A Gunner's Great War, Ian Ronayne

A Gunner's Great War, Ian Ronayne

A Gunner's Great War, Ian Ronayne

A Gunner's Great War, Ian Ronayne

This book is based on the journal of Clarence Ahier, a Jersey man who volunteered for the British Army in 1915 and ended up in the artillery. It was written soon after the end of the war, but never published. It was eventually discovered by the Sociéte Jersiaise, who contacted Ian Ronayne. He has produced the supporting text and done some sparse editing on Clarence's original text.

Clarence had quite a varied military career. He reached the Western Front in April 1916. His first experience of a major battle came on the Somme. Most of 1917 was spent at Ypres, and Clarence fought in the Third Battle of Ypres later in the year. In the spring of 1918 he was wounded by gas, and this ended his time on the Western Front. When he eventually recovered he was sent to India to form part of the British garrison, serving through a period of high tension. As a result we get a view into three different aspects of the soldier's experience of the First World War - first the life of the artilleryman on the Western Front, then the fate of the wounded and finally the life of a member of the Imperial garrison (in this case lasting into the early post-war period and the stresses of demobilisation).

Away from his journal Clarence is a fairly obscure figure - we don’t know much about his pre-war life or his post-war life and ironically the only photo that can be securely identified comes from his Second World War identity card, issued when the Channel Islands were occupied by the Germans.

Ronayne has chosen to embed Clarence's journal in a wider history of the First World War, focusing on those areas that directly affected him, starting with the outbreak of the war and the decision to volunteer. Each of Clarence's battles is thus placed in the context of the wider struggle, explaining why he was fighting where he was and the impact of each battle. The same approach is taken to his time in India, where the growing independence movement is examined, as is the Amritsar massacre of 1919, which happened while Clarence was in India and greatly affected his time there. The section on the tensions caused by a fairly badly bodged demobilisation process is also of interest.

Chapters
1 - Fair and Square
2 - With a Terrifying Roar
3 - The Terrific Struggle
4 - Nearer my God to Thee
5 - A Man Costs Nothing
6 - From the Front and Two Sides
7 - The Most Terrible Shelling
8 - Too Good to be True
9 - Absolute Misery
10 - Parade in the Adriatic
11 - The Land of Mosquitoes
12 - Distinctly Hostile
13 - Four Years, One Month and One Day

Author: Ian Ronayne
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 181
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2012



Similar authors to follow

Born in 1966, Ian Ronayne was raised and educated in the island of Jersey.

Now married with two children, he divides time between the demands of

family, work, and an abiding passion for history.

Some years back, this interest moved on to the First World War and more

specifically on Jersey's participation in that terrible conflict. From a

detailed research of this almost forgotten period emerged Ian's first book,

'Ours: The Jersey Pals in the First World War', as well as a number of

articles and studies including one published in the renowned UK magazine

Today, Ian's research of Jersey in the First World War continues alongside


Author Updates

If the First World War had not happened when it did, Channel Islander Clarence Ahier would almost certainly have led a mostly unremarkable life. But it did, and in October 1915, at just twenty-three-years-old, Clarence left his home and volunteered to join the British Army. He would spend the next two and half years serving as an artilleryman on the Western Front.

Now this in itself is not remarkable—millions of other young men did the same thing. But Clarence did do something that set him apart from almost all his contemporaries: from the very beginning of his time at the front, he kept a meticulously written journal.

Having lain unnoticed for years, the journal was recently discovered in a collection of dusty ephemera handed to a local history society. It consists of around twenty-five thousand words with a focus on Clarence’s experience during the Battle of the Somme, in the fighting around Ypres, and, after he was wounded for the second time, the journey to India and his time there as a member of the garrison. Additional explanatory text by Ian Ronayne puts Clarence’s experiences in the context of the wider war that would transform him—and the world.

