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Fighting High Books

George Butterworth - Soldier and Composer


by Laurence Green


Hardback - 208pp (including 16pp of black and white photographs) - 234 x 156mm.

World Rights - Fighting High Ltd. ISBN - 978-1-9998128-0-5.

Book description

George Sainton Kaye Butterworth was one of the most brilliant, enigmatic and promising young composers of the early twentieth century.  Intensely fond of his country, he composed hauntingly beautiful English choral and orchestral music while struggling to make a living as a reviewer, teacher and demonstrator of Morris dances.  He was a direct and diffident man who was fiercely loyal to his few close friends.  Under his slightly forbidding exterior was a man with a great sense of humour and a strong sense of duty to his family, friends and country.

            When Kaiser Bill cast his mad shadow over Belgium and France, Butterworth joined the army as a private in the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry.  He recorded his early military career with a sense of farce and frustration.  Within a short time Butterworth and his friends were commissioned in the Durham Light Infantry and eventually sent to France to fight in the unspeakable horror of the Battle of the Somme.

            This book outlines Butterworth’s brief life and achievements and concentrates on his months in the army culminating with his rendezvous with death at the disputed barricade of Munster Trench just outside of the ruined village of Pozieres near the highest point of the Somme battlefield. Among the illustrations are a number of previously unpublished documents and pre-war photographs from Butterworth’s own album.  The author has made use of war diaries and letters as well as conversations with Butterworth’s close relatives.  He has walked over the ground that Butterworth and his men fought so hard to hold.

George Butterworth turned out to be an outstanding army officer. Conscientious and quick thinking he invariably put his men and his friends before himself.  He was awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry and had a trench named after him by his men. In his own words: ‘The war gave me something to do.’ 


Author Laurence Green         

After a thirty year career teaching French and English at his former school in Totnes, Devon, Laurence Green became a full time writer, winning the Writing Rocket prize in 2005 for a two hundred word ghost story and The Cornish Literary Guild Salver at the 2014 Holyer an Gof Awards for his biography of Charles Causley All Cornwall Thunders at My Door.

            Green lives in the village in which he grew up, enjoys local history, writes about church architecture and war memorials, loves railways, ghosts, gardening, walking and researching Great War and American Civil War history.

            He has an honours degree in French and English from Lancaster University, a PCE from Moray House College, Edinburgh, and an MA in Anglo-American Literary Relations from Exeter University.

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