Gun Fire (Number 37), edited by A.J. Peacock
A5 size booklet, 64 pages. (N6454X1)
Oh Sir Basil (Basil Thomson)
The First Flame-Thrower Attack - some notes
Before endeavours fade
Aubers Ridge - A Review
Notes and Queries
From the opening page of 'The First Flame-Thrower - Some Notes': An issue of Gun Fire carried an article on the events of 30 July 1915, the date the Germans launched their flammenwerfer attack at Hooge in an episode dismissed by the British Official History as a 'matter merely of local consequence.' A battalion of the British Army was accused of cowardice and sent back to make a futile counter attack, and a participant in the first part of the matter of merely local consequence wrote a vitriolic account of the day. Parts of his account - but only partshave been frequently used. Gun Fire's article used all of his notes, which are contained in a private collection at York. The writer was Gordon Vero Carey, an author and, during the war, a member of the 8th Battalion of the Rifle Brigade. His son revealed that the bitterness instilled in him after 'Hooge' stayed with him for the rest of his life. The article in Gun Fire No 13 described the events of the first liquid fire attack on the British (it was certainly that) and went on to contend that the British should have known such an attack was coming and taken appropriate action. Why should they have known? Were there intelligence reports saying that the enemy were contemplating such an attack? There might have been, but accounts of such attacks being made on other parts of the Western Front (other than the parts held by the British) were printed in the newspapers. Not only that but they were based on official French communiques as often as not. Were these obscure prints? They were not. Most of the examples quoted in Gun Fire 13 came from the columns of The Times and were indexed (eventually) under such headings as 'flammenwerfer', 'liquid fire' or in a phrase about burning oil or petrol. How could such reports have been ignored by contemporaries? It seems incredible that they were. It is tragic that they were.
The 'Bapterne de Feu' article quoted about ten incidents of flame being used by the Germans before 30 July citing not only The Times but also Le Temps, The Daily Chronicle (where the report was by the doyen of British war correspondents Philip Gibbs), and a local paper, The Yorkshire Evening Press. Those examples would seem to be enough to substantiate the contention that the British High Command should have been on the qui vive for an attack (Gordon Carey said he and his colleagues were expecting one), but a number of other reports, and some relevant historical observations, could have been added to the indictment of issue No 13. Presumably such reports as that quoted from The Yorkshire Evening Press could be found in scores of local papers, but here are some more that could have been used earlier....
Interestingly, an earlier edition of the journal explained the origins of the slang phrase 'Gun Fire', detailing how it was a term for the early cup of tea served out to troops in the morning before going on first parade. In the War recruits in training always had Gun Fire supplied to them, as the work before breakfast was often particularly gruelling.
Condition of the booklet is generally good. The cover has one or two minor scuffs, but the staple spine is intact, and all pages are clean, intact, unblemished and tightly bound. Their is a small price sticker on the rear side cover.