Turner Donovan Military Books - The world’s finest selection of rare and out-of-print books on British military history from 1800 to 1945
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TAYLOR (William) & DIACK (Peter) Student & Sniper-Sergeant: A Memoir of J.K. Forbes, MA, 4th Gordon Highlanders, Who Died for his Country, 25 September 1915. 1st Ed., viii+182pp., portrait frontis. H&S. 1916  #67490
[HLMainPic] John Keith Forbes was born in Aberdeen in 1883, was indentured as a pupil teacher aged fourteen & later a student at Aberdeen University. Graduating M.A. in 1905 he became a schoolteacher until 1912 when he entered the Theological College of the United Free Church. In 1914 he enlisted in the 4th Battalion Gordon Highlanders (TF), posted to "U" (University) Company, which was affiliated to the Aberdeen University. KiA 25th Sept. 1915, aged thirty-two, and commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial. Includes extracts from his letters & diary during training at Bedford including a kit inspection ("another of the marvels of military life"). In Feb. 1915 the Battalion left Bedford for the Front & the remaining ninety pages consist of a detailed & interesting account of Forbes's active service experiences. These reveal a natural talent for soldiering & an aptitude for finding his way around the trenches without getting lost, even in the dark, consequently he was "always in demand for guiding parties to or from the trenches, &… spent very little of his time indoors." Observing the domination of the front line by German snipers (& their "merciless and ceaseless watch"), "Forbes saw that the only way to stop this was to have British snipers equally well hidden & equally well trained, and to this problem he quietly gave his mind." In June 1915 he was appointed Sergeant of the Snipers, "a section which he organized & trained to utterly confound the German crack shots" & there is a good account of this work on the line around Ypres etc. He lost his life in a diversionary attack near Sanctuary Wood, when, in the thick of the action on the German third line, and already wounded in the leg, he was struck by a shell and killed instantly. Orig. red cloth, gilt, rare but poor copy as frontis. has previously been fixed in with Selotape, the tape now removed but leaving heavy unpleasant staining. Inexpensive copy. See illustration on our website.   £75


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