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The Somme Battlefield:

A pocket guide to Places and People with Secret Maps


About this book:

  • ISBN 9781904524236

  • Publication date May 2014

  • Price £10 + postage

  • Paperback

  • 158 pages

  • Illustrated with 80 black & white photographs and secret trench maps.



About this Book:

Everyone should make a pilgrimage to the Somme Battlefield. The scale of human sacrifice on the first day of this battle is unsurpassed in British military history. Appropriately the war memorials are amongst the most beautiful in the world. The landscape appears unspoilt and serene yet it retains the scars of war.
Ruaraidh Adams-Cairns, story teller, retired soldier and surveyor has assembled an essential pocket guide to 20 key places on the Battlefield supported by contemporary secret trench maps. Each place illustrates a different facet of this devastating battle and gives a vivid and moving insight into the stories of the extraordinary individuals who served there.
Aeroplanes, bombardments, boy soldiers, the cavalry charge, commanders, executions, flame throwers, footballs, gas, graves, letters home, premonitions of death, machine guns, mental illness, mothers, mining, padres, the Pals battalions, propaganda, raids, trenches, truces, wire, tanks, the war poets, white feathers and VCs are all featured along with the stories of the individuals involved.


The indelible memory of making my first visit to the Somme with the author as guide ensures that this treasure of a book will be my essential companion on every future expedition. Scholarship and grasp of detail are woven together with imagination, delicacy and great skill in the hands of a master story teller.
His vivid descriptions bring an almost cinematic quality to the narrative of courage and sacrifice on the terrible battlefields of the Somme and are made even more powerful by the inclusion of deeply human and personal anecdotes which underscored their achievement. This is storytelling at its best. An indispensable guide to anyone planning a similar journey, refreshingly simple to use and a spellbinding and deeply sensitive introduction to an episode of history that never fails to haunt the imagination.
Lady Annunziata Asquith, great-granddaughter of H. H. Asquith (UK Prime Minister, 1908-16)


Without a guide the Somme battles are difficult to understand. Ruaraidh Adams-Cairns’ explanations of what happened and why are masterful. This book is a must for the military expert and general reader alike.
General the Lord Dannatt, GCB, CBE, MC, DL, (Chief of the General Staff 2006-9).


This is a timely, well researched and very moving guide to one of the most significant battlegrounds in the world. No one should visit the Somme without it. 
Robin Hanbury-Tenison, OBE, DL, Explorer.


A truly moving insight into the horrors and losses of the day the British Army suffered its biggest ever casualties.
General Sir Mike Jackson, GCB, CBE, DSO, DL, (Chief of the General Staff, 2003-6).


Ruaraidh Adams-Cairns has provided a very poignant insight of the Somme Battlefield. His matter of fact, yet distressing, explanations are peppered with raw, personal accounts superbly contextualised. I cannot recommend this book more highly. It will ignite the imagination of older and younger readers alike.
Diana Vernon, Headmistress of City of London School for Girls.

About the Author:

Ruaraidh Adams-Cairns was brought up on the North East coast of Scotland. He was educated at Gordonstoun and Reading University, where he read Estate Management, followed by the RMA Sandhurst. He joined the Queen’s Own Highlanders (Seaforth and Camerons) and served in Germany, Scotland, Gibralter, Belize and Northern Ireland. For the last 34 years he has worked for Savills, the international firm of Chartered Surveyors. He lives in London but one day hopes to return to Scotland.


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