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This is a very important book, containing a historical document which throws a new light on the events of 1914 and 1915. The book is essentially in three parts: the journal of Frederick Coxen (the author's grandfather and namesake), an explanation of the events taking place as the journal was written and the author's quest to find the relatives of his grandfather's friends.
The journal is important for two reasons. It details the work of the men who kept the lines of communication open to direct bombardments at a time when the war had not yet settled into trench warfare. This is unusual if not unique. Additionally it touches on an important historical controversy - that of the crucified soldier. There has been debate about whether or not the Germans crucified a soldier. Frederick Coxen was an eye-witness to the retaliation the Canadians took - crucifying a German and pinning a notice to him saying "Canada does not forget." It seems to me unreasonable that such an action would take place without some provocation. For this reason alone, students of the period should read this book or, indeed, the diary itself, which the author intends to present to the Imperial War Museum in London.
The quest for the relatives of Coxen's dead friends is also worth reading if only to show how difficult it is to find information even today. We had a similar experience looking for my father-in-law who received his fatal wound at Dunkirk and died from it over twenty years later. The Middlesex Regiment has no record of him although we have all his badges, buttons and medals. The author did very well to find out as much as he did.
This is a book for serious historians and also for those who want to know more about this period of history or to work through the bureaucracy of searching any database for relatives.