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'These intolerably nameless names', as Siegfried Sassoon referred to them, should never be forgotten or ignored, and yet they cascade so relentlessly that they are often difficult to grapple with; within a very short space of time we are inclined to switch off; we soon start to lose our awareness of individual names as we become overwhelmed by the sheer torrent of them; our senses simply become overloaded to the point where we are only aware of the enormity of what stands before us. We can no more get to know the men behind the names than we can get to know people by reading their names in a telephone directory, and yet it is possible to breathe life into 'these intolerably nameless names' by uncovering and telling their stories. This book aims to do just that. It takes the visitor effortlessly through each of the four memorials in turn, highlighting hundreds of individual men and officers and explaining who they were, what they did, and how they died.
The four memorials covered in the book are the Arras Memorial, the Canadian National Memorial on Vimy Ridge, the Vis-en-Artois Memorial and the Royal Flying Services Memorial. The author takes the reader through the officers and men in the order in which they appear on the memorials in this 'Who's Who' guide that also provides detailed coverage of gallantry awards and citations and is a superb point of reference for anyone visiting Arras and its battlefields.
Among the many characters and personalities are two brothers with a choice over whether to fight for Britain or Germany, a man who played a key part in deciding which aircraft to commission for the RAF in the run up to the Second World War, a man who gave Winston Churchill a flying lesson, a footballer who played for both Manchester City and Manchester United and who was never far from controversy, a man whose conscience was finally swayed by the sinking of the Lusitania, the man who created 'Winnipeg' Crater, a man who crossed the snow-bound Andes in order to enlist and many, many others.
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