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Ghosts have warm hands: A memoir of the Great War, 1916-1919 (CEF classics)

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Ghosts Will Have Warm Hands is a republication of And We Go On (originally published in 1930). One of the most powerful memoirs ever written about the First World War. The Author served 1916-19 with the Black Watch of Canada. Bird’s memoir captures the most poignant side of the war, the sacrifices, the humour, the rats and the terror, so unique to the First World War. His e Ghosts Will Have Warm Hands is a republication of And We Go On (originally published in 1930). One of the most powerful memoirs ever written about the First World War. The Author served 1916-19 with the Black Watch of Canada. Bird’s memoir captures the most poignant side of the war, the sacrifices, the humour, the rats and the terror, so unique to the First World War. His experiences were not only physical but also ethereal. His beloved brother, Stephen, who was killed near Ypres in 1915 played a critical role in Will’s survival and “appears” to save him from death on more than one occasion. Stephen told Will in 1914 “if I don’t come back maybe I’ll find a way to come and whisper in your ear."


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Ghosts Will Have Warm Hands is a republication of And We Go On (originally published in 1930). One of the most powerful memoirs ever written about the First World War. The Author served 1916-19 with the Black Watch of Canada. Bird’s memoir captures the most poignant side of the war, the sacrifices, the humour, the rats and the terror, so unique to the First World War. His e Ghosts Will Have Warm Hands is a republication of And We Go On (originally published in 1930). One of the most powerful memoirs ever written about the First World War. The Author served 1916-19 with the Black Watch of Canada. Bird’s memoir captures the most poignant side of the war, the sacrifices, the humour, the rats and the terror, so unique to the First World War. His experiences were not only physical but also ethereal. His beloved brother, Stephen, who was killed near Ypres in 1915 played a critical role in Will’s survival and “appears” to save him from death on more than one occasion. Stephen told Will in 1914 “if I don’t come back maybe I’ll find a way to come and whisper in your ear."

30 review for Ghosts have warm hands: A memoir of the Great War, 1916-1919 (CEF classics)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    I don't know why I haven't read this book before. Perhaps the odd title had something to do with my decision..one might think the book was a foray into the horror genre, and it certainly is not. At least not that kind of horror. Bird claims that, on at least two separate occasions, he was led out of danger by the ghost of his brother, who was killed early in the war. His brother's spectre had warm hands, hence the title of the book. Now I would have to see the ghost myself before I would believe I don't know why I haven't read this book before. Perhaps the odd title had something to do with my decision..one might think the book was a foray into the horror genre, and it certainly is not. At least not that kind of horror. Bird claims that, on at least two separate occasions, he was led out of danger by the ghost of his brother, who was killed early in the war. His brother's spectre had warm hands, hence the title of the book. Now I would have to see the ghost myself before I would believe that story, but I know from personal experience that a soldier who has been deprived of sleep for a couple of days can hallucinate, and that could account for the spectral goings-on. Anyway, in spite of the apocryphal fraternal wraith, I believe this memoir should rank right up there with Junger's Storm of Steel, as long as you don't lose sight of the fact that one was written by a cultured officer and the other by a Private. Bird was a member of the 42nd Battalion of the CEF, the famous Canadian "Black Watch". He fought through France and into Belgium for the last two years of WWI, and kept a diary in the process. He has given us an honest account of the Infantryman's wartime experience, and he names the names associated with the good guys and the not-so-good guys. His earthy descriptions of the soldiers' interactions with the civilian populace are often amusing, and his descriptions of the battles he fought will have you sitting on the edge of your seat. He downplays his own achievements and trumpets the accomplishments of his fellow soldiers. He would have been the perfect man to fight with and he also, much to his own surprise, turned out to be the perfect guy to write about it. I heartily recommend this neglected volume to anyone interested in WWI memoirs. Bird didn't let us down in the Great War, and he won't let you down now.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Alan Bowker

