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No Labour, No Battle: Military Labour during the First World War
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No Labour, No Battle: Military Labour during the First World War (Paperback)

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From 1917 British soldiers who were unfit or too old for front-line service were to serve unarmed and within the range of German guns for weeks or even months at a time undertaking labouring tasks. Both at the time and since they have arguably not been given the recognition they deserve for this difficult and dangerous work. From non-existence in 1914, by November 1918 Military Labour had developed into an organised and efficient 350,000-strong Labour Corps, supported by Dominion and foreign labour of more than a million men. Following the war, the grim and solemn tasks of clearing battlefields and constructing cemeteries, which continued until 1921, were also the responsibility of the Corps.

Here, John Starling and Ivor Lee bring together extensive research from both primary and secondary sources to reveal how the vital, yet largely unreported, role played by these brave soldiers was crucial to achieving victory in 1918.

John Starling works at the Defence Academy, Shrivenham and is subject matter expert on small arms design. He had 30 years service in the Pioneer Cops/Royal Logistic Corps before retiring with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Ivor Lee is a local government officer, having previously taught for over 30 years in secondary education.

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