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Book: Stolen lives

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Individual Tragedies of the Great War


                        By Andrew Hamilton and Alan Reed


·         Stolen Lives is a stimulating and compassionate collection of short biographies of 50 soldiers (and a nurse) who were tragically killed in the Great War. The personal stories of those who volunteered to serve their respective countries provide a detailed snapshot of society before the outbreak of war and the horrors of life at the Front


·         The subjects are selected from a wide cross-section of society, from Queen Victoria’s 40th grandchild to a Belfast shipbuilding apprentice who was Shot at Dawn for desertion. There are men who had reached the pinnacle of their careers: a novelist, Test cricketer, rugby international, a four times Wimbledon tennis champion and a clergyman. Some had yet to realise their aspirations and potential including a poet, painter, composer and botany student. Others found fame posthumously as a result of their actions during the War like a surgeon awarded two VCs, a young air ace and a black footballer who became an officer


·         Britain could not have played such a pivotal role in the conflict without support from her Empire’s troops- an Australian V.C., a Canadian allegedly ‘crucified’ by the Germans, an Indian Sikh and a West Indian Shot at Dawn, all considered it their duty to fight for their ‘mother country’


·         Stolen Lives is packed with unusual nuggets of interest: there are pieces on the oldest to be killed in action- a 67 year old and the youngest-a 14 year old German…a Canadian allegedly ‘crucified’ by the Germans, an actor who fell to his death from an observation balloon, a nurse who lied about her age to get to the Front, an  M.P. who returned from the Front to speak in the House of Commons, five brothers, the England Rugby captain and two Olympic gold medallists


·         Also featured are an American poet who fought for France, a German and a French air ace, under age volunteers, the first and last killed on the Western Front, a dog who perished in No Man’s Land and four VCs


·         Each individual’s life before 1914 and reasons for enlisting (not necessarily because of duty to King and Country) are examined.  Reactions to the effects of the War and the humour and comradeship of soldiers facing adversity are fascinating features of the book


·         A recurring theme in Stolen Lives is the impact on families who suffered the loss of loved ones. Spiritualism, writing commemorative tributes or joining the war effort were ways in which mothers, wives and fiancées attempted to come to terms with the loss of their men folk. Interestingly, there are many instances of letters of condolence from the Front and obituaries which exaggerate the circumstances of death


·         Readers are taken on a guided biographical tour of the cemeteries and memorials of Belgium and northern France to where the book’s subjects are buried or commemorated. The tour starts in the Ypres Salient, proceeds through French Flanders and Artois and concludes with an excursion through the battlefields of the Somme.  The enormity of the tasks carried out by Sir Fabian Ware and the Imperial War Graves Commission’s team of architects to design fitting final resting places and memorials for those who lost their lives, is highlighted throughout the book


·         Stolen Lives is a beautifully designed book in the same well-received style of Meet at Dawn, Unarmed about the Royal Warwicks and the Christmas Truce of 1914 The text is enhanced by the relevant incorporation of over 400 photographs- black and white originals and striking colour photographs as well as cartoons and easily-followed maps


·         In a novel approach to honouring the centenary of the Great War, Andrew Hamilton and Alan Reed have compiled a memorably informative tribute to a significant range of personalities whose lives were tragically and brutally cut short by a war of increasing futility. It is a book to interest not only the general reader but also the knowledgeable expert


For further detail visit www.meetatdawnunarmed.co.uk


For local media: Stolen Lives, a book about 50 people of interest who died in the Great War is a Warwickshire-inspired publication. The authors Andrew Hamilton from Walton and Alan Reed of Warwick have already received acclaim for Meet at Dawn, Unarmed about the Christmas Truce of 1914. The book has been beautifully and creatively designed by Ruth Smith of Studley and many of the 224 colour photographs are the work of Pillerton Hersey-based  photographer James Kerr. Two chapters about his family Great War losses have been contributed by Leamington’s George Sayell and extra research and proofreading  have been provided by Maurice Bott of Ilmington and Monica Ory of Warwick.


The following Royal Warwicks soldiers are subjects of the book:


Gilchrist Maclagan:   Rowing gold medallist 1908 and friend of Bruce Bairnsfather the cartoonist who lived at Bishopton near  Stratford-on-Avon. Maclagan killed 2nd battle of Ypres- name on the Menin Gate

William Tapp: From Birmingham wrote a diary account of his experiences especially the Christmas Truce of 1914. Killed 2nd Battle of Ypres- commemorated on the Menin Gate

Avenel St. George: Lived as a boy at Newbold Pacey near Warwick. He joined the Life Guards and was killed at the age of 19 in November 1914- his mother Evelyn paid for a war memorial at Newbold Pacey church and for stained glass windows in the church at Zillebeke in Belgium where he was buried

Geoffrey Donaldson:  Promising Cambridge University Botany student- was at King Edward VI Stratford-on-Avon

Charles Bentley:one of first officers to suffer from shell shock- killed October 1914


Percy Jeeves:Warwickshire cricketer on verge of England call-up- inspiration for name of P.G. Wodehouse’s valet- name is on Thiepval memorial in the Somme           


Latest News:

  ·    Andrew Hamilton has been interviewed about the Christmas Truce and                        festive games of football in No Man’s Land for the New York-based ‘Five  Films’ programme ‘Rise as One’- to be shown globally before this year’s World Cup


·         Both Andrew and Alan Reed are taking part in BBC TV ‘Songs of Praise’ programmes to be shown this year. Alan will be guiding a group of choristers round the battlefields and cemeteries of northern France and Belgium and Andrew will be appearing in a Christmas Truce special when four descendants of those who took part in fraternisations at St. Yvon in Belgium are brought together for the first time in an historic meeting at the site of the truce

      ·    This year’s Royal Shakespeare Company winter show is ‘The Christmas Truce’ which will be                 using material from Meet at Dawn, Unarmed by Andrew Hamilton and Alan Reed

For more information please contact: 

Andrew Hamilton,                                                                    hamilton.a@btconnect.com

Dene House Publishing,                                                           www.meetatdawnunarmed.co.uk

Dene House,



CV35 9HX

01789 842903

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