The Long, Long Trail is my personal website, born in 1996 and developed as a hobby ever since.
My original intent was to build a comprehensive online order of battle for the British Army in the First World War. That is still building: but along the way, sections have been added on how to research a soldier; the battles and battlefields of the war; and much more.
Along the way it spawned and then spun off the incredibly successful Great War Forum, which has brought thousands of family and military historians together from across the globe.
The site is funded by me, with donations kindly given by site visitors, and from modest affiliate advertising.
All site facilities are free for visitors to use.
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About the author
Thanks for visiting The Long, Long Trail. It is my labour of love.
My name is Chris Baker. I am English and live in Leamington Spa in Warwickshire. These days I count myself as a freelance military historian, researcher and author – quite a change from the way my career began.
I was born in the city of Birmingham and followed just about every member of my family into manufacturing industry. I am proud to say that I was the first of my working-class family to have the privilege of a university education, emerging from the University of Nottingham with a BSc (Hons) in Production Engineering and the University of Birmingham with the MSc in Machine Tool Technology. My working life began as a production engineer and over the years I rose through the ranks, winding up as Operations Director of a large automotive parts business. Having learned how to do it, I then spent more than 20 years as a consultant to manufacturing businesses, worldwide. This included periods as head of the automotive business for a major IT firm and as European Managing Director for a US e-business consulting firm.
The First World War has always fascinated me, appalled me and drawn me in. I began to read, study and explore around 1981 and it’s taken over an increasing share of my life ever since.
In 2007 I was proud to graduate with the MA in British First World War Studies from the very same University of Birmingham where I got my MSc just 27 years before!
A member of the Western Front Association for many years until 2018, I had the honour of serving as its chairman in the late 1990s.
In February 2019 I was elected as a Member of the Royal Historical Society.
I have had five books published to date and am working on my next one, which is a battalion history.
If you are really interested, you can see more about my history at LinkedIn
I began to build my website The Long, Long Trail in 1996. About two years later I added what was to grow into the Great War Forum. I eventually spun the forum off and it was taken over by the group of volunteer moderators, for which I am grateful as it had grown into quite a burden of work.
Research business, fourteeneighteen
Over the years many people have come through the site to ask me for help in researching a soldier – most often a father, grandfather or great uncle. I initially did this as a hobby, but with so many people asking and me being busy at work, something had to give. I decided to make a living out of my passion – what a joy – and left my old career behind on 25 April 2008. My research work is now somewhat limited by time I must devote to caring for my wife Geraldine, who was severely affected by a stroke in early 2022.
In March 2011 my first book was published by Pen & Sword Military. “The Battle for Flanders: German defeat on the Lys, April 1918” is the first comprehensive study of the battle since the British Official History and draws upon much archival material as well as my own soldier research and personal knowledge of the area.
My second book “The truce: the day the war stopped” was published by Amberley in 2014. It is on the events in France in December 1914, not so much on the detail of the Christmas truce but on the little known British and Indian offensive that took place just before it.
April 2018 saw the publication of my two books for the “Battleground Europe” series. Both on the Battle of the Lys of April 1918, they are titled “Lys North: Objective Ypres” and “Lys South: Objective Hazebrouck“.
My latest title came out in September 2021. Also for the “Battlegroup Europe” series it is called “From the Channel to the Ypres Salient: The Belgian Sector 1914 -1918“.
Aside from the Long, Long Trail my main hobby is in following the Leicester Riders basketball team (the oldest professional basketball club in the country) and that venerable old football club, Hereford FC.
Some past designs of the site
Thanks to everyone who visited over the years – your encouragement and kind remarks have been inspirational.
Thanks to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine for keeping snapshot copies going back to 2001.
In May 2008 the Long, Long Trail gained its first genuine third-party plaudit when the BBC’s “Who do you think you are?” magazine named it as the best site for tracing military ancestors.
On 8 October 2014 Long, Long Trail website was announced as winner of the ISG Special Category Award by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP). CILIPs Information Services Group has an annual process of evaluation of reference works (books and websites) that culminates in the awards. In addition to the broad arena of work that is studied is a special category, which in this centenary year was chosen to be military history. The ceremony, held at CILIPs London headquarters, began with a keynote speech by Professor Gary Sheffield of the University of Wolverhampton. To give an idea of the calibre of the competition for the Special Category Award, the Long, Long Trail was selected in preference to the excellent website operated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Chris Baker, author of the Long, Long Trail, was presented with the winner’s certificate by Professor Sheffield and CILIP President Barbara Band.
On 20 March 2022, the Guild of Battlefield Guides announced that I had been selected as the recipient of an award. They said, “We are very pleased to announce that this year’s Nathaniel Wade Award, recognising a significant contribution to the Battlefield Tour industry, is awarded to Chris Baker. Chris has contributed so much with the Long Long Trail, GWF [Great War Forum] and his written work.” This is a considerable honour and I am very pleased to have been recognised in this way.
Privacy and data policy
Please read this page
The Long, Long Trail has been developed over many years and represents thousands of man-hours of effort. Full copyright over all content is owned by fourteeneighteen, a partnership operated by Chris and Geraldine Baker, unless otherwise stated. I ask you to respect that by ensuring that any quotes or images you use from this site are suitably referenced.
I give any website developer the right to use small parts of information from this site, subject to our request for a reference (above) on a “fair use” basis. I do not give permission for wholesale copying of parts of the site and in no case would be consider more than half of a page to be fair use. I have noted two or three websites that seem to think it is OK to copy my material en masse – one of them is a commercial firm that advertises heavily.
Linking to and referencing the Long, Long Trail
You are granted permission to link to the Long, Long Trail or to any page with in it.
You are not granted permission to hotlink to an image within the site.
When referencing the site, please use “The Long, Long Trail” or “The Long, Long Trail: the British Army in the Great War” or “Chris Baker’s site The Long, Long Trail” as title in addition to the URL.
Material used on this site comes from a number of sources, but primarily documents that are in the public domain or which are Crown Copyright. We do not believe that any copyright has been breached by use of material from any other source: if you believe I have used something that you own, please contact the author.
Sources used in compiling the site
The information provided on this site has been derived from a wide range of sources, predominantly official histories, regimental histories, operational records of units and soldiers service records.
The compilation and any errors it contains are mine.
Over the years many groups and individuals have kindly contributed information, not least the many regular users of the Great War Forum. Where information provided is substantial and the result of original research the contributor is usually named on the appropriate page: I apologise to any contributor whose name I have not included or have even forgotten. My thanks go to all of who have contributed or who have pointed out spelling or other errors to me.
The Long, Long Trail has been developed from numerous sources. It is not possible, without creating complexity, to cite sources used on each page of the site and the site does not set out to be an academic work. If you are interested in any page and wish to know sources, please contact me. Published sources widely used in the compilation of the site include:
- The British Official History of the War, Military Operations (multiple volumes)
- “A record of the battles and engagements of the British Armies in France and Flanders” by Capt. E. A. James (Aldershot: Gale & Polden Ltd, 1920)
- “British Regiments” by the same author, by then Brig. E. A. James (London: Sampson Books, 1978)
- “Order of Battle of Divisions” compiled by Major A. F. Becke (multiple volumes)
We all owe the compilers and authors of these works a great debt of gratitude, for the work must have been simply enormous.