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McCrae's Battalion: The Story of the 16th…

McCrae's Battalion: The Story of the 16th Royal Scots

by Jack Alexander

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My interest in football at its highest is only ever tepid, but I don't think this is the reason I had never heard of this battalion, I think it's because they have been generally forgotten, which is a great pity. This was a fascinating book, charting the story of one of the few Scottish 'pals' battalions during the Great War. This one had at its core a large contingent from Heart of Midlothian football club, along with players and supporters from many other East of Scotland clubs. Unfortunately like many pals battalions they suffered 70% casualties on the first day of the battle of the Somme, so it made very sad reading. Alexander is to be commended for the voluminous research he conducted over many years, reconstructing the original nominal roll of the battalion, and discovering what happened to all the men. ( )
  Only2rs | Jul 23, 2006 |
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McCrae's Own was the 'Heart of Midlothian Battalion' mentioned all too briefly in Martin Middlebrook's classic book The First Day on the Somme. Raised in Edinburgh shortly after the start of the Great War, it was perhaps the finest unit in Lord Kitchener's volunteer army - a brotherhood of sportsmen, bound together by their extraordinary colonel and their loyalty to a quaintly named Association Football club, the famous Gorgie 'Hearts'. McCrae's were blooded in the Battle of the Somme, losing three-quarters of their strength on the first day alone. The Colonel himself was invalided home. In time the battalion recovered. It came of age at Arras, endured the muddy horror of Passchendaele, and held the line unbroken in the face of furious German attacks on the Lys in 1918. For almost a century their story remained untold. It was all but lost forever. Now, after 12 years of exacting historical detective work, Jack Alexander has reclaimed the 16th Royal Scots for posterity. In this stirring book he draws upon interviews with veterans and a unique archive of letters, diaries and photographs, assembled from the families of more than 1,000 of Sir George McCrae's men.… (more)

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