The diaries of front-line soldiers of the Great War are relatively commonplace; contemporary drawings and paintings, other than those by the official war artists, are less so. What is extraordinary, even unique, about The Fateful Battle Line is that it combines a journal of infantry service on the Western Front with sketches and finished work made at the time, often illustrating places, people and incident from the text. Henry Ogle was a trained artist, and one who, in his writing, fused the vividness of the painter's eye for detail with a writer's precision and awareness. Commissioned from the ranks, twice wounded, his gallantry rewarded with the Military Cross, he endured four years of war; if the experience seared him, it never took from him his humanity.
Front-line, support and reserve trenches; raids, patrols and work details; outposts and piquets; hospitals and base areas; French and Belgian towns and villages; leave back home in England; the tragic landscape of Flanders; weapons, artillery, transport, draft and riding animals; above all his fellow soldiers - Henry Ogle faithfully, and often wittily, recorded the day-to-day minutiae, as well as the sudden shattering moments, of vast industrial armies locked in the last of the great siege wars. In doing so, and in his accompanying text, he demonstrated that the enduring legacy of the Great War lay in the spirit of the men who fought it. Skillfully edited and annotated by the late Michael Glover, The Fateful Battle Line is perhaps the most remarkable and enduring original work to have come out of the First World War in the last fifty years.