“A very useful introduction to the Great War . . . An excellent read.” —War History Online


A Gunner's Great War, Ian Ronayne - History

+£4.50 UK Delivery or free UK delivery if order is over £35
(click here for international delivery rates)

Need a currency converter? Check XE.com for live rates

Other formats available - Buy the Hardback and get the eBook for free! Price
A Gunner's Great War ePub (9.2 MB) Add to Basket £4.99
A Gunner's Great War Kindle (958.1 KB) Add to Basket £4.99

If the First World War had not happened when it did, Channel Islander Clarence Ahier would almost certainly have led a mostly unremarkable life. But it did, and in October 1915, aged just 23-years-old, Clarence left his home and volunteered to join the British Army. He would spend the next two and half years serving as an artilleryman on the Western Front.

Now this in itself is not remarkable - millions of other young men did the same thing. But Clarence Ahier did do something remarkable, and it was something to set him out from almost all his contemporaries. From the very beginning of his time at the front, he wrote a graphic and moving account of his experiences of war.

Clarence's ultimate plans for his meticulously written journal are unknown. But having lain unnoticed for years, it was recently discovered in a collection of dusty ephemera handed to a local history society.

The complete journal consists of around 25,000 words, with a focus on Clarence's experience during the Battle of the Somme, in the fighting around Ypres, and, after he was wounded for the second time, the journey to India and his time there as a member of the garrison. This will be supported by additional explanatory text.

This is a good account of an ordinary artillaryman's war which benefits from the perspective and research brought to it by Ian Ronayne.

Paul Nixon

What good fortune because not only was the story of Clarence Ahier saved and now made available, but Ronayne had provided much supporting text.

The Bulletin

A Gunner’s Great War is a graphic and moving account of an artilleryman’s experience on the Western Front. An Interesting book for those who like artillery and WWI

English Heritage

Born in 1966, Ian Ronayne was raised and educated in the island of Jersey. Now married with two children, he divides time between the demands of family, work, and an abiding passion for history.

Some years back, this interest moved on to the First World War and more specifically on Jersey's participation in that terrible conflict. Today, Ian's research of Jersey in the First World War continues alongside further writing projects.


“A graphic and moving account of an artilleryman’s experience on the Western Front. An interesting book for those who like artillery and WWI” (English Heritage).

If the First World War had not happened when it did, Channel Islander Clarence Ahier would almost certainly have led a mostly unremarkable life. But it did, and in October 1915, at just twenty-three-years-old, Clarence left his home and volunteered to join the British Army. He would spend the next two and half years serving as an artilleryman on the Western Front.

Now this in itself is not remarkable—millions of other young men did the same thing. But Clarence did do something that set him apart from almost all his contemporaries: from the very beginning of his time at the front, he kept a meticulously written journal.

Having lain unnoticed for years, the journal was recently discovered in a collection of dusty ephemera handed to a local history society. It consists of around twenty-five thousand words with a focus on Clarence’s experience during the Battle of the Somme, in the fighting around Ypres, and, after he was wounded for the second time, the journey to India and his time there as a member of the garrison. Additional explanatory text by Ian Ronayne puts Clarence’s experiences in the context of the wider war that would transform him—and the world.

“A very useful introduction to the Great War . . . An excellent read.” —War History Online


A Gunner's Great War, Ian Ronayne - History

Need a currency converter? Check XE.com for live rates

Other formats available - Buy the Hardback and get the eBook for free! Price
Amateur Gunners Hardback Add to Basket £19.99
Amateur Gunners ePub (5.9 MB) Add to Basket £4.99

After training at St John's Wood in London and in Exeter, Alexander Douglas Thorburn was posted to the BEF in France, joining the 2/22nd London (Howitzer) Battery, Royal Field Artillery as a subaltern officer. After service in the Vimy Ridge sector, with his division, the 60th (2/2nd London) Division, he crossed the Mediterranean to join the British Army in Salonika. Following a further move in mid-1917, Thorburn arrived in Palestine where he saw service with the 74th (Yeomanry) Division during the advance on Jerusalem. A final move in 1918 took the now Captain Thorburn back to the Western Front to take part in the Advance to Victory during the closing months of the war.

After the war, Thorburn wrote an account of his military service between 1916 and 1918, recording his experiences in France, Greece and Palestine as well as his initial training in England. He also wrote a series of observations on life as a gunner during the First World War. Both the account and observations were published as a book, Amateur Gunners, in 1933 by William Potter of Liverpool. Today, the book is out of print.

