When war broke out in 1914 conscription seemed unnecessary; there was no shortage of volunteers ready to lay down their lives for their country. In this fascinating book, illustrated with contemporary drawings and photographs, Caroline Dakers explores exactly what their 'country' meant to the men and women who fought, died, survived. She suggests that, with a little subliminal help from literature, art and propaganda, the British volunteer, whether factory worker, farm hand or public school boy, felt that he was fighting for old England - village, church, meadow and carthorse, rather than city, factory, commerce and motor car.
Drawing on a wide range of unpublished papers and family archives, Dr Dakers recreates the world of the countryside at war. There are chapters on agriculture (literally 'the home front'), and life and death in the manor house, vicarage, school and farm. And while all this was being fought for, The French countryside was smashed into a quagmire.
This is the most complete picture yet of the impact of the First World War on rural England; a war which, if only in the ubiquitous village war memorials, still reverberates across the decades.