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1914. Europe had descended to war.

“…the firm lost no time in assuring us that we were not indispensable and we therefore went round to the Headquarters of the L.R.B. and craved permission to enlist…”

In November 1914 the London Rifle Brigade was among the first of the Territorial battalions to set foot in France; after completing his training, Aubrey Smith and the detachment from Q Company made their way to reinforce the battalion in the January of 1915.

Over the following years they were present at the Second Battle of Ypres, Gommecourt, the Somme, Arras, the Third Ypres and Cambrai, as well as facing the German offensive of 1918 and taking part in the final Allied advance.

Serving first in the trenches and then in the transport section, Smith’s wartime experiences offers readers a vivid insight into an oft overlooked yet crucial branch of the British Army and the daily perils they faced.

Originally published under the pseudonym of “a Rifleman” in 1922, “Four Years on the Western Front” is a classic private’s memoir from the First World War; conspicuously absent from Smith’s account however is his own awarding of the Military Medal in 1917, and subsequent Bar in 1918.

Aubrey Smith (1893-1935) served four years with the London Rifle Brigade. After the war he left Europe and moved to China where he became a prominent businessman as well as playing the piano in the Shanghai Municipal Orchestra. He died in Hong Kong at the age of 42.

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Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2111 KB
  • Print Length: 424 pages
  • Publisher: Albion Press (25 Jan. 2016)
  • Sold by:  Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01B38MBA4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray: Not Enabled
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

Customer Reviews

A great story from a very brave man.

 on 12 April 2016
By Ken C
Really interesting account of World War One from the perspective of a private soldier, telling it how it really is (or was). It’s as if you are really there – not a century on. It seems like a lot of the stupid edicts passed down from (some) officers have been passed down to the present day, or at least they had when I was a soldier. It’s unbelievable what these brave men had to put up with, from food shortages whilst fighting in the trenches, to the nonsensical polishing of equipment that was continually wet & covered in mud & living in the rain without shelter. I found it especially interesting as a great uncle of mine (who I never knew) was in the same regiment & also won a DSM. From the description of the every day (& night) hell they went through I can almost imagine his life at that time. I was hoping he may have been mentioned but unfortunately not. My grandad was also in the artillery at the same time – I could almost place him in the battlefield just from the way the story is told. A really long book, but I’m really glad he wrote it & I read it.

Very detailed, interesting

 on 12 June 2016
By John Benn
One of the most interesting accounts of WW1 experiences by an ordinary soldier that I have come across. It is long – in diary format – and very detailed. Aubrey Smith writes exceptionally well – though you have to overlook many typos. Here you have the all dangers, the fears, the tedium, the discomforts, the occasional concert parties, and quite often the humour of some situations. The relationships – both positive and negative – with local French people in towns and villages behind the lines is fresh to me.

A very different perspective.

 on 2 July 2016
By Duncan Cunningham
This books tells the story of a man who endured and more importantly, survived the entire war in “The Transport” – that all too essential side of the army who’s job it was to deliver the supplies to the men at the front. It is a long book, well written and full of fascinating day to day insights about ordinary life and death in a part of the army that has in many ways be overlooked by other works.

INTERESTING VIEW OF THE TRANSPORT

 on 28 August 2016
By CFive
Written primarily by someone who was in the transport (horse) section of the London Rifle Brigade this gives an excellent view of what it was like to keep the frontline troops supplied with food, water and ammunition. It gives a clear account of just how much information, practically nothing, was available to units during the major battles of the British Army in France during WW1. It also shows just what the senior officers (staff that is) were focused on in between battles, lots of Brasso according to this chap. One also gets glimpse of the food shortages the troops were faced with as well as the response of the French and Belgium civillians and the battle areas. Overall an interesting read and one which covers off a part of the army not often discussed in detail elsewhere. The writing is straight forward and uncomplicated and easy to read, though it does get a bit problematically to follow the units movement on a Map because so many of the village names either no longer exist or have been misspelled.

An ordinary soldiers diary of four years of War.

 on 20 April 2015
By Bob Richards
This is an account of one man’s war. A diary of an ordinary soldier who saw action in the front line during the early weeks of the Great War and then spent his war with the transport section. His accounts of viewing such enormous and significant events such as 1st July 1916 on the Somme give a very personal story of how these events were viewed by the ordinary soldier. A book well worth reading and unlike any other I have come across.

A very interesting account.

 on 28 March 2016
By Peter M
A very interesting account from A. Smith MM of the LRB; he spent most of the war (after 2nd Battle of Ypres) in Battalion Transport, and his account is a refreshing change from the tales of trench warfare. He tells the story in good humour, with a keen eye for detail; a definite read for anyone interested in the thoughts of someone who remained in the same unit during the whole war (becoming an ‘old soldier’).

Four years on the Western Front

 on 3 June 2012
By Del
For my husband, this book has filled in the parts of his knowledge with regard to his Regiment (The London Rifle Brigade’s) history, and therefore the story from a Rifleman serving with the Battaliopn two generations before himself. He loves to read and find for himself the traditions that still carry forward and the improvements made as a result of his time in service. He thoroughly enjoyed this book, and would recommend it to everybody (his words).

Very very good read

 on 30 May 2016
By Kindle Customer
It is unusual to read about WW1 from a privates point of view, this book does not give a broad picture of the war but rather the trials and tribulations endured by the ordinary Tommy. It does take some close reading as the book is strewn with spelling errors mostly I imagine from the digitisation process. This is not a blood and guts book but rather a slow and steep decent into the mindset of a WW1 soldier and its over familiarity with death and destruction. All in all an excellent read

One of the heroes accounts of life on and supporting the Front.

 on 19 March 2016
By F G HOB
An interesting, informative account of years fighting on the front and provisioning the front. The devastation of the infrastructure, decimation of manpower and equines. As the lines moved back and forth some of the French who fleeced the British and supported the Germans despite the German ‘retribution’ on France and Belgium as they retreated. There’s a lot of ‘typos’ but overlook those for the diary of one of the heroes.
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