We are all Flourishing

by Jan Chojecki (m. 1976)


Compiled from letters home and a diary written in the immediate aftermath of the First World War, We are all Flourishing is a remarkable and moving first-hand account of one man’s service during 1914-19. Walter Coats was an officer with the 9th Highland Light Infantry, the “Glasgow Highlanders”. Anticipation builds from mobilisation in August 1914, through training in Scotland, up to embarkation for France. Walter describes winter days and nights in the trenches equipped with kilts and ordinary-issue footwear. He takes part in the Battles of Neuve-Chapelle, Loos and Arras, the Third Battle of Ypres and the Somme - notably at High Wood in July 1916, where the Highlanders were almost wiped out, losing over 800 men killed, wounded and missing. In between the fighting, we hear tales of ordinary trench routine, training, sudden movements, billeting expeditions, billets and interactions with the local populace. Walter’s story is also one of amusing anecdotes, descriptions of wartime entertainments and humorous verse that reflects how morale was maintained in times of unrelenting terror and occasional boredom. In 1917, torn between battalion loyalty and a promise to his family to take on ‘safer’ employment, Walter is transferred to 100th Infantry Brigade Staff - his subsequent experience providing rare insights into a staff captain’s life and responsibilities. While Walter’s life was still fraught with personal danger and narrow escapes, his kindness and consideration to officers and men, love of family and dry sense of humour continue to shine through. Walter’s story is compiled and edited by his great-nephew, Jan Chojecki (m. 1976), and co-edited by military historian Michael LoCicero and is published by Helion & Company.

Archive material from Walter's life.