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Lancaster in the Great War

John Fidler
From “Your Towns and Cities in the Great War” series.

This is an excellent and growing series of books from Pen & Sword. Obviously, the standard and scope of each book depends on the skill and interests of the author, as well as the characteristics of the town, city or area described.

Lancaster in the Great War is written by a retired history teacher, who did his National Service as an RAF navigator. He has also written a history of Lancaster Royal Grammar School and of the six Royal Navy ships to carry the name HMS Lancaster since 1694.

At the time of World War One, Lancaster was a town, not yet a city. It was the depot town of King's Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment), KORLR, based in Bowerham Barracks, buildings which became St Martin's College of Education, and then Lancaster campus of University of Cumbria. So, there is particularly careful coverage of battalions of this regiment – 1st (line) 2nd(line), 3rd (reserve), 4th (territorial, based at Ulverston), 5th (territorial, based at Lancaster, became Pals) and 11th Bantams. Other military units, including Army Service Corps, Cheshire Regiment, King's Liverpool Regiment, King's Royal Rifles, Lancashire Fusiliers, Lancashire Yeomanry, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, Northumberland Fusiliers, Royal Army Medical Corps, Royal Engineers, Welsh Fusiliers and Yorkshire Regiment are mentioned, but are not listed in index, so their connection to Lancaster takes some effort to discover. Many are mentioned in the Casualties chapters as the units with which men from Lancaster served and died.

The Officers Training Corps, at Royal Grammar School, is well covered, as might be expected from an author who taught there. The photograph of the stone walls and reused railway sleepers of the OTC rifle range, opened on Empire Day, 24 May 1917, is scary to those of us more accustomed to late twentieth century ranges.

Naturally, the experience of HMS Lancaster and ship's company during World War One, is well covered. Largely uneventful, she became flag ship of Pacific Squadron and was decommissioned in 1919, broken up at nearby Preston.

Other aspects of life on the home front, including hospitals, aid packages for service personnel, war savings, education etc are well covered.

For completeness, to assist people considering buying this book, I include a list of chapters below:

1. Lancaster in 1914

2. The Coming of War

3. Casualties 1914 – 1915

4. The Home Front 1914 – 1916

5. The Lancaster Schools

6. Casualties 1916 – 1918

7. Decorations for Gallantry

8. The Home Front 1916 – 1918

9. The Coming of Peace

10. The Aftermath of War

4.5 out of 5.

Paperback ISBN 1473846110. Cover price £9.99.

Publisher Pen & Sword. Paperback published 2016.
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