Meet At Dawn, Unarmed – book review

Meet At Dawn, Unarmed  by Andrew Hamilton and Alan Reed

On August 5th, 1914, Robert Hamilton (pictured) left his young family behind in Devon to start amomentous six months journey through France and Belgium with the 1st Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment.

In his diary he recorded his experiences of the front line which included:

  • The famous Christmas Truce in which he played a prominent part
  • The humour, comradeship and loyalty of fellow soldiers in the face of constant danger
  • the rain, mud and discomforts of life in the trenches
  • the daily fight for survival and the constant danger from shelling and sniping
  • life behind the lines – the billets, estaminets and local hospitality

Extracts from his wife Renie’s diary highlight the fears and anxieties of loved ones awaiting news from the Front.

Robert’s grandson Andrew Hamilton and Great War enthusiast Alan Reed have complemented the diaries with an informative commentary.  They have used a wide range of contemporary evidence, including the cartoons of Robert’s famous friend  Great War cartoonist Bruce Bairnsfather whose cartoons were based on the shared experiences of the Royal Warwicks’ officers in the first six months of the War.

There are several mentions in the diary of Robert’s friend Bernard Law Montgomery, the future Field Marshal of World War II fame, who served in France as a Lieutenant in the regiment until he was forced to return home after being wounded on 13 October 1914 at the Battle of Méteren.

The book contains over one hundred photographs, many of them contemporary,   discovered in France and in the public domain for the first time, as well as sketches, cartoons and maps.

Andrew Hamilton


‘A day unique in the world’s history’. These prophetic words show that Captain Robert Hamilton was aware of just how momentous the events in which he was involved during Christmas 1914 were. What this excellent new book achieves is to bring to life the famous Christmas Truce of 1914 through the diary of Captain Robert Hamilton and his fellow soldiers. The diary alone is fascinating, but what really makes this book interesting is the way in which the authors have combined the diary with that of Hamilton’s wife and the drawings of Bruce Bairnsfather to bring to life the early experience of the First World War on the home front as well as in the trenches. All of this is firmly rooted in the historical background, fleshing out the personal recollections and placing them in context. Highly readable and filled with interesting photographs and postcards, this book is recommended for the general reader as well as First World War enthusiasts.

Review by Sarah Nathaniel for Amazon

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