The classic image of World War I is of dashing young volunteers out to defend King and country - but 2.5 million men were conscripts. The war startedout well; it was tobe the war to end all wars, and over by Christmas 1914. Men rushedto join up, to become part of the drama, and before long there was much battle, blood, death and heroism. Then trench warfare set in. Casualties mounted, and the stream of volunteers began to dwindle. But the army still needed more men. In January 1916 Britain broke with centuries of tradition, and conscription was introduced for the first time. But the memory of the conscripts has not lived on - they are the lost legions of the Great War. The conscripts were the soldiers of the second half of the war, but they arrived too late: after the Battle of the Somme in July 1916. Billed as the ultimate battle of the war, it was a colossal failure. Even worse, it failed to end the war, which meandered on for another two years. Throughout this time the conscripts held the line, fought another two major offensives, and brought aneventual victory. But the British public had lost interest: there was too much blood and death.
The drama had become a tragedy, and the volunteers were already scripted as heroes. This is the story of civilians who became soldiers, fought and - those who survived - went home. From manual workers to clerks and solicitors, it is the story of the unknown soldiers of World War I, who went to war and fought as ordinary men experiencing an extreme and unique event in their lives.
Publisher: The History Press Ltd
Number of pages: 256
Weight: 300 g
Dimensions: 234 x 156 x 24 mm
Edition: Illustrated edition