Although it reads as a novel, Sniper Jackson can be justifiably viewed as 'faction' weaving true events around a mythical character. This was a commonplace method of writing at a time when many serving or ex-soldiers did not want individuals or events in their books to be identified, and many used pseudonyms to conceal their identities. Sleath's work bears all the hallmarks of personal experience, in particular those small details of trench life and the insights into the close-knit camaraderie commonly found in specialist units that only those who have experienced it could know. It would be a mistake to dismiss such literature as imagination or fabrication, bearing little relationship to reality. The truth is that such books actually contain a wealth of information and Sniper Jackson is a very rare piece of eyewitness history about sniping, a little-known and rarely discussed element of trench warfare.
FREDERICK JAMES SLEATH (1889 - 1966) joined the Royal Scots in 1914 and served in the Ypres Salient until injury relegated him to a desk job at the War Office. MARTIN PEGLER was curator of firearms at the Royal Armouries for 20 years and is the author of Sniping in the Great War, The Sniper since 1914 and The Sniper Anthology.