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Old Soldier Sahib [Paperback]

Frank Richards , Frank Richards DCM MM
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

29 April 2003
The life of a soldier in the first decade of the twentieth century, before the Great War.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Naval & Military Press; UNKNOWN edition (29 April 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843425580
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843425588
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 13.8 x 21.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 380,853 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Real Life Tales from Kipling's India! 12 Jan 2007
Format:Paperback
If you want to know what life was like for the ordinary soldier in the early years of the 20th century, this is one volume you should purchase today! I personally found it fascinating and a delight to read and as a result, have now moved swiftly on to the sequel "Old Soldiers Never Die".

Frank Richards was born in 1884.He enlisted in the Royal Welch Fusiliers at Brecon in April 1901- just three months after the death of Queen Victoria. Having trained for a short time in the UK, he went on to serve with that particular regiment in both India and Burma for the remainder of his 9 year engagement.

This really is a marvellous book. It packed to the hilt with tales of nostalgia that will provide both the military historian and researcher as well as the casual reader with hours of enjoyable reading.

Taking you back to the days of the Empire before the outbreak of the Great War, the author eloquently describes life his time as a "squaddie" in Kipling's India, and his unusual experiences during the famous Delhi Durbar. Believe it or not, despite the heat and disease, it didn't sound that bad -but judge for yourself!

It is a very reasonably priced volume- I can guarantee you won't be disappointed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Frank Richards is well known for his Old Soldiers Never Die, probably the best account of the Great War as seen through the eyes of a private soldier. Richards served in the trenches from August 1914 to the end in the 2nd Battalion Royal Welch Fusiliers (RWF). Born in 1884 he enlisted in the RWF at Brecon in April 1901, just three months after the death of Queen Victoria. Brecon was the home of the South Wales Borderers (SWB) and the recruiting sergeant there did his best to persuade the new recruit to join the SWB (Rorke's Drift and all that) but all in vain. What attracted Richards to the RWF was the fact that they had a battalion in China and another in S Africa, and they were the only regiment in the Army privileged to wear the flash - a smart bunch of five black ribbons sewn in a fan shape on the back of the tunic collar. This was a reminder of the days when soldiers wore their hair long, tied at the back in a queue or pig-tail.This is a marvellous book, full of nostalgia as it takes you back to the days of the Empire before the outbreak of the Great War, to that great little army that died on the Western front in 1914; it is in fact a prequel to Old Soldiers Never Die. Richards served in India and in Burma and his descriptions of the soldier's life in those countries in those far off days and his anecdotes make wonderful reading. Kipling described east of Suez as `the place where there ain't no ten commandments'. For the soldier the prime virtues were courage, honesty, loyalty to friends and a pride in the regiment. In his inimitable style Richards is down to earth though never having to use the four-letter language that is de rigueur today nor was the soldiers' attitude to the natives very politically correct. Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Noel
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I agree with all four reviewers who have already reviewed this book, it is great. Frank Richards was private in the Royal Welch Fusiliers and in this book re relates his experiences while serving there in the early 1900's. There are no pitched battles to read about; no guerilla campaigns; just the every day life of a private soldier in the Indian empire, but what a life. Men do not die of war wounds but a great toll is taken by cholera and heat stroke and other sudden-death diseases brought on by the climate. Venereal disease is well reported too because this is a book about the everyday life of soldiers and he tells it as it was. He wrote before the days of politically correctness and his language leaves no doubt about the place of the 'natives' in the pecking order. Most of them are beneath the bottom of the pile and that's where they are meant to stay.

The chapter titles give a flavour of what is in store - 'Murderers, Half-castes, and Prostitutes' and 'Rishis and Fakirs' for example but also 'Sport and Fever'. He tells his stories in a plain and unaffected way just. I could imagine sitting in a room with him while he reminisced about his days in India. There were lots of surprises for me in his tales. Interesting to know for example that the British soldiers kept dogs as pets while stationed in India. Also interesting to learn that he as a signaller had a base on the roof of the Taj Mahal. Infact all those great buildings which are now the core of the tourist industry were ideal to be used for signalling.

He tells how he met the Prince and Princess of Wales when they came to Agra on a grand tour (later George v and Queen Mary) and how she had a go at signalling. He portrays them, not just as a glamorous couple but also very approachable, not at all the image which seems to have lingered for the late Queen Mary.

This is a wonderful personal account of days long gone and a great read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect 27 Nov 2013
By Rob L
Format:Paperback
Frank Richards DCM is well known for his memoirs 'Old Soldiers Never
Die', recounting his time in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers during the
Great War - after he published these, he then decided to write about
his time in the army pre-WW1, entitled 'Old Soldier Sahib', as it
mostly recounts his time in India, again with the RWF. The book starts
with his early life growing up in South Wales, and remembers being a
teenager during the time of the Second Boer War - in 1901 he joined
the RWF, and although very disappointed to miss being part of the
draft for South Africa, it didn't take long before he was sent to
India. His descriptions of life as a Soldier in barracks in the UK are
of great interest, especially regarding 'loose women' and prostitutes,
as well as drunkenness and fights with other units, especially the
Royal Marines.

The majority of the book covers his service in India as already
mentioned, and this is a superb account of life for the average Tommy
serving in India - what they actually did, life in camp, and
relationship with the locals (including, again, prostitutes). To say
the book is amusing would put it lightly - there's plenty of laugh out
loud moments, especially the description of a monkey, kept as a pet by
one Tommy, who was dressed in pseudo-military uniform, complete with
small 'pillbox' hat tilted to one side, and taught how to drill
complete with small wooden 'rifle'. The same monkey soon developed a
taste for beer and would dance in exchange for the 'neck oil' (one of
the descriptions in the book for it)!
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