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6 October 2022

Letters home

“I shall not be away long”: Stanhoe WI members hear voices from the Great War.

Stanhoe and Barwick WI members welcomed Andrew Tatham to their October meeting to refresh their memory of his first book “A Group Photo”, and to explain about the research which went into his subsequent book “I Shall Not Be Away Long”.

The group photo of 46 men of the 8th Battalion of the Royal Berkshire Regiment, taken in 1915 before setting off to fight in the First World War, started Andrew on his quest to discover who these men were, particularly as only 21 of them finally came back.

21 years later Andrew held a large exhibition in Ypres of work arising from his discoveries. This led to exposure on The Jeremy Vine Show on TV, and to the much increased sales of his resulting book “A Group Photo”. In March 2019 Andrew spoke to Stanhoe and Barwick WI about his work to date.

The covers of Andrew Tatham’s two books

The covers of Andrew Tatham’s two books on the First World War: more details here.

There were only two officers amongst the 46 men in the photo, one being Andrew’s great grandfather, and the other his second-in-command Charles Bartlett.

Charles Bartlett wrote home every day to his wife back in London. All of his letters were saved, and came to light from a family member during Andrew’s original research. The first letter contains the phrase “I shall not be away long”, which provided the title for the second book based on further research from all the letters. Some of the facts discovered, such as the provenance of Buzzards Dundee Cake, were amusing, but generally the facts about life in the trenches were much more serious.

It was a thought-provoking talk, and Andrew’s final words, “Life is constantly changing and you need to ask questions before it is too late”, rang true.

Posted by: Charles
Posted on: 6 October 2022