A Singular Day on the Somme – The Casualties of the Liverpool Pals 1 July, 1916. By Joe Devereux
This book costs £12 and all proceeds go to the Liverpool Pals Memorial Fund Association.
The book is an A4 paperback with about 200 pages, the cover is glossy and simply designed with a suitably sombre look. The back cover has a well-chosen illustration and very moving quote demonstrating the level of care that has gone into producing the whole book.
The book begins with an introduction and acknowledgements (with a few familiar names!) then opens with an illustrated section about the formation of the Liverpool Pals and a concise description of how they were situated on 1st July 1918 followed by an extract from E. Wyrall’s ‘The History of the King’s Regiment (Liverpool) 1914-1919’ and selected war diaries. The section ends with a page of simple statistics about the casualties of the KLR on this ‘singular day’. As it can be assumed that most readers of this book would have at least a passing interest in the Pals, the author has been able to keep the background section concise, it is a testament to his depth of understanding of his subject that this concise account answers all the questions a newcomer to the topic is likely to have.
The main body of the book is the Roll of Honour. This section contains an entry for each casualty, organised alphabetically. The entries are elegantly arranged with the surname, name, rank, battalion and age being prominently displayed above a photograph (where available) followed by biographical information about the soldier. The author’s vast amount of research really shows here as almost every page contains photographs of the men whether from family collections or grainy images from newspaper notices. Throughout the book the layout is clean and uncluttered; the occasionally interspersed images, statistics and facts do not intrude on the main purpose of the Roll of Honour.
The biographical information on the men varies from a single paragraph to over a page and is drawn from a wide variety of sources. Details about the men’s families (including census returns) and their lives before enlistment (schooling, scouting, employment etc) balance out the military details to present a more rounded picture of these individuals and the social history of the Pals Battalions that they represent. The author also pays detailed attention to their final resting places and/or where they are commemorated in Europe and in Liverpool.
The main Roll of Honour is followed by a smaller section, a Roll of Honour of the Pals who later died of wounds which were most likely sustained on 1st July 1916. Their entries have the same format and attention to detail as the main Roll of Honour.
The book ends with a very detailed Index which includes places, Liverpool addresses, cemeteries and memorials, firms and companies, schools and churches mentioned in the roll of honour. For anyone interested in the social history or the Liverpool-geography of these casualties this index is invaluable and makes interesting reading in its own right.
I would recommend this book as an excellent gift for anyone interested in the Liverpool Pals.
The St James War Memorial Projecthttp://www.thewarmemorial.blogspot.co.uk
The Holy Trinity War Memorial Projecthttp://holytrinitywarmemorial.blogspot.co.uk