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. I began to build my website The Long, Long Trail in 1996. Since then I have given hundreds of talks, written numerous articles and led many battlefield study visits.
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!
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 am just about to complete research of my 5000th soldier.
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.
I am now working on three others: details in due course.
I am always contactable at this email. I’ll always reply, even if it takes me a few days due to absences while in archives or on the battlefield.