"THE BANTAMS: The Untold Story Of World War One" is a newly revised military history by Canadian historian, Sidney Allinson, published in July, 2009, by Pen & Sword Books, UK.
"The Bantams" recounts the factual but well-nigh incredible story of how the British and Canadian Army recruited over 50,000 men who were below the regulation minimum height of 5ft. 3ins. to serve as front-line soldiers. Short but sturdy volunteers stepped forward all over Britain, until there were Bantam battalions in a score of famed regiments, plus two Bantam units raised in Canada.
Sidney Allinson's researches took him off on a three-year quest for information, journeying across Canada, the U.S., Britain, and the old Western Front battlefields of France and Belgium, and interviewed over 300 survivors of the Bantams, to obtain the many first-hand accounts of battle told in his book. The result is a fascinating picture of social conditions of the 1914-1918 era, army recruiting methods, and unblinking personal descriptions of brutal trench warfare.
He graphically describes how the patriotic fervour in Britain at the time enabled recruitment of Bantam-sized volunteers to join the demand for a huge citizen army to feed a conflict of murderous attrition. English and Scottish Bantams fought along the Somme front, while Welsh Bantams helped win the Battle of Bourlon despite hideously large casualties that virtually annihilated them.
Originally published some years ago, this revised version of THE BANTAMS 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 flocked to the colours.
Sidney Allinson was born in England, served overseas with the Royal Air Force, emigrated to Canada, and became an advertising executive, film producer, and communications consultant. He is author of six books, a past-Director of the Royal Canadian Military Institute, and now lives in Victoria, British Columbia. Allinson is Chairman of the Pacific Coast Branch of the Western Front Association, and President of the Sir Winston Churchill Society of Vancouver Island.
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