Mud & Bodies: The War Diaries and Letters of Captain N.A.C. Weir 1914-1920 Edited by Saul David (Front Line Books 2013, isbn 978-1-84832-688-0, 158pp, illustrated, £19.99)
Neil Weir was an officer in the 10th Battalion Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders who was commissioned in 1914 and served on the Western Front from mid-1915. He died in 1967 but his material was left to a grandson who brought this book together with the help of military historian Saul David.
As part of the 9th (Scottish) Division Weir fought in the Festubert sector before taking part in the Battle of Loos; his account of the bitter fighting at the Hohenzollern Redoubt in September 1915 is excellent. After a period in the Ypres Salient, he moved with his battalion to the Somme and was engaged in the fighting near Longueval and Delville Wood. He was badly burned and wounded by a flare in October 1916 which brought his war on the front line in France to an end. He spent the remainder of the conflict on home service but took part in Russian Civil War in 1919, a chapter which makes fascinating reading.
The diaries, with letters and other material added in, are well written and highly readable. Weir was a literate man and the entries are not repetitive or boring; far from it, they give a wonderful insight into the war of a junior officer on the Western Front in two big battles like Loos and the Somme. The expert hand of Saul David in putting the work into context is most welcome and the inclusion of photographs makes this an excellent addition to the new memoirs of the Great War being published for the WW1 Centenary.
The book can be purchased from the publishers website: Pen & Sword Front Line Books.