Dearest Mother

First World War letters home from a young Sapper officer in France and Salonika

Andrew Baines, Joanna Palmer

Date Published :
April 2015
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Illustration :
100 b/w photos and illustrations
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781910294574
Pages : 384
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock


John Stanhope Baines, a Winchester classical scholar and young Royal Engineers officer, was on active service in France and Salonika during the First World War. Throughout this time he wrote to his ‘Dearest Mother’, who had studied classics at Cambridge before being widowed when John was three, and to Honor, his younger sister. The letters give regular updates of his activities in an affectionate, amusing and relaxed way, while disguising the true horror, dangers and realities of war.

The work of the Sappers was challengingly different from that of other arms, but equally important. Constructing trenches and defenses, putting out wire and demolitions at night, assault operations into no-man’s land, and much more, were all in a day’s work in France. In the Salonika Campaign the construction of roads, in the most inhospitable conditions as the letters testify, was vital to the strategic success of the Allies. John obviously enjoyed all the challenges he faced in his four years of active service, and writes about them with a delightfully light touch.

Through these well-written letters we are able to share in John’s military career, his personal and political views, his interest in things classical, his passion for the Lake District, his sense of humor, and above all in the love, care and responsibility he felt towards his mother and sister while serving his King and Country.

These letters have been brought to life by the editors, who are grandchildren of John Baines, in a refreshing and unusual way. Through careful research, many additional details of topics John writes about are included – individuals, articles, places, military aspects, family and also of his mother’s life back on the Home Front. This book will therefore be of general interest to a wide readership.


“ … the editors have struck an impressive balance; simultaneously poignant, edifying and unaffected, Dearest Mother is a distinct and noteworthy account of the Great War.”

- Royal Engineers Journal

"A distinct and noteworthy account of the First World War.”"

- Trusty Servant

“ … a timely and well presented account”

- Pennant Magazine

“ … The editors have added personal commentaries, extracts from regimental war diaries, details of ration supplies, photos, postcards and so on to bring extra colour to the letters and make this intimate picture of the war years rather special.”

- Family Tree

“ … The letters are written in an easy to read style … The editors are to be praised for their background research, which adds much context to the letters … a welcome addition to the still limited number of published personal accounts of the Salonika Campaign.”

- The New Mosquito: The Journal of the Salonika Campaign Society

“ ... the epitome of a professional work in deploying an approach both successful and new to me ... a rounded and most worthwhile work ... This is a book which offers a template for anyone tempted to produce and publish a truly worthwhile ‘memorial’ volume.”

- Stand To! The Journal of the Western Front Association

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