Author(s): Sam Sutcliffe, edited by Phil Sutcliffe

Publisher: Sutcliffe & Son, 682 pages with 8 photographs

Published 2016

Price: £10.00 (Paperback), Kindle Edition £5.00

ISBN: 978-0-9929567-2-1

This huge book of some 682 pages, is the detailed personal life story of 16-year-old Signaller, Lance Corporal Sam Sutcliffe, 2/1st (City of London) Battalion (Royal Fusiliers). Beginning with his childhood, his foot soldiering begins when he enlists under-age at 16. A boy from north London, Sam joined the Royal Fusiliers in September 1914 as patriotic fever spread across Britain. After spending several months training, the battalion departs for Malta and then Egypt, before embarking for Suvla Bay where the unit was attached to the ’Immortal’ 29th Division. After the Gallipoli evacuation Sam went on to fight on the Somme in 1916 and Arras in 1918 where he was captured during the German Spring Offensive, finishing the First World War in captivity. 

His Gallipoli service is described in great detail (approximately 60 pages in length). That said, his descriptions of Malta and Egypt are also equally fascinating. Once landed on the Peninsula in September 1915 he was not indulged in any major battle, but the casualties from just holding the line reduced the battalion from a thousand men to just 200 by the evacuation. What is remarkable when reading the text is his amazing memory recall over 50 years after the event. His powers of observation were excellent and his skill to recall details is astounding after so much time. The stories of appalling suffering, emotions, humour and the general unjudged honesty of Sam is compelling to read. Sam evacuated from Gallipoli not once, but twice. Having left Suvla in December 1915, Sam was landed, via the River Clyde, on V Beach at Helles, only to be evacuated with the rest of the garrison in January 1916. After moving back to Egypt, the battalion transferred to France in April 1916 where it was disbanded. With further service in the Royal Fusiliers, Sam eventually ended up in the 2nd Battalion, Essex Regiment. 

Edited by Sam Sutcliffe's son, Phil, this book is an absorbing must read for anyone with an interest in the life of a ‘Poor Bloody Infantryman’. Nobody of any importance? Without soldiers like Sam the allies would not have won the war. If you want to buy just one personal account of the war this year, this is it.