The horrors of the Western Front are widely known, but what was life like on 'the other side of the trenches' in World War I? Helen McPhail here shows how the rich agricultural and industrial areas of northern France were invaded by the Germans, then occupied and exploited by them, between the summer of 1914 and the Armistice in November 1918. Factories were stripped, household furniture and fittings requisitioned, food supplies taken, the population mistreated and malnourished and even taken to forced labour camps - the people lived in terror. Starvation loomed and contact with the outside world vanished. Based on original sources, including diaries, letters and journals, this fascinating account describes how - in the struggle to survive - French civilians responded in ways familiar in World War II: escape networks, espionage, producing clandestine newspapers and attempting to help British soldiers trapped behind enemy lines. It provides a unique viewpoint on a forgotten aspect of World War I.
Helen McPhail is a writer and translator specialising in the history and literature of World War I. She is co-author of St Quentin (Battlefield series), Wilfred Owen, Sassoon & Graves and Edmund Blunden (On The Trail of the Poets of the Great War series).