Fire-step to Fokker Fodder

From the Trenches to the Red Baron. The First World War Diaries of William 'Jack' Lidsey

Andrew White

Based on Jack Lidsey's detailed First World War diary, a unique personal insight into life and death on the Western Front, both in the trenches and in the air, including combat with the Red Baron.
Date Published :
October 2019
Publisher :
Fighting High Publishing
Illustration :
16 page b/w picture section
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781999812874
Pages : 208
Dimensions : 9.25 X 6.25 inches
Stock Status : In stock


Jack Lidsey was one of the first to volunteer during the Great War, enlisting as a private soldier in his local regiment, the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, in August 1914. He was sent to the Ypres Salient in March 1915, experiencing trench warfare around Ploegsteert Wood before moving south to the Somme in France. Lidsey was sent home for commissioning early in 1916, re-joining his battalion as a Second Lieutenant just in time for the Somme offensive of that summer. Time and again, he led his platoon into hails of enemy machine-gun fire, grenade and artillery attacks around Pozières, where the Oxfordshires took horrendous casualties. By any measure, Jack was lucky to survive, and in November 1916 he decided to try a different approach to warfare – from the air.

Jack joined the Royal Flying Corps as an observer with No. 16 Squadron, flying the outdated BE2, and was immediately plunged into aerial combat in the skies above the Western Front. His squadron suffered severe losses in the run-up to the Arras offensive of 1917, many at the hands of two of Germany’s great aces, Werner Voss and Manfred von Richthofen, the Red Baron. Lidsey himself fought von Richthofen and survived, until, on another fateful occasion, the Red Baron claimed him as his 29th victim.

Jack kept a detailed diary for the whole two years of his war, from going overseas until the day before his death. His descriptions of conditions in the trenches and of the fighting he experienced are vivid and compelling. Andrew White’s Fire-step to Fokker Fodder is based on Jack’s journal and includes numerous previously unpublished photographs, offering a unique personal insight into life and death on the Western Front, both in the trenches and in the air.

About The Author

Andrew White was born in Brackley, Northamptonshire. He joined the RAF in 1985 and served for 26 years in the Intelligence Branch retiring as a Wing Commander. Andrew served operationally in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Iraq with both fast jet and transport squadrons; he also enjoyed tours in the Ministry of Defence and operational headquarters at home and abroad. Now a battlefield guide, Andrew takes GCSE students to the sites of the Western Front and Normandy, and A Level students to Berlin. He lives with his family on the Norfolk/Cambridgeshire border.


"The book is well written and provides an interesting glimpse into a side of the British military (Great War transition from enlisted to officer) seldom seen. There are excellent maps (both modern and contemporary) with modern photos of many of the battlegrounds Lidsey fought over as an infantryman."

- Air Power History

"...the final product comes across less as a diary transcript and more as a full biography of Lidsey's life and a postmortem analysis of his death. The result is a captivating book that you won't want to put down."

- Indy Squadron Dispatch

"White’s use of Jack Lidsey’s diaries gives further voice to thousands of men who transferred from the trenches to find their legacies in the air. This biography is highly recommended for gripping accounts of trench warfare and air combat against the odds."

- Over the Front

"The book is well worth reading for its insight into the life of an ordinary soldier and airman; the background to the diary is competently fleshed out. ''

- The Aviation Historian

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