Friday, 2 November 2018

#BlogTour The Glorious Dead by Tim Atkinson

Today it's my turn on the BlogTour The Glorious Dead by Tim Atkinson. It's an emotional reminder of the sacrifices given during the Great War.

About the Author
Tim Atkinson is a teacher, author and award-winning blogger. He studied philosophy at the University of Hull and has worked variously as a filing clerk, lay-clerk, chain-man and schoolteacher. He was born in Colchester, brought up in Yorkshire and now lives in Lincolnshire.

Follow @dotterel @unbounders on Twitter
Buy The Glorious Dead

About the book
What happened when the Great War ended and the guns stopped firing? Who cleared the battlefields and buried the dead? It's 1918 and the war may be over but Lance-Corporal Jack Patterson ad the men of his platoon are still knee-deep in Flanders mud, searching the battlefields for the remain of comrades killed in action. But duty isn't all that's keeping Jack in Flanders. For one there is Katia, the daughter of a local publican, with whom he has struck up a romance. And then there is something else, a secret that lies buried in Jack's past, one he hopes isn't about to be dug up.

The Glorious Dead tells a forgotten story, one we should all be aware of because of its historical importance. It's the centenary of the end of the Great War, which makes this an even more poignant read.

There won't be many among us who haven't read about the Great War or seen documentaries and films about the subject. It's still part of the curriculum in the UK and the majority of secondary schools (high schools) offer trips to France and Belgium to visit the war memorials, the graveyards and sites of the battles.

We hear and speak about the Lost Generation. The many men and women who lost their lives fighting for our country. Fathers, brothers, husbands and often children who have given the ultimate sacrifice to keep our country safe and other European countries safe from the oppression of an invading force.

What we don't talk about, and I can imagine many are still unaware, is of the time after the war ended and the logistics of laying the dead to rest. This book tells the story of the men, the majority of whom were survivors of the Great War, tasked with burying the dead and recording the names, places and plots for the government and their loved ones. Two years after the Armistice they were still collecting, recording and consolidating remains and graves.

Imagine having to dig up the remains and corpses of fellow soldiers from their final resting place in a muddy field filled with thousands of fallen men, and having to transport and rebury them at a site specially chosen for them. Going through fields square by square to remove the dead, because the decomposing bodies were poisoning the ground and making the soil useless for the farmers who lived there for instance.

Logistics and practicality seems such a cruel way to speak about the dead, and yet ultimately these were decisions that had to be made. One could argue however about the enforced rule about soldiers of the crown never being returned to their country, also a decision made out of practicality. As mentioned in the book, it would have destroyed the morale of the troops and the people left behind if they had been confronted by mass graves, huge cemeteries and piles of bodies returning from the battlefields. Other countries exhumed and brought many of their dead home.

I could talk about the content of this book for ages. There is a story within the traumatic historical facts, but for me the characters took a secondary place, because the surroundings and the real and very tragic circumstances were more important. In fact I can imagine this being its own Band of Brothers, the years beyond the Armistice. Perhaps the true story of those who stayed behind. The unsung bravery of the men who spent years digging for badges, caps and bones to identify who died where, and those who laid them to rest overseas - a long way from home.

It's an emotional journey through the past and a reminder of the sacrifices many people gave for us, both the dead and the ones who came home. Survivor's guilt is an awful thing. It's a brutally honest and captivating read.

Buy The Glorious Dead at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.
Publisher: Unbound (1 Nov. 2018)

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