A vivid account of the opening weeks of war by a
volunteer despatch rider who may have prevented a
swift German victory.
Of Anglo-German stock, Roger West was conflicted
when the war broke out but volunteered out of the
strong sense of duty that was characteristic of his class.
His linguistic skills led to his being commissioned
into the Intelligence Corps but he was seconded as
a despatch rider to the 19th Brigade, which bore a
great brunt of the fighting in the first few weeks in
1914. West was in the thick of things despite being
crippled with a badly-damaged foot, often riding
round the clock, delivering despatches and directing
and assisting soldiers separated from their units and
disoriented stragglers. Discovering that a critical
bridge had been left open to the German advance he
volunteered to ride back and blow it up, preventing
the retreating Fifth French Army from being taken
in the flank, something that could have fulfilled the
Schlieffen Plan's aims and won the war for Germany.
From the author of: San Fairy Ann: Motorcycles and British Victory1914-1918 (FireStep) and 'The Despatch Rider Corps in 1914' in Stemming the Tide: Officers and Leadership in the British Expeditionary Force 1914, ed Dr Spencer Jones (Helion & Co).