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The Pride of Pirton

Why Two Books?

There are two books on the Pirton men of WW1, The Pride of Pirton and Pirton - A Village in Anguish.

The first (to be published), 'Pirton - A Village in Anguish' was published in September 2009 and was written by Derek Jarrett a former member of the original book team and it documents the 30 men who died and appear on the Pirton War Memorial.

The second 'The Pride of Pirton' was published on October 23rd 2010 and this the book that has been the subject of much publicity and fund raising over recent years.  It is by Tony French, Chris Ryan and Jonty Wild and documents all the men with a known Pirton connection, specifically:

Why two books? - a very good question!

Well certainly that was not what we intended.  Below is a brief timeline of events which might help explain.

Abbreviations used:

CR = Chris Ryan
DJ = Derek Jarrett (Editor of Pirton Magazine)
TF = Tony French
JW = Jonty Wild (Editor of the Pirton Website)
PHSG = Pirton Heritage Support Group

  1. In Oct/Nov 2002 the names on the Pirton War Memorial were published in the Pirton Magazine (DJ).
  2. In early 2003 names on the Pirton War Memorial were published on the Pirton Website (JW).
  3. In early 2003 additional information was found on the www.roll-of-honour.com website by JW.  Permission to use it on was requested by JW and received.  Permission to pass it on to the Pirton magazine was requested by JW and was granted.
  4. In early 2003 the information was passed to DJ by JW, with the suggestion that it might make a good start to a series of articles.
  5. In May 2003 the first article was published by DJ in the Pirton Magazine.
  6. During early 2004 CR introduced JW to TF and a visit to photograph the men’s graves and memorials discussed and planned (JW/TF).
  7. In Sept 2004 the first trip was undertaken to gather photographs (JW/TF) and was followed by many further visits (JW/TF/CR)
  8. During the first visit in Sept 2004 the book idea was first discussed by TF/JW and JW wrote the first draft of an introduction for the book.
  9. In Oct 2004 a copy of an article (intended for publication in the Pirton Magazine) by JW, about publishing a book was sent to DJ as a matter of courtesy.
  10. In Jan 2005 the JW met DJ for the inaugural meeting to discuss jointly, with CR and TF, producing a book – the Book Team being then formed as CR/TF/DJ/JW.
  11. In meetings (CR/TF/DJ/JW and later TF/DJ/JW) between 2005 to 2008, despite many attempts at discussion and compromise to meet DJ's views on the book content, DJ insisted that his views should prevail or there was a clear threat (verbal and written) that he would remove his text from the book.
  12. During the period, 2005 to 2008:

TF/CR/JW agreed to withdraw (or did not present to avoid conflict) 18 'suggested' chapters from the book (including the ‘Foreword’, ‘the Battles’, ‘In Their Own Words’, ‘School Memorial Corrections’, etc, etc.)

DJ “reluctantly” accepted the inclusion of just 2 additional chapters 'Setting the Scene' and 'Should These Men be on Our Memorial?' – both working titles.

  1. Feb 2006 The PHSG was formed to facilitate and raise funding for the book, with the aim of then moving on to other projects.  DJ was consulted and invited to join the committee, but declined.
  2. Following meetings and consultations with DJ to keep him informed and to enable his views to be considered, the PHSG constitution was accepted and published in Oct 2006.
  3. Jan 2007 Shortly before this date DJ wrote to the Shirehampton Newsletter, ‘Shire in the Web”. His letter read “I am writing a book about the 30 men who appear on the Pirton WW1 Memorial.” The other members of the book team were not aware of this letter until Dec 2010. From the use of “I” and the exclusion of 200 men from the description of the content, it is difficult to draw any other conclusion than DJ had already decided to leave the project and produce his own book, but was presumably delaying that departure for his own reasons.
  4. Aug 2008 DJ expressed concern over the quality and length of JW’s writing to TF/CR and threatened withdrawal of his text.
  5. Aug 2008 DJ stated that his text could not be used unless JW’s text was ‘improved’.
  6. Oct 2008 Prior to that date DJ wrote to the Shillington news letter ‘Parish News’. The item, based on the request written by DJ reads “He is writing a book about the 30 men on the Pirton War Memorial who perished in the First World War” and asks for information. The other members of the book team were not aware of this request until Dec 2010. From the use of “he is”, drawn from DJ’s request, and the exclusion of 200 men from the description of the content and the request for information, then again it is difficult to draw any other conclusion than DJ had already decided to leave the project and produce his own book, but was presumably delaying that departure for his own reasons.
  7. Oct 2008 DJ suggested 2 books could be produced as a solution, but then sought to control the content of the PHSG book.
  8. Oct 2008 to 2009 following further concerns about DJ’s continuing threats to withdraw his text the non-book team members of the PHSG committee were asked to facilitate a way forward.
  9. Nov 2008 DJ confirmed his agreement to ‘one book’.
  10. Dec 2008 DJ questioned the content of the chapter on the men that died, but who are not listed on the memorial. It was agreed to confine the content to a description of their link to Pirton and make no recommendations for their inclusion on the memorial or otherwise.
  11. Following the provision of a draft of the 8 men to be included in the chapter on the men that died, but who are not listed on the memorial (Feb 2009).  DJ insisted that 4 should be removed. Those facilitating a way forward with DJ could not convince him otherwise, despite him being in a minority of 1 to 5.
  12. In Feb 2009 DJ confirmed that unless the above 4 men were removed he would withdraw his text.
  13. That demand was refused on the grounds that it was not considered reasonable to exclude any man with a documented Pirton connection from the book.
  14. The Pirton WW1 Book Project was effectively split. DJ proceeded with his own project and the original project, as widely publicised, publicly sponsored and facilitated by the PHSG, who had raised nearly £4000, and with 3 out of the 4 original book team members, continued as originally envisaged.
  15. Offers to agree publication dates and to provide free copies of DJ’s book to sponsors were made by DJ, however the PHSG and Book Team could not accept the terms offered or those believed to be required, as they effectively restricted the content of the PHSG book.
  16. In response to JW concerns over potential copyright infringement DJ offered to provide a pre-publication copy of his book. This was agreed and confirmed in meetings with those trying to facilitate a way forward, but this was not provided and DJ went on to publish his book.
  17. The PHSG facilitated book The Pride of Pirton, by Tony French, Chris Ryan and Jonty Wild, which researches and details all the 230 men with a known Pirton connection was published on October 23rd 2010.

DJ’s actions and requests made around Jan 2007 and Oct 2008 and which are detailed above, were discovered in Dec 2010.  It seems clear that DJ had already decided to leave the book team and to write Pirton – A Village in Anguish, long before he actually withdrew (Feb 2009). DJ presumably had his reasons for this delay, perhaps the explanation relates to the provision of substantial quantities of research to him.  Certainly it was subsequently discovered that research provided by DJ, and which was given with some reticence, was substantially abbreviated.*1

*1 Evidenced when researching the same data sources (British Library Newspapers) and the difficulty in obtaining the information commissioned by the PHSG.

Please buy whichever book you prefer and whichever book you believe best represents the memory of the Pirton men that served.

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