In addition to the book, of which a small number of copies still exist of course, there are an extensive series of private letters written by Thorburn while on active service to his mother, father and other relatives. The letters are in the possession of Thorburn's only grandson.

Together, the book and letters offer a fascinating insight into the life of a First World War artillery officer. Lucidly written in a candid style, Thorburn shows excellent observation, description and narration skills. While Amateur Gunners itself is worthy of reprint, when combined with Thorburn's private letters and historical context from author Ian Ronayne, this book offers a unique look at a gunner's experience during the Great War.

Combined with Thorburn's private letters and historical context from author Ian Ronayne, this offers a unique look at a gunner's experience during the Great War.

Jersey Evening Post

Offers a unique look at a gunner's experience during the Great War.

Jersey Evening Post

Born in 1966, Ian Ronayne was raised and educated in the island of Jersey. Now married with two children, he divides time between the demands of family, work, and an abiding passion for history.

Some years back, this interest moved on to the First World War and more specifically on Jersey's participation in that terrible conflict. Today, Ian's research of Jersey in the First World War continues alongside further writing projects.


A Gunner's Great War: An Artilleryman's Experience from the Somme to the Subcontinent

If the First World War had not happened when it did, Channel Islander Clarence Ahier would almost certainly have led a mostly unremarkable life. But it did, and in October 1915, at just twenty-three-years-old, Clarence left his home and volunteered to join the British Army. He would spend the next two and half years serving as an artilleryman on the Western Front.

Now this in itself is not remarkable—millions of other young men did the same thing. But Clarence did do something that set him apart from almost all his contemporaries: from the very beginning of his time at the front, he kept a meticulously written journal.

Having lain unnoticed for years, the journal was recently discovered in a collection of dusty ephemera handed to a local history society. It consists of around twenty-five thousand words with a focus on Clarence’s experience during the Battle of the Somme, in the fighting around Ypres, and, after he was wounded for the second time, the journey to India and his time there as a member of the garrison. Additional explanatory text by Ian Ronayne puts Clarence’s experiences in the context of the wider war that would transform him—and the world.

“A very useful introduction to the Great War . . . An excellent read.” —War History Online


Inever knew Clarence Ahier. He left this life soon after I arrived and long before my interest in military history evolved from curious fascination to outright passion. I like to think that it was this passion – openly declared for all to know by then – which led to that telephone call a few years back from the library of the Société Jersiaise. The journal of a First World War soldier had turned up in a donated box of odds and ends – would I like to take a look? It was the first time I came across Clarence Percy Ahier and his journal. Looking back, I am certainly glad that we were introduced.

Clarence Ahier’s original journal presents itself very well to the reader. Handwritten in a bold and legible style and constructed from meaningful and balanced sentences, it contains clear and insightful descriptions of his time as a First World War soldier in France and Belgium and, at the end of the war, as a member of the garrison in British India. It was written after the war ended, apparently during the late 1920s or early 1930s, by which time Clarence had left the army and returned to his home in the British Channel Island of Jersey. The reason for its writing is unclear. Was it to capture the personal memories from this period of powerful and life-changing experiences while they remained clear? Or perhaps the intention was to share it with family and friends, or to preserve for posterity. Possibly the plan was always to turn the journal into a book at some point, but for reasons unknown it never happened. I like to think that it was the latter, and that this book is therefore fulfilling Clarence’s ambition and vision. The question I found myself pondering at the start of writing this book, however, was how best to present that vision today.

Whatever Clarence’s intentions were, he was writing in a world far removed from the one we live in now, and addressing a very different audience. During the 1920s and 1930s, the First World War was still painfully fresh in the minds of the population no one needed reminding why it started, who fought whom, and how it finished. To present the journal to the widest possible modern audience at the start of the twenty-first century would need something more. The answer – to me at least – was to place Clarence’s real-life account of his First World War at the heart of a broader and more contextualised history of the conflict. This would help explain background, elaborate on detail, explore subjects mentioned in passing and analyse cause and effect. Hopefully, this would open up the journal, which, while compelling reading, is tantalisingly fleeting in many areas.

