John Sadler

Agent: Kate Hordern

John Sadler is the author of FROM DUNKIRK TO BELSEN: The Soldiers’ Own Dramatic Stories (JR Books November 2010). He is the co-author, with the social historian Rosie Serdiville, of TOMMY AT WAR: 1914-1918 The Soldiers' Own Stories (Robson Press/Biteback May 2013).


2014 marks the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War, arguably the definitive conflict in the history of Europe. Never before or since has such a great swell of popular sentiment produced such a patriotic rush to arms. In the trenches and on the battlefield, British soldiers united with their allies to fight valiantly for the cause. At very great cost, they delivered Western Europe from a new Dark Age. Providing a vital insight into this pivotal period, historians John Sadler and Rosie Serdiville disclose the poignant and emotive experiences of war, in the front line and behind, from men and women of every class and background. Combining rich anecdote and unique testimony, the stories of those that passed through the ordeal of war reveal remarkable tales of horror and suffering, but also the comradeship, exhilaration and adventure of the Western Front. This is the human stroy of the Great War, told by those who lived through it.

Praise for TOMMY AT WAR:

  • “With the centenary of the Great War fast approaching, TOMMY AT WAR is excellent in reminding us all what a varied and nuanced conflict it actually was...the compilers catch Tommy Atkins, as the British soldier is colloquially known, well... This is a good, clearly arranged, well-researched book with informative commentary about men and women who did all they were asked by their country. John Lewis-Stempel in the Sunday Express 
  • “There's nothing quite like the authority of a story told first-hand, and, rich with just such accounts by soldiers who served in the First World War, TOMMY AT WAR has an immediacy that a more typical 'history' would not have... there are handy maps of the Western Front to refer to, a glossary of military acronyms and an extensive bibliography to lead you on to find out more... a rewarding and insightful read... a detailed and dedicated work.” Family Tree
  • “ TOMMY AT WAR focuses on the experience of ordinary people, both at the front line and behind, caught up in extraordinary events, making for a vivid and in-depth account of the war to end all wars.” Choice Magazine
  • “This extraordinary book documents the ordeal of the Great War through the eyes of those who lived through it, with aspects of the horror and pain, balanced with stories of camaraderie, adventure, and even exhilaration.” Discover Britian
  • "The genuine voice of the trenches and at times a surprisingly upbeat one: one soldier reports on the advantages of a mustard gas attack - it kills the rats. What shines through is the attempts of these men to hang on to their humanity. Even in victory, they feel for those on the other side. 'Our artillery simply blew the Germans to smithereens', says one." Mail on Sunday World War One Special 4 May



“It was Christmas Day; I was one of hundreds of 16th Battalion, the Durham Light Infantry soldiers aboard a troopship. We were all excited not at the thought of festive celebrations but because, that day, we were setting sail and our ultimate destination was the battle field” This is a taster of the extraordinary accounts provided by soldiers of the Durham Light Infantry, painting a vivid picture of the real horror, boredom, hardship, sacrifice, heroism, and comradeship of World War Two. As we follow the Battalion on manoeuvres across the theatres of war, the tales are funny and harrowing by turns. Whilst on latrine duty with only petrol to stave off the germs, one private accidentally blows up the toilet. In another instance, a private is shot on an Italian hillside, just out of reach of his comrades: “You couldn't rely on the Germans, it wouldn't be any good taking a Red Cross flag .” He was “unlucky”: that meant he would eventually die of shock and blood loss where he fell. And so the remarkable story unfolds, from conscription to demob, following the Battalion through Dunkirk, the desert in North Africa, Sicily and the Italian campaign, the celebrations of D-day and the liberation of Belsen. FROM DUNKIRK TO BELSEN reads like a real-life Spielberg movie. Revealing, educational, down-to-earth and accessible, this very human tale has a wide readership.


  • “Sadler's poignant book is a must-have for all those interested in military history, but the message of the soldiers' inspirational stories will resonate with readers of all persuasions and every generation. Lancashire Evening Post 

John Sadler is an accomplished military historian and has written over 20 books. He is a regular contributor to BBC History Magazine, Military Illustrated and the National Trust for Scotland Magazine. He lectures at Sunderland University, the Imperial War Museum and the National Army Museum. John is married with two children and lives in Northumberland.


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