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Knowledge For War  (1916) | Captain B. Lake

WW1 Officer's Trench Warfare Handbook

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Captain B. C. Lake

HARRISON AND SONS, London, c.1916

A rare WW1 British Army officers trench warfare handbook, undated, but published c.1916. 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, 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 Wordsworth's 'Freedom' 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 in 1916. 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, such as trench coats by Burberry and Thresher, and that other essential item, the luminous trench watch, offered by Mappin & Webb at £2.10.


In fair to good condition. The cover is quite worn, having clearly seen action, and showing general signs of age and wear, with creases and marks. The binding and hinges are secure. The text and illustrations are in good condition.

Published: c.1916
Khaki boards with black titling.
Dimensions: 105mm x 155mm
Pages: 178