Saturday, 12 January 2019
Books, The Invisible Cross, and Others
Having finished my first Christmas book the other day I have been awaiting delivery of something to read. This is not because I have no books lying around awaiting use but because most of them are the slower type of read, I wanted something that I could not put down and would be an easy read. Too many of the others I can only take one chapter at a time, then my brain requires rest.
Three of these I have never heard off before, the Ernst Junger one I have wished to read for some time,and I am happy to consider these will be easier to read and more interesting than anything available on the nearest TV set or grubby daily paper. We will find out son enough.
The books all came via Amazon, for reasons of their own the Junger book was sent separately to the others and came via Royal Mail, dropping happily through the letter box along with a final demand for someone else. The others however came by Amazons own delivery men, 'White Van Man' and normally a 'Black or Tanned Van Man' who had never been in North Essex before, had 500 drops, no map bar a 'Tom Tom' that was out of date and could not speak English. Whether he had a licence or insurance I would not like to ask. So today, Saturday, I am informed books are on the way, again it is natural to expect arrival about seven in the evening but happily he arrived as I looked out the window checking on strange noises outside. This before noon and with an English driver at that!
Now I suppose I must go and sit in my bed for a few days reading all this stuff, I do not wish it to go to waste.
This is an excellent book, though I would not refer to it 'as eloquent as any war poem' but it does reveal one man's heart while engaged in fighting a war, a war about which he new little as it happens. An Englishman with experience of fighting in India at the end of the Raj finds his 1st Battalion the Cameronians now engaged in fighting a very different and superior enemy. This he does well, as situations change the battalion suffers losses and he takes over command while his superior becomes Brigade General, a position he also will soon be in line for. Alas he does not follow the commands of the Divisional Generals behind the lines while fighting at Loos, along with his Brigadier he demands that if they wish him to proceed as planned they must come and look at the situation and give him the order in writing, as he has a right to demand. They do not come.
This made him possibly a marked man and it was until 1918 he actually became a Brigadier, three years late!
We know all this from the letters he sent to his beloved wife. These he attempted to write daily, not always possible, and reveal his care for his family, his desire to get out of the line as he was ageing and the burden of command as the years past and the war developed wore him down. His wife's replies he destroys, to precious for others to see.
This is an excellent insight into the battalion commander under duress, the stress of war, care for his family whom he rarely sees, and the care for his men often dying because of blunders and mistakes.
One interesting observation was his lack of understanding of how the war was going. His friendship and relationship to senior generals did not help him develop a picture of the overall situation, the newspapers offered nothing but propaganda, and he asked his wife for info he was not receiving. He lived on after the war, another came and went and he continued his happy life until his death in the 1960's. The war of course he never spoke about.
Overall a very good book, worth a read.
Several times I have come along the street round the corner I have heard a bird sing happily somewhere above me. At lunch time as I passed by there he was again, a wonderful cheery song in a gray day. This time I could see him even though the light was poor and I am glad to know it was this Robin chirping away while Sparrows buzzed about him in the tree. If the weather deteriorates as some claim it will then hope he survives. A month of real winter is due and I hope it s not like the one being experienced in Europe. I hope the bird survives as the song brightens each day.