John Lucy's Account of the War

Irish soldiers somewhere on the Western Front

John Lucy's account of his survival of the Great War There’s a Devil in the Drum (London 1938), is amongst the best of published war memoirs.

In 1912 Lucy, an Irishman from Cork, enlisted in an Ulster regiment, The Royal Irish Rifles, together with his younger brother. His book describes life in the ranks before and during the Great War.

In August 1914 they were sent to France, where they took part in the battles of Mons, Le Cateau and in the retreat to the Marne. His young brother was killed in the Battle of the Aisne.

After that John Lucy fought in Neuve Chapelle, where his battalion virtally ceased to exist: only two officers and 46 men survived. Subsequently Lucy was sent to Ypres, in Flanders, where his reenforced battlalion suffered the same fate again.