From Geordie Land to No mans land
In writing his 'one and only' book, George Elder, a proud Geordie, detailed
many of his experiences endured whilst serving in the British Army during
World War 1. Many of his tales would not have been appreciated by his peers, but they actually happened and would have been recognised by the common soldier. From Geordie Land to No Mans land was written to inform his family, friends and anyone buying his book of the real life events that occurred. How an ordinary man survived 4 years in the front line experiencing the horrors of war that most of us could not imagine, enduring many privations such as mud, cold, hunger, thirst and fear of imminent death all around him. George maintained his spirit by forming a close bond with his fellow Geordies even refusing to be transferred to Hospital in case he could not return to his original unit. His description of the intensity of shell fire that we have seen in pictures of the battlefields of Flanders and the Somme bring to life how men endured the unendurable, how men lived as animals, how men coped with all the privations of the battlefield. What he doesn't describe is how he coped with life immediately after the war, when he returned to civilian life. His post war diary did detail the problems his family faced with sickness and lack of money, but as we are now aware of the post Falklands and the Gulf wars the physiological effects on men is a story in itself. Coping with ordinary life after 4 years of war living on the edge in fear of imminent death would have been a major issue for George and his family.
"From Gordie Land to No Mans Land" by George Russell Elder. A British family man joined the artillery reserve in WW1 and went on to experience all the horrors of that war. Converting his descendents tackledday book into a story about his war-time experiences. Aside from the obvious differences in formality of language there are also the barriers to stepping back in time almost a hundred years. They did a lot of research so they could understand his story better themselves. That War is totally different from any since. The privation and horror are muted but stark. It taught me a lot about the battlefield conditions. The man did a remarkable job recording his life at the time. Taking sometimes disjointed notes and putting them in some semblance of order is a huge undertaking. I liked it from an historical perspective. I applaud there effort and purpose. I recommend it for serious military historians as a work that will without question add to their understanding of WWI, especially if they are interested on the personal level.
Reviewed by: Mike Mullins (2012)