Review of “South Staffords at war”

South Staffords at war: August 1914 – December 1915
written and published by Andrew Thornton
ISBN 978 – 1533290632
Paperback, large format
208 pages plus appendices and bibliography; no index; not illustrated.

The technology of publishing, and the ready availability of digital sales and distribution channels, is making it ever easier for authors to bring their own work to market. Andrew Thornton’s “South Staffords at war” takes advantage of these methods to being us an excellent book that may not have caught a mainstream publisher’s eye. The quality of the book in terms of materials and handlability, layout and readability is excellent.

The author has trawled the archives, official accounts, local newspapers and many more sources to compile the story of the South Staffordshire Regiment through the years of 1914 and 1915. I understand that a second volume, covering the same period, is well under way. The regiment’s story is told through dozens of small stories, arranged in good chronological and historical sequence. They take us through the early deployment of the regiment’s two regular battalions; the mobilisation of the reservists; the men who responded to Lord Kitchener’s call for volunteers and who soon saw service in the theatres of war; and the training and fighting experienced by the two battalions of the Territorial Force. We have tales of men who died; of those who returned home wounded; of those in training at home and missing their folks; of cakes and many other gifts flowing from the Black Country and the county to training camps and trenches alike; of officers and the “PBI”. It makes for a wonderful miscellany and patchwork that tells the regiment’s story as well as any formal description of its history.

Of particular value to those with an interest or connection to the South Staffords or its recruiting area, this book will also prove to be good, absorbing reading for anyone generally interested in the British Army’s experience in the Great War.