Before Action - A Poet on the Western Front: William Noel Hodgson and the 9th Devons

Charlotte Zeepvat

Published by Pen and Sword, 2015
ISBN 10: 1783463759 / ISBN 13: 9781783463756
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Synopsis: William Noel Hodgson never intended to be a soldier; he wanted to write. The Great War made his reputation as a poet but it also killed him. This groundbreaking biography traces his path through the pre-war world and explores why he set his own hopes and plans aside to join the army. His story is personal but it evokes the experience of a generation. A hundred years on, Hodgson is not only remembered for his poetry. He has become one of the best-known casualties of the first day of the Battle of the Somme, the most deadly day in British military history. His own unit, the 9th Battalion, The Devonshire Regiment, lost well over half the men who went over the top that morning and every officer but one: dead, wounded or missing, most in the first half-hour. Before Action draws on Hodgson's own writing and on the unpublished letters and diaries of his fellow officers to recreate the experiences of a 1914 volunteer battalion. Through their eyes we see everything from the lighter moments of soldiering to battle at its most violent: at Loos, where Hodgson won the Military Cross, and the opening day of the Somme offensive. The book offers an important new explanation of what happened to the 9th Devons that fateful morning. It uncovers the hidden meanings behind some of Hodgson's most familiar poems, and its wider themes of family and friendship, war, grief and remembrance, are universal.

Review: "The story of William Noel Hodgson is quite well known and he is an easily recognized, tragic figure. He was born in 1893 and was killed on 1 July 1916. Before he volunteered in 1914, he had gained a first class honors degree from Oxford and during the first years of the war he proved his bravery by winning the Military Cross at Loos in 1915. He was already writing poetry using the pseudonym, Edward Melbourne and his posthumous verse, published in 1917, contains his most famous poem, written, as far as we know a few days before he was killed, 'Before Action'. Charlotte Zeepvat has done a brilliant job in bringing this young officer to life. The text itself is filled with extracts from all kinds of personal papers and letters and the dozens of photographs act as a perfect balance and give us some vivid and interesting contemporary images. Charlotte Zeepvat brings him to life in what is an analytical, detailed, yet very readable book. She starts with his childhood, describes his early life within his close family in late Victorian and Edwardian England and tries to understand why he and millions of others took the decision to fight for their country. She uses some very interesting and personal primary sources to describe the battles of Loos and the Somme and how Hodgson's battalion, the 9th Battalion, The Devonshire Regiment was affected. One of Zeepvat's qualities as a writer is her ability to use a vast range of primary sources. She not only uses and analyses Hodgson's own writing, but the unpublished letters and diaries of his friends and fellow officers. In fact she has found some important documents that describe, first hand, the horrific conditions during Loos and the Somme. There are dozens of excellent examples that describe awful, yet common, day to day incidents in a very stoical, understated way. The detailed descriptions of raids, skirmishes, wounds, deaths and battles are thoughtful and precise. It is a readable, well researched and scholarly book with a wide range of clearly listed sources as well as a useful bibliography. This story of a cheerful, sociable, kind hearted volunteer is, a 'universal' story of the war and should be widely read. It is a welcome and extremely useful addition to anyone's library."--Western Front Association

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Title: Before Action - A Poet on the Western Front:...
Publisher: Pen and Sword
Publication Date: 2015
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: New

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Book Description Hardback, 256 pagesPublished Price £19.99 William Noel Hodgson never intended to be a soldier; he wanted to write. The Great War made his reputation as a poet but it also killed him. This groundbreaking biography traces his path through the pre-war world and explores why he set his own hopes and plans aside to join the army. His story is personal but it evokes the experience of a generation. A hundred years on, Hodgson is not only remembered for his poetry. He has become one of the best-known casualties of the first day of the Battle of the Somme, the most deadly day in British military history. His own unit, the 9th Battalion, The Devonshire Regiment, lost well over half the men who went over the top that morning and every officer but one: dead, wounded or missing, most in the first half-hour. Before Action draws on Hodgson's own writing and on the unpublished letters and diaries of his fellow officers to recreate the experiences of a 1914 volunteer battalion. Through their eyes we see everything from the lighter moments of soldiering to battle at its most violent: at Loos, where Hodgson won the Military Cross, and the opening day of the Somme offensive. Seller Inventory # 27044

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Book Description Pen & Sword Books Ltd, United Kingdom, 2015. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. William Noel Hodgson never intended to be a soldier; he wanted to write. The Great War made his reputation as a poet but it also killed him. This groundbreaking biography traces his path through the pre-war world and explores why he set his own hopes and plans aside to join the army. His story is personal but it evokes the experience of a generation. A hundred years on, Hodgson is not only remembered for his poetry. He has become one of the best-known casualties of the first day of the Battle of the Somme, the most deadly day in British military history. His own unit, the 9th Battalion, The Devonshire Regiment, lost well over half the men who went over the top that morning and every officer but one: dead, wounded or missing, most in the first half-hour. Before Action draws on Hodgson's own writing and on the unpublished letters and diaries of his fellow officers to recreate the experiences of a 1914 volunteer battalion. Through their eyes we see everything from the lighter moments of soldiering to battle at its most violent: at Loos, where Hodgson won the Military Cross, and the opening day of the Somme offensive.The book offers an important new explanation of what happened to the 9th Devons that fateful morning. It uncovers the hidden meanings behind some of Hodgson's most familiar poems, and its wider themes of family and friendship, war, grief and remembrance, are universal. Seller Inventory # PAS9781783463756

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Book Description Pen & Sword Books Ltd, United Kingdom, 2015. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. William Noel Hodgson never intended to be a soldier; he wanted to write. The Great War made his reputation as a poet but it also killed him. This groundbreaking biography traces his path through the pre-war world and explores why he set his own hopes and plans aside to join the army. His story is personal but it evokes the experience of a generation. A hundred years on, Hodgson is not only remembered for his poetry. He has become one of the best-known casualties of the first day of the Battle of the Somme, the most deadly day in British military history. His own unit, the 9th Battalion, The Devonshire Regiment, lost well over half the men who went over the top that morning and every officer but one: dead, wounded or missing, most in the first half-hour. Before Action draws on Hodgson's own writing and on the unpublished letters and diaries of his fellow officers to recreate the experiences of a 1914 volunteer battalion. Through their eyes we see everything from the lighter moments of soldiering to battle at its most violent: at Loos, where Hodgson won the Military Cross, and the opening day of the Somme offensive.The book offers an important new explanation of what happened to the 9th Devons that fateful morning. It uncovers the hidden meanings behind some of Hodgson's most familiar poems, and its wider themes of family and friendship, war, grief and remembrance, are universal. Seller Inventory # PAS9781783463756

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