My name is Chris Baker. I am the owner of fourteeneighteen and am its researcher-in-chief. I am English and live in Leamington Spa in Warwickshire. These days I count myself as a freelance historian, military records 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!
My first book, “The Battle for Flanders: German defeat on the Lys, 1918” was published by Pen & Sword in 2011 and then “The Truce: the day the war stopped” by Amberley in 2014. In April 2018, I had two volumes published by the Battleground Europe series, both of the Battle of the Lys. They were titled “Objective Hazebrouck” and “Objective Ypres“. I now have a few more on the go – if only I could find the time.
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 is always bursting at the seams. I research some 10-15 soldiers every week and am accumulating vast amounts of material and knowledge. In all, I have completed research of more than 8000 soldiers.
I look forward to being of assistance to you. Don’t me afraid to contact me on any matter of research or battlefield touring where you think you may need professional help.