Book Review
The Old Front Line
The Centenary of the Western Front in Pictures
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by: Darren Baker [ CMOT ]


With the start of World War one being 100 years ago this year, there has been an explosion in the number of modelling products covering this period of history. 2014 has also seen World War one covered in a very broad number of books looking all aspects of the conflict. Casemate have released a title that looks at First World War via the trenches and what is left out there today 100 years after its start, and perhaps of particular note the resting places of those that fought the battles that many today only think of as a place and a time rather than the price in blood that was paid.


The Old Front Line from Casemate and authored by Stephen Bull is a hard backed book consisting of 192 pages. The book is roughly A4 in size and uses a good quality paper. The book is broken down into sections as follows:
Brave Little Belgium
The First and Second battles of Ypres
The Third Battle of Ypres
French Flanders and Artois
Verdun and the Vosges
The Somme 1916
The American expeditionary Force
The Last year: Cambrai and the Green Fields Beyond

Unusually for a book I found the introduction to this title of particular interest due to what it touches upon. It covers very quickly the archaeology of the First World War battle fields and the costs involved in keeping them up together. It also touches upon the bain of modern life, criminal damage to the monuments in the form of graffiti and in the UK at least the cost of replacing metal plaques to the fallen, stolen for their scrap metal value; a crime for which I think they should be shot on the market square. That aside it is a very worthy introduction to the book. It should be said that text is not what this book is really about; the real story is in the photographs present.

The text itself is easy to follow and not so deep as to make this title slow or difficult to read through. There are bits written by those fought and I suspect those that died. It briefly covers some act of heroism such as those of Capt Noel Chavasse (1884 -1917) RAMC, whose actions earned him two Victoria Crossís, the only person to do so during World War One. There are also nuggets of information which I didnít know about, such as the Chinese Labour Corps and some of their graves in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery; I never knew the Chinese served in France during World War One.

The photographs in this title from Casemate are of a good quality throughout, covering period photographs of the trenches and the mire that came to symbolise World War One, all the way to fairly current pictures of memorials and war graves. Each of the photographs have a very good caption supplied, these captions make the images easy to follow and for the modeller in all of us here as reference of where, when and what. For anyone interested in the war memorials and graveyards this book has a good selection of them and the captions that accompany the images provide the pertinent information required. A number of these photographs will make for good reference due to the monuments being erected prior to World War Two and so you could show one of them with any of the combatants looking on during a lull in the fighting.


The Old Front Line from Casemate is an interesting title to look through and read. The book takes you through the lives of some of those who fought and died, the trenches they lived in, the memorials to them and their sacrifices to the modern day and the museums, relics and reinstated trench lines that allows the living to get an idea of what conditions those that fought suffered. For me the book provides a glimpse into their lives and just how horrifically they were treated and to some extent lead, a generation sacrificed to war.
Highs: The approach taken in this book, covering the period from then to now and the memorials to the fallen make this title of interest to me.
Lows: None that I am aware off.
Verdict: Well worth picking up if you have an interest in the conditions of WW1 and what is left today.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: 9781612002309
  Suggested Retail: £19.99
  PUBLISHED: Dec 19, 2014

Our Thanks to Casemate Publishing!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Darren Baker (CMOT)

I have been building model kits since the early 70ís starting with Airfix kits of mostly aircraft, then progressing to the point I am at now building predominantly armour kits from all countries and time periods. Living in the middle of Salisbury plain since the 70ís, I have had lots of opportunitie...

Copyright ©2021 text by Darren Baker [ CMOT ]. All rights reserved.


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