Eighty years after the last gun fell silent the First World War still smoulders in the minds and souls of the Westhoek people. To this day the familiar ‘tall’ tales of the older generation still quench the -apparently- insatiable thirst of the young for yet more knowledge of "the war that would end all wars". Obviously, the Great War has left scars on the minds of a peaceful people, so cruelly disrupted from their familiar and cosy village life.
In those four years of conflict the Westhoek became one big cosmopolis where -night and day- misery and fun interchanged, much like the sounds of shelling and bagpipe music did.
The war may have inflicted deep wounds but -at the same time- it filled the purses of greedy landlords and cunning peddlers. This unique book -describing life behind the front- displays in graphical detail this quasi schizophrenic situation and shows what it must have been for the locals to live in this social maze.
‘The War Behind the Front’ is primarily a picture book that tries to evoke daily life in the Westhoek. Hundreds of revealing photographs together with their explanatory captions show the various aspects of the war and give the reader a better insight into what the Great War really must have been like for the common ‘little’ man.
Pictures were used from various war archives -both in Belgium and abroad- as well as from private collections. This resulted in a compilation of hitherto unpublished photographs establishing a historical document of the first order.


This book has been realised thanks to the close cooperation of three committee members of ‘Aan de Schreve’, the Poperinge Society for Local History (Belgium).
Chris Depoorter, a recognised local authority on military history, collected the historical and technical data.
Willy Tillie, who’s an accomplished author in his own right, was responsible for the text, while prints, illustrations and lay-out are the work of Stefaan Cossey, a reputed local photographer.


Using hundreds of pictures together with a Dutch and an English text this unique picture book elaborates on both military and social life at the front. French, British and Belgian troops, refugees, POWs, damage to property, medical aid, the cemeteries, youth movements, accommodation, trade and commerce, entertainment, the arts, etc... it all features in this one volume. Finally, in the epilogue the composers have included some extra information on the first local remembrance celebrations and on a new form of tourism that sprouted after the First World War.

A few examples
Click on picture to enlarge

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Volume: 208 pages with over 300 illustrations.
Written in Dutch and accompanied by an English translation.
Black and white pictures; bicoloured cover. Bound.
Paper quality: 150 grams -machine- ironed
Size: 21,5 cm x 29,5 cm.
Printed by Drukkerij Vansevenant Printing nv Ieper
Publication date: 21st May 1999



UK, Ireland: Euro 33
Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand: Euro 40
By international postal order in the name of :

‘Aan de Schreve’,
Korte Werf 3,
B-8970 Poperinge.

Packing and mailing costs are included.

If you want more information contact us E-mail aandeschreve@pandora.be.