Story of county’s war heroes

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Helping serve the pints behind the bar at a pub in Islip one day, featuring in a landmark World War One battle the next.

A new book titled Aisne 1914: The Dawn of Trench Warfare covers the 1st Northamptonshire Regiment’s role in the famous battle which marked the end of the war of movement and the beginning of the trench war fare.

It includes the story of Private Reginald Field, who was the second son of Charles Field, the landlord of the Woolpack Inn in Islip.

Private Field was part of the regiment which chased the Germans 160 miles to the River Aisne where they seized and defended the heights of the Chemin des Dames in France.

The soldier was to only see one day of the battle before being wounded by shrapnel on September 14, 1914.

He was rescued and taken to a cave where he stayed for five days until being taken to hospital in St Nazaire and then St Thomas’ Hospital in London.

He later recovered from his wounds.

The battle saw the beginning of the trenches of the Western Front that stretched from the Swiss border across France and Belgium to the North Sea.

It was at the Aisne that the stalemate of trench warfare began which would last for four years where neither side could make an effective breakthrough to deliver a decisive victory.

The book follows Private Field and his regiment as they walked on foot from Mons for three weeks during the end of August 1914, took part in the Battle of the Marne in the first week of September before pursuing the German Army in the advance to the River Aisne.

By the time they reached the River Aisne they had covered approximately 160 miles on foot.

Many of the men were physically and mentally exhausted, undernourished with no opportunities to maintain hygiene, to eat or to rest.

When they reached the Aisne on September 13, 1914 the regiment had to cross the river using pontoons and the surviving girders of damaged bridges.

It was then when the regiment seized the Chemin des Dames.

The book is written by Paul Kendall and is available from bookshops.