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Greasepaint and Cordite: How ENSA Entertained the Troops During World War II [Hardcover]

Andy Merriman
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
RRP: 20.00
Price: 13.60 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

21 Mar 2013

Once the Second World War had broken out, it soon became clear that morale would be crucial in the military effectiveness of our armed forces. And so was born the Entertainment National Services Association, or ENSA – to send the nation’s best singers, dancers, musicians and comedians, from Noël Coward to Gracie Fields, to entertain the troops, however far away they might be.

Over the course of the war ENSA gave their first break to such postwar stars as Tommy Cooper and Frankie Howerd, as well as enshrining the young Vera Lynn forever as the forces’ sweetheart. When Allied troops landed in Normandy in 1944, George Formby followed close behind, while a distinguished troupe under Laurence Olivier was performing Shakespeare to British soldiers in Hamburg within weeks of the German surrender.

Now, Andrew Merriman has talked to surviving ENSA veterans from Vera Lynn to Dame Beryl Grey, to piece together the extraordinary adventures of the ordinary men and women sent out across the world – even to inhospitable, dangerous Burma – whose contribution to the war effort was song, dance and laughter.


Frequently Bought Together

Greasepaint and Cordite: How ENSA Entertained the Troops During World War II + ENSA - The Complete Concerts
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  • ENSA - The Complete Concerts 7.91


Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Aurum Press Ltd (21 Mar 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845136187
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845136185
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 18.6 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 325,337 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Review

 ‘This book has many stories in which the importance of entertainment shines through.’

(Craig Brown Mail on Sunday)

'Merriman's colourful book aims to rebalance attitudes to the association through anecdotal evidence, first-hand accounts from surviving participants and by sketching in the wider historical context. Ensa was a heroic enterprise even if it was often ramshackle in organisation and erratic in its execution. Then again so as everything else at the time. After all there was a war on.'

(Neil Norman Daily Express)

'The story of how ENSA lifted the morale of our troops during the Second World War, often putting themselves in some danger, not least in the Far East.'

(Choice Magazine)

‘A delightful tale’

(Military History Monthly)

'Affectionate and admiring history.'

(John Preston Daily Mail 'Books of the Year')

'Casts a revealing light on its starry cast.'

(Independent)

About the Author

ANDY MERRIMAN’s other books for Aurum are acclaimed biographies of Hattie Jacques and Margaret Rutherford. He lives in London.


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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a great read 14 May 2013
By Ossie A
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Andy Merriman has successfully managed to combine a light touch with a forensic grasp of the historical record. In presenting a fast-moving account of the ENSA story from its early origins to the industrial scale that it had reached by the end of WWW2. Cleverly interspersing the historical records with fascinating and often moving testimony from ENSA participants, both ENSA royalty- Noel Coward and Gracie Fields and the bit part players. A fascinating treatment of a neglected aspect of WW2 history.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Birthday Present 15 April 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This was an 80th birthday present for a friend and he told me he really likes it. Finds it difficult to put down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars classic 24 July 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
i would like to say that this is a most interesting book and would recommened to anyone interested in show business
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hugely Entertaining 1 May 2013
Format:Hardcover
This writer researches his topics superbly and he knows how to craft hugely entertaining books from them. His acclaimed biographies of Hattie Jacques and Margaret Rutherford were full of insights into characters we the public thought we knew better than we actually did. Greasepaint And Cordite, a fascinating account of ENSA's role during WWII, is another winner. Set within a well-drawn historical perspective, the book is packed with the sort of real-life stories "you couldn't make up." I literally couldn't put it down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nostalgia plus 23 April 2013
By John
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
For someone in the forces during WW2 this was a grand nostalgic trip,I saw many ENSA shows ,they were varied in performance strength Well worth the read
John
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