Who Do You Think You Are?

I Shall Not Be Away Long The First World War Letters Of Lt Col Charles Bartlett

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Edited by Andrew Tatham

Arvo Veritas, 464 pages, £29.50

Five years ago, Andrew Tatham published A Group Photograph, about his research into a First World War photo of the officers of the 8th Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment. His research led him to a bundle of letters written between August 1915 and March 1917 by one of the officers, Charles Frederick

Napier Bartlett.

As well as transcribi­ng the letters, Tatham has surrounded them with comments, annotation­s and images that help the reader enter Bartlett’s world. The title

Sarah Williams

is the editor of of this book comes from his first letter. “I was very sorry not to see you at the station but never mind I shall not be away long,” he writes to his wife Peggy. Bartlett came from a privileged background and sometimes sounds every bit the clichéd officer, but his gripes about the cold, the food and the lack of sleep are no less real and as the war progresses his ‘keep smiling’ attitude is strained. His marriage also suffers, although letters from Peggy have to be inferred. When the letters end, Tatham continues the story and includes short biographie­s of those mentioned.

I Shall Not Be Away Long is a fascinatin­g insight into the life of a First World War officer, and beautifull­y designed to boot.

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine

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The book features helpful annotation­s, as well as a foreword by William Boyd
WW1 The book features helpful annotation­s, as well as a foreword by William Boyd
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