- Nigel Cawthorne
This book details the award of the Victoria Cross to some 28 men. What makes this book unique is that all of the recipients were under 21 at the time of their award.
Nigel Cawthorne has researched and written a useful companion to the current commemorations of the First World War. Each chapter tells, in concise language, the story of an individual. Although the focus is on the actions that the sailor, soldier or airman took part to gain the award, Nigel Cawthorne completes the package with short biographical details of their life before military service, and with what happened after, if they survived. He usually finishes the chapter with the current whereabouts of the recipients' Victoria Cross. He also has delved into whether there was any lasting effect, such a memorial funds or awards in their name.
I liked this book. The author has resisted the temptation of the commemorative times and has produced a concise account of the life and times of a select group of Victoria Cross winners. Each chapter contains little nuggets of information in clear language. He has avoided judgement in all but the introduction, and then only briefly. What he has produced is a useful summary of each recipient's life and the context in which they were awarded the Victoria Cross. It deserves a place on the bookshelf, as a reminder of times that were different in part, but familiar to those who have seen service.