Till The Trumpet Sounds Again: The Scots Guards 1914-19 In Their Own Words

Volume 2 - 'Vast tragedy', August 1916 – March 1919

Randall Nicol

Date Published :
June 2016
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Illustration :
48 pp b/w photos
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781911096078
Pages : 512
Dimensions : 9.75 X 6.75 inches
Stock Status : In stock


This is a story of soldiers at war against the background the two battalions of the Scots Guards who served in Belgium and France from 1914 to 1918. The author's purpose is to display - by getting in amongst them - what they knew, saw, heard, felt and experienced around them and who they were as people. It is clear that the author has attempted to look and listen mostly through these men’s eyes and ears - and sometimes through those of others who watched and listened nearby. In conveying how the war appeared to them, the author has not sought to achieve any wider view - nor to explain more than what is considered to be essential. What went on when the men were not in the trenches or fighting a battle holds just as much interest as when they were.

The book is written in a chronological, narrative form - using as a basis the war diaries of the battalions, and supplemented from August 1915 by the two volumes of Cuthbert Headlam’s History of the Guards Division in the Great War 1915-1918. The main content of the book stems from diaries, letters, notes, occasional pieces of verse, military documents and reports - as well as some press cuttings and any relevant published works. There are three key elements to the book: the first is that a great deal of the material used forms part of private collections and thus has never before; second is the intensive research which has been conducted into individual officers and soldiers; the third element is the blending together of all the research into a coherent whole so that there is a steady flow in an extraordinary story which is full of shocks and surprises, enjoyment and laughter - and (even in the most inauspicious situations) sorrow, joy and determination.

These officers and men were ordinary human beings who experienced extraordinary events. In all other ways, they behaved as soldiers do, in that they did what they had to do - often misbehaving out of the line, but rarely in it; enjoying what there was to enjoy and grumbling about much else. Among themselves they had their personal likes and dislikes, but all had to depend on each other and work together. Because of the comradeship borne of the shared experience at close quarters, they got to know each other very well indeed. One cannot be but humbled and moved by their resilience amid dire adversity - not least in the winter conditions of 1916-17. It is extremely important when reading to remember that they had no idea how long the war would continue - and it is not surprising how unexpected and unreal the announcement of the Armistice was for many. The Scots Guardsmen’s understanding of what others were doing at any time was limited to what they saw and heard - very rarely anywhere near the whole story and often inaccurate (and sometimes, however unintentionally, unfair). Those British soldiers who took part in the Retreat from Mons saw and were well aware of the plight of the refugees - and they could see behind them the fires as the advancing Germans burnt farms and villages. Those who landed at Ostend and Zeebrugge early in October 1914 were similarly well aware of the plight of refugees. Those in the area east of the Somme battlefields after the Germans withdrew to the Hindenburg Line in March 1917 saw the scale of calculated destruction. Those in the last weeks of the war who advanced across largely unfought-over Belgian and French territory (in the case of the Scots Guards, east of Cambrai) first met pathetically grateful civilians. Whatever else the war was about, it was also about liberation.

About The Author

Randall Nicol read history at Magdalene College, Cambridge, and served for ten years afterwards in the Scots Guards. On leaving the Army he read law at Edinburgh University and qualified as a solicitor practising in Scotland. He has written many articles for the Guards Magazine and the Scots Guards Magazine, chairs the Regimental Historical Committee Scots Guards and is a member of the British Commission for Military History. He and his wife live in Edinburgh.//His first book Till The Trumpet Sounds Again: The Scots Guards 1914-1919 in Their Own Words (Solihull: Helion & Co Ltd 2016) won the Best First Book Prize at the Society for Army Historical Research Templer Medal Awards 2016.


“ … a tale of heroic proportions… His research has been exceptionally comprehensive, and the result is a highly readable work of scholarship… A towering work devoid of hyperbole, modest in style but phenomenal in scope and depth. Randall Nicoll’s encyclopedic monument to the magnificent officers, warrant officers, non-commissioned officers and men of the Scots Guards in the Great War cannot be too highly recommended.”

- Guards Magazine

"... illustrated coffee table history charts the activities of two battalions of Scots Guards who served in Belgium and France during WWI. The book is written as a chronological narrative, interweaving primary sources such as memoirs and war journals, many from the Battalion War Diaries archive. Other primary sources used include letters, songs, military documents and reports, newspaper accounts, and published works from the WWI period. Many of the sources come from private collections, reflecting the experiences of individual soldiers, with special emphasis on their eyewitness accounts of the conditions of civilians after German bombing attacks. The book includes many b&w historical photos"

- ProtoView

“The author spent 12 years meticulously researching archives and the result is a first class work, which will prove essential reading for historians of WWI, battlefield tour guides and visitors to the battleground…histories like this do not come along very often…this is a truly remarkable history, which a reader can return to many times and find it very fresh.”

- GunMart

“Till The Trumpets Sound Again Vol 1 and Vol 2 by Randall Nicol impressed me no end. Very few things will I whole heartedly recommend for people to spend their hard earned money on.”

- A Wargamers Needful Things

– “The two volumes must be judged the best and most exhaustive regimental history in the Great War….quite possibly the best Great War work of 2016.”

- Stand To! The Journal of the Western Front Association

“ … the Guards maintain some of the best regimental records in the Army and these have been assiduously used to create a very human portrait of a unit at war. Most highly recommended.”

- Newsletter of the Society of Friends of the National Army Museum

Till the Trumpet Sounds Again is a beautifully produced, superbly illustrated, homage to the Scots Guards of the First World War.”

- British Journal of Military History

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