Book Review
Sheffield City Battalion
The First and the Last of the Sheffield City Battalion
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by: Fay Baker [ AWESOME_ODP ]


This is the story of two men from the industrial city of Sheffield, both of these men (from different backgrounds) volunteered in early 1914 for the new Pals battalion (12th Bn York and Lancaster Regt).

The following is taken from the Pen and Sword website:
This is the story of two Sheffield men from very different social backgrounds, who both volunteered in early September 1914 and joined the new Pals battalion (12th Bn York and Lancaster Regt).

One of these men was Vivian Simpson, a 31 year old solicitor who was well known in the city; partly because he was an outstanding footballer, playing for Sheffield Wednesday and an England trialist. Simpson was the very first man to enrol for the new battalion and was commissioned in January 1915.

The other man was Reg Glenn, a clerk in the Education Offices who served as a signaller in each battle the 12th Battalion fought in until the summer of 1917, when he was selected to become an officer.

To his annoyance, Vivian Simpson was kept back in England as a training officer until after the battalion’s disaster on the Somme on 1 July 1916. However, after that he became a most energetic and courageous officer. He was awarded an MC in 1917, but was killed in the German offensive on the Lys in April 1918.

Reg Glenn went back to France in 1918 as a subaltern in the North Staffordshire’s and was wounded on the Aisne in his first day of combat as an officer. He was never fit enough to go back to the trenches and became a training officer in Northumberland with his new regiment and later with the Cameroonians’ at Invergordon. He survived the war and lived to be 101 years old, making him the last survivor of the 12th Battalion.


This hard back book published by Pen and Sword Military is written by John Cornwell, containing 209 pages of good quality paper, with black and white photographs scattered throughout. The published price is £25.00, but this may be brought more cheaply from the Pen and Sword website.

The contents of this book is as follows:



About the Author


Chapter 1 Born in the City of Steel

Chapter 2 Edwardian Days

Chapter 3 Joining Up - September-December 1914

Chapter 4 “Gosh, it’s freezing cold up here!” 5 December 1914 - 13 May 1915

Chapter 5 “When will we get over?” Advanced Training 31 May - 21 December 1915

Chapter 6 Standing Guard - Just East of Suez 1 January - 10 March 1915

Chapter 7 “Worry? I never worry!!” March - June 1916

Chapter 8 “You will have to stick it!! You must stick it!!” Serre, 1 July 1916

Chapter 9 “I’m serene now I am here at last!” August 1916 - March 1917

Chapter 10 Arras, Gavrelle, Cadorna and Vimy April - September 1917

Chapter 11 An English interlude September 1917 - March 1918

Chapter 12 Death at a Crossroad 13 April 1918

Chapter 13 The Survivor April 1918 - February 1919

Chapter 14 The Continum

Chapter 15 The Smile that simply won’t come off!



This publication starts with the origins of the two men that volunteered to fight for their country in the First World War. One of the men was a solicitor and the other a clerk, but they had the same sense of duty and the will to serve their country in its hour of need. Vivian Simpson (the solicitor), was kept in England as a training officer, which was a blessing in disguise as his Battalion (12th) suffered a disaster on the first day of the Somme. When he finally made it across the Channel he proved his courage and in 1917 won the Military Cross for the planning and his leadership of the raid on the Cadorna Trench. Reg Glenn had a very different experience, serving as a signaller for the Battalion from Egypt to France, and being selected in 1917 to be an officer.


This book gives an interesting insight into two people who had very different experiences during the First World War. The author John Cornwall has followed these two men through their lives and experiences, and as such has written a well detailed account of two lives. One that was tragically cut short due to being killed in 1918, but the other lived to the ripe old age of 101 and was the last of 12th Battalion to pass. This book would make a good start to any Great War book collection, or an ideal addition to one that has already been started.
Fay Baker takes a look at a book from Pen and Sword titled 'The First and the Last of the Sheffield City Battalion'.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: ISBN 9781526767363
  Suggested Retail: £14.99
  PUBLISHED: Oct 05, 2020
  NATIONALITY: United Kingdom

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