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 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. It took me to periods of work as far afield as Australia, Brazil and the United States, as well as virtually every country in Europe.
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 dozens of talks, written numerous articles, participated in TV and radio productions, had five books published, 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!
In March 2022, I was selected for the Nathaniel Wade Award by the Board of the Guild of Battlefield Guides, This award was established to “publicly recognise the contribution of an individual, group or organisation associated with the Guild, who through their efforts has made a significant contribution to the craft of battlefield guiding and the wider Military History community”. Quite an accolade, of which I am very proud.
How fourteeneighteen came into being
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 and eventually as a income-generating part-time activity from 2002, 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 soldiers every day and am always accumulating material and knowledge of the subject. 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.