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WW1 Trench Warfare Manual (1916) | Knowledge for War

WW1 Officer's Trench Warfare Handbook (1916)

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Captain B. C. Lake


An original WW1 British Army officer’s trench warfare handbook. This is the first edition, undated, but published in 1916. It proved to be a very popular book with those serving at the front, and at least eight further editions were published during the war. The book is signed on the front cover by ‘A. R. Taylour’, and signed and dated ‘A. R. Taylour, France, 1916’ on the title page. Captain Alfred Robert Taylour (1877-1972) of the 1st Battalion The London Regiment served in France as a Lieutenant from early 1915, before being promoted to Captain in June 1916. He later went on to serve as a Staff Officer. Before the war he had been a barrister living in London, and he resumed his career after the war. (I will include copies of the details I have of his service career, and an original Carte De Visite photograph, reputed to be of Captain Taylour, with the book).

Knowledge For War is a compendium of more or less everything a junior officer heading out to the trenches would need to know: from basic details of officers kit to how to deal with gas attacks, build trenches and dug-outs, construct barbed wire defences, conduct bombing raids, fight with the bayonet, look after weapons, and all the other duties of an officer in the front line. It includes a selection of inspiring verses that might help out in moments of crisis: the book opens with Kipling's 'If’ and closes with Rupert Brooke's 'The Soldier'. With advice on how to get a Machine Gun working in an emergency, how to use several different types of hand grenades, and other more general hints on trench warfare, this is a very interesting window into the world of the junior officer on the Western Front. Near the end of the book there is a checklist of things an officer should constantly ask himself:

'I am here for two purposes—to do as much damage as possible to the enemy and to hold my part of the line at all costs. Am I doing everything possible to ensure my being able to do this?'

The book is very well illustrated with diagrams and line drawings and also includes a number of excellent period advertisements for officers kit, trench coats by Burberry and Moss Bros, and that other essential item, the luminous trench watch ('in silver: £3. 12. 6').


In very good condition. The boards are in very good condition, with only minor signs of use. The binding and hinges are very good and secure. The text and illustrations are in very good condition, with just a few pencil annotations by Captain Taylour (including noting the items of officers kit he took with him). Signed on the front cover and title page by ‘A. R. Taylour’.

Published: 1916
Khaki boards with black titling
illustrated throughout with line drawings and diagrams
Dimensions: 105mm x 160mm
Pages: 174