Prose & Poetry - I. L. Read
I. L. Read (1895-1971) served with the 8th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment and the Royal Sussex Regiment during the First World War; his memoirs of four years of war were posthumously published in 1994 as Of Those We Loved.
Born in Eastbourne in 1895 'Dick' Read was the eldest of four siblings, three brothers and a sister. After curtailing his schooling at Eastbourne Grammar School Read took up an apprenticeship as an engineer. This was itself curtailed by the arrival of war in August 1914.
Among the first to heed Lord Kitchener's call to British arms, Read volunteered for service with the 8th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment and within weeks found himself en route for France with Sir John French's British Expeditionary Force (BEF).
Read's initial enthusiasm for the novelty of war quickly palled in the grim conditions of the Western Front and gave way to sober reflection. In 1917 he received a commission into the Royal Sussex Regiment and was posted to Egypt only to be hastily recalled to the Western Front in time for service at the Second Battle of the Marne during which he won the Croix de Guerre.
Following the armistice Read joined the Emergency Officers Reserve. During the Second World War he received a fresh commission into the Leicestershire regiment. In the inter-war years he meanwhile established a successful career in the design and manufacture of shoe-making machinery. In 1921 he married Muriel Joyce Chester (who had served as a secretary to David Lloyd George at the Paris Peace Conference).
His personal record of the war, written over many years following the years and containing personally drawn illustrations, was finally published some 23 after his death in 1994 as Of Those We Loved.
3 British Officers were executed by courts martial during the war, as opposed to 316 Private soldiers and 24 Non-Commissioned Officers. The vast majority were for desertions.
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