The personal diaries kept by three of the six Giffard brothers who fought in the Great War (three of them as Horse Gunners), provide a vivid record of service on the Western Front in World War I and stand witness to a lost generation through which the war cut its huge and deadly swathe. Jack Giffard served in the Royal Horse Artillery and was in the famous retreat from Mons. He was briefly captured and wounded and was the only officer to survive the great battle at Nery. Eddie Giffard was a Field Gunner supporting the Guards Division, rose to be Battery Commander and was killed shortly before the Armistice. Walter Giffard served in balloons in the Royal Flying Corps - a dangerous and often under-valued aspect of the war. This memoir conveys a striking and immediate sense of what it was really like - from everyday details, to boredom, intense danger, wounds and even death. There is a matter-of-factness about the entries but still a tender concern for suffering - comrades and their horses.
The comments of the balloonist brother, Walter, combine a lightness of touch with a sense of history, as when he watches the great German offensive in the Spring of 1918: "the most colossal battle, both in magnitude and importance, that the world has ever seen".
Sydney Giffard, decendant of the diarists, served in HM Diplomatic Service and was HM Ambassador to Japan and Switzerland during the 1980s. He is an Honorary Fellow of Wadham College, Oxford. Other publications by this author include 'Japan Among the Powers 1890-1990' (Yale 1994)
List of Illustrations vi Some Acronyms and Abbreviations viii Foreword by Professor Richard Holmes xii 1. Introduction 1 Jack Giffard 1 Eddie Giffard 10 Walter Giffard 21 Background 27 Editorial 33 2. Jack Giffard's Diary 41 3. Eddie's Diary: The First Notebook 63 4. Eddie's Diary: The Second Notebook 79 Return to Front after First Leave 79 Second Return from Leave 89 5. Eddie's Diary: The Third Notebook 102 6. Eddie's Diary: The Fourth Notebook 135 Fourth Return from Leave 135 7. Eddie's Diary: The Fifth Notebook 170 E. H. Giffard C/75 RFA 170 8. W. E. Giffard's Diaries: The First Notebook 196 9. W. E. Giffard's Diaries: The Second Notebook 217 Appendix: Sydney Giffard's Letter from Gallipoli 230 Notes 233 Index 257