The Last Post

How the Post Office Helped Win the First World War

‘Well researched and amply digestible … where Barrett particularly succeeds is in the manner by which he brings the humanity into an account of mass suffering … an accomplished work, and one that deserves a place in your collection.’ – History of War magazine

‘The Post Office Rifles story is an incredible one … This narrative will add to the proud history of a great national institution, and to the enjoyment of those who like their history reading to be about more than dates and places.’ – Alan Johnson MP

‘Highly readable … a first-class delivery’ – The Lady

In 1914, the Post Office was the largest employer in the world, with a quarter of a million people on the payroll. So it was no surprise that, when the call went out for volunteers, thousands of postmen, filing clerks and messenger boys soon signed up to join the fight. Many of them ended up in the two battalions of the Post Office Rifles, serving on the Western Front and seeing action at the Somme and Passchendaele. Others were transferred to the Royal Engineers Postal Section, where they ensured that the precious letters and parcels sent by loved ones back home made their way to the trenches in one piece. With the help of the original letters, postcards and diary entries of the men from the Post Office, this book charts the significant contribution they made to the First World War, as well as the important role played by the women and girls on the home front who stepped into their shoes when they went off to fight. Shocking, poignant, and frequently amusing as well, it sheds a light on an important aspect of the Great War experience, and celebrates a group of unlikely heroes who risked their lives to help bring about victory.