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320pp paperback illustrated Amberley June 2014

South Wales Post 28 June 2014

‘Welsh author Terry Breverton, who has published extensively on Welsh history and culture and presented documentaries on the Discovery Channel and the History Channel, turns his attention to the First World War in his latest book. He tackles such questions as: what was a ‘trench rabbit’? What was known as a ‘suicide ditch’? And why did the Kaiser ban the production of sausages?....’

Good Reads Review

‘Far from being a conventional account of the First World War, this covers the background to the fighting and all the major battles, but it also considers many more aspects of the conflict, from the impact on the Home Front or the technological developments it encouraged. For example, that bratwurst was banned in Germany because it took the intestines of 250,000 cows to make one Zeppelin, or that John Maynard Keynes’ younger brother Geoffrey developed a portable blood-back. Definitely a book for those interested in the arcane and the obscure.’

Western Mail, and Wales Online 7 July 2014

‘The real-life War Horse and other strange but true stories of World War One.

What was a trench rabbit, a suicide ditch, a donkey whalloper, and just why did the Kaiser ban the production of sausages? These – and just who was the real War Horse – are just some of the many questions answered by Welsh author Terry Breverton (pictured) in his new compendium of oddities, curiosities and little-known facts from World War One. And the book, published in the centenary of the start of the war, also casts light upon the ‘unknown’ Welsh First World War fighter ace with the fastest kill rate. In Breverton’s First World War Curiosities the author, a product of Barry Grammar School, and now living in Llanybydder, Carmarthenshire, aims to be informative about ‘the war to end all wars’ but also wants to reflect the humour and good nature of front-line soldiers that alleviated the underlying sadness and terror of World War One. He said ‘Only with a sense of “gallows humour” could they exist with any sense of sanity in the conditions they faced.’

The little-known Welsh fighter ace, James Ira ‘Taffy’ Jones was an unlikely hero, having a bad stutter as a result of being rolled down a hill in a barrel in his St. Clear’s, Carmarthenshire, home as a child. But, despite also having a reputation for crashing aircraft upon landing, he went on to win the Military Cross, the Distinguished Flying Cross and bar, and the Distinguished Service Order, recording 21 victories in just three months flying the Royal Aircraft Factory SE 5 during World War One, a faster kill rate than any other pilot in the war. He was accused of being ‘unsportsmanlike’ by fellow pilots for machine-gunning parachuting enemy aces, but replied ‘Never having been to public school, I was unhampered by such considerations of form and just pointed out that there was a b….y war on and I intended to avenge my pals.’

After finally recording 37 WWI kills, in World War Two he was acting wing-commander at the RAF Porthcawl bombing and gunnery school and, flying an unarmed Hawker Henley, attacked a Junkers JU 88 bomber with the only weapon he had, a flare pistol, which stopped the plane attacking Swansea Docks. He died aged 64 in Aberaeron in 1960.

In his examination of World War One terms and slang, Breverton found that a ‘trench rabbit’ was, in fact, a rat, the term used by American soldiers for the vast number of rodents that infested the miles of trenches on both sides. A suicide ditch was what the men called the front line trenches for sadly obvious reasons, while a donkey whalloper was a derogatory term for a British cavalryman, particularly the Household Cavalry, the expression coming from the British Foot Guards, the longstanding rivals of the Household Cavalry. Other terms include tin opener (bayonet), crump (German 5.9 inch shell) and plug (shoot, plug with lead).

Breverton gives the title ‘the real War Horse’ to Warrior, who went to war on the Western Front with Winston Churchill’s great friend General Jack Seeley in 1914. He survived famous battles including the Somme and Ypres, coming back four years later. Eight million other horses and mules did not. Seeley led a charge on Warrior at the battle of Moreuiel Wood, saying of the horse ‘He had to endure everything most hateful to him, violent noise, the bursting of shells, above all, the smell of blood, terrifying to every horse. The book reveals German emperor Kaiser Wilhelm banned sausage production as the production of German Zeppelin airships each required the guts of 250,000 cows to create its hydrogen cells…’

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