You may recall that in my editorial in Stand To! No 99, prompted by the dawning of the first centenary year, I pondered whether the WFA's founder John Giles and the members of the founding committee had planned for the 100th edition of Stand To! to coincide with the 100th anniversary year of the start of the Great War. I also ventured that if it was part of an orchestrated 'plan' then John and the men and women of that original founding group were blessed with brilliant foresight or were 'just bloody lucky!' Well in the 100th landmark edition of the Association's journal, readers will hear from some of those very people involved at the birth of the WFA, that there was indeed no plan and that the publication of this '100th issue in the 100th year' was entirely serendipitous.
What a happy accident it turned out to be as the timing, coming before the actual centenary itself on 4 August 2014, provided an opportunity for the Association to push the boat out and do something a little special for Stand To! 100, both in terms of content and size. Apart from gathering the recollections of some of those who were involved at the very birth of the Association in the early 1980s, we also have the thoughts of past editors of Stand To! and those who served on the national committee – people who gave their time and energy freely in their stalwart service to both the journal and the WFA. Through their words we hear something of the 'journey' taken by the Association, its members and its flagship journal over the last three decades – a long and winding road with many a hill and dale; often exhilarating, sometimes bumpy, but never ever dull!
Reflecting on that journey I am minded to turn back the clock to Issue 80 when I took over the editor's chair from Ann Clayton. I quoted then from the editorial policy of founding editor Peter Scott which he had set out in Issue No 1, namely that Stand To! had been produced 'to serve members of the Western Front Association and others who wish to learn more about the deeds of the generation of 1914–1918 on the Western Front', in the hope that it would 'add to the knowledge and understanding of the Great War by providing the means for the expression of the views of members on any aspect of the war in France and Flanders.' More than thirty years on both the Association and the journal have progressed and now welcomes members and articles with interests in topics beyond the Western Front – if they are put up for publication in the case of Stand To! of course – and I would hope the spirit of those founding principles remains as true today as it did when they were initially set down.
The publication of the 'special' 100th edition, then, enables the Association to draw on the writing of authors who are rightly acknowledged as leading authorities in their field, whilst at the same time being a vehicle for recording the contributions of members – many of whom responded magnificently to our appeal in issue No 99 – and the inclusion of some longstanding favourites. We have articles which will question certain orthodoxies, articles which look at the fighting from the 'other side of the wire', an interesting personal angle on the early fighting on the Eastern Front, a contribution on an engagement in East Africa, pieces on the Home Front, aviation and the air war and one or two articles offering a slightly different slant on events of almost a century ago.
Bob Butcher, who took over the editorship of Stand To! from Peter Scott as far back as 1987, was pragmatic enough to realise that no editor is able to 'please all the readers all of the time' but always strived to make sure that every reader found at least one item of interest in each issue. It is a sound maxim for any editor to follow. I have had tremendous fun and enjoyment putting this special edition together, as I know the production team has, and I sincerely hope, of course, that readers will find more than one item which piques their interest in the bumper ST! 100. I do hope you enjoy it too.
I'll be long gone from the editor's chair by then but it would be heartening to know that our Association and its journal will still be relevant, vital and 'Remembering' in another 34 years.
So here's to the next 100 issues!
Editor - Stand To!