From the City, From the Plough

From the City, From the Plough

Author
Alexander Baron
ARRSE Rating
5 Mushroom Heads
Review by GrownupRAFBrat

This book is a novel from the Imperial War Museum’s ’Wartime Classics’ series. My copy is an uncorrected bound proof, although I found only three typos – fewer than in many of the ‘completed’ books I’ve reviewed. I think this says a lot about the standard of written English in the 1940s, before the days of ‘spellcheckers’. I found the style easy to read, the pace of the story fast, and the descriptions wonderful, despite the author’s ‘sparse’ style.

The story is based around the fictional ‘Fifth Battalion, Wessex Regiment’, in the very much non-fictional Normandy invasion in 1944. The plot takes place against a background of training and preparation for the big show, which they knew was coming, but not when or where and on into the invasion and battles thereafter.

The writer manages to portray the various characters and groups in the Battalion in a lively and engaging way, using few words, but leaving the reader able to picture them all, feel their insecurities and worries, join in their jokes and banter, and warm to the characters. His descriptions of various events are just like the dits spun on Arrse!

The story progresses as the invasion takes place and the Fifth Wessex fight their way across Normandy. The descriptions of battles, leadership, camaraderie and injuries are low-key and not at all overdramatic, but really enable the reader to engage with the characters and the story. The level of understatement is very English, but the descriptions very powerful, particularly of men after a battle surveying the prisoners of war taken during that battle.

The final chapter is very moving and shows the tenacity of the British Soldier when placed in an impossible situation. I really enjoyed the book, which is a great tribute to all those who fought so hard, loved and lost, feared, blagged and bluffed their way through a very trying time in our history.

I would certainly read more books by this author – I can’t praise more highly than that.

Five mushroom heads.

GrownupRAFBrat

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Auld-Yin
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