So with a framework and approach settled upon and signed-up, the principal question remaining was whether and how much to edit Clarence’s original material to suit modern expectations. Fortunately, the answer was straightforward. The quality of the writing and the substance contained in the journal meant only minimal intervention was needed, limited to easing readability by removing some punctuation (Clarence appears to have had an immense love of commas and semi-colons), expanding obscure acronyms, updating a few archaic words and rerendering some times and dates, to ensure a reasonable consistency. In only a few places has a word been added or deleted to aid comprehension – and only then because Clarence appears to have missed something out when writing. I hope that he would not have minded.

Finally, while it may be an author’s name that appears on a book’s cover, without the support and assistance of others there would be no cover and no book. With this sentiment in mind, I would like to state in writing my formal thanks to a number of people and organisations who made the production of this book possible. Firstly, and foremost, to the Société Jersiaise for permitting me access to Clarence Ahier’s journal, and especially to their Education Officer, Anna Baghiani, for believing in Clarence in the first place. More on this worthy organisation is found at the back of the book under Sources and Recommended Further Reading. Secondly, to my publishers Pen & Sword Books, for having the confidence in me (and Clarence) at the start of the process, and their support and advice towards the end, and to Martin Mace, editor of Britain at War, for his enthusiasm, encouragement and timely contributions. Thirdly, and closer to home, Catherine Ronayne and Ned Malet De Carteret for their thoughtful reading and feedback and, most especially, to my good friend Barrie Bertram for his patience and proofreading extraordinaire.

Finally, my thanks to Clarence Ahier and the men and women of his generation, for enduring what they endured and leaving us the legacy we now enjoy. Gone but certainly not forgotten.

CHAPTER 1


AMATEUR GUNNERS The Adventures and Letters of a Soldier in France, Salonika and Palestine

Amateur Gunners is a rare and very full memoir of Great War artilleryman Alexander Thorburn who served at Vimy Ridge, Salonika, Palestine and in the final advance to the Armistice in France. This new edition of Thorburn’s book, first published in 1933, contains additional letters he wrote from active service to his family.

Description

After training at St John’s Wood in London and in Exeter, Alexander Douglas Thorburn was posted to the BEF in France, joining the 2/22nd London (Howitzer) Battery, Royal Field Artillery as a subaltern officer. After service in the Vimy Ridge sector, with his division, the 60th (2/2nd London) Division, he crossed the Mediterranean to join the British Army in Salonika. Following a further move in mid-1917, Thorburn arrived in Palestine where he saw service with the 74th (Yeomanry) Division during the advance on Jerusalem. A final move in 1918 took the now Captain Thorburn back to the Western Front to take part in the advance to Victory during the closing months of the war.
After the war,Thorburn wrote an account of his military service between 1916 and 1918, recording his experiences in France, Greece and Palestine as well as his initial training in England. He also wrote a series of observations on life as a gunner during the First World War. Both the account and observations were published as a book, Amateur Gunners, in 1933. Long out of print, the book now appears in an new edition.
In addition to the original book, this edition contains an extensive series of family letters written by Thorburn while on active service to his parents and other relatives.
Together, the book and letters offer a fascinating insight into the life of a First World War artillery officer. Lucidly written in a candid style, Thorburn shows excellent observation, descriptive and narrative skills. While Amateur Gunners itself is worthy of reprint, and when combined with Thorburn’s private letters and historical context from editor Ian Ronayne, this book offers a unique look at a gunner’s experience during the Great War.


A Gunner's Great War, Ian Ronayne - History

"My Family in the Great War" by Ned Malet de Carteret
Published on 30th September 2014 by Reveille Press

During the First World War, the battles fought at sea were every bit as dangerous as those fought on land. Vast navies opposed each other across the great oceans of the world, equipped with the most up to date technology that industrialised nations could produce. The human cost was staggering, not only on those who served, but also those families left at home.

My Family In The Great War tells the story of three family members:

Midshipman Philip Reginald Malet de Carteret, RN, (killed on HMS Queen Mary),
Midshipman John Malet Armstrong, RAN, (served on HMAS Australia)
and Captain Harold Ackroyd, VC, MC, MD, RAMC (killed at the Battle of Passchendaele, 1917) serving in different theatres of the 14-18 conflict.

