Forward Douglas Harry Butler was my maternal grandfather. He died in September 1978 shortly after committing his memories of the Great War to paper. He was 82. On the centenary of the outbreak of World War One it seems appropriate to bring these Memories to a wider audience. Most of us born after WW2 have enjoyed what has proved to bean unparalleled period of comparative peace. The images and facts surrounding the Great War are often beyond imagination or comprehension. Reading a personal account of events ‘at the front seen through the eyes of a teenager is extraordinary enough but it then takes on a surreal twist when you read and I paraphrase -‘boring most of the time with occasion moments of terror -the observations of a nineteen year old ‘veteran’. In common with many of those who survived this ‘war to end all wars there was always a reluctance to talk about their experiences let alone write a personal account almost 60 years after its close. We can be grateful that he found the clarity and strength of mind to recall this period and transcribe a deeply personal account that transcends the ‘facts delivered by the Press of the day and subsequent historians none of whom could begin to appreciate the reality of life in the trenches. Hopefully you will be able to look into the minds of those young men who were the true heroes many volunteering for a war with little knowledge of the horrors they would face but then facing them with extraordinary courage and fortitude nonetheless. In editing his ‘Interlude ashe refers to it I have been faithful to his prose and writing style only introducing chapter headings and formatting for ease of reading correcting the occasional confusion over dates and the understandable reiteration (he typed the original as a rough overdraft at least five years and never found the will to review his work). My abiding thought always gravitates to the realisation that my own existence hung by a tenuous thread: my Grandfathers extraordinary survival. As you will discover he was certainly lucky. Let this quiet unassuming man capture your imagination and take you into a world few of us have had to witness.********* I am sure he would have wished to have this book dedicate to his beloved wife Liz his children my mother Ruth and Uncle Michael and the subsequent Butler-linked generations who can all be grateful of the opportunity to have played some part in this world only because of the fickle finger of Fate and Lady Luck. Simon Hadman.
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