Mark Carter was a T.A Gunner who served in 11th Regiment of The Honourable Artillery Company ( Royal Horse Artillery) from 1939. He fought with the Eighth Army in the North African Campaign and then the Italian Campaign. His book;'The Sky is Burning'
is about the war in Italy.
I acquired this book from Pen & Sword
, and assumed it was an autobiography. Well, it's not! It certainly has autobiographical elements but it is essentially a novel, and a very readable one at that. I started it on Monday afternoon and finished it at around 1000 hrs today, Wednesday, although that was with a lot of breaks, obviously.
The story revolves around a sergeant in the H.A.C in Libya and Egypt in the battles there leading up to and including the rather well known one at El Alamein. The hero - a Mike Johnstone - is in charge of a 25 pounder gun and crew, and the war as seen through his eyes may not tell you anything that you do not already know, but it does give a feel for being there.
The heat, the flies and the dust somehow feel present, even in this rather soggy country we have at the moment, and it is very easy to be swept up in the narrative. The book is written in a semi-autobiographical style, and whilst it will never win any prizes for literature somehow it holds the interest and keeps going.
There are several photographs in the book, of the author, of a series of tanks and of some anti-tank guns, but they do not relate to the story at all, other than to illustrate what the vehicles and guns mantioned in the book look like.
One is introduced to a familiar cast of characters; their is the pious Welshman, an ex-miner; a tough and hard drinking Geordie from the Tyne shipyards; the decent officer, a battery commander and the younger, rather uppity subaltern. Along the way there is a hint of romance with an Australian nurse, but nothing graphic or cloying, and a brush with some 'decent' enemy. If it sounds too familiar, and it may be, then put aside your prejudices and just enjoy a good yarn. I did.
For being a good story without lecturing, posturing or moralising, I score three and a half heads.