Published on August 7th, 2014 | by admin
Twitter Q&A with Men of Letters author Duncan Barrett
During the First World War, the GPO as it was known back in 1914, played a crucial role during WW1 and even had its own regiment. 1,800 men perished and 4,500 were wounded in battle who had signed up to the Post Office Rifles regiment.
The Post Office held a twitter Q&A with Men of Letters author Duncan Barrett who has recently released a book documenting the fortunes of some of the 12,000 soldiers who fought for the Post Office Rifles regiment. Here’s what he had to say…….
Q: what inspired you to write the book?
A: I was interested in what it was like for men who knew each other before the war serving together – how that affected their lives in the trenches. Many of the PORs served with men they’d sorted mail with before the war. I think it added to the camaraderie, but also the horror when former friends and colleagues were killed. I read one account @I_W_M archive of a man shot through the head by an old PO colleague before he drowned in mud.
Q: Rather horrific accounts then?
A: Absolutely, but funny stories too. One time, the PORs were called on to deliver mail from German POWs to the enemy across no man’s land. They couldn’t send the letters in food tins in case they were mistaken for grenades, so cut slits in some giant carrots and lobbed them over that way!
Q: Brilliant, the kind stories you don’t often hear about! How did you find out about these little nuggets?
A: A lot of my research was at the @I_W_M in London, also many documents @postalheritage too. I found some great stories. A: The @I_W_M also have some tapes of interviews conducted with a few of the PORs before they died – was great to hear their voices. Yes, I was keen to see the war through the ordinary men’s eyes – these were average postmen or messenger boys who joined the PORs – the kind of men who would deliver your mail daily.
Q: One of the nice things about your book is how it tells the stories of some of the lesser known voices…
A: Yes, I was keen to see the war through the ordinary men’s eyes – these were average postmen or messenger boys who joined the PORs – the kind of men who would deliver your mail daily.
Q: I read your Uncle fought in the Rifles too?
A: Actually my great-great-uncle Eric fought alongside the PORs, at High Wood, where he died along with many of them in Sept 1915. His name was Eric Layton, and he is actually being remembered this evening at the Tower of London.
Q: what did you think of the centenary celebrations?
A: Unfortunately I missed a lot on the day as I was launching my book then too! I can see Spectra from my garden though I think it is beautiful. Really hoping to get down to the Tower to see the poppies there too.
Along with Darren Barrett’s fascinating book, Men of Letters, our Great War presentation pack and commemorative coin marking World War One give fascinating insights into the lives of those who defended their country during the First World War.