NEWS

 

See Events page for opportunities to buy a signed copy of Despatch Rider and to meet the editor and chat about the discovery of the diary on which the book is based.

 

Lots of 5* reviews  on  Amazon - see 'Reviews' page

New content added to 'Sgt Raymond Alvey RAF' page

 

Over 1000 hardback copies sold (and more than 1300 Kindle/ebooks) - October 2017

 

Articles on 'Vintage British Bikes' and Pen and Sword's 'Warfare magazine' websites

 

Review by Ian Hay- Campbell, Friends of the National Archives

 

Review by Paul Norman in Books Monthly

 

Review in Nacelle (Triumph Owners'  magazine)

 

'Despatch Rider' is spotted on the (bottom) shelves at Foyles - and the top shelf at The National Archives!

 

'Despatch Rider' is featured in Classic Motorcycle magazine

 

Forthcoming talks and events - see EVENTS

Buy the book!

Despatch Rider on the Western Front 1915-18 can be bought direct from the publishers: Pen and Sword Books www.pen-and-sword.co.uk; from Amazon www.amazon.co.uk, or through any good bookshop.

Contact

If you have any queries please email me:
davidvenner@live.co.uk

Extracts from the Diary: 1916

From Pas-en-Artois (behind the lines)

 

February 7th 1916

A beautiful bright day but very cold and windy. Our motorcycles are showing wear and tear in all parts.  The mud and bad roads this winter are showing their effect, practically every wearing part requires renewal. Unfortunately there are no spares available and we have to make up one good machine from two old ones.  We are told there are spares on the way but they have been saying this for a couple of months. At the same time it is wonderful how the machines stand up to the terrible roads we have out here which are broken up by the heavy transport.

From the Battle of the Somme

July 1916

Higher up the trench I came across the body of one of our men badly mutilated, one of his arms had been blown off and half of his face was missing.  The front of his tunic was shredded like wool and the ammunition in his pouches had exploded. A pretty ghastly sight but it raised no more feeling in me than one feels in a butcher’s shop.  War brings one down to the level of animals.

From Bruay (behind the lines)

September 12th 1916

I have yet to hear of a message of any importance being sent by pigeon. While so much depends on the vagaries of the birds it is too risky to send important messages by carrier pigeon. It would be quite a tragedy if a bird arrived with a message and refused to enter the loft. I can imagine a pathetic little scene with the Staff gathered around the loft throwing corn and whistling in the approved fashion trying to entice a perverse bird from the housetops. What is really wanted is a bird of that famous Lancashire strain, a cross between a parrot and a pigeon. 

From the Battle of the Ancre

November 1916

There is a dressing station on the road between Engelbelmer and Martinsart. I called there to pick up their returns. Hundreds of wounded were lying in the open awaiting their turn for attention, some on stretchers, some lying on straw which had been laid on the ground. God, what a sight, plastered with mud and blood, faces yellow from loss of blood, many already dead and still the waggons and lorries rolled up. Waiting for the returns in the midst of this shambles was just as much as I could stand. Several asked me for a drink which I hadn’t got, but I gave away the few cigarettes I had with me. Among them were a fair number of Germans and I noticed that the orderlies made no distinction between friend and foe.

From St Venant (behind the lines)

22 December 1916

Last night we had a farewell dinner at the Clef d’Or which was a gorgeous affair. After dinner there was a poker game with eight players, a pure gamble. It lasted two hours and by that time only three survived to play for the spoils. Then we had a sing-song with all the old smutty numbers and finally Garnier gave an exhibition of his famous bottle feat. This consists of lying full length on the floor with a bottle balanced on his forehead. Whilst rising he balances the bottle and finally stands on his feet amid the plaudits of an admiring crowd. A good trick which he does to prove he is not drunk, but I doubt if he could do it when sober.

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© Diary of a Despatch Rider