Saturday, 14 July 2018

Another Book Finished

Blunden's war memoirs are not like other peoples.  They discuss his two years as a young officer spending time at all the best places, Bethune, Ypres, Somme etc, his regiment the 11th Royal Sussex being moved from one jolly spot to another.  With each move less and less of the original members remain and the 'feel' of the regiment alters as time passes.  
It is that 'feel' rather than a day by day account of war that we find in the book.  Some go into great detail of battles and the regiment and the people involved yet while those are clear enough Blunden wishes to write for those that were there as they alone will understand what life was like at war.  The book offers many asides in passing, the dead lying around a battlefield from six months or more before, the description of Ypres or the Somme, the broken villages in comparison to those well behind the line and of course the comradeship of a battalion facing daily danger.  'The 'feel' of being there is real and it is understandable that many regard this as the greatest war book of its kind.

Blunden later claimed he had survived two years at the front because of his small stature which is unlikely.  He did avoid serious injury although on several occasions he walked away from a portion of trench which then received a direct hit causing losses.  In writing this book he does mention his venture forward on patrol one cold dark night at Thiepval where he and his batman accidentally came upon the enemy front line.  In the dark they two face the fire of an enemy believing they were under attack and therefore unleashed a torrent of rifle, machine gun and a variety of artillery shells upon the foe.  The foe, both of them, ran helter skelter in the dark desperate for their nearest dug-out and eventually falling into one at some distance.  Working their way slowly back to base they were greeted, much later, with surprise as the sheer scale of the response convinced their Colonel that they were dead.  The enemy action meant a planned attack, one the battalion did not wish to make, was cancelled and Blunden mentions this in his book also later revealing his batman obtained a Military Medal for his part.  Blunden forgets to mention the Military Cross he was awarded also.    
His poetry is attached at the end of this book.  Sassoon believed the war had affected Blunden more than any other poet, which is saying something, and his poetry is amongst the best of the war.
I liked this book and recommend it to any who know something about the war.

Here we see the England side sneaking home after the anti-climax of their world cup venture.  While the media grasped at the famous victory that was never to be the hopes rose and flags abounded everywhere.  
None are seen today.
The excuses abound instead, some media attack the manager, players and anyone but themselves but as yet quite gently, after all it is not truth these people offer but what they consider the public wish to hear.  As soon as possible they will stick the knives in, none can escape.
Still, it's been a giggle innit...?


the fly in the web said...

I have Blunden...but it is in the house in Spain so I might see if I can download it to be able to access it now.

Jenny Woolf said...

I have an interesting book which is actually bound volumes of a magazine written by medical corps staff in the first world war. Some of the men painted pictures of what they saw around them. It contains jokes about individuals, and some of it is general magazine type stuff, I think trying to bring a feeling of normal life to the trenches. I guess it was what you might call a community magazine, but perhaps a bit better produced. Well, I suppose it gave them something to do and something to think about. It would be interesting to compare it with this memoir.

Adullamite said...

Fly, I did not realise how well known he was as a poet.

Jenny, Fantastic find Jenny. Such things did happen, the 'Wipers Times' being a well known paper.