Captain Crouch had served in the Territorial Army for some years before the cataclysmic struggle in Europe began in 1914. Unlike all the other belligerent parties, Britain did not, and still does not, have standing military conscription; the Regular Army of full-time highly trained volunteers provide the first line soldiers. Bolstering the first line soldiers were the part-time volunteers of the Territorial Army, providing additional manpower and more limited service. However, during both World Wars the men of the Territorial Army were in dire necessity of the time pressed forward into the line as fighting divisions, the men eager to bring the fight to the enemy.
Our Author’s war time service in the Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry started the moment that war broke out, from August 1914 to March 1915; he and his men trained to reach a peak of efficiency. This moment could not come too soon: the first seven divisions of the Regular Army that had formed the initial expeditionary forces had ceased to exist in the face of overwhelming number of the enemy. The Territorials and other Reserve forces from all over the British empire rushed to France and were plunged into the thick of the fighting amongst the trenches.
Captain Crouch’s letters form an unbroken stream between the mobilization, and are in equal part illuminating and evocative of the life of a young man who fell in service to his country. Although place-names were omitted from his letters due to censorship of the time , he was interred at Pozières British Cemetery, Ovillers-La Boisselle, meaning that he probably fell in this area during the battle of the Somme.
An engaging read.
Author — Captain Lionel William Crouch (1886-1916)
Text taken, whole and complete, from the edition published for private circulation 1917.
Original Page Count – 158 pages.