Title: If I Goes West!
Publisher: George G. Harrap
Publication Date: 1918
Book Condition: Good
46, (1) printed pages. Sporadic foxing throughout. 13.5 x 19 cm. Orginal grey paper covered boards (slightly chipped along some edges). Upper cover with gilt titling above embossed brown silhouette of peak-capped soldier seated on the ground. Spine with brown titling (very slightly worn and creased).
"To go West" is to die (see Siegfried Sassoon's "Memorial Tablet (GreatWar)" -- that is, to head in the opposite direction of the Continent and the Western Front, and towards good ol' "Blighty": England. To explain the author, "a Tommy," it is said that, at the Battle of Waterloo, the Duke of Wellington once asked a dying British soldier his name, and the soldier replied "Thomas Atkins, sir." Coincidentally, in August 1815, the War Office issued the first "Soldier's Account Book," and its how-to-fill-out examples gave the hypothetical name "Thomas Atkins." Years later such popular works as Rudyard Kipling's poems "To Thomas Atkins," and "Tommy" helped to ensure that the nickname "Tommy" would forever be synonymous with the British private soldier -- at once, a generic term and term of endearment (as "G.I." would be to an American soldier). By taking the name "Tommy," the anonymous author of this collection has assumed the role of the representative British soldier. (For an Australian parallel, see The Anzac Pilgrim's Progress : Ballads of Australia's Army / by Lance-Corporal Cobber). The enlisted man's experience is rare, and this pseudonymous work adds ambiguity: was the author really enlisted? officer? or non-combatant?
WorldCat lists four copies in the UK.