A BOOK exploring the social life of soldiers on the front line in the First World War has been compiled through letters written by a former Barnoldswick man.

Former Barlicker William Whittaker, who served on the front line in North Eastern France during the First World War, wrote 270 letters to his parents in Burnley.

His son, Geoffrey Whittaker, who lives on the Isle of Man, became so inspired after reading them he wrote a book about his father’s experiences.

Somewhere in France, A Tommy’s Guide to Life on the Western Front, was published in June. “It’s rather different than some of the blood and guts stuff you can read about the war,” said Geoffrey.

“This book focuses on the social side – how they ate, how they coped with the language and the landscape.

“Basically, it’s about how they lived,” said Geoffrey. It’s an underlying historical narrative. All the letters were headed ‘Somewhere in France’ which I thought was an appropriate name for the book.

“These letters were all handwritten, in beautiful English, which is amazing for a lad who left school at 14. All were still in their official green military envelopes.”

Geoffrey said his dad was a leading citizen of Barnoldswick for 25 years and was a branch manager in Martins Bank in the town.

William was a private in the First World War but during the Second World War he was commissioned as a major to command Barnoldswick and Earby Home Guard. “He was truly a Captain Mainwaring of Dad’s Army fame,” said Geoffrey, 77, who lived in Barnoldswick for 20 years from the age of three.

The paperback which costs £9.99, can be ordered through any book seller and is available online through Amazon, WH Smith and Kindle.