The Memoirs of Private Geoffrey Husbands

A critical edition by Dr John Bourne and Dr Bob Bushaway.

The First World War memoirs of Private Geoffrey Husbands came to light and to the attention of the Centre when the sixteen notebooks containing over 300,000 words closely written in green ink were brought in by Geoffrey’s son, Ian Husbands at the suggestion of his neighbour, former University of Birmingham Council member and long-time Friend of the Centre, Frank Graves.

The memoir which was most probably written up sometime after the War on the basis of his diaries (no longer extant) which must have contained the details of Geoffrey’s immediate impressions of his military experience from 1915-1918 and which took him to Thiepval on the Somme where he was wounded and Flanders.

He had volunteered for service in the newly-formed 16th (service) Battalion, Sherwood Foresters, the Notts and Derby Regiment, known as the Chatsworth Rifles (or to their friends  and members less formally known as “the Chatties”. This unit was formed in 1915 under the auspices of the Duke of Devonshire and far from being filled with the estate workers from his Chatsworth estates was composed of a cross section of miners, labourers , clerks ,railwaymen and office workers from the towns and villages of both counties. There was even a draft of local policemen!

An edition of the memoir is being prepared and researched by Dr John Bourne and Dr Bob Bushaway so that it can be brought to the wider attention of historians and the general public. It is, perhaps, the finest ordinary soldier’s account of the War which has so far emerged and it provides a refreshingly-different view of First World War British Army service not from the viewpoint of a victim but from that of an actor in pursuit of his own destiny.