Thursday 14 August 2014

From Mons to the Marne

Readers of the blog will doubtless recall that I am a great fan of the Late Prof. Richard Holmes assorted books on military history. I have always enjoyed his style of writing and own several of his titles. My favourite title of his is Riding the Retreat (ISBN 0-224-03762-5) and I have owned at least three versions in paperback. The book is combined history/travelogue in which the author and some friends followed the route taken by the retreating BEF in 1914 on horseback with the historical tie-ins being accompanied by his own horsey adventures en route. The book is both informative and amusing by turns as the author and his chums deal with equine problems great and small whilst seemingly consuming vast quantities of continental cuisine at every opportunity. It is a delight to read and the as you would expect, the history side is also very well taken care of.

I had wanted to add a hardback version to my library (I always try to do this as a matter of course for those titles I want to keep - paperbacks for me tend to be quite shortlived) from my first reading of this book but had been unable to get a copy - especially at the staggering prices I had seen this being sold for secondhand.

Imagine my surprise and delight then when I came across a copy on evil bay for the measly sum of £2.99 post free. Needless to say this was snapped up (it was a 'buy it now' item) and it duly arrived yesterday morning.

I suppose the timing of acquiring this book could not be more coincidental than if I had planned it bearing in mind the centenary of those events back in August 1914 - although the Great Retreat did not start until around 23rd August 1914. It is close enough to make one think though and to remember the herculean efforts of the 'Old Contemptibles' during the first summer of the Great War.


Robert (Bob) Cordery said...


What great - and timely - purchase! It will be a great addition to your collection.

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hi Bob,

It is a great book and one that I shall savour. Will I game 1914 on the Western Front? Who knows....perhaps one day.

All the best,