Sunday, October 30, 2005

Revised new edition of THE BANTAMS


"The untold story of World War One" is the sub-title of "The Bantams", a recently revised military history book by Canadian author, Sidney Allinson.

"The Bantams" provides fascinating additional details to the factual but well-nigh incredible story of how the British and Canadian Army recruited over 50,000 tiny men to serve as front-line soldiers. Such Bantam battalions numbered over twenty units in Britain, plus two battalions from Canada. They had their origins in Merseyside, England, in 1915. The movement spread all over Britain, particularly the coal mining regions of Wales and Northern England, then to Canada, until there were Bantam battalions in a score of famed regiments.

Originally published in 1981, this revised version reveals disturbing new information about battlefield executions by firing squads that was only recently released from British official records long held secret from the public. It adds even more poignancy to the story of how thousands of patriots not much taller than a rifle themselves, well below the 5ft. 3ins. minimum height, flocked to the colours.

Canadian military historian Sidney Allinson's researches took him off on a three-year quest for information, journeying across Canada, the U.S., the old battlefields of Flanders, and all over Britain. He contacted over 300 survivors of the Bantams, to obtain the many first-hand accounts of battle told in his book.

It also recreates the social conditions in Canada during the First World War. Patriotic fervour here enabled Col. Frank Burton to raise the 216th Bantam (Toronto) Battalion within one week, and the Vancouver-based 143rd B.C. Bantams was raised despite constant poaching of recruits by other regiments. Soldiers from both these now-forgotten Canadian units served at Vimy Ridge and other later battles.

Published by Xlibris Corp., Philadelphia, PA, "The Bantams" has already been recognized as an important new volume of original military research into the Great War of 1914-1918. Sidney Allinson served in the Royal Air Force, is a past director of the Royal Canadian Military Institute, and now lives in Victoria, British Columbia, where he is Chairman, Pacific Coast Branch, The Western Front Association.

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