Tommy : The British Soldier on the Western Front, Paperback Book

Tommy : The British Soldier on the Western Front Paperback

4.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


The first history of World War I to place centre-stage the British soldier who fought in the trenches, this superb and important book tells the story of an epic and terrible war through the letters, diaries and memories of those who fought it. Of the six million men who served in the British army, nearly one million lost their lives and over two million were wounded.

This is the story of these men - epitomised by the character of Sgt Tommy Atkins - and the women they left behind. Using previously unseen letters, diaries, memoirs and poetry from the years 1914-1918, Richard Holmes paints a moving picture of the generation that fought and died in the mud of Flanders.

He follows men whose mental health was forever destroyed by shell shock, women who lost husbands and brothers in the same afternoon and those who wrote at lunchtime and died before tea. Groundbreaking and critically-acclaimed, this book tells the real story of trench warfare, the strength and fallibility of the human spirit, the individuals behind an epic event, and their legacy.

It is an emotional and unforgettable masterpiece from one of our most important historians.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 752 pages, (4 x 8pp b/w plates), Index
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: European history
  • ISBN: 9780007137527

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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

A good read and a great resource for those interested in the intricacies and nuances of the British military, especially the average "Tommy" during the First World War. Chock full of quotes, photos and annotations; well worth the effort to locate this seemingly hard to find book. I will absolutely seek out his Wellington book.

Review by

Richard Holmes at his best. Excellent description of life for a British soldier in the First World War. He writes with technical proficiency, good scholarship, and underlying it all, strong sentiment.

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