Captain Philip Heath’s memoir is a vivid and compelling insight to the First World War experiences of a front-line officer. It is by turns harrowing and honest, and also occasionally humorous. Heath survived the Somme, Passchendaele and finally the advance to victory in 1918. He was twice decorated for bravery. Within the pages are numerous unguarded insights into his thinking, emotions and personality, along with descriptive first-hand accounts of battle. First in the 8th East Surreys and then in 55th Trench Mortar Battery, Heath’s words chart the conversion of an optimistic teenage recruit into a war-weary veteran. One senses that he found the process of writing his memoir to be cathartic, allowing him to at least partially vanquish the ghosts and shadows from his time in the trenches. We Were a Band of Brothers is the story of one man’s war, but it could also be any man’s and for that reason it is essential reading.
“I had the feeling, which I believe was shared by the others, that we were a band of brothers so that every death in action of a man became a personal loss to us all.”
“I have never seen such a dreadful sight as that trench, which was about 100 yards long. It was crammed with corpses and bits of corpses scattered all over the place.”
“My deepest private fear was that I might unexpectedly disgrace myself, and endanger the men I commanded, by breaking down or losing my head.”
“He turned his head towards me and said very quietly: ‘Ich bin blind, ich kann nicht sehen’ (I am blind, I can’t see). He leaned over towards me, and died in my arms.”
Size: height 203 mm x width 127 mm. 190 pages
Classifications: BTM (True war and combat stories), BM (Memoirs), DN (Prose: non-fiction), HBW (Military history).
Distributor: Marston Book Services Ltd, 160 Eastern Avenue, Milton Park, Abingdon, OXON, OX14 4SB. Tel: 01235 465500 www.marston.co.uk