by Frank M. Laird
Personal Experiences of the Great War (An Unfinished Manuscript) by Frank M.Laird, Late Royal Dublin Fusiliers was published posthumously by his family shortly after his death in 1925. Laird opens this first-hand experience of the Great War with the following paragraph ‘In July 1914, I was peaceably camping with some friends on Howth Summit. No suspicion had crossed my mind that these were the last days of the old order of things, that the avalanche of the Great War, which was soon to sweep me to far off shores amid strange and terrible scenes, had already begun to move.’ Laird described himself as ‘naturally a man of peace’ but struggled with how he would be seen in the eyes of his friends upon their return from the War if he had not joined up. Working as a Civil Servant in Dublin at the age of thirty-five did not offer much excitement so he also saw joining up as ‘a chance to get out of the groove with a vengeance’. With the support of his sister with whom he was living Laird joined the Royal Dublin Fusiliers ‘It will always be one of the proudest recollections of my life that I had the honour to be made one of their Company’. Laird was wounded at Ypres in August 1917 but returned to the Front in January 1918 only to be captured by the Germans and later released. As a result of his service Laird developed a fatal illness and died on January 6 1925. Laird wrote chapters twenty-five to thirty-four to be given as a lecture. The preceding chapters were written as his own personal memoir of the Great War with no view to publication. Laird eloquently describes some of the most horrific events of the Great War including Suvla Bay, life in front line trenches and the Messines offensive as well as his time in Dublin during the Easter Rising 1916. There are also chapters concerning his experiences as a P.O.W in the Schweidnitz prison camp. This rare publication is excellently written and provides a powerful insight into one Irishman’s experience out of the thousands of Irishmen who fought in the Great War.
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