A LANCASHIRE FUSILIER'S FIRST WORLD WAR
A Lancashire Fusilier's First World War is available in paperback, price £15.00 plus postage and packing, and is being sold in aid of charitable causes, currently primarily (ex)servicemen's charities, but see also the text below for more detail.
For details of how to order see footer)
Four of the five men who represented the 5th Battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers at the Peace Celebrations (Victory March) in London on 19 July 1919: Left to right: Acting Company Sergeant Major J. Hutchinson VC, Captain N. Hall, Lance Sergeant E. Smith VC DCM, and the reserve member of the Party, Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant A. Mooney; Lieutenant R. M. Barlow MC, the fourth person who actually carried the Colours, was not photographed.
The 55th Division Memorial at Givenchy photographed in 2019. Norman represented the 2/5th Lancashire Fusiliers at the unveiling of this Monument on 15 May 1921. The other men chosen for this honour were Captain J.C. Latter MC , Acting Company Sergeant Major J. Hutchinson VC, Sergeant W. Cadden and Sergeant A. Wroe, all of whom had proceeded to France with the 2/5th Lancashire Fusiliers on 3 May 1915.
One of Norman’s grandchildren has produced an abridged paperback version of Norman's five volume diary, which can be purchased for £15.00, plus postage and packing as appropriate, £3.50 for UK addresses (see footer). (If you have entered the website on this page, you can learn more about Norman Hall and the story behind his diary by going to the Home page)
The information on the back of the book reads as follows:
Norman Hall enlisted as a private in Liverpool in September 1914, becoming an officer with the Lancashire Fusiliers in Bury about a month later. He went to France with the 2/5th Lancashire Fusiliers in May 1915. This version of his diaries focuses on the 2/5th’s training, deployment in the trenches, and the Battle of the Somme. An Afterword summarises Norman’s later service with the 1/5th Lancashire Fusiliers.
Norman was naturally observant, and took a keen interest in his surroundings, his companions, and, in fact, everything that he experienced or saw. His military career was unusually varied, including service as a Signalling Officer, Company Commander, Quartermaster and Adjutant.
The result is a fascinating insight into life as a soldier on the Western Front, covering a broad range of subjects, such as anecdotes about fellow soldiers, what it was like to be in the trenches, time spent out of the Line, demonstrations of new weapons, the evolution of the gas mask, skirmishes in No Man’s Land, a gas attack by the British, the capture of a German prisoner, and much more; sadly it also includes some heart-achingly poignant accounts of the deaths of a number of Norman’s comrades in arms.
Reviews of the book can be found at:
Also, a reviewer for the March 2021 edtion of Soldier Magazine wrote "I have read many First World War diaries and have to say this is one of the best I have come across", and that the book is one which "everyone with an interest in the conflict should read".
The illustrations contained in the published version of the diary include reproductions of all the hand-drawn coloured sketch plans of trenches, most of the maps (in whole or in part), all the photographs of named officers, one original set of operation orders, the note of the interrogation of the German prisoner, all the letters, all the diagrams of weapons etc., and many of the photographs, postcards, and newspaper cuttings relevant to the unabridged version of the diary, plus some of the photographs, postcards and newspaper cuttings relevant to the period covered by the Afterword. Some 45 pages have been printed in full colour, thus ensuring that coloured reproductions are included of all the illustrations that require colour in order to be fully appreciated (notably the hand-drawn sketch maps and some of the other maps).
There are also some modern photographs of locations or buildings to provide context or for comparison purposes.
In the edited version over 400 individuals are referred to by name, mostly Lancashire Fusiliers, but also quite a number of men from other Regiments, all of whom are listed in an Index of People. There is also a General Index, Index of Place Names, Index of Fighting Units, Index of Armaments, Index of Military Posts, Trenches etc., and Index of Battles etc.
At the end of the edited version there is a "Roll of Honour", in which all the men who did not survive who are referred to in either the original diary or the edited version are listed, with details of their units and where they are buried or commemorated.
Footnotes explain some terms which may not be familiar to the modern reader, particularly if not a military historian. The footnotes also cross-refer to other parts of the diary, and summarise what is known about key individuals on the last occasion on which they are mentioned in the diary.
In the case of any bona fide first purchaser of a new copy of the book (i.e. not second hand), subject to proof of purchase (e.g. by production of a copy of the receipt), the editor of the book is willing (so long as she is physically and mentally capable of doing so, and has free access both to the email address below and her electronic copy of the complete transcript of the diaries) to spend (on an ex gratia basis) up to half an hour per purchased book responding to a request for information to:
email@example.com; the half hour will include considering the emailed request, searching the transcript, and responding to the request. The requests that can be responded to will therefore necessarily be relatively simple, e.g. Does he mention so-and-so or such-and-such, and how often? Typically, the intention will be to enable the enquirer to know to what extent there is additional information regarding the subject in question in the original diary held by the Imperial War Museum. There is no guarantee that the enquiry will produce any information at all, but, if information is available, it may be possible to give a page reference to the original.
The book can be purchased direct from the editor by sending an email enquiry to:
firstname.lastname@example.org, or it can be purchased online on the publisher’s website:
https://www.p3publications.com/NewP3/Norman%20Hall.html , which is the better option if payment is to be made by Paypal rather than cheque. Alternatively the Fusilier Museum located in Bury https://www.fusiliermuseum.com/ stocks the book, and other commercial outlets (high street or online) may also do so.
The Fusilier Museum purchases copies at cost, and retains the difference between the cost price and the sale price for its own benefit.
If the book is purchased for £15.00 plus P&P direct from the editor or through the publisher’s website, the editor will make a donation of £9.00 per book to charity. If the book is purchased through ordinary commercial outlets the amount available for donation will be approximately half that, as the retail outlet will expect to make a commercial profit on the transaction. The charity chosen to benefit will normally be a serviceman's charity such as Combat Stress or SSAFA, but it will also be possible for any person or organisation purchasing a minimum of 5 copies to nominate a registered charity to benefit from their purchase.
Up to the date when Norman was wounded on the Somme in September 1916, the published version of the diary is almost unabridged, and almost entirely in Norman’s own words, save that it has been edited with the following objectives in mind:
To achieve a fairly uniform narrative style, using, for the most part, complete, grammatically correct, sentences;
To use, for the most part, correct and consistent punctuation, while preserving immediacy by the prolific use of dashes for moments of high drama etc.;
To use conventional modern spelling for place names, and to correct obvious errors in, e.g. spelling, the inadvertent use of the wrong word, the omission of a word, and, occasionally (but only if clear), dates;
To achieve consistency in the way in which, e.g., dates, distances and ranks are written (ranks are written in full);
To achieve consistency in the use of capital letters, while preserving the use of capitals where they appear to be used for effect, e.g. to add emphasis;
To minimise the use of acronyms (which might involve excessive reference to a glossary),instead writing the words in full;
To achieve consistency in the use of headings and sub-headings;
To avoid overmuch repetition; so, for example, if there are two descriptions of essentially the same procedure or location, combining the key elements together in only one place in the diary;
In some places to run together a number of dated entries, so as to give a summary of what Norman was doing and/or thinking over a period of time, rather than a precise day by day account, for example for some periods when he was on leave or when no individually significant events were happening at the Front.
To omit some details that are unlikely to interest most readers today, and do not contribute to the overall picture, for example, shortening some of the lists of places visited on marches or train journeys, and omitting the list that Norman gives detailing all the units in the 51st Division, retaining details of only the units in his own Brigade; also, leaving out some chance meetings with people whose characters are not developed elsewhere, and also not including details of every football match etc. referred to in the diary, while preserving enough such details to give a good impression and understanding of the part that such social interaction and sporting activities played in the life of a person in Norman’s position;
To omit some details of merely incidental news of family and friends at home which have no particular bearing upon Norman’s experience of the War;
To omit some passages which distract from the narrative and are not personal to Norman, for example, some of the extensive quotations from Shakespeare’s Henry V.
Very occasionally to substitute a different word where the word that Norman used has either become archaic or acquired different connotations today from those it had at the time the diary was being written; only three words have been replaced, as follows:
“native”, which Norman uses in the sense of “from a non-western ethnic background”; and, as he is referring to Indians at the time, the word “Indian” has been substituted in the edited version of the diary;
“ripping” and “topping”, which in Norman’s time would have been in common usage amongst the middle classes as adjectives describing something good or enjoyable, but now tend to be used only to mimic or pillory a certain type of upper class “toff”; The words “great”, “ very fine”, “excellent”, or “splendid”, have been substituted, depending on the context
The remainder of the contents of Norman's diary from September 1916 to January 1919 are summarised in the published book in an Afterword.