‘Padre McShane says the reason I was not given a Brigade was for being so outspoken at Loos. He said that if that were so, I wear the invisible cross of military glory.’
Colonel Graham Chaplin, commander of the Cameron Highlanders, wrote letters from the trenches almost daily to the wife he had married just before the war began. Even if he had no time to write, he would at least send a postcard to reassure her he was ‘Quite well’. These personal and loving letters give a rare insight into the mind of a serving officer, his worries about his men and his family back home, his concern for the progress of the war (however cautiously phrased) and his comments on the growing list of friends dead or wounded.
Most startling of all though, these letter finally reveal the shocking truth of why it was that a man endorsed by so many of his fellow officers, and respected and trusted by his men, wasn’t promoted out of the trenches until 1917 – the only officer to whom this happened.
Andrew Davidson, author of the highly praised Fred’s War, analyses Chaplin’s unique status and weaves around his letters a fascinating portrait of a soldier’s life and of the war on the Western Front.
“It is indeed Chaplin’s uncompromising stance towards both superiors and subordinates, as well as the candour of his letters, that make this book so compelling. Besides history, it is a timeless lesson in the art, practice, rewards and perils of command, and of the nature of morale in battle.” - Allan Mallinson, The Spectator