Told through the letters of a young Irish officer, this is the story of Irish soldiers in the First World War and the capture of the Flemish village of Wijtschate on the Messines ridge, just south of Ypres in June 1917.
The book is structured around a collection of letters written by a nineteen year old Irish officer in the 6th Royal Irish Regiment, 2nd Lieutenant Michael Wall from Carrick Hill, near Malahide in north Co. Dublin. Michael was educated by the Christian Brothers in Dublin and destined to study science at UCD before being seduced by the illusion of adventure through war. By contextualising and expanding the content of Wall's letters and setting them within the entrenched battle zone of the Messines Ridge, Burke offers a unique insight into the trench life this young Irish man experienced, his disillusionment with war and his desire to get home. Burke also presents an account of the origin, preparations and successful execution of the battle to take Wijtschate on 7 June 1917 in which the 16th (Irish) and 36th (Ulster) Divisions played a pivotal role. In conclusion Burke offers an insight into the contentious subject of remembrance of the First World War in Ireland in the late 1920s
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