Until now Hugh Butterworth was just one of the millions of lost soldiers of the Great War, and the extraordinary letters he sent home from the Western Front have been largely forgotten.
But, after more than ninety years of obscurity, these letters, which describe his experience of war in poignant detail, have been rediscovered, and they are published here in full.
They are a moving, intensely personal and beautifully written record by an articulate and observant man who witnessed at first hand one of the darkest episodes in European history.
Butterworth, a first cousin of the composer George Butterworth who lost his life on the Somme in 1916, was in civilian life a dedicated and much-loved schoolmaster and a gifted cricketer, who served with distinction as an officer in the Rifle Brigade from the spring of 1915.
His letters give us a telling insight into the thoughts and reactions of a highly educated, sensitive and perceptive individual confronted by the horrors of modern warfare.
Butterworth was killed on the Bellewaarde Ridge near Ypres on 25 September 1915 during one of the disastrous diversionary attacks launched to distract German attention from the Battle of Loos, and his last letter was written on the eve of the action in which he died.
For this full edition of his letters Jon Cooksey has edited and illustrated the text and provided an introduction, describing Butterworth’s family background, his pre-war career, the battles on the Western Front in which he took part, and the final engagement in which he lost his life.
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