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Henry Owens's Great War diary provides a vivid and complete narrative, seen from the perspective of an army doctor, of what it was like to live and fight in the trenches of the Western Front. Owens, a member of the original British Expeditionary Force, the 'Old Contemptibles', was among the first British soldiers to set foot in France. He spent the next four years in the front line as a doctor and a diarist, an eyewitness to some of the most bitter and violent struggles of the greatest conflict the world had ever seen.
Over the course of those years, he was involved in virtually all the major battles the British fought during the war, in Flanders, around Ypres, along the Somme. He cared for the soldiers of all three armies – British, French and German. Frequently he was under direct fire from artillery, machine guns and rifles, and he faced the same risks and hardships as any combatant. His experiences in the trenches, in ambulances, at first-aid posts and in hospitals gave him a unique vantage point from which to observe the brutality of the fighting and the treatment of the wounded and dying.
Henry Owens's writing, edited and with a full introduction by John Hutton, gives us an inside view of the duties and experiences of a doctor tending the fighting troops, and it paints a graphic portrait of the daily lives of the men themselves.
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