Thanks for visiting The Long, Long Trail. It is my labour of love.
My name is Chris Baker. I am English and live in Leamington Spa in Warwickshire. These days I count myself as a freelance military historian, researcher and author – quite a change from the way my career began.
I was born in the city of Birmingham and followed just about every member of my family into manufacturing industry: I am proud to say that I was the first of my working-class family to have the privilege of a university education. I emerged from the University of Nottingham with a BSc (Hons) in Production Engineering and the University of Birmingham with the MSc in Machine Tool Technology. My working life began as a production engineer and over the years I rose through the ranks, winding up as Operations Director of a large automotive parts business. Having learned how to do it, I then spent more than 20 years as a consultant to manufacturing businesses, worldwide. This included periods as head of the automotive business for a major IT firm and as European Managing Director for a US e-business consulting firm.
The First World War has always fascinated me, appalled me and drawn me in. I began to read, study and explore around 1981 and it’s taken over an increasing share of my life ever since. After years of feeling like I was the only person interested in it, I stumbled across the Western Front Association in 1990: seven years later I was its Chairman and am still a member today.
I began to build my website The Long, Long Trail in 1996. About two years later I added what was to grow into the Great War Forum. I spun the forum off some years ago - it was taken over by the group of volunteer moderators, for which I am grateful as it had grown into quite a burden of work - and am no longer associated with it.
In 2007 I was proud to graduate with the MA in British First World War Studies from the very same University of Birmingham where I got my MSc just 27 years before!
In 2013 I also became a member of the International Guild of Battlefield Guides - but have left it (hopefully temporarily) as my research and writing work just got too busy for me to do much touring!
Over the years many people have asked me for help in researching a soldier – most often a father, grandfather or great uncle. I initially did this as a hobby, but with so many people asking and me being busy at work, something had to give. I decided to make a living out of my passion – what a joy – and left my old career behind on 25 April 2008. I now work full time on writing, researching and touring. I even get to see my wife and family more often than before! My business fourteeneighteen|research (see this page) is always bursting at the seams; I research some 15-20 soldiers every week and am accumulating vast amounts of material and knowledge. In all, I have completed research of well over 7000 soldiers.
In March 2011 my first book was published by Pen & Sword Military. “The Battle for Flanders: German defeat on the Lys, April 1918” is the first comprehensive study of the battle since the British Official History and draws upon much archival material as well as my own soldier research and personal knowledge of the area.
My second book "The truce" was published by Amberley in 2014. It is on the events in France in December 1914, not so much on the detail of the Christmas truce but on the little known British and Indian offensive that took place just before it.
I am contactable at this email. BUT PLEASE NOTE with the centenary I am getting so many emails that I do not have time to answer them all. It has become an impossibility and I apologise in advance for delays you may experience. If your email is a question about researching a soldier or similar, please use the Great War Forum. You will find much help there. If you have a WW1 project and you wish to use anything from this site, please read the copyright notice. That will answer most of your questions. I usually try to answer questions from the media quickly, but cannot promise that I can do so in your timescale.