Written by a direct descendant, the story of the war at sea and on land is vividly brought to life through personal letters and historical fact.

Meticulously researched, with detailed illustrations and photographs throughout, My Family In The Great War provides an intimate portrait of total war, painted on a different canvas to the significant hell of the Western Front, yet every bit as lethal.

Ned Malet de Carteret was born in 1961 in Jersey. He was educated at St. Michael's Preparatory School and Canford School in Dorset. The majority of his career has been in financial services, specialising in stockbroking and Investment Management.

Ned is a tireless promoter of his island and family history and currently serves as Vice-Chairman of the Rates Assessment Committee for the Parish of St Helier.

Ned Malet de Carteret

"My Family in the Great War" is published by the Reveille Press and is available now from its various outlets, priced at £15.99 (RRP).

Liz Walton's first book "A Guernseyman Goes to War"
Published on 4th August 2104 by Guernsey Museum Service

The story is told in his own words - according to the family he wrote his "memoirs" of the war in a notebook when he came home in 1919, put it away and never referred to it again. A transcription of the notebook forms the core of the book.

The author has then placed the events he described in the wider context of the war using evidence from sources such as Battalion War Diaries, Movement Orders and Casualty lists as well as more general war histories. Guernsey Museum Service has provided photographs from its collection to illustrate the text, many of which are not on public display.

There are also specially drawn maps illustrating where the RGLI were based, how they travelled and exactly where they fought.

The book is published by the Guernsey Museum Service and is available now from its various outlets, priced at £14.99

Jersey’s Great War by Ian Ronayne

Published on 30th July 2014 by Jersey Heritage

When Britain declared war on Germany on 4 August 1914, by constitutional association the small British Channel Island of Jersey also entered the conflict. By November 1918, when the guns finally fell silent, the Island had sent thousands of its men to serve in forces of Britain and France. Along with millions of others, they endured the horrors of this first conflict of the modern industrial age. By its end, more than a thousand of them had died, fighting on land, sea and in the air.

Yet the First World War affected the lives of more than just Jersey’s soldiers, sailors and airmen. Changes in society and technology in the years leading up to 1914 meant that Islanders were no longer isolated from the outside world. This war would directly challenge them as never before.

Jersey’s Great War tells the important but previously forgotten story of Jersey and its people between 1914 and 1918. Readers will learn about the role of the Militia, the Island’s French soldiers, how German POWs came to be in the Island, the fate of ‘enemy aliens’, the opportunities for women and the impact of the war on day-to-day lives. And at the heart of the story is the four year struggle between patriotism and production, the outcome of which affected the lives of thousands of Island men and their families to this day.

Ian Ronayne is a Jersey born historian and author who specialises in military history. In recent years, Ian’s interest has turned to his home island, and its rich historical legacy arising from centuries of conflict and defence.

His first book, the acclaimed ‘Ours: The Jersey Pals in the First World War’ was published in 2009. It was followed in 2012 by ‘Jersey War Walks’ and ‘A Gunner’s Great War’, along with numerous articles, talks and guided tours.

Ian lives in Jersey with his family, and continues a career of historical research, writing and teaching along with other professional interests.

Published in November 2007, "Guernsey and the Great War" is a 48 page book covering all aspects of the island's involvement in the war.

Priced at £4.99 plus p&p, it can be purchased from Guernsey Museums & Galleries by contacting:

Written by David Mosely, edited by Lynne Ashton, with much information supplied by the Channel Islands Great War Study Group.

Published by Guernsey Culture & Leisure Department with support from The Rothchild Group in Guernsey.

Beautifully designed and printed and a first rate read.

If you would like us to publish your review, please contact our site administrator

"Diex Aïx God Help Us
The Guernseymen Who Marched Away 1914-1918"

Major Edwin Parks : 1992 : 172 pages (197 x 210mm)

The definitive guide to the Royal Guernsey Light Infantry. Currently out of print


Watch the video: Austro-Hungarian House of Cards I THE GREAT WAR Week 185