Frederic Coleman, the author of what he calls this ‘plain tale’ of the opening weeks of the Great War, was a well-off American in the summer of 1914. Fired by enthusiasm for the ‘righteous cause’ of the Allies, he volunteered to use his – then rare – skills as a motorist to drive British Staff officers around the fighting front in France. During the next ten months, Coleman had a ringside seat for the crucial manoeuvres, retreat, battles and advances that formed the Western Front. Rubbing shoulders with Generals such as Sir John French, C.inC. of the BEF; Sir Douglas Haig, commander of 1st Corps (and French’s eventual successor) and Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien, commander of 2nd Corps, Coleman witnessed the great retreat of the BEF from Le Cateau before the advancing German hordes; the battle of Nery and subsequent fighting on the Aisne and at Messines; the arrival of the first Indian troops in France; the first battle of Ypres and the Christmas truce in the trenches. This book is a rare find – illustrated by some extremely unusual photos of the 1914 campaign, and written in a direct and vivid style, it will fascinate anyone interested in the vital opening campaign of the Great War.
FROM MONS TO YPRES WITH FRENCH
Coleman was an American, one of 25 motorists who volunteered to accompany the BEF to France in 1914 to drive officers of Headquarters staff at the front. A dramatic eye-witness account of the retreat from Mons and subsequent actions up to the first Battle of Ypres.