A member of The Chelsea Society, Brian Lott, has edited the diaries of his father, Lt. Col. Harry C. Lott MC, who led a remarkable and adventurous life as a civil and military engineer in the first three decades of the 20th century. His five books are part of the social history of England, and of the British role in the world during that period.
Harry was a descendant of the Lott family of Flatford in Essex, made famous in Constable’s paintings of Willy Lott’s cottage exactly 200 years ago. He studied engineering at the recently-opened Central Technical College in South Kensington, before it was merged into Imperial College, and describes his life in London from 1901 to 1904 when the Tuppenny Tube and Steam Omnibuses were replacing horse-drawn carriages.
The second volume covers his emigration to Canada in 1907 and seven years on the construction of buildings, bridges, and hydro-electric schemes in five Provinces, including two harsh winters and hot summers in tented camps in Manitoba.
He returned in 1914 to join the Royal Sussex Pioneer Regiment, from which he was transferred to the Royal Engineers. The third volume is a vivid personal story of life on the Western Front, including the Somme and Passchendaele where he was wounded. He returned to France in 1919 for dangerous work clearing the battlefields of mines and munitions.
After the war he was posted as a Lieutenant Colonel to manage the Electrical and Mechanical Services in Mesopotamia, based in Baghdad and Basra from 1919 to 1924, dealing with the Arab Revolt and dining with the newly appointed King Feisal.
On demobilization he returned to England on a ‘round the world’ liner, visiting many countries and having a lucky escape from the crater of the Mt Kilauea volcano in Hawaii when it erupted in May 1924.
The fifth volume covers his life in London at the clubs, theatres, and restaurants during the 1920s and 30s and his ongoing adventures as an engineer with Balfour Beatty on assignments in Kenya, Madras, Nigeria and China.
All five books, entitled “The Colourful Life of an Engineer” are available by order from Amazon, Waterstones, and other bookshops.