BRINGING UNCLE ALBERT HOME: A SOLDIER'S TALE
By David P. Whithorn
Alan Sutton Publishing 2003 - ISBN 0 7509 3287 2 - Hardback - 207pp - £17.99
For the majority of people, the starting point of an interest in the Great War is a personal connection with it - a relative who served. People know that some family member was in the war; but how to trace him? Where to look? What can be found out? David Whithorn was one of many thousands of people who have posed such questions, but one of the few who has actually completed his research - and more importantly, written about it.
The book movingly explains the authors interest and passion for the subject of the Great War. How he visited the battlefields for many years, and always wished that he had a grave to see, thinking that none of his family had been in the conflict. It was only a chance conversation with an aunt that revealed the existence of 'Uncle Albert', who had died on the Somme in 1916.
What followed was many years of research, and many more visits - but for the author these visits had changed. It was no longer just a field where annonymous thousands had fought and died - he was where one of his own family members had been. Through a mixture of luck and hard work he was able to put together a very detailed account of what had happened to his uncle, and where he served. The book clearly reflects this, and acts as model example of how to go about researching soldiers who fought in the Great War.
In that respect is the books greatest appeal - on one level it is just one story, of one of more than 150,000 who died on the Somme in 1916. But in telling that story, many people will benefit, and learn how they can discover and follow their own 'Uncle Albert'.
An excellent and recommended book, and ideal for someone who is just starting to come to terms with what the Great War was, and what it was all about... and a fitting and fine memorial to the author's uncle.
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