Hidden away in the back of an old desk drawer was a dusty pile of school-style exercise books. In them were the recollections of a young officer who had fought with the Essex Regiment in the First World War from the Battle of Neuve Chapelle in 1915, through the mud and misery of Ypres, to see victory in 1918. Discovering the memoirs of Lieutenant Robert D'Arblay Gybbon-Monypenny was not the only surprise, what was even more remarkable was how well-written they were, how vividly life and death in the trenches was portrayed. That life in the trenches saw Robert hit by a sniper's bullet, buried in appalling mud-slides, choked in a chlorine gas attack and almost bayoneted by one of his own men, driven insane by the perpetual shelling. Inevitably, he was wounded as he led his men over the top at Arras, yet somehow he survived. To add to these riches were letters home from both Robert Moneypenny and his brother, and fellow officer, Phillips, who won the Military Cross with the Royal West Kent Regiment, but who was killed just four months before the end of the war.The collection of memoirs, letters and personal photographs are woven together to produce a gripping and powerfully frank testimony - one that will come to be recognised as amongst the finest personal accounts of the First World War ever to be published.
Karen Farrington is a former Fleet Street journalist turned author, researcher and editor. Among the many titles she has to her name are Hero of the Fleet, the biography of First World War sailor William Stone, A Short History of World War II, Victory in Europe and Victory in Japan. She edited the memoirs of veterans Henry Allingham and Claude Choules.