Memoirs provide ‘alternative picture’ of First World War

Charles Bassett
Charles Bassett

A Worthing First World War veteran’s memoirs form the basis for a new book which paints an “alternative picture of the war”.

Private Charles Bassett’s grandson, Stefan Woroniecki, discovered his grandfather’s memoirs while researching his family history, and set about turning them into a book – ‘Horses Were More Valuable Than Men’.

Horses Were More Valuable Than Men

Horses Were More Valuable Than Men

Stafan said: “My grandfather, Charles Bassett, lived Worthing from 1939 to 1953, and then from 1953 to 1966 in Angmering, in a picturesque thatched cottage in Arundel Road.

“He was in the transport section of the Civil Service Rifles, which meant he was involved largely in horse-drawn transport for all supplies, and so by luck did not have to man the Front trenches for most of the time.

“His book paints an alternative picture of the war, often describing trivial events rather than the bigger picture of men getting killed by machine guns, although there are certainly one or two ‘gory’ bits.”

Stefan discovered the memoirs while researching his family history.

He said: “I Googled his regiment (my aunt had informed me it was the Civil Service Rifles) and was pleased to see a book had been written about it, by Jill Knight.

“When I read the book, I was amazed to see that she had quoted one CE Bassett several times – it must have been my grandfather!

“Her acknowledgements stated that his memoirs were from an unpublished source in the archive of the Royal Green Jackets museum, Winchester.

“I went to the museum to investigate, and then faintly recognised a tatty old scrapbook from my childhood days.

“I then remembered that a few years ago my aunt had said she had given away some old war photos, in a scrapbook, to the Angmering branch of the Royal British Legion – obviously assuming I would not be interested. The British Legion had then obviously passed the book on to the Winchester museum.

“The museum gave me a photocopy of the scrapbook, which contained a mix of mainly poor-quality newspaper and magazine photos of the time, and typewritten text.

“I had the text put into a Word document by a copy typist, and then it seemed right to get a book published out of it.”

Stefan believes the book will appeal to anyone interested in learning more about the First World War, as well as animal lovers, who may enjoy the descriptions of horses and mules.

• Horses Were More Valuable Than Men, by Charles Bassett, is available now from Amazon, in paperback and Kindle form.