    This is a riveting, honest, and breathtaking account of one Canadian soldier's experience in the First World War. Bird was there for some of the major battles of the last years of the war. He describes in spare prose the killing and the dying, the camaraderie and fun, the outwitting of authority and the displays of raw courage which were the soldier's lot in the mud of Flanders. He does not romanticize the war but he does highlight the spirit of the trenches, which, as he later wrote, if there w This is a riveting, honest, and breathtaking account of one Canadian soldier's experience in the First World War. Bird was there for some of the major battles of the last years of the war. He describes in spare prose the killing and the dying, the camaraderie and fun, the outwitting of authority and the displays of raw courage which were the soldier's lot in the mud of Flanders. He does not romanticize the war but he does highlight the spirit of the trenches, which, as he later wrote, if there were more of it in the world there would have been fewer wars. This book, written in 1930, was long out of print until Norm Christie and CEF books reprinted it, and it has now been reissued. Not only historians of the war, but all admirers of human character and courage owe a debt of gratitude to Bird for this reminiscence, and to Christie for making it once again available.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    Excellent first-person account from a Canadian soldier on serving in the trenches of World War I. As realistic as you'd probably wish to read concerning the conditions, combat, friendships, military stupidity, the emotional lives of the soldiers, with touches of humor and a bit of pondering the fortunes of war...Highly recommended before a visit to Ypres Salient, Vimy or the Somme, all of which are areas where he fought. Excellent first-person account from a Canadian soldier on serving in the trenches of World War I. As realistic as you'd probably wish to read concerning the conditions, combat, friendships, military stupidity, the emotional lives of the soldiers, with touches of humor and a bit of pondering the fortunes of war...Highly recommended before a visit to Ypres Salient, Vimy or the Somme, all of which are areas where he fought.

  4. 4 out of 5

    AskHistorians

    The most "recent" of the books on this list, but still powerful for all that. Bird was an important figure in the veterans' movement in the war's aftermath; he took it as his duty to keep the public's memory of all that had been sacrificed alive and to work for the welfare of those who had come home alive but still deeply scarred, whether physically or otherwise. A sympathetic and often harrowing book. The most "recent" of the books on this list, but still powerful for all that. Bird was an important figure in the veterans' movement in the war's aftermath; he took it as his duty to keep the public's memory of all that had been sacrificed alive and to work for the welfare of those who had come home alive but still deeply scarred, whether physically or otherwise. A sympathetic and often harrowing book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    An excellent account for readers interested in the actions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Additionally this work provides a good primary source for readers interested in some of the more ethereal aspects of the Great War as the title would imply (I won't ruin it); themes include: the randomness of trench warfare, fatalism, and symbolic aspects of the Great War. In short, an incredible combat account, and yet so much more. An excellent account for readers interested in the actions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Additionally this work provides a good primary source for readers interested in some of the more ethereal aspects of the Great War as the title would imply (I won't ruin it); themes include: the randomness of trench warfare, fatalism, and symbolic aspects of the Great War. In short, an incredible combat account, and yet so much more.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    Amazing first hand account of a soldier in the trenches of the first World War-a Canadian officer from Nova Scotia. Hailed by veterans as one of the most accurate accounts of both the horrors and the courage and camadarie of the soldier's life in WWI, it transports the reader to the real life of trench warfare. Highly recommended and republished Sept. 30, 2014 with the original title: And We Go On. Amazing first hand account of a soldier in the trenches of the first World War-a Canadian officer from Nova Scotia. Hailed by veterans as one of the most accurate accounts of both the horrors and the courage and camadarie of the soldier's life in WWI, it transports the reader to the real life of trench warfare. Highly recommended and republished Sept. 30, 2014 with the original title: And We Go On.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Shawn Bird

    For a historian or genealogist, there is a depth of richness here. Bird detailed his life in the trenches with journals. He wrote about poor management, gruesome deaths, small delights, and in so doing has left a remarkable record of World War One from the perspective of a Canadian soldier. It's not easy reading, but it's interesting stuff for a scholar or researcher. For a historian or genealogist, there is a depth of richness here. Bird detailed his life in the trenches with journals. He wrote about poor management, gruesome deaths, small delights, and in so doing has left a remarkable record of World War One from the perspective of a Canadian soldier. It's not easy reading, but it's interesting stuff for a scholar or researcher.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Heather Ross

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sheenagh

  10. 5 out of 5

    Clare Hill

  11. 5 out of 5

    Moira Scott

  12. 5 out of 5

    Robert Davidson

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jake Wynn

  14. 5 out of 5

    Paul Armstrong

  15. 4 out of 5

    Todd

  16. 4 out of 5

    Gillik

  17. 4 out of 5

    Taylor

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jody

  19. 4 out of 5

    Joanna Calder

  20. 4 out of 5

    Brandon Llamas

  21. 5 out of 5

    Grayden

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mary

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kristina

  24. 5 out of 5

    Longse

  25. 4 out of 5

    Steve Bramley

  26. 4 out of 5

    Erin Mullen

  27. 4 out of 5

    Gabriele Wills

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay M

  29. 5 out of 5

    Cecilia

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Nordman

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