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The Subaltern's Handbook (1918) | WW1 Manual

The Subaltern's Handbook (1918)

Price £65.00 Sale


Third Edition, published by

'You yourself may be perfectly willing to be killed or wounded, but it is not dead and wounded officers that are required at the front. Never expose yourself unnecessarily; save the lives of your platoon by knowing your job thoroughly.'

A rare, original WW1 British Army officer's handbook, dating from January 1918. It is full of fascinating insights into a junior officer's responsibilities in the trenches of the Western Front. With information on every aspect of trench warfare, from mess etiquette and musketry, to dealing with shrapnel and gas attacks, this book was no doubt of great use to officers just out of training. As well as practical hints about attack and defence in the trenches, the book includes plenty of advice on leadership and morale, and how the example set by the officer would be crucial to the success of all activities in the front line. At the end of the book there is a checklist of things an officer should constantly ask himself:

'I am here for two purposes—to do as much damage as possible to the enemy and to hold my part of the line at all costs. Am I doing everything possible to ensure my being able to do this?'

The book concludes with this stirring advice:

'Failure, even disaster, may ensue through your want of experience, through lack of just that masterly touch at the critical moment . . . or through sheer bad luck. This cannot be helped. But do not fail through ignorance—preventable ignorance—through lack of that knowledge which you might have acquired . . . War is a serious business, and demands not only what is best in a man, but his very all.'

At the end of the book there is an intriguing handwritten note, presumably written by a veteran of the Great War:

'Will you remember Eamon Martin.
A man's memories must
Go with him to oblivion
Only his friends can
Share and only for
A short time. . .'


In fair to good condition. The cover shows general signs of wear and use, and some marks. The lower part of the rear edge of the spine has been carefully repaired with archival tape. The binding and hinges are secure. The text is in good condition.

Published: 1918
Khaki cloth with black titling
Dimensions: 100mm x 160mm
Pages: 174