Toonsfowk, Fermers and the Fisherfolk at War, by John Crawford and John Fowlie
Published by Buckie & District Heritage, 392 pages. Paperback - c.17cm by 24cm (N5172)
From the introduction: This book... tries to draw attention to the part played by the men who went to war from the towns and villages in our area, and tells the story of how local people passed the four long years of war. It gives accounts of happenings in the trenches, at sea and in the skies, and remembers how the three armed forces fought with great valour...
The book provides a fascinating and detailed history of the people from Buckie and the North East of Scotland who served and fought in the First World War (in both the Army and the Royal Navy), and chapters include: 1) How the Great War Started, 2) The Battles of Mons, Le Cateau and Marne, 3) The Royal Navy goes to War, 4) The War on the ground resumes, 5) The Royal Navy Operations in late 1914-15, 6) The War on the Ground 1915, 7) Steam Drifters go to War, 8) Battle of Loos, 9) The Battle of Jutland, 10) The Battle of the Somme, St Eloi and Ypres, 11)The Spring Offensive 1917 - Arras Vimy Passchendaele Cambrai, 12) The German Break Through 1918, 13) The 51st Division.
In this book, John Crawford’s depiction of the Royal Navy at the outbreak of the 1st World War is deliberate, when he describes this massive fighting force, with its reputation for dominating the oceans of the world extending back over centuries, confident in its ability to continue as before and unaware that times are changing: ‘old fashioned’ has become inefficient and the widespread use of mines and submarines will change the face of warfare on water. He describes the blockading role given to the Navy in its attempt to prevent the German Fleet escaping into the North Sea and the effectiveness of enemy U-Boats in attacks on large warships, where the efforts of thirty men could result in the loss of eight hundred.
Contrasting with the formality and rigid discipline of the Senior Service, John introduces us to the way of life of the fishermen whose boats, mainly stream drifters, were requisitioned to work with the Admiralty and whose crews, many already Naval Reservists, volunteered their services in support of the Royal Navy. Their duties were mainly as fleet tenders, boom defence vessels, minesweepers and anti-submarine net vessels as well as performing other roles; from the North Sea, to the Channel and the Mediterranean. The men’s strength which soon became evident, lay in their superlative seamanship skills, their courage and their willingness to carry on against uneven odds. John has focussed on the men from the North East of Scotland and has chosen to list and detail, almost one hundred and fifty local boats which were lost during the war.
The inclusion of personal details of the identities of crews and boats’ owners will no doubt strike a chord with some North-East families. The actions of many fishermen in situations of great danger, is reflected in the awards for bravery won by them.
In referring to the Sea-Battle of Jutland in 1916, it seems the outcome was rather played down. John tactfully supplies us with facts and figures and it is perhaps sufficient to say that counting the losses in shipping suffered by the British Grand Fleet and comparing these with those sustained by the German Navy, we did not come out of it too well.
Condition of the book is generally excellent. The cover is clean and bright, the spine is intact and intact, and all pages are clean, intact, unblemished and tightly bound. Their is an old price (printed) and a small price sticker on the rear side cover