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11th April 1918

This was to be our last time in TOMMIES spent with 34th Division, and it was to their OH by Shakspear I went to first, then their war diaries at the TNA. It was from these I got the inspiring story of C Company, 22nd Northumberland Fusiliers, holding a rearguard operation. But their four Machine Gun Corps units - pages of remarkable stuff - that gave me so much of the texture of the day. The ins, the outs, the confusions. The flanking by the Germans was militarily threatening, of course. But must have been so psychologically draining as well.

 

Nalder and Priestley are keen to stress how the better signallers  quickly learnt to fall back on lines of communication, and I invented the naming of the system to show how this was done.

 

BTW, I'm not going to go into the one-armed and the legal stuff because you can find that referenced on 21st March.

 

Ferris was the man – when isn't he? – for the cipher breakthrough, and we got the domestic detail about the olden days and subsequent gentle disintegration of the TYNESIDE SCOTTISH from the book of that name by Graham Stewart and John Sheen.

 

The backstory of Juma Gubanda, including him being offered a place at Cambridge University was from the life of Frederick Njilema featured in Stephen Bourne's BLACK POPPIES. Taff Gillingham helped me with the shoulder straps as identification for the German regiments.

 

I had to do a lot of digging - mainly comparing maps especially in the OFFICIAL HISTORY by Edmonds - to work out the nature of the reinforcing units brought up by the Germans to force the issue. I found an American analysis of German Divisions incredibly useful to narrow down where and when they moved to the front. You can find it here.