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A Boy from Botwood
Pte. A.W. Manuel, Royal Newfoundland Regiment, 1914-1919
By (author): Bryan Davies By (author): Andrew Traficante
9781459736719 Paperback, Trade English General Trade HISTORY / Military / World War I Newfoundland & Labrador Jan 21, 2017
$22.99 CAD
Active 6 x 9 x 0.5 in 176 pages Index Dundurn
A proud Newfoundland soldier’s memoir gives unprecedented details of life as a German POW during the First World War.

I’m going to tell my story. With those words, eighty-three-year-old Arthur Manuel set his remarkable First World War memoir in motion.

Like many Great War veterans, Manuel had never discussed his wartime life with anyone. Hidden in the Manuel family records until its 2011 discovery by his grandson David Manuel, Arthur’s story is now brought to new life.

Determined to escape his impoverished rural Newfoundland existence, he enlisted with the Royal Newfoundland Regiment in late 1914. His harrowing accounts of life under fire span the Allies’ ill-fated 1915 Gallipoli campaign, the Regiment’s 1916 near-destruction at Beaumont-Hamel, and his 1917 Passchendaele battlefield capture. Manuel’s account of his seventeen-month POW experience, including his nearly successful escape from a German forced labour camp, provides unique, compelling Great War insights.

Powerful memories undimmed by age shine through Manuel’s lucid prose. His visceral hatred of war, and of the leaders on both sides who permitted such senseless carnage to continue, is ferocious yet tempered by Manuel’s powerful affection for common soldiers like himself, German and Allied alike. This poignant, angry, witty, and provocative account rings true like no other.

  • A unique, powerful narrative — the only detailed North American soldier’s first-hand account of the Great War and three major campaigns (Gallipoli, Somme, and Passchendaele), German POW life, escape, and recapture
  • An equally compelling character in Manuel, who was a poor, rural Newfoundlander who despised privilege, came to hate war, but loved his fellow common soldiers, Allied and enemy alike
  • A unique narrative tone: Manuel does not celebrate Great War glory, or endorse the conventional Canadian theme that WWI made Canada a nation, but instead mourns its colossal, pointless, and all too preventable slaughter
  • Careful, comprehensive research, including the National Archives, Royal Newfoundland Regiment, leading German WWI historian Rolf Schafer’s collected regimental diaries, all relevant WWI records, and the Manuel family history, all thoroughly examined
  • An equally unique backstory: Manuel decided to tell his story at age 82, purchased a Dictaphone, recording 60 hours of his reminiscences to tape, arranged for its complete transcription, and then died, with the original story rediscovered in 2011 by his grandson, hidden in an attic shoebox

Bryan Davies is a writer, commentator, and creative works consultant. Author of several hundred articles spanning history, law, sport, and politics, in 2013 he and Andrew Traficante co-founded Tagona Creative, a successful Canadian creative-works incubator. Bryan is also a founding partner with United Front Entertainment, a Canadian film distribution and content development enterprise. Bryan lives in Whitby, Ontario.

Along with heaviness, there is wit and wisdom in its pages. - SooToday

A fascinating, well-told account of the exigencies of war and his time served as a POW, A Boy from Botwood is a true treasure. - The Miramichi Reader

A compelling and highly recommended true-life war story. - Midwest Book Review

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