Englishman's Daughter

Englishman's Daughter

A True Story of Love and Betrayal in World War I

Book - 2001
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Never before told, The Englishman's Daughter is a harrowing tale of love and duplicity and their tragic consequences, which haunt the people of northern France's town of Villeret eight decades after the Great War. photos.
Publisher: New York, NY : Farrar, Straus, Giroux : 2001
ISBN: 9780374129859
Branch Call Number: 940.481 D472m
Characteristics: 254p illus


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Feb 02, 2016

Journalist Ben Macintyre’s interest is piqued when he is invited to Le Câtelet, a small town near the Western Front, to report on the unveiling of a plaque to honour four British soldiers executed there in 1916. An elderly French woman from the nearby village of Villeret introduces herself as the daughter of one of the executed soldiers.
The story starts in the first days of WW1. Allied attacks against the initial German offensives were quickly turned around. The Allies in retreat, some soldiers were trapped behind enemy lines. Seven British soldiers found themselves in Villeret, a village under occupation. Several villagers rallied to conceal the soldiers ... the best strategy was to hide them in plain sight by integrating them into the village. They protected the soldiers for almost two years.
Full-length exposés by journalists are not my favourite genre of books. Material best suited to a feature story or series is often over-stretched and padded to fit the longer format. Macintyre doesn’t fall into that trap. He frames interesting personal stories into the larger context of the war. He documents the horrors of war, and how the lives of the villagers under occupation and of the occupiers evolve in an area that saw some of the worst devastation of the time.

Cdnbookworm Mar 10, 2012

Near the beginning of World War I, many Allied soldiers found themselves behind enemy lines on the western front. This concentrates on four British soldiers that were forced to hide for years in a tiny French village called Villeret. Other soldiers similarly trapped in the area are also touched included, but the author concentrates on these four particularly because he became aware of their story when invited to a memoiral service at their gravesite in the late 1990s. He didn't at first understand why he'd been invited, until he was introduced to an elderly woman after the service. She told him of the seven British soldiers hidden in the village, that three had eventually managed to escape and make their way home, and that four were betrayed and given up to the Germans. She said "Those seven British soldiers were our soldiers. One of them was my father."
He was hooked and delved through records in France, Britain and Germany, visitied the village again and again digging into the stories and memories of the people there, most of them descendants of the people whose lives were lived there during that time. This is the story he discovered, and, as he says, it made the war personal to him, because the stories made the soldiers individuals who came alive for him. It is a fascinating tale of one small village during the war.

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