Somme Mud

Somme Mud

Book rating: 05 Paperback

By (author) E.P.F. Lynch, Edited by Will Davies

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Product description

'It's the end of the 1916 winter and the conditions are almost unbelievable. We live in a world of Somme mud. We sleep in it, work in it, fight in it, wade in it and many of us die in it. We see it, feel it, eat it and curse it, but we can't escape it, not even by dying...'. Edward Lynch enlisted when he was just 18 - one of thousands of fresh-faced men who were proudly waved off by the crowds as they embarked for France. It was 1916 and the majority had no idea of the reality of the Somme trenches, of the traumatised soldiers they would encounter there, of the innumerable, awful contradictions of war.Private Lynch was one of those who survived, and on his return home in 1919, wrote "Somme Mud" in pencil in over 20 school exercise books, perhaps in the hope of coming to terms with all that he had witnessed there. Written from the perspective of an ordinary 'Tommy' and told with dignity, candour and surprising wit, "Somme Mud" is a testament to the human spirit, for out of the mud that threatened to suck out a man's soul rises a compelling story of humanity and friendship. It is a rare and precious find.

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Author information

Born in 1898, E P F Lynch served in France with the First Australian Imperial Force from 1916-19. On his return to Australia he became a teacher, but in 1939 joined the militia before transferring to the regular army where he was Officer Commanding the NSW jungle training school. After the war, he returned to teaching. He died in 1980. Will Davies is a film-maker and military historian. He lives in Sydney.

Customer reviews

By Kerry O Boustead 05 Jul 2010 5

Being an amateur military historian and having read many books on WW1 I have to say that this is the best book about the war from the level of the average infantryman.

But I take offence that he is called a "Tommy". Plenty of UK soldiers have their histories and fought very well of the western front but this fellow was an 18YO Australian volunteer who was part of the 45th battalion which went into Messines Ridge with 560 men and officers and came out with 22 left.

I have recently covered the US marines in Pelieu and the exploits of the infamous Chesty Puller there who destroyed his own regiment by the constant command of "attack!! attack!! attack!! and you can see the WW1 parallels here where the 45 remnants of the 45th were ordered to attack 2 German pillboxes resulting in only 22 surviving. This sort of barbaric order was the hallmark of WW1 and unfortunately had not totally died out by WW2, and especially so in the Eastern Front and in the Pacific.

Necessary war is bad enough but the first job of an officer is to look after his men then to attempt to achieve his orders often given by staff officers in comfortable and safe bunkers who only have an eye on their next promotion or their next medal (like MacArthur's "Medal of Honour"..what a joke and an insult to every US serviceman)l
The only good thing about the WW1 Australian casualties is that we never again allowed the British to have our troops massacred as they did and then claim a British victory. But then we allowed MacArthur to do it in WW2 and claim an American victory.

I cannot recommend this book too highly as an insight into what those poor sods all had to endure and on both sides. Not for weak stomachs.

Review quote

"As haunting and graphic a description of trench warfare as any I have read... this is a warrior's tale... a great read and a moving eye-witness account of a living hell from which few emerged unscathed" Daily Express "Compares to All Quiet on the Western Front... Both are front-line memoirs of men steadily becoming more professional and more disillusioned... Both are magnificently written" -- Prof William Gammage "Here is the stink and stench of war... horrifying, scarifying and very humbling as well" Herald Sun "Brilliantly evokes the terror, horror, elation, friendship, gore and depression that made a combat infantryman's life so dangerous, so traumatic and, if he survived, so memorable" Courier Mail "His observations on life in the line and of his emotions in a battle strike a chord. Difficult to put down - it has the feel of being written by a soldier for soldiers" Soldier Magazine