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Bullets & Billets

Bruce Bairnsfather

Book Overview: 

A front-line view of life in the trenches of the Western Front in the early part of 1914-1915. Told by Lieutenant (later Captain) Bruce Bairnsfather, cartoonist, whose Alf, Bert, and Old Bill were forerunners to Bill Mauldin and his Willie and Joe in World War II. This volume traces Bairnsfather's service as a machine gun officer from its inception until he was removed from the battlefield by the intense shelling during the Second Battle of Ypres (April 1915). It is told with a wry, ironic, grim humor often possessed by those who have endured shells, bullets, floods, mud, bully beef, maconochie, and a surfeit of plum and apple jam. His participation in the unofficial Christmas Truce of 1914 (for which he was investigated in view of a court-martial) is documented as well as the horrors of war at close quarters.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .ry which we have never been able to examine in the day time, and get familiar with, to negotiate. This is before we get to the high road, and really start for billets.

I had the different machine-gun sections to collect from their various guns, and this not until the relieving sections had all turned up. It was a good two hours' job getting all the sections with their guns, ammunition and various extras finally collected together in the dark a mile back, ready to put all the stuff in the limbers, and so back to billets. When all was fixed up I gave the order and off we started, plodding along back down the narrow, dreary road towards our resting-place. But it was quite a cheerful tramp, knowing as we did that we were going to four days' comparative rest, and, anyway, safety.

On we went down the long, flat, narrow roads, occasionally looking round to see the faint flicker of a star shell showing over the tops of the trees, and to think momentarily of . . . Read More

Community Reviews

Bruce Bairnsfather successfully managed to balance humor and introspection with the horrific realities of the war in this marvelous memoir.

Well, that was quite a story. Told as a first-hand, on the spot account of WWII France by an English officer named Bruce Bairnsfather. It was my first of any type of war related writing, and I found it pretty amazing. Not only was he was matter of fact about everything that he was seeing and doing,

I love this book, Bruce Bairnsfather is a famous satirist artist of WWI creating the character ol' Bill.
This is a memoir of his time in WWI working on the front with his machine gunners.
You can feel both his struggle and his humor on the entire situation.

I recommend reading this as well as readin

Quite different than any other firsthand account of WWI. It's funny (I know!) and it was just a real delight (I know!) to read.