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Neil Weir died in 1967, but it was not until 2009 that his grandson, Mike Burns, discovered his diary and letters among some packing trunks he had been left, and learnt that his grandfather had served as an officer in the 10th Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders for much of the First World War.
A captain and company commander at the tender age of nineteen, he fought at Loos, Ypres, Vimy Ridge, Ploegstreert and the Somme. At Ploegsteert Wood, Weir's sector contained one of the largest mines ever dug under the German trenches and here the sister battalion he fought alongside was commanded by Winston Churchill. At Vimy Ridge he was with General Furse where a dud 18lb shell landed at their feet and on the Somme, he was recommended for a D.S.O. and mentioned in Despatches for his role in the attack on Longueval in July 1916 which General Haig called 'the best day we have had in this War'.
This was where the troops took up their jump-off positions at night, guided by tape laid out in 'no man's land', and, protected by an early use of a 'creeping' artillery barrage, they advanced towards the German front line. Badly injured in the trenches later that year, Weir went on to train other young officers for the War, and then worked at the War Office in Whitehall where he went on into the section that dealt with the British intervention in the Russian Civil War.
In the diary, and the numerous accompanying letters, we hear the authentic voice of a First World War soldier and get an insight into his experiences on the Western Front and elsewhere. This book is one of the most fascinating and personal accounts ever published of the First World War as experienced by the men who fought it.
As featured in the Western Daily Press and Mendip Times.
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