NEWS

Bath Book Fair October 2016

29 September 2016
We will be exhibiting at the PBFA Bath Book Fair on Saturday 8th October from 10:30am to 4:30pm.

The October Bath Book Fair will be situated in the world famous Assembly Rooms. The book fair has leading booksellers from around the country offering a wide variety of antiquarian and secondhand books. With prices ranging from just a few pounds into the thousands there are books to suit all budgets.

The Assembly Rooms
Bennett Street
Bath
BA1 2QH

Saturday 8th October: 10:30am to 4:30pm.

Tickets on the door: £2 (complimentary tickets are available from the shop or from the PBFA website).

> The Bath Book Fair Facebook Page

> The Provincial Booksellers Fairs Association

The Fred Young Letters

29 September 2016
Sophie has spent the last few months reading and cataloguing an extraordinary collection of 254 letters written between 1914 and 1919 by Private Fred C. Young of the 4th Battalion Somerset Light Infantry whilst serving abroad, principally in India and Mesopotamia. They are addressed to his parents, Charlie and Louie, and siblings Marjorie and Stanley who lived at No.1 Nelson Place in Bath, moving in 1917 to 8 Lower East Hayes. Charlie was the proprietor of the butchers Youngs Bros. in Nelson Place. The letters would have arrived in Bath at the Postal Sorting Office in Manvers Street, which now happens to be the George Bayntun bookshop and bindery. So they have returned to the building 100 years later.

Fred wrote in one of his letters, dated 17th June 1915, “Please do not allow my photo or any of my letters to be published in any of the papers, as “A Brave Bath Lad”, or some other rubbish”. They are certainly not rubbish and reveal a world of detail of a soldier’s life far from the Western Front. Fred saw limited action, although he was involved in the Battle of Sheikh Sa’ad against the Ottomans in January 1916 (“I went right through the thick of it all and came out without so much as a scratch”).

Fred sailed to Madras in late 1914 and was full of wonder at his changed circumstances. He wrote: “When one enters Madras (or India generally) one of the first things that attracts your attention (other than the black people) is the large amount of oxen which take the place of horses”, and “one of the things which surprised me most when we came here first, was to see the large number of women doing work which would in England be done by men”. In January 1916 he moved north to Jalandhar and commented: “Up here we have to take very great care of our rifles, for if the natives get the slightest chance they will steel them”. At the end of August the battalion is in Peshwar, as the Afghans have been “causing some troubles”. No matter how many natives they mow down with their armoured cars they “never, if they can possibly help it, leave any of their dead behind”. In early 1916 they are in Nowshera, and in March they arrive at Basra. In July they are confined to their tents all day as the heat is so extreme. By Christmas Fred is complaining about the rain and cold, but acknowledges his good fortune in securing three beer boxes for his bed (later confessing “by the way, I often enjoy a bottle of beer when I get the chance”). In 1917 he is allowed a couple of months leave and heads for Calcutta , rejoicing “you cannot possibly understand what it is like…. Been out in Mespot. for about 15 months, without seeing any life or even any white people with the exception of ourselves”. He later comments on the Arabs: “I really cannot say they are exactly agreeable for they are certainly a most sly and treacherous lot, on the average, although it is of course very rarely that they try any of their tricks. Basra is a place of very mixed population, of course the majority are Arabs, but there are any amount of Armenians, and Jews. One thing is certain, all classes and natures of this country have greatly benefited and bettered themselves since the occupation by the British”. Various aliments, frustrations, occupations and entertainments are chronicled and Fred acquires a camera. He sends home a ticket from an open-air cinema set in amongst the palm trees, which he found very beautiful. He reminisces about Bath, while maintaining a brave face (“you will remember I had two front top teeth filled by Mr Lewis, one of these is still alright, but the filling has disappeared from the other, except I must have swallowed it when eating a dog biscuit. A few days ago I broke off one of my back teeth, but with these exceptions have had not troubles at all and in fact have only got one really bad tooth in my head”). He tells his parents: “In my opinion it will not be a matter of who gains the most territory + launches the hardest attack, that will win; but the side who can pull together + stand the strain for the longest, both on the battlefield + at home of course”. The final letter is dated 26th February 1919 and we just hope that he made it home and was able to fulfil his dream of “a nice navy blue suit etc; a jolly good feed (an English one) and afterwards the theatre, to return home to a nice soft bed and sleep until about 9am the next morning and then have breakfast in bed”.

For more photographs or information please email Sophie on sophie@georgebayntun.com

August Bank Holiday

23 August 2016
We will be closed on Monday 29th August 2016 for the bank holiday. We will reopen as usual on Tuesday the 30th of August.

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