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The amateur army
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Patrick MacGill (1889-1963) was an Irish journalist, poet and novelist, known as "The Navvy Poet" because he had worked as a "navvy" (itinerant labourer) before he began writing. At the age of 19 years he self-published eight thousand copies of a small book (56pp) printed by The Derry Journal which he called Gleanings from a Navvy's Scrapbook (1910). The following year Patrick was working as a journalist for the London Daily Express. Then he published his first novel Children of the Dead End (1914), of which 10,000 copies were printed in March 1914; Described as 'un nuovo grande astro della litteratura inglese' in La Stampa.
I am one of the million or more male residents of the United Kingdom, who a year ago had no special yearning towards military life, but who joined the army after war was declared. At Chelsea I found myself a unit of the 2nd London Irish Battalion, afterwards I was drilled into shape at the White City and training was concluded at St. Albans, where I was drafted into the 1st Battalion. In my spare time I wrote several articles dealing with the life of the soldier from the stage of raw "rooky" to that of finished fighter. These I now publish in book form, and trust that they may interest men who have joined the colours or who intend to take up the profession of arms and become members of the great brotherhood of fighters.
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