(Review) Letters to Doberitz by Derek R. Payne

9781528917971_AMP-CVR.indd

Publisher and Publication Date: Austin Macauley Publishers LTD. October 31, 2018.
Genre: Nonfiction. Memoir. World War I.
Pages: 224.
Source: I received a complimentary copy, but was not required to leave a positive review.
Rating: Excellent.
Audience: For readers of World War I and military books.

19 black and white illustrations

Amazon
The Kindle price is $4.49

A FIRST novel from Derek R. Payne

 

Summary:
Letters to Doberitz is a memoir of Derek R. Payne’s family during Word War I. This is the story of his grandparents and great-grandparents. The story represents life in England before World War I and during the war years; it also shows the remarkable story of men who fought in the battles of World War I. Another key feature is the after effects of combat on a battle weary man. The family holds a large selection of black and white photographs from this period. His grandfather learned a new art by painting over the black and white photographs adding watercolours. Payne considers the photographs a “window” to their lives.

My Thoughts:
Letters to Doberitz is an excellent resource for any reader interested in World War I. In the first few pages, I was shown how people felt about the looming war in early 1914. It also shows the work environment, dating, and parent to children relationships. I especially loved a panoramic view shown through strong description of street life. In addition, a speech given to the people in the Bristol town square about the war.
William Payne joined the war early. He was a young man with a driven focus. If the book had only been about him I’d have enjoyed reading it, but the book includes his father’s story.
Additional reasons why I loved this book:
•It was interesting to read about the enlistment process and combat training.
•The first battle, The Battle of Mons. The thoughts of the soldiers who were still in training, and how they heard the battle had not gone well. This point adds to the tension.
•The departure for Belgium, and the first sighting of this country. Through Will’s eyes I understood better about how all the combat ready men must have felt. He’d lived in the same place all his life and he’d embarked on a first trip.
•The trench line. This part of the book, the battle in the trenches, is a crisis point in the book. The nighttime thoughts and perspective. The waiting of when the battle will begin. The anticipation and tension of when the shells hit and are brought in to closer range. The shock wave of the blasts from the guns. The chaos of bombardment. All the sights, sounds, and feelings of being there are brought to life. I feel this is the strongest feature of the book.
•I was most interested to read about how men were treated for “shell shock.” This is what PTSD was called in World War I.

Shellshock2

Photograph is from Wikipedia and not from the book. Photograph taken from a field station at Ypres, Belgium, 1917. 

 

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