved beyond their immediate front and flanks. While this book does outline the broader operations in which the battalions were involved, it is not a ‘history of the war’, rather it is an account of how those units (often at short notice) were fed into the line of battle.

About The Author

John Dillon joined the RAF in 1963 and after some years as an apprentice and a Cranwell Cadet, he flew as a navigator on Vulcan bombers. He left the service in 1976 for a 30-year career in computers. Early retirement in 2005 was an opportunity to study for a history degree at Reading; a First was followed by an MA and a PhD. His previous books (both with Helion) are Allies are a Tiresome Lot. The British Army in Italy in the First World War, and Battalions at War. The York and Lancaster Regiment in the First World War. John and his wife live in Berkshire where retirement allows time for his photography, military history, and travel.

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