Lyn Macdonald

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Lyn Macdonald,[1] (31 May 1929 – 1 March 2021)[2] was a British military historian, one of relatively few women in the field.[3] Macdonald was best known for a series of books on the First World War that draw on first hand accounts of surviving veterans.

Macdonald lived near Cambridge, England, and worked as a BBC radio producer until 1973, when she began working on a documentary with the Old Comrades Association of the 13th (Service) Battalion of the Rifle Brigade, who were visiting the battlefields of the Western Front.[4][5] The first of her influential books took its title, They Called It Passchendaele, from a poem by Siegfried Sassoon. Other works included Somme.[6] In 1988, she led a party of veterans to the Western Front, accompanied by Sebastian Faulks, who was inspired by the experience to write his novel Birdsong.[7]

Macdonald bequeathed an archive of about 600 recordings of interviews of veteran of the First World War to the Imperial War Museum.[5]


  • They Called It Passchendaele (1978), an account of the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917.
  • The Roses of No Man's Land (1980), a chronicle of the war from the neglected viewpoint of the casualties and the medical teams who struggled to save them.
  • Somme (1983), a history of the legendary and horrifying battle that has haunted the minds of succeeding generations.[6]
  • 1914: The Days of Hope (1987), a vivid account of the first months of the war and winner of the 1987 Yorkshire Post Book of the Year Award.
  • 1914-1918: Voices and Images of the Great War (1988), an illuminating account of the many different aspects of the war.
  • 1915: The Death of Innocence (1993), a brilliant evocation of the year that saw the terrible losses of Aubers Ridge, Loos, Neuve Chapelle, Ypres and Gallipoli.
  • To the Last Man: Spring 1918 (1998), a story of the second battle of the Marne.
  • At the Going Down of the Sun, 365 soldiers from the Great War. Co-writer with Ian Connerty, Sir Martin Gilbert, Peter Hart, Lyn MacDonald and Nigel Steel, Lannoo, Tielt, 2001.


  1. ^ Lyn MacDonald, Penguin Books authors
  2. ^ Holland, James (21 April 2021). "Lyn Macdonald obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 April 2021.
  3. ^ Michael Howard (20 August 2008). A Part of History: Aspects of the British Experience of the First World War. Bloomsbury Academic. p. 158. ISBN 978-0-8264-9813-7.
  4. ^ Lyn Macdonald, Macmillan authors
  5. ^ a b "Lyn Macdonald obituary". The Times. 8 April 2021. Retrieved 9 April 2021.
  6. ^ a b Rachel Cooke (28 June 2016). "The books that honour the bloodiest of battles". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 April 2021.
  7. ^ Sebastian Faulks (15 September 2017). "Back to the first world war front line with Tommy – archive, 1993". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 April 2021.