Book Review: Heroes of World War I: Fourteen Stories of Bravery


by Scott Addington

Stroud, Eng.: The History Press / Chicago: Trafalgar Square, 2016. Pp. 192. Illus., biblio. $18.95 paper. ISBN: 0750967560

George V’s Forgotten Warriors

The author of The Great War 100: The First World War in Infographics and other works on the events of 1914-1918 as well as several on other conflicts, Addington gives us short profiles of the 14 outstanding, albeit little-known British and Commonwealth soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen.

Addington wisely does not limit his choices to men who actually received decorations for valor, and in fact none his 14 were awarded the VC. But each was in one way or another certainly an heroic figure.

The profiled men range from common soldiers, to officers, and from some very colorful and unorthodox amateurs to several stolid career servicemen. So at the one end we have the colorful John “Barney” Hines (1873–1958), an Irish-born former British soldier and Royal Navy sailor, who enlisted as an Australian infantryman at 41 after a rather irregular life, and proved a deadly fighter and impressive souvenir hunter on the Western Front, surviving wounds, insubordination, and the war to die four decades later in his 80s. And at the other end of the spectrum, Addington gives us Captain Julian Henry Francis Grenfell (1888-1915), a pre-war cavalry officer born to privilege, who died of wounds after seven months at the Front, having earned a D.S.O. Some of these men died in the war, while others survived, and several of them later turn up as “retread” in World War II, garnering still more honors. Well written, the books major drawback if the lack of a few maps to indicate where these men had their adventures.

While not a learned study of men in combat, in Heroes of World War I Addington has given us an informative, even entertaining look at men in combat, worth a read for the scholar, the military professional, or the interested layman, and would be a good book for the curious novice on the subject or for a young reader.

Note: Heroes of World War I is also available in several e-editions

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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