1918: THE WAR DIARY OF THE
17TH EARL OF DERBY
Edited by David Dutton
Liverpool University Press 2001
ISBN 0 85323 657 7 - Paperback - 348 pages - £18.95 [£45.95 in h/b]
The 17th Earl of Derby is best known for his role in forming the Liverpool Pals battalion in 1914 and the introduction of the Derby scheme of enlistment, on the eve of conscription, in 1916. What he did after that is not so well known, so this book fills an obvious gap in our knowledge.
The diary, once thought to be lost, details the final period of the Great War leading up to the Armistice in November 1918. How Derby came to be the ambassador in Paris at this time is a story in its own right, as he had no experience as a diplomat, and could not speak French. His appointment owed a great deal to Lloyd George, then Prime Minister, who had been determined to remove him from his previous post, dating back to the Asquith government, as Secretary of State for War.
While obviously not dealing with life at the front, the book does provide us with a fresh perspective on the experience of war and conflict, and there are numerous mentions of some of the leading military characters of the day, many of whom will be familiar to the reader. I was quite surprised to find no reference to the Liverpool Pals, but as so few of the 'originals' were left by 1918, perhaps Derby did not view his once private army in the same light?
A fascinating book, and highly recommended if you want to read something different.
Copies are available direct from the publishers:
Liverpool University Press
4 Cambridge Street
Tel: 0151 794